Coming from an emerging market like Nigeria, Tunde sees leadership as a form of service, and recognizes that good leaders must demonstrate competence.
Coming from an emerging market like Nigeria, I see leadership as a form of service. And I know that to be a good leader I have to demonstrate competence. They say the language of business is finance, and Booth has one of the strongest reputations in that area. I like that you have to really earn your degree here. When I was looking at other executive programs, many of them seemed watered down, but at Booth, it is the same curriculum, same faculty, same degree for all its programs.
I’ll admit I was a bit nervous about coming to Booth at first. It’s such a quantitative school, and in many of the companies I’d worked with, particularly in Nigeria, there hadn’t been a lot of focus on the data. But I like the Chicago approach of analyzing numbers to gain insights before making a decision.
I am very fortunate that my employers are paying for my degree, so they definitely expect to see the results--and they have. I’ve become so much more confident reviewing and interpreting the numbers during our meetings, and I understand so much more about finance and accounting. It’s helped me to better explain my ideas and solutions to my coworkers as well.
Booth has expanded my perspective and led me to focus on more than just revenue. As a manager in an insurance firm, I often focused on revenue instead of cash flow. But since coming to Booth, I’ve stopped tolerating hunches, and relied on numbers instead. I’ve started to try to see things from our shareholders’ perspectives as well, and really appreciate the way cash flow impacts share price. Booth has gotten me to think outside the box of my specific role in the company, to try to understand not only what’s affecting the company’s overall financial health, but how we can improve our performance.
At Chicago Booth, we’re encouraged to examine our assumptions. The program helps us to develop models, test them, and analyze the data to draw our own conclusions. I’ve studied with a number of professors, elsewhere, where we just regurgitate what’s in the textbook. But we don’t do that at Booth. Everyone wants to hear the conclusions that you’ve come to using the frameworks and tools we’ve learned, together.
I’ve been particularly impressed with the intellectual rigor in the classroom, specifically in the areas of strategy, finance, and operations management. The caliber of class discussions is impressive. We have a very experienced group and we all have a lot of things to say. The faculty takes time to discuss our ideas and encourages debate. It’s provocative, not aggressive. It helps me to see things from a variety of viewpoints.
The program is really focused on diversity and cultural interaction. My study groups have been made up of students from everywhere--places like Austria, Mexico, Italy, and Pakistan--and we all work together, and interact with the same esteemed faculty. We’re all getting insights from the same Nobel laureates. Coming from an emerging market like Africa, it’s important to have such a prestigious global network of classmates and alumni in terms of sharing ideas and gaining insights. I’ve learned so much from my classmates about how they do business in their countries, and have been able to apply those insights to my work in my own country.