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Imah Effiong, Evening MBA alumna
Financial Management Associate, Citibank, New York, NY

Why was an MBA an important step in your career? Why did you choose Booth?

Getting an MBA was a life-long goal for me. I knew that having an MBA would strengthen my leadership skills and help me reach my career aspiration of becoming an executive director of a large non-profit.

 

I chose Booth because of the rigor and focus on finance. I went to the University of Chicago for undergrad and that experience really taught me how to think critically and lean into inquiry. I knew Booth would push me and stretch my mind. The grade non-disclosure policy meant I would be able to take difficult classes and explore topics I was interested in with no previous background. Additionally, the Evening Program has the exact same curriculum and professors as the Full-Time Program. You feel that in class. This is not a watered down MBA experience, this is a robust MBA that will challenge you with high expectations, which is exactly what I wanted.

How did Booth impact your career?

I transitioned from a data strategist at Chicago Public Schools to a financial management associate at Citigroup during school. Booth provided me with the exposure, skills, and support I needed to make that pivot. I was taking Corporate Finance and it was the first time I understood the strategy behind finance and I wanted to pursue it further. I applied to an internship at Citi and worked in Citi Tax and decided to join Citi’s corporate finance rotational program. Now I’m working in the Treasury function on the Interest Rate Risk group. I’m thankful for the classes I took at Booth that I use every day, such as International Financial Policy, Taxes and Business Strategy, and Financial Statement Analysis.

"It was not until a classmate asked a question that I was too afraid to ask in a class and I thought, 'Whoa, other people have the same questions I do, it’s not just me.' Once that happened, my whole experience at Booth turned around. I realized that everyone is here to learn no matter their background. I then gave myself the challenge of asking and answering at least one question in every class."

— Imah Effiong, '19

What was it like coming to Booth from a non-profit background?

Booth was one of the most humbling experiences I’ve had in my life. 

 

I started at square one with finance basics and was initially intimidated by my classmates. I was shy about asking questions and I’m not a shy person. I just thought everybody had a finance background and were investment bankers and knew more than me. It was not until a classmate asked a question that I was too afraid to ask in a class and I thought, “Whoa, other people have the same questions I do, it’s not just me.” Once that happened, my whole experience at Booth turned around. I realized that everyone is here to learn no matter their background. I then gave myself the challenge of asking and answering at least one question in every class. I think this is especially important since I was normally the only black woman in my classes (especially finance classes). I realized this is my education too and I needed to own it.

What was your favorite class?

Too many to list! A few include Negotiations, Power and Influence, Accounting for Entrepreneurship, Tax and Business Strategy with Ira Weiss.

Do you have a favorite highlight of your time here?

LAUNCH  was an extremely reflective experience and gave me the opportunity to understand how I operated as a leader. Every single activity was powerful and provided insight into a new angle of my leadership. I used those learnings as a foundation for what I wanted to work on at Booth. What is great about the Evening Program is that I could then take those learnings and practice them at my job.

 

My other favorite highlight includes working on a case competition for Arne Duncan’s non-profit Creating Real Economic Destiny (CRED). I worked with a group of civic-minded women from my LAUNCH group to think through these problems around reducing gun violence. It felt like the exact intersection I wanted at business school: social impact and business.

What advice would you offer to incoming Part-Time students?

Balance is all about your priorities. I discovered that priorities change day by day — you may have a meeting for a team project, a work deadline, and a networking event to go to. Which one you decide to give time to may depend on what’s happening broadly in your life. That is one of the biggest lessons I learned in the Evening Program: how to define balance for myself and how to give myself the grace to make decisions based on my values and what I think is important at the moment.

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