2022 MBA To Watch: Olaniyi Dada, Rice University (Jones)

Olaniyi (Olani) Dada

Rice University, Jones Graduate School of Business

“I am an immigrant from Nigeria who is ambitious and thrives on giving back to his community.

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Fun fact about yourself: I have been drumming since I was 12 years old. Playing drums for several churches and gospel artists has led to me being featured on a few gospel music videos.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Prairie View A&M University, BS in Mechanical Engineering

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Baker Hughes, Lead Mechanical Engineer

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? Bank of America, Investment Banking Summer Associate in the Natural Resources Group

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be returning to Bank of America as an Investment Banking Associate in the Natural Resources Group

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Rice Business Admissions Ambassador
  • Consortium Fellow, Rice Business Chapter
  • Investment Banking Chair, Rice Business Finance Association
  • Treasurer, Rice Business Net Impact Association
  • Energy Sector Senior Analyst, M.A. Wright Investment Fund
  • Black Business Student Association
  • Rice Energy Finance Summit

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Being the investment banking chair for the Rice Business finance association is my proudest achievement. Under my leadership, we were able to help secure over 95% investment banking internship positions for the first-year students recruiting for IB. This is a record-breaking achievement for the finance association and Rice Business, and I am grateful to be a part of the success.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In 2015, I was promoted to lead expat engineer to help develop and improve oil and gas technology in Nigeria. It was my childhood dream to work in the industry and provide my knowledge and expertise to help my home c+ountry. I am still working in the industry in the financial sector as an investment banker, and I hope to provide both my technical and financial expertise in oil and gas to further the industry in Nigeria.

Why did you choose this business school? Having lived in Houston all my life, Rice Business has always been a dream school for me. But the main reason I chose Rice Business was the culture. From the moment I started recruiting for admission, I felt at home. Everyone I interacted with – from the admission officers, faculty members and students – gave me the feeling that I belong. This experience was very valuable to me and one that I didn’t receive anywhere else.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Jill Foote. She is the director and senior lecturer of the M.A. Wright Investment Fund at Rice Business and has an amazing way of bringing out the best work from her students. Jill knows how to stimulate our intuition and feed us with the tools and skills to understand the engines that makes certain investment decisions favorable. Our homework assignments were hands-on and highly applicable to my preparation for investment banking. Professor Foote was engaging, brilliant, hardworking, and ensured we brought our A-game to class every time.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite Rice Business event is the Follies. Follies is a beloved Rice tradition filled with laughter, skits, and an evening of jest and roasting. Something I really appreciate about Rice Business is the great sense of humor across the student body. I have experienced numerous cheek-hurting belly laughs, and I am certain we have a few comedians on campus. Follies has been a way to highlight the great sense of community while poking fun at each other at the same time.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? If I could change one thing about my MBA experience, I would have explored taking more courses and electives that I find interesting rather than courses that are in-line with my career interest.

What is the biggest myth about your school? There is a huge perception that Rice Business is mainly for students interested in careers in the energy industry and those seeking careers in other industry shouldn’t consider the school. But this myth is far from the truth. While there are many students with a background in energy, I was pleased to meet a high number of my classmates who were interested in various career fields in tech, healthcare, entrepreneurship, etc. In addition, the Rice Business entrepreneurship program has been ranked number one in the past 3 years, highlighting the diverse opportunities the program has to offer.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? Although I came to business school with an open mind to venture out to new opportunities, I had a very clear goal for my post-MBA career and the type of MBA experience I wanted. I knew early-on that I wanted to continue my career in the energy and renewables industry. This level of planning and self-awareness gave me the edge in deciding Rice Business was the right fit for me.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The student I most admire is James Williams. James is the co-president of the Finance Association at Rice Business and will be heading to Lazard Investment Bank after graduation. It has been a great privilege to work alongside him in several classes and organizations as he is a relentless leader in the Rice Business community. His work ethic has significantly impacted the MBA program and university, which has inspired me to persevere through the program challenges and has given me the confidence to continuously grow and think outside the box.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My wife influenced me in my decision to pursue my MBA. She is a trailblazer and the strongest human I have ever known. With her encouragement and support I knew the transition to business school was the right direction for my growth, career and family.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  1. Create a startup business in renewables/clean energy
  2. Work internationally, preferably in the West African region

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? It has created the possibility that, thanks to the greater flexibility and opportunities created by the pandemic, far more professionals may have the opportunity to create work and careers they truly enjoy. I am very optimistic that the challenges faced due to the pandemic might yet give birth to a new, better and exciting career for the future.

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

“In the Recruiting and Admission Office, prospective students constantly ask about the type of successful students at Rice Business. Olani is a prime example of the kind of individual that can succeed at Rice Business. I first met him during the business school recruiting process and knew that he would be a great addition to the Rice cohort! He demonstrated the characteristics that we seek in Rice Business students; a willingness to stretch, the mentality to push through, and most importantly, a giving-back mentality!

Through his actions and commitment, Olani demonstrated what’s possible at Rice Business to his classmates and prospective students. Like most students at Rice Business, he was looking to make a significant career shift. We spoke candidly about the effort required to transition into his desired role successfully. However, he didn’t shy away from the grit needed to recruit into one of the most competitive industries and was willing to stretch out of his comfort zone.

It’s during his second year that Olani shined. After successfully recruiting into his desired role, he refocused on helping his classmates and prospective students. Instead of coasting through his second year, he took on various club leadership roles and was willing to connect with potential Rice Business students. He shared his story on his journey to Rice Business and the obstacles he faced throughout the entire process.

Olani has a great career ahead of him, but I’m more excited to watch how he will lift others.”

Joe Soto
Director of Recruiting


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