2023 MBA To Watch: Ijeoma Chimezie, Columbia Business School

Ijeoma Chimezie

Columbia Business School

“I am a visionary and servant leader who’s passionate about connecting people, purpose, and impact.”

Hometown: Union, New Jersey

Fun fact about yourself: “I’ve been a runner for over 20 years and have completed the NYC marathon twice. This year, I’m excited to be running my third marathon!

Undergraduate School and Degree: Rutgers University; Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD)

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Medical Director, FCB Health (a pharmaceutical marketing and advertising firm with offices in NJ and NYC)

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? Allergan Aesthetics

Where will you be working after graduation? I am currently pursing full-time job opportunities with marketing and strategy roles within the beauty, aesthetics, and healthcare industries.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Co-founding President for Columbia Beauty Club
  • VP of Social Impact for Healthcare Industry Association
  • VP of Marketing for Africa Business Club
  • DEI Lead for my cohort (Cluster E)
  • Career Management Center (CMC) Fellow

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I co-founded the Columbia Beauty Club during my time at CBS and served as co-president, leading a team of 14 VPs and AVPs. As a clinical pharmacist and published bridal makeup artist, I saw an opportunity to create and foster a community of like-minded individuals passionate about the business of beauty and its growing intersections with other industries, including healthcare.

My leadership was instrumental in securing an ongoing sponsorship with the largest brand in medical aesthetics for the club’s first-ever Future of Beauty Summit at CBS. I spearheaded the development and execution of the summit’s marketing and promotional strategy, including the summit name and overall theme, ‘Beauty 360’. Additionally, I curated the discussion for the keynote session on the future of aesthetics, moderating the conversation with leading experts in the field.

As the first-ever MBA conference solely dedicated to the beauty industry, the summit attracted over 200 industry professionals, MBA students, alums, and entrepreneurs. Distinguished industry experts shared invaluable insights on topics ranging from beauty tech to sustainability, aesthetic medicine, and leadership. My contribution to the summit and co-founding the club has made a positive impact on the CBS community while amplifying the vast potential of the beauty industry within the MBA community. As an alumnus, I am excited to see how the club will continue to grow, inspire, and shape the journeys of future generations of CBS students passionate about the beauty industry and beyond.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I’m proud of taking a two-year break from my successful portfolio career as a medical marketing strategist and pro-makeup artist to invest in and expand my business acumen and network. This transition came with a lot of personal sacrifice, and took courage, but it has been a life-changing experience for me.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Columbia Business School because of its close-knit community and the unique resources that are available to students, such as the Executive-in-Residence program. Additionally, the school’s location in the heart of New York City provides access to countless opportunities and resources for business and innovation. As someone who is passionate about making a positive impact at the intersection of beauty and healthcare, CBS was the perfect place for me to pursue this unique path. Lastly, the alumni network is exceptional, particularly in the beauty and wellness sectors, providing valuable perspectives from both corporate and entrepreneurial backgrounds.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite MBA professor is Pauline Brown, a renowned expert in consumer and retail industries and a pioneer of aesthetic intelligence. She’s revolutionizing the business landscape through her unique approach to brand-building. As the faculty advisor for the Columbia Beauty Club, her guidance was instrumental in the club’s successful launch year. In addition to her impressive accomplishments and expertise, I was also struck by her poise and brilliance. It was truly an honor to learn from her during my time at CBS.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? I’m torn between two courses: Management Consulting for Mid-sized African Companies and Frontiers in Retailing. In the former, I worked with a mid-sized African start-up through Columbia’s EC-Africa program, gaining real-time experience into business growth in emerging African markets and honing my analytic and problem-solving skills. The latter provided an ideal mix of experiential learning and academic coursework, making it a must-take for anyone interested in the future of the retail sector.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Among the many CBS traditions, Follies is my favorite. At the end of each semester, our classmates put on a show featuring choreographed dance performances and humorous skits filled with inside jokes that capture the unique culture of CBS.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Looking back over my MBA experience, the one thing I would do differently is to believe in my awesomeness much sooner! I spent too much time doubting myself and replaying limiting beliefs in my head, specifically during the application process leading to years of deliberating. Those years did. However. force me to get crystal clear about my why and the vision I have for myself 5-10 years post-MBA. Nevertheless, I am proud of how far I’ve come and the journey I’ve taken.

What is the biggest myth about your school? I think one of the biggest misconceptions about CBS is that it’s only a finance school. While there is a strong focus on finance and banking, there are incredible opportunities across many different industries. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I started the Columbia Beauty Club – to help students interested in the beauty industry explore the different career paths and expand the career-related opportunities available to them at CBS. So, for anyone considering applying to CBS, I would encourage them to take the time to connect with current students and learn about all the different career paths available.

What did you love most about your business school’s town? New York City is the epic center of cultural experiences and business opportunities across many industries. You’re always only an Uber drive or subway stop way from any opportunity or experience you’re looking for, whether it’s an art exhibit, industry focused conference or networking event.

What surprised you the most about business school? After being out of school for a decade, it was a bit of a transition getting back into student mode. The amount of homework and readings, especially in the first year, took some getting used to. While I was comfortable working in teams due to the matrix-style nature of my previous professional jobs, the fact that coursework was primarily group assignments was a new experience for me compared to my prior degree. However, I quickly adapted to this collaborative approach and found it to be a valuable aspect of my MBA journey.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I think what set me apart during the application process was being intentional from the start. I gathered insights from various sources such as admissions, professors, current students, and alumni, and integrated them into my application in a unique and authentic way. I had a clear understanding of my purpose, the impact I wanted to make, and how I planned to utilize my two years at the school. Lastly, I made sure to effectively and authentically communicate my goals, highlighting my proven track record as a changemaker and innovator, as well as my intrinsic values and skill sets that would enable me to create an impact at the school.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? It’s difficult to choose just one, so I must mention two incredible women in my MBA class. The first is Tori Bell, founder of Inclusion Unpacked, whose tenacity, grit, and dedication are truly remarkable. Balancing an established venture with academic studies and student involvement is no small feat, but Tori has done an outstanding job of growing her business during her time at CBS. The second is Adetola Olatunji, a visionary leader and master connector with a wealth of knowledge in venture capital. Her expertise has been invaluable to the entire CBS community.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? My top two professional bucket list items are to publish a book and establish two non-profit organizations: one for supporting families caring for loved ones who experience a life-changing event that leads to disabilities and another to improve birthing center facilities in rural African communities.

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

“Coming to CBS with a PharmD. background, Ijeoma Chimezie brings an alternative perspective to the business world and has used this perspective to launch the CBS Beauty Club. As co-president, the Beauty Club’s recent conference highlighted the need to build exposure and networking for this industry among business schools. Ijeoma also has dedicated part of her time here at CBS to serve in the capacity of DEI representative for her cluster which has enabled her to help build an inclusive environment for her classmates.”

Samantha Shapses, Ed.D.
Associate Dean and Dean of Student Affairs 
Columbia Business School


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.