2023 MBA To Watch: Tochi Ginigeme, University of Oxford (Saïd)

Tochi Ginigeme

Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford

“I am an incurable optimist; passionate about empowering African youths and women through entrepreneurship.”

Hometown: Nnewi, Anambra State (Country: Nigeria)

Fun fact about yourself: I worked across five different industries over 10 years – Pensions, Hospitality, Investment Banking, Energy Infrastructure and FMCG. Somewhere in between I also founded two businesses, one of which is still operational.

Undergraduate School and Degree

Undergrad School: University of Ibadan (Nigeria)

Undergrad degree: BSc Economics

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I spent the last four years before business school working at global brewing company, Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABInBev). I worked there as a brand and sales manager looking after the company’s premium portfolio: including its flagship beer brand: Budweiser.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? I didn’t do a structured summer internship. Instead, I consulted for local startups through Mesh Network: an organisation I founded in 2016 to equip young entrepreneurs with the skills required to launch and scale their businesses.

Where will you be working after graduation? At business school, I am currently on the entrepreneurship track. Both my parents and grandparents were entrepreneurs for many years and I sometimes I think entrepreneurship is in my DNA. My dream is to set up a venture fund to help founders in Africa and emerging markets raise capital to fund and scale their businesses.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: I am currently one of two Eni-Africa MBA scholars at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. As a co-curricular, I also look after venture-sourcing and deal-flows as a deputy managing director of the Oxford Seed Fund, a student-led VC firm that invests up to £50,000 in Oxford-affiliated startups.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Winning the GOTO challenge with my project team last term! GOTO means Global Opportunity and Threats. Every year, students on the Oxford MBA programme are challenged to use systems-thinking to solve major world challenges. The challenge posed to our team this year was to recommend ways in which finance industry players can champion macro-stewardship of the climate change agenda. I worked with a group of fellow MBA students with experience in consulting, finance, and fixed-income trading. After a series of presentations, we made it to the final round and were finally voted the winners by our peers!

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In 2019, Budweiser signed a global partnership with the English Premier League and La Liga. At the time, I was the brand manager for Budweiser (Nigeria) and got a chance to lead the BTL (Below-The-Line) execution of the multi-million-dollar campaign. Implementing this was a major project that involved working with multiple global teams across procurement, logistics, legal, and supply (production) to implement in-bar activations in 18,000 outlets nationwide. The activations were successful and contributed towards a 24% increase in Budweiser’s brand power in the following quarter. That experience piqued my interest in football and remains one of the highlights of my career to this day.

Why did you choose this business school? Saïd Business School has an Africa initiative, which seeks to develop and sponsor talent from the continent. The business school has over the years also become known as a leading institution for impact career placements. These are two areas I deeply care about and informed my decision to apply for an MBA here.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? It’s hard to choose one, but I thoroughly enjoyed Professor Mungos’ Business Finance class in Michaelmas term (that’s how we say first term in Oxford). In Hilary term (second), Capitalism in Debate led by Professors Marya, Alan and Alex has been super insightful so far – engagements during the class sometimes mimics a debate in parliament.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? It’s hard to pick just one but I enjoyed Global Rules of the Game taught by Professor Mari Sako. In today’s ever changing world it is crucial for for business leaders to understand how external and seemingly salient forces shape businesses locally and internationally.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? I have to say the formal dinners at colleges. Oxford has over 35 colleges – all with a unique history and culture. Getting dressed up for these fancy dinners every now and again is quite a thrill.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? My MBA degree is still in view so we’ll see but I wouldn’t change a thing so far – I only wish there were more hours in a day.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Oxford is known for its centuries-old traditions and many of them hold true until this day. However, my interactions with students and faculty members during class have proved that they are open-minded and keen to hear different viewpoints on global issues.

What did you love most about your business school’s town? Oxford is popularly referred to as a Harry Potter city. The city is filled with iconic architecture which dates back centuries and lots of amazing museums – the museum of natural history is a must-see.

What surprised you the most about business school? Saïd Business School is embedded within the wider Oxford University and so we have regular interactions with undergrads and DPhils (post-doctoral researchers) at events, during lunch, in the colleges…the energy is youthful and exhuberant – plus FOMO is real as there is always something going on!

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I took some time before starting my MBA program to reflect on my career journey so far and what I wanted to gain from the MBA program. This helped me during the application process, as I was able to share my story through the essays and interviews in the most authentic way I knew how.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Christen Brandt: Christen is one of the first classmates I connected with here and is inspiring in so many ways! She co-founded a company called ‘She’s the first’ over 10 years ago to promote gender equality and has done amazing work with so many women and girls across regions since then. She also co-authored a book called “Impact” and had a verified (blue tick) Instagram account before blue ticks on social media could be bought – extra points for coolness!

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? My first item would be to write a book for young professionals looking to find their purpose and navigate their careers. I’ve done some speaking about it publicly, but a book would potentially reach a much wider audience. The second would be to get a professional finance certification. I have spent a lot of years studying finance, it would be great to make it official and get a badge.

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

“All our candidates who received an offer for the Oxford MBA demonstrate exceptional merit in their own right, but every so often you are met with the privilege of interviewing a candidate who you know will succeed beyond measure even without an MBA. This leaves you feeling compelled to ensure, as a business school community, that we can be a part of their journey and success, not necessarily the solution. Tochi is one of those candidates who has demonstrated their ability to not only thrive but to bring others along with her. Whether through having excelled in a typically male dominated industry; pitching a technological solution that was one of the two solutions out of Africa to get accepted into the ABInBev global incubator programme in Silicon Valley; to her and her team winning the GOTO project where students are challenged to use systems-thinking to solve major world challenges; to playing a leading and active role in the Oxford Seed Fund, a student-led VC firm that invests up to £50,000 in Oxford-affiliated startups.

Tochi’s drive to contribute to all spheres of the MBA programme and community has not only shone a spotlight on her own abilities but also on the phenomenal talent coming out of Africa, all the while sharing with her peers the amazing opportunities that exist on the continent.”

Tammy Brophy
Africa Initiative Manager

DON’T MISS: THE ENTIRE LIST OF MBAS TO WATCH IN 2023

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