Meet the MBA Class of 2025: Michael Akpawu, MIT (Sloan)

Michael Akpawu

MIT, Sloan School of Management

“A go-getter from the streets of Accra: breaking barriers with tenacity and grit.”

Hometown: Accra, Ghana

Fun Fact About Yourself: I am not picky when it comes to food. Anything goes!

Undergraduate School and Major: Ashesi University, Business Administration

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Green Eight Capital, Private Equity Analyst

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of MIT Sloan’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? The key part of MIT Sloan’s MBA program that led me to choose Sloan is its strong emphasis on entrepreneurship and Action Learning Labs. For me, this was particularly important because action learning provides me with the enviable opportunity to tackle real-world problems faced by some of the world’s largest corporations. Moreover, MIT Sloan’s collaborative and close-knit community appealed to me, aligning with my quest to forge strong and lasting networks.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at MIT Sloan? Guess what? I led my college soccer club as the captain to win three consecutive league titles. I am really looking forward to being an active member of the soccer club at MIT Sloan and hopefully serve as the captain at some point to help the team to win more accolades.

Action Learning Labs are one of MIT Sloan’s biggest attractions. Which lab interests you most? How does it fit with your interests? The Action Learning Lab I am particularly interested in is MIT Sloan’s Analytics Lab. It resonates deeply with my private equity ambitions and tech-forward mindset. In this ever-evolving technology landscape, AI and machine learning are game-changers, and this lab ensures a comprehensive MBA experience by blending finance with cutting-edge technology. Being a tech-biased investor, I am eager to delve into advanced analytics to better understand how it shapes strategic business decisions. The Lab’s focus on real-world problem-solving aligns perfectly with my career goals and desire to drive innovation at the intersection of finance and technology. The opportunity to work on projects spanning such diverse sectors as IoT and finance is exactly what I seek to enrich my MBA experience.

When you think of MIT, what are the first things that come to mind? How have your experiences with the Sloan program thus far reinforced or upended these early impressions? When I think of MIT Sloan, the first things that come to mind is its collaborative environment and humble, supportive community. My interactions with current students during informational interviews confirmed these impressions. Current students I reached out to were quick to set up coffee chats with me to provide detailed guidance about the application process and tips on how to stand out. Learning about their incredible support and collaboration further solidified this belief. The genuine camaraderie within numerous WhatsApp groups, where admits openly share ideas, study plans, and even travel plans, underscores the tight-knit, people-first culture.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My most significant career accomplishment has been securing a competitive equity research internship at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in London. Navigating the rigorous and technical interview process, I gained a solid foundation that propelled my transition into private equity. At Merrill Lynch, I directly supported lead sector analyst for European business services research covering 13 stocks. My role involved detailed bottom-up research on individual stocks and end-markets, assisting with the preparation of research reports, overhaul and maintenance of company models, and compiling data.

One standout achievement was conducting extensive research on a company and a supporting detailed industry primer. This work was incorporated into the lead analyst’s published research. Drawing from this experience, I joined Black Star Group in Ghana as the head of research, where I initiated the firm’s inaugural coverage report on MTN, the largest telecom services operator in Ghana.

This research yielded remarkable results, with my estimated target price and total return on the company achieved in less than six months. This significantly boosted the firm’s visibility to both local and international investors. Equity trade revenue doubled as a result of this research. The report has since become a benchmark in the CFA Ghana local research challenge, where I now serve as an industry mentor to research participants. My combined experience from Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Black Star Group laid the groundwork for me to pivot into private equity, which I see as my long-term growth trajectory.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? University of British Columbia

What do you hope to do after graduation (at this point)? My post-graduation plan is to continue working in private equity, aligning with my long-term goal of revitalizing Ghana’s private sector. My ultimate ambition is to serve as a trusted advisor, contributing to the sector’s growth.

In the short term, after completing my MBA, I intend to join a global private equity fund, focusing on emerging markets. Within five years, I aim to lead asset allocation decisions targeting West Africa, gaining a comprehensive understanding of private equity’s role in economic transformation, especially in turbulent times.

Over the next 10-15 years, I envision leveraging my private equity experience to make a significant impact on Ghana’s private sector through consultancy and research. Establishing my own company would be the icing on the cake. I am confident that the knowledge gained during my time at MIT Sloan will be pivotal in realizing these ambitions and giving back to my community.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into MIT Sloan’s MBA program? For a shot at being accepted into MIT Sloan’s MBA program, connect with current students, alumni for insights beyond the website. Join admissions events and ask questions, connect with adcom members for further insight.

And here’s the secret sauce: Be you. Let your passion for Sloan shine in your application. Authenticity sets you apart. It’s your uniqueness that truly stands out.

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