2023 Best & Brightest MBA: Esther Adusei, Georgetown University (McDonough)

Esther Adusei

Georgetown University, McDonough School of Business

“An aspiring polymath, passionate about exploring uncharted waters, empowering the underserved, and spreading contagious positivity.”

Hometown: Kumasi, Ghana; Chandler, Arizona

Fun fact about yourself: Despite not knowing how to swim, I kayaked over 100 nautical miles in Anchorage, Alaska with a group of 12 students. This was part of the STEP Leadership Program in partnership with NOLS Wilderness Leadership. This experience was mentally and physically challenging and changed my life. We kayaked on the Prince William Sound, an area so remote that we didn’t have any contact with the outside world for almost a month. My biggest learnings were about being one with nature, leaving a space better than I found it, leading in the unknown, and persisting even in the face of adversity.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Arizona State University (Barret, the Honors College) | Triple Major: B.S Finance, B.A Global Logistics Management, and Political Science; Minors in Economics and French

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Unilever, North America; Finance Manager – Supply Chain Finance

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? Deloitte Consulting, Government & Public Sector Practice, Rosslyn, VA

Where will you be working after graduation? Bain & Company, Consultant – Performance Improvement Practice

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Co-president: Emerging Markets Network
  • VP Alumni Black Business Student Association
  • Georgetown Africa Business Conference lead (2022 and 2023): Launching the first-ever business and policy case competition in collaboration with the McDonough School of Business and the Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Service
  • Ghana iTrek Lead: Planning and leading 34 students to three regions in Ghana for a career trek over eight days.
  • MBA Prospective Interviewer: Student Interviewer for prospective MBA candidates
  • MBA World Summit 2022 (Milan, Italy): Selected as one of the top 100 MBAs in the world; Selected to speak at the Summit on “enabling technologies in the developing world.”
  • Peer Advisor: Coaching and supporting students interested in social impact and consulting careers as well as students in the Master’s in Management program.
  • Leadership Fellow: Selected to be a part of a small number of second-year students acting as coaches for first-year MBAs during their core Leadership Communications course.
  • ROI Impact Fellow: Interned at the U.S. DFC focusing on food security investments.
  • InSite Fellow D.C. Chapter: Working and consulting with startups in D.C.
  • Consortium for Graduate Study in Management Fellow; Forté Fellow.
  • The John R. Lewis Racial Justice Case Competition: Transportation Sector Winner; Audience Award Finalist Round – Team Racial Justice League.
  • Toigo and B. Riley Financial Capital Allocation Case Competition Winner: Team MLS.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Planning the career trek to Ghana with my co-president Nii Adamah and the emerging markets leadership team was a proud moment for me in business school. In January 2022, I shared the idea of going to Ghana with the team throughout the year and in October 2022, we made this idea a reality. We took 34 students across three regions in Ghana for eight days. Our goal was to make the trip affordable and memorable. MBA trek leaders often use local travel agencies to plan the trek, alleviating the burden of planning everything themselves. Though it gives trek leaders time back and provides local resources, it comes at a higher cost to students. After evaluating this option, we decided to become “our own travel agency” in the spirit of entrepreneurship, leveraging local connections on the ground, planning company and cultural visits, and organizing every item of our itinerary.

By doing so, our trip excluding plane tickets and fundraising efforts was close to 40% cheaper than an average trek over eight days. In addition to creating an affordable trek, we highlighted cities like my hometown, Kumasi, a vibrant cultural city often overlooked by tourists, to learn about the business of cultural and creative industries in Ghana. As part of Georgetown’s commitment to community service, we also partnered with the University of Ghana to host a career development workshop in which Georgetown students helped Ghanaian students prepare for interviews and critique their resumes, sharing lessons learned from the MBA program. We got featured in numerous local newspapers and articles during our company visits. It was truly one of the biggest highlights of my MBA program.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? At Unilever, I took on six roles in five years within the finance organization. The breadth of work I covered along the way was remarkable. There was always something new to learn and that was energizing. Among the roles I took on were divesting our spreads business, including brands like Country Crock, integrating Sundial Brands like Sheamoisture, and evaluating the business case for launching Dollar Shave Club in retail. In my last roles before coming to business school I managed the $10B – $13B top-line financial reporting and analysis for North America and owned the supply chain P&L reporting for all supply chain costs including material, distribution, and production costs across our 13 factories.

I had many finance leaders and mentors championing me along the way in my journey. I was known for doing a lot of digital transformation projects, taking unpopular finance roles, and positively turning them around. In one of my roles, I reduced the timeline for the month-end close cycle by 60% using BOTs to streamline the process, which gave me the chance to work closely on our cash forecast with the CFO and finance leadership team. Outside of work, I enjoyed mentoring women of color in finance and leading the diversity recruitment strategy of finance candidates in graduate programs.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Georgetown for the D.C. and global advantage at the nexus of business and society. The D.C. advantage had two important components: family and purpose. I wanted to be close to family while in school. Family has always been a strong foundation that grounds me. Having family close by has been amazing and I have logged an abundance of babysitting hours for my niece and nephew under two, which has been a joy every time.

