2022 MBA To Watch: Efosa Uwaifo, Columbia Business School

Efosa Uwaifo

Columbia Business School

“I am a socially and environmentally conscious leader and a compassionate, reliable friend and confidante.”

Hometown: Benin-City, Nigeria

Fun fact about yourself: I never skied before CBS but over the two years, I’ve skied a black diamond halfway.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

  • B.Eng Chemical Engineering, University of Benin
  • M.S. Petroleum Engineering, University of Pittsburgh

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Strategy Manager, Sahara Group Limited

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021?

  • Tomorrow.io, Boston, MA (May – June)
  • Barclays Investment Bank, New York, NY (June – August)

Where will you be working after graduation? ENGIE Impact (New York Office), Sustainability Solutions Manager

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • 21/22 Co-Chair for DEI, CBS Student Government
  • 21/22 Member of school-wide DEI Standing Committee
  • 20/21 Cluster C Chair for DEI
  • 20/21 Assistant Vice President, Green Business Club, Energy & Infrastructure Club, and Africa Business Club
  • 20/21 Recipient of Above & Beyond Award for contributions to promoting respect, integrity and belonging in the CBS community
  • 20/21 Three Cairns Climate Fellow

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? As the Student Government Chair for DEI, I helped create a more inclusive community in the classroom and socially within CBS. It was very humbling to watch fellow students widen their sphere of belonging and commit to being global citizens. It was also very inspiring to receive strong support from our Administration to enhance DEI at CBS including Dean Maglaras having a 1v1 session with me to share his DEI vision for CBS.

When minorities, and non-traditional MBAs come to business school and feel isolated or left out, it’s a big loss for everyone. The MBA experience is supposed to shape your world, and that only happens when we hear new voices and perspectives.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Publishing research journal papers on topics I knew little to nothing about nine months before. It gave me the self-belief and a framework to achieve mastery in any topic, and it fueled my confidence for career transitions, first into management consulting (pre-CBS), into climate tech and finance (at CBS) and post-CBS into sustainability.

Why did you choose this business school? CBS was undergoing a cultural transformation from being a finance focused school to one focused on social issues such as climate change, economic and social inequality. I wanted to solve the most important problems in the world, and this was a school that promised to help me do just that.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Modupe Akinola. She’s an amazing professor, and much more, she has a deep commitment to improving the student MBA experience. She invested so much time to coach and mentor me and other students, and also acted as a listening ear and thought partner for anything.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? CBS Matters – It’s a forum for students to share their stories with their classmates. As it relates to the speaker, it reflects a willingness to be open and vulnerable with their classmates. For the audience, it reflects the desire to see a new perspective, appreciate our differences, and forge bonds of intimacy.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I would come to CBS a year or two earlier but I wouldn’t change anything about my experience. While here I got to learn about leadership at the personal, people and strategic levels. I was part of an amazing cluster (a lot of credit should go to the Cluster Board, led by Karsten McVay); made new, cool friends who taught me a lot; was able to work in climate research, climate tech, investment banking and ESG; got to help shape the student community; and I experienced remote and hybrid education in two different campuses in New York City.

What is the biggest myth about your school? That CBS’ appeal is centered around being in New York. Of course it’s nice to be in the coolest city in the world but this is an amazing school with not only really great professors who are invested in students’ success, but also boundless resources to help students achieve their career and personal goals.

What surprised you the most about business school? The quality of people in the class. A huge part of the MBA experience is your classmates, and I’ve been very fortunate to spend the last two years with very, very special people. For example, I had an informal group of peer mentors (Amelia Earnest, Karsten McVay, Lacie Pierre, Pekun Bakare, and Yinka Ojikutu) who were really great for me.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I think my essays showed that my strategic priorities for business school fit well with CBS. I wanted to learn about leadership so I could take the next step in my career and manage teams and projects. I also had become very interested in the important social issues of our time – climate change, inequality and diversity. CBS was investing deeply in these areas, so it was a perfect match for me.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Anna-Kaye Barrett. She has embodied selfless leadership to me. I watched her do a lot of behind-the-scenes work in enhancing the MBA experience of other students – as a coach in the Career Management Center, as a Teaching Assistant, as a Community Chair in her cluster, in the Social Enterprise Club, and in BBSA (Black Business Students Association).

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My friend, Diepiriye Anga. Pre-CBS, I was fortunate to have good friends who played a “Board of Directors for life” role and I remember her validating some hard truths from my professional development feedback and noting how Business School could be a way to develop those competencies.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? First, I want to become a leading voice for energy transition in Sub-Saharan Africa and, secondly, to build organizations that alleviate the energy poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa.

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? First, it has emphasized that every part of the world is impacted by others and borders are now just a physical phenomenon. Second, that change can happen from anywhere. If you combine these two things, it shows clearly that every one of us can change the world. For example, in Spring 2021, with three CBS classmates (Diego Olivera, Judy To and Calvin Yu), I worked with a non-profit, through Columbia’s Tamer Center for Social Enterprise, to build a case to help farmers in Kenya access accurate weather data to improve their farm productivity. We were on three continents for that project but it was successful enough to win a $2 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

What made Efosa such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“I had the privilege of interviewing Efosa early on during the pandemic. What struck me at the time about Efosa was his positivity in the face of adversity, resilience, and eagerness to start his Columbia MBA during a very unsettling time. With his focus on sustainability and driving positive change for others, Efosa was highlighted among P&Q’s “Columbia’s Incoming Students to Watch” group. I am even more amazed by Efosa’s contributions to the student community than I could have imagined. Efosa’s impact on our student community should be held as a model for others to see what can be accomplished and how to effect change with the right mindset. Efosa’s work as the Student Government Chair for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and his leadership in the Africa Business Club, and Green Business Club have led Efosa to being recognized as the recipient of the Above & Beyond Award for contributions to promoting respect, integrity, and belonging in the CBS community. Efosa is a model student and an example of those dream students we are fortunate to have make our community whole.”

Amanda Carlson, ’13
Assistant Dean of Admission
Columbia Business School


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