Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Chisom “CJ” Obikile, Duke University (Fuqua)

Chisom “CJ” Obikile 

Duke University, Fuqua School of Business

“Fiercely committed to genuine self-expression.”

HometownLagos, Nigeria

Fun Fact About Yourself: I have a digital superhero comic and graphic novel collection of over 1000 volumes! Generally, I’m more of a Marvel fan, but my all-time favorite is a DC comic – Injustice: Gods Among Us. The storyline is unbeatable!

Undergraduate School and Major:

Texas A&M University College Station – BSc. Chemical Engineering

University of Leeds – BEng. Petroleum Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: NNPC Limited – Production Engineer

The MBA program is renowned for its “Team Fuqua” culture, which is predicated on six paired principles: Authentic Engagement, Supportive Ambition, Collective Diversity, Impactful Stewardship, Loyal Community, and Uncompromising Integrity. Which of these resonates most with you – and what does that principle demand of you as a Fuqua MBA? Authentic Engagement is the tenet of the Team Fuqua culture that resonates with me. As a Fuqua MBA, that means building intentional relationships based on understanding and acceptance and bringing my most authentic self to all engagements. But it also means creating and encouraging spaces for others to express themselves authentically both within and outside the classroom.

What has been your first impression of the Fuqua MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far. Tell us your best Fuqua story so far. I initially thought “Team Fuqua” was a marketing slogan. Still, during my application, I was almost embarrassed by the support I got from everyone in the Fuqua ecosystem I interacted with. From members of the admissions team, current students, and alumni, I got so much guidance and assistance in my MBA journey, and I am glad to say that I made friends along the way.

One experience that has remained with me was when I was chatting with a first-year (now rising second-year) to learn about recruiting for consulting. During our conversation, they told me that they were recruiting for a firm. I recalled that while I was getting to know Fuqua, I had connected with an alum who was a VP at that firm, so I offered to introduce them. However, I was apprehensive about making the connection for two reasons. One, my relationship with the VP was relatively new. Two:, Fuqua was the only thing they had in common, and I thought that wasn’t enough – but I was so wrong. I made the introductions, and they hit it off like old friends, which was heartwarming! What was even better was when they both sent me excited messages to inform me that the now second-year had gotten an offer from the firm. I couldn’t make up the feeling of camaraderie I felt! It debunked my idea that the MBA world was cutthroat, and I knew I had to be a part of this community that uplifts and roots for each other.

Aside from your classmates and school culture, what was the key part of Duke Fuqua’s MBA curriculum programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? What sets Fuqua apart is the established and formalized Energy curriculum through energy concentrations and an array of energy and sustainability-focused extra-curricular supported by the EDGE (Energy Development and the Global Environment) center. The center’s big picture, interdisciplinary outlook and approach to energy and sustainability independent of a specific industry perspective are fundamental to me, as I want to pivot from traditional oil and gas. At Fuqua, I intend to pursue the Energy and Environment concentration. I am pretty excited about this because it allows me to pursue my interests in a structured manner and take classes relevant to my career goals across Duke University’s other schools.

What course, club, or activity excites you the most at Duke Fuqua? The women I admire have overcome stereotypes and barriers to succeed in their fields. I’ve strived to do the same as a Girl in STEM mentor and the D&I Lead for my local Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) section. At Fuqua, I intend to continue inspiring the next generation of women by serving in the Association of Women in Business (AWIB). I am particularly interested in the Career and Mentorship Cabinet, but I am excited to be part of a community of accomplished supportive women!

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? I always dreamed of being a Petroleum Engineer and overcame some personal challenges to realize that dream. However, my 5-year pre-MBA career was unconventional for an engineer, which bothered me initially, but in retrospect, that journey is why I am at Fuqua today.

My first job out of college was in banking. I started a small business while working in business development and procurement at a boutique servicing company before eventually working in core petroleum engineering. But, by this time, I had developed a burning entrepreneurial curiosity and a passion for business strategy. I understood that the work I was doing as an engineer was implementing the strategies developed by others. I realized my interest was in business and decision-making, so I decided to pursue an MBA. Post-MBA, I intend to pivot to a career in Strategy Consulting.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? The Visual MBA by Jason Barron – I loved reading this book so much! No surprises there because it’s essentially an MBA graphic novel. As an MBA candidate from a non-finance background, this book helped me get familiar with business school concepts in a fun, easy-to-assimilate way.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Duke Fuqua’s MBA program? Please don’t do it alone. One thing my application journey taught me is how to lean into my community and support system. The MBA application demands that you dig deep to understand who you are and what motivates you so that you can communicate that accurately and authentically. Some of that will come from introspection, but it will also come from conversations and feedback from the people that know you best. Also, the application process is very rigorous, and you will need a support system to navigate it and help you keep your end goal in mind. Finally, take advantage of all the connections and resources from everyone affiliated with Fuqua (admissions team, current students, and alumni). They will serve as a pulse check at the different stages of your application.

It takes a village to get into an MBA program. You will need one!


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