Meet the MBA Class of 2025: Chibuzo Ikonte, Northwestern University (Kellogg)

Chibuzo Ikonte

Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management

“Resilient individual who leverages reflection to always be aware of life’s beauty.”

Hometown: Los Angeles, California

Fun Fact About Yourself: I am ambidextrous. I write with my right hand and do everything else with my left.

Undergraduate School and Major: Northwestern University – Economics and Statistics

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: McKinsey & Company – Senior Business Analyst

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of Northwestern Kellogg’s MBA curriculum or programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Similar to why I chose Northwestern, Kellogg was the only school that would allow me to become the absolute best version of myself at this stage in my life. Kellogg’s expansive course offerings, particularly in marketing, strategy, and managing organizations, gave me confidence to know that I would be able to refine my analytical, managerial, and strategic capabilities through a modern worldview. Those experiences and the knowledge that I glean from them will make me competitive in any environment I am placed in for the rest of my life.

What makes Chicago such a great place to earn an MBA? I believe that Evanston and Chicago are the perfect locations to earn an MBA. Relative to Chicago and other big cities, Evanston is a smaller place that helps to foster a community for Kellogg students (and the greater Northwestern community). It has its own feel and uniqueness that makes the place feel like home once embraced by those here.

Kellogg Global Hub’s location along Lake Michigan has a view of Chicago’s skyline. It is a reminder that, though we are in a “small town,” we are just a quick train ride or a nice scenic drive down lakeshore drive away from Chicago. The proximity to Chicago unlocks many personal and professional resources for students to leverage. When thinking about one’s personal future, and if that entails moving to Chicago post-MBA, one can be excited knowing that Chicago is has a lower cost of living than New York and LA. Chicago is a city of neighborhoods, each with its own distinct feel and personality. Chicago has a rich history and is surrounded by beautiful architecture.

Professionally, Kellogg’s proximity to Chicago unlocks many diverse industries and potential employers for students to explore. The community that Kellogg fosters along with the rich personal and professional resources that Chicago provides makes gaining an MBA at Kellogg a worthwhile investment.

Kellogg is known for a team-driven culture. What quality do you bring as a teammate and why will it be so important to the success of MBA class? My ability to listen and ask the right questions is the quality I bring as a teammate. Every single task at McKinsey required working in teams. That experience early in my career helped me learn how to add value and exemplify leadership across many different teams. I found that I could be most effective in teams by absorbing every piece of information in conversation to help ask the right question to add value.

In any team setting at Kellogg, driving at the so what will always be one of the crucial pieces of insight. Having a teammate who is listening and digesting everything to help understand the so what, in my view, is an indispensable skill.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Northwestern Kellogg?

Club / Activity: The basketball playing club. I used to play basketball at an extremely high level (e.g., former D1 recruit, Los Angeles dunk contest champion & All Star Game MVP). I have been named a first year director at the club and I am excited to contribute to basketball’s growth at Kellogg and to stay connected to a game that has had a tremendously positive impact on my life to date.

Course: Negotiations. “Better Call Saul” is one of my favorite television shows. The main character, Saul Goodman (or Jimmy McGill), is a very shrewd and savvy negotiator. Though I never envision myself being placed in a situations where I have to negotiate like Saul Goodman does, I am very excited to learn about negotiation in a classroom setting that can be scaled out to business settings. Being better at negotiation is something that I intend to improve on while at Kellogg.

What has been your first impression of the Kellogg MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far. Tell us your best Kellogg story so far. Humility is the initial impression that I have had from Kellogg MBA students. Each student that I’ve interacted with has a great sense of humility about their life experiences and how they shaped them and informed their career path to date. That humility is shown through their willingness to be vulnerable and honest about how Kellogg is the next stepping stone in pursuit of their professional pursuit of greatness, and in turn, impact on society.

Transparent and helpful are the initial impressions that I have had with Kellogg alumni. When researching Kellogg to apply, each alum that I connected with was very open about their experience; they were ery willing to help me understand the steps I needed to take to maximize my chances of success through the application process. There were some alumni whom I admire and hope to emulate who were consistently have been transparent and helpful in guiding me through their journey.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My basketball analysis  website is my greatest accomplishment in my career thus far. I take great pride in my website and the projects done as they are my intellectual property (i.e., they belong to me) and they represent the manner in which I have been able to blend the skills built at McKinsey (e.g., analytical, conceptual problem solving, strategic thinking, effective communication) along with my storytelling capabilities to analyze the NBA. Being able to effectively illustrate my passion for basketball through the skills that working at McKinsey equipped me shows me how I’ve used my career to add value to my passions outside of work.

Looking ahead two years, what would make your MBA experience successful? Personal, academic, and professional growth are the three lenses that I will use to evaluate my success while at Kellogg.

Personally, I will know my MBA experience has been successful through the ways in which I am able to sustain and grow the important relationships in my life as well as form quality relationships with people I meet at Kellogg. Through this lens, I will also know that my MBA experience has been successful through the ways I invest time and energy into the things that I am passionate about outside of my academic and professional pursuits.

Academically, I will know my MBA experience has been successful through the ways in which I take advantage of coursework in marketing, managing organizations, strategy, and finance. I believe that coursework across those four disciplines will equip me for success in my professional pursuits. Taking such courses and engaging with the material and class is how I will know if I have been successful.

Professionally, I will know my MBA experience has been successful by refining my strategic, analytical, and leadership capabilities. That will be done through summer internship opportunities as well as other Kellogg resources such as the analytical consulting lab.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? – None. Kellogg was the only school I applied to.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Northwestern Kellogg’s MBA program?  Gain a strong understanding of where you have been and how those experiences have crafted your story to date. In reflecting on that understanding, identify and communicate why Kellogg is the best and only place to help elevate and take you to your next destination. Be sure that each point of your resume and application (e.g., essay responses) follow a cohesive story that can inform an application reader of one’s vision. Investing in that level of intentionality will allow one to precisely understand how they define success at Kellogg and the resources and people to utilize to attain such success once on campus.

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