Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Mikah Edwin Nuilondea, INSEAD

Mikah Edwin Nuilondea


“A storyteller who thrives on the intractable problems but loves simplification that he risks trivialization.”

Hometown: Nkwen, Bamenda

Fun Fact About Yourself: Taught myself how to swim using only YouTube videos and I learnt how to ride a bicycle in under 3 hours, at about 8 years of age.

Undergraduate School and Major: Ecole Nationale Supérieure Polytechnique de Yaoundé, Diplôme D’Ingénieur

Graduate School: Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, MSc Advanced Mechanical Engineering.

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: GSK, General Project Manager Capital Investments

INSEAD is one of the most culturally and professionally diverse MBA programs in the world. How do you see these global perspectives enhancing the value of your business education over the next year? In today’s hyper globalized world where no real-world problems pertain to a single discipline, business leaders must be equipped to lead across functional, cultural and linguistic lines. In doing so, they must employ their conventional experiences in unconventional ways and in unfamiliar domains.

INSEAD’s MBA offering, to me, is filled with these challenges, building its classes such that no single professional experience or nationality is predominant. Having come from a country with 250+ ethnic groups, I can attest to how unruly it can be to lead within such a fragmented context.

I’m coming to INSEAD to fully immerse myself in such an environment for the next year. I do this because I believe that business leaders of tomorrow need to be capable of handling the intractable issues that arise from these levels of complexity and interdependencies. I simply see my year as a year-long networking event with the smartest people from every possible subject area that I wish to know about. Moreover, as someone with a historical Europe–Africa background, it is seeing how peers are approaching similar topics in APAC and Americas that reflects the 360 degree global outlook expected of a future business leader. Imagine how accelerated your learning can be. Learning from my peers is tapping off an aggregation of their several years of professional and cultural exposures. That to me is the true value of this MBA program.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of INSEAD’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? While an MBA will definitely set me up for more impact, speed, and accuracy of execution mattered to me. The duration of INSEAD’s MBA made a huge difference. I love being in the “game” and I love the work I was doing prior to INSEAD. So, I really want to get back into the “game” as soon as possible. INSEAD is getting things done in record time (10 months) and post-MBA outcomes for alumni have spoken to the accuracy at which they were doing so. I feel that this level of accuracy speaks to the level of refinement of this program, which is very much aligned with the qualities I aspire to build for the next lap of my career.

What has been your first impression of the INSEAD MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far. Tell us your best INSEAD story so far. What struck me first about my peers—having only met a handful in-person at the time of this interview—was how everyone was very accomplished yet hungry to do more and serve others. I admire that everyone’s path to INSEAD, beyond being so unique, always leaves you in awe.

The only unifying theme I have identified amongst the current students and alumni so far, is that they all share nothing in common. This is beautifully scary because the journey is indeed yours and there’s really no one you’d “copy” from. It only pushes you to become more  introspective and to chart out your own path.

See you in July 2024 for my best story. However, since receiving my admission decision, I’ve traveled to INSEAD twice before finally relocating to France. In both cases, I made these trips on an overnight flixbus.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at INSEAD? The INSEAD Africa Club excites me most owing to my commitment towards the continent.

I am looking forward to the finance-related courses and then the strategy and operations courses too. I have a feeling that cash is the lifeblood that every buoyant economy or transaction relies on. I just feel that understanding money–something that fuels our entire world–couldn’t be a bad idea.

If you’ve ever heard of the Blue Ocean Strategy then you totally understand why I am looking forward to the strategy classes. To be totally transparent, my core engineering background makes every core business course exciting to me at the moment.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I believe that sustainable development requires a concerted effort. This effort should come not only from climate and environmental activists, but a united interest in putting our advancement in technology towards attaining our sustainability agenda. We can do this by challenging conventional beliefs and facing the hardest problems head-on.

My greatest career accomplishment so far has been leading a project that received a favorable response from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and stands to challenge an over six-decade long principle regarding air quality for aseptic operations in the pharmaceuticals industry. Believing that we could employ Machine Learning and airflow adaptation to save 40% in energy consumption on systems that account for 60 – 70% of our energy consumption to me was ambitious.

Proving it and getting the FDA on board is evidence that indeed we can always find solutions for our greatest challenges if we are laser-focused and willing to do the hard things. This matters because it stands to have a direct impact on GSK’s ambition to become a carbon neutral with a net positive impact on nature by the end of the decade. Most importantly, savings such as this potentially frees up resources that can be invested into other valuable research areas that have historically not gained much attention such as some neglected tropical diseases.

What do you hope to do after graduation (at this point)? Years ago, I coined what has become my career goal: To leverage engineering technologies and business to improve the quality of human life. I intend to continue doing this by enabling purpose-driven organizations to create more impact, every day, one life at a time. To scale this impact easily, I believe that working in a context where I can support multiple clients and actors will be more aligned with these aspirations. However, I know that I’d like to focus down the road on healthcare and food and beverage sectors, looking at their manufacturing operations and supply chains within emerging economies.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I applied to GSB, charmed by the beauty of the setting sun, viewed from the Bay Area, the entrepreneurial drive, and the fact that two of the Africans who inspire me most—Fred Swaniker and Acha Leke—went through Stanford University.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into INSEAD’s MBA program?

My advice will be to recall that INSEAD truly seeks to put together classes of highly diverse professionals who will contribute; are intellectually agile; are globally minded; and possess leadership potential. INSEAD also knows no one is all-round perfect. Therefore, I would encourage applicants to do the following:

Focus less on “hacking” the ideal INSEAD candidate and strive to show what makes you unique—even if weird. That unique voice might be what INSEAD will like to bring onboard, to enrich the class where you’re applying. Each profile and nationality is a minority at INSEAD.

Because the process is holistic, do not bother if you are weak on one of the requirements. Endeavor to not only put your best foot forward, but to own your mistakes and failures and show how you’ve learned from them and how they have informed a better version of yourself.

Ensure that you answer the WHYs and the “SO WHATs” to yourself first, even if you are not explicitly asked. INSEAD wants business leaders who will ultimately create positive change in the future and so ensure that you are succinctly communicating the big picture and the reasons for which you need an MBA. Demonstrate through your work and community involvements that you are a leader who is ambitious with purpose. This will surely require you to invest hours deeply introspecting.

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