2023 MBA To Watch: Adewale Oduye, USC (Marshall)

Adewale Oduye

University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business

“A recovering prosecutor who pivoted into tech, education, entertainment, and venture capital.”

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Fun fact about yourself: I was featured in the Los Angeles Times for my work as a prosecutor. It was surreal to read about myself in the newspaper!

Undergraduate School and Degree: Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, Juris Doctor; Columbia University, Bachelor of Arts in African American Studies.

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I was working as the founder of Calafia Preparatory Academy, a proposed 6-12 grade charter school that will focus on tech, entrepreneurship, and venture capital for underserved children in Los Angeles.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? Yum! Brands, Inc. (Summer) M13 (Fall)

Where will you be working after graduation? To Be Determined!

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: VP of Admissions, Black Graduate Business Leaders (BGBL); Marshall Student Liaison, The Consortium for Graduate Students in Management; Student Ambassador, USC Marshall School of Business.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I’m most proud of helping to increase the enrollment of Nigerians in the program. Nigerians are now the third largest international student population at Marshall. As a Nigerian American, I really enjoy helping people achieve the dream my parents accomplished when they emigrated to the United States.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I’m most proud of the 10 people I exonerated who were wrongly charged by my previous employer, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office. My biggest fear as a prosecutor was to put innocent people in prison. I worked tirelessly to make sure that didn’t happen. Surprisingly, my office did not make it easy for me in many instances. Despite the obstacles and resistance, I always found a way to get to justice. It’s the best feeling in the world.

Why did you choose this business school? I wanted to go to a school where I could enjoy good weather while exploring my interests in Tech, Entertainment, Education, and Venture Capital. Marshall checked the boxes. There’s nothing like building your network in the city where you’ve been establishing roots beforehand.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Shane Kelly. He taught a class called Venture Lab. I learned all about venture capital in that class because we became actual venture capital investors. We heard pitches from founders, studied their business plans, and wrote investment memos. As a class, we decided which companies we wanted to fund. It was a great experience. It showed me that I could actually do the work.

I also heard from some of the top venture capitalists in Los Angeles. I was even able to make a few meaningful connections along the way. It was an enjoyable experience that I wouldn’t change for the world.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? I enjoyed taking a photo with the Tommy Trojan statue. I remember seeing so many people post their own photos on social media. When I got admitted to Marshall, I just had to get that photo!

What is the biggest myth about your school? That it’s a party school, maybe (lol)? Some people think that because we’re out in Los Angeles that it’s just one big party. It was quite the opposite! We were working hard!

What surprised you the most about business school? The opportunities are really endless. I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of cool things that would never have happened but for business school.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose?  Who really knows, right? I was just relentless throughout the whole process. I never got discouraged. I will say that I did keep in touch with admissions for many years before applying. I had no shame in sending them career updates.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Kendra Tolentino. She went to Marshall full-time while raising two very young children. In fact, she gave birth to one of her children right before school started! Nonetheless, she persevered through it all. Because of her strength and determination, Kendra is definitely one of the people I look up to. She’s also a great person with a good heart.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? Doug Eisner. I met him during my MBA admissions journey. He was a Fuqua MBA graduate a few years back. We had a lot in common: We both were former career prosecutors with ties to the East Coast. He understood perfectly why I wanted to go to business school. I had some doubts about going because I didn’t think I’d fit in because of my non-traditional background. He gave me the courage to just jump in and do it. Although Fuqua didn’t work out (I was waitlisted), I took the lessons he taught me and applied them to my studies at Marshall. For that, I’ll always be grateful.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I really want to get Calafia Prep up and running! It has been quite a challenge, particularly in this economy. I really want to do something different from the traditional charter school model. Maybe open a small private school? Maybe work with an existing school? These are the ideas I’ll continue to explore after the MBA.

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? I decided to enjoy life more. Before the pandemic I was too focused on planning the next 10 years of my career and didn’t enjoy the journey. Now, I’m taking more time to explore the world and do fun things. I focus on making time for things that matter outside of my career.

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

“Adewale has shown incredible leadership during his time in the Full Time MBA. He is a leader in our Diversity and Equity initiative. He is a Student Ambassador for our Admissions Department and a Consortium student who works tirelessly to recruit other underrepresented students to our program. He is a proud advocate for Marshall and the program. Adewale is deeply involved with his classmates as a mentor and resource. He values the education and opportunities he gets at Marshall and wants to be an advocate for inclusion. As a student leader and VP of Admissions for the Black Graduate Business Leaders, he actively seeks opportunities to further contribute to the diversity of the campus and enhance opportunities for individuals from historically underrepresented backgrounds by working directly with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Program Office.”

Tonisha Jester
Senior Associate Director, Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion


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