I also chose Georgetown’s D.C. advantage to explore my purpose and it has been really fulfilling. Being in D.C. gave me the opportunity to work at the U.S. Development Finance Corporation as part of Georgetown’s Business for Impact fellowship, attend various conferences on U.S.-Africa relations, and industry-wide conferences all in the heart of D.C. Through the MBA I have been able to go on exchange to London for a semester, work on a consulting project in Rwanda, and complete my Global Business Experience in Chile.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite professor is Professor Evelyn Williams. Most of her courses teach both the art and science of leading high-performing organizations and fostering executive presence. It’s a class customized for personal growth, and I absolutely love that. I became more aware of my leadership style and in one of her classes, I had a peer coach whose sole job was to provide invaluable feedback for my growth. I know I will leverage these skills in my leadership endeavors.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? International Fest is one of my favorite traditions. I love learning about cultures and traditions because I come from a rich cultural heritage in Ghana. International Fest was a highlight for me because I got the chance to experience and learn about other cultures through food, which brings people together. For International Fest, I made waakye: a local rice and beans dish from Northern Ghana. Seeing people’s reactions to the food was so rewarding. I was so happy to share my culture with others and learn from theirs.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Before coming to business school, I spent my career in one company. Though I worked in several roles, it was all within one industry. I came to business school to experiment. I had many ideas of what I wanted to achieve at Georgetown, and I thought exploring various disciplines and industries is the most risk-averse strategy I can employ in business school. I only had two years to do this, so I doubled down. Though I have no regrets perhaps what I will do differently is savor the moments of rest once I leave the peaks to the valleys. In this last stretch of school, I am striving to find equilibrium by carefully choosing activities to lean in and setting boundaries where necessary to help in balancing the peaks and valleys.

What did you love most about your business school’s town? D.C. is incredible! I was born and raised in Ghana and in Arizona. I consider myself a suburban African: I love the feel of quiet cities with a little flavor of the buzz and D.C. has it all. It is the capital, so everything happens in D.C. It is also very diverse and global. I have gotten the chance to attend so many conferences, had the best brunches with friends, and had a taste of city life – it is truly the perfect blend for me. The DMV area also gives you a taste of three different states; it’s the best of three worlds.

What surprised you the most about business school? It always amazes me how well-traveled and globally-minded peers are in my social interactions. Many of my friends have spent several years working, teaching, traveling, and creating their own enterprises in countries outside of their countries of origin. Many of them also spent their childhood in multiple countries around the world. It has been so rewarding to see how their global experiences have made them more empathetic, culturally aware, curious, and respectful about learning about other cultures. In a variety of ways, the business school represents a beautiful fusion of global citizens.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? A person’s brand is not a monolith; it is multi-dimensional. I found ways to sprinkle all aspects of myself that showcased my uniqueness throughout the application. Though I have a strong quant background, I am also a poet and a creative and I displayed this duality in my application. For my video application, I sang “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” sharing that going to business school will help me achieve my goals to “leap into the unknown,” surf through uncharted waters, and leave a legacy like that of the song. My advice to students applying is to bring your whole self and creativity to the application process. It will set you apart and set you up for success.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Khadijah Brydson Van is an exceptional human being and I admire her so much. She is a mother of three under three and does it all: MBA, extracurriculars, recruiting, and taking on multiple leadership roles. She does this so gracefully and inspires her peers to rise to the challenge. I was on study teams with her, a case competition team, and a leadership team. I have come to know her as a remarkable friend, a phenomenal contributor, a wonderful mother, and an advisor. Her determination to support others’ success and to achieve her goals makes her a force to be reckoned with. Watch out world!

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

– Ted Talk Speaker: I want to give a Ted Talk on issues that matter most to me.

– The future is Africa: I want to live and work, making a difference across borders on the African continent.

What made Esther such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“Esther Adusei is extremely deserving of recognition in the Poets&Quants feature on Top MBA 2023 graduates. Esther was extremely engaged with the Georgetown MBA Career Center going all the way back to her pre-MBA career curriculum activities. She succeeded in getting an early internship offer from Deloitte from her participation as a Management Fellow for The Consortium for Graduate Study. Additionally, Esther was a consulting-focused MBA student from the outset. After her successful internship with Deloitte, Esther selectively re-recruited and accepted an offer from Bain & Company for her post-MBA career choice.

Esther’s entire career at Georgetown McDonough has been exceptional. She is a Forte Fellow, InSite Fellow, and an officer in two MBA student clubs. Esther was president of the Emerging Markets Network Club and vice president for alumni engagement for the Black Business Student Organization. In addition, she is an ROI Business for Impact Scholar with work at the U.S. Development Finance Corporation. She also studied abroad at the London Business School. Esther is also a Peer Advisor in the MBA Career Center. In this role, she meets with students for career advice and assistance in the same capacity as the school’s full-time career advisors. Esther is very well-known and liked by her classmates as well as by many of the first-year MBA students in the Class of 2024. She has a strong global background with international work experience in Ghana and finance with Unilever. She is highly regarded by many Georgetown McDonough MBA alumni.”

Sarah Harbison and Lawrence Verbiest
Georgetown McDonough MBA Career Center
Consulting Industry Co-Leads


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