MBA Alumni: Coleman Omoaka
1. What were your reasons for choosing the Full-Time MBA and why now at this stage of your career?
To answer this question, I would like to provide a background in respect of my career journey. As a matured student, who finished his undergraduate studies in 2005, coming for an MBA 17 years after (without any other post-graduate qualification) has been overdue and a no-brainer. Although I did not abandoned academics totally because I was involved with academics through my Taxation, Accounting, Auditing and Finance professional examinations.
I finished my accounting professional examinations same year I graduated from the university (with a First Class in Accounting) and was able to secure a job with one of the top-ranking investment banks in Nigeria. Whilst I was initiating plans for my postgraduates’ studies in master’s in finance for either 2009 or 2010, my direct boss, who was the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) resigned in 2009 and forwarded my name as his successor. I was barely 4 years into my work life, and this came as a pleasant surprise. The company took a bet on me, and I was torn between taking this opportunity or jettisoning it for a postgraduate’s studies. I decided to take the opportunity and the challenge of being the CFO and my journey to the C-suite started. I worked for another 4 years in the position which rolled so fast that there was no time to give postgraduates studies a serious thought as I was building and consolidating my career profile. However, I was writing my Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA) examinations during this time.
I left the investment bank after 7 years and I co-founded a Financial and Management consulting firm in 2013. As a founder and leader of the firm, I dedicated my time to building and nurturing the firm to what it is today. With the practical experience I have built up in and across the company, industry and from the diverse clients I have consulted for, it became imperative to for me to put a “seal of confirmation” on the experience I had had with an MBA and because some people who come across my resume often ask if I have any postgraduate’s qualification asides my BSc and professional qualifications which is awkward despite a 17-year experience.
At the start of 2019, I promised myself to get my MBA and I started searching for a school different from the one I decided on in 2009. A school located in a city that will be conducive for my new status; a husband, father to 3 lovely daughters and as a student. I zeroed in on UEA in Norwich and one other school in the UK but unfortunately in 2019, the start date for MBA at NBS was January which did not align with my timelines. COVID-19 happened and in December of same year, the firm got engaged as a consultant (of which I was to lead the engagement) by one of the largest real estate development companies in Nigeria and I signed up for it without blinking as it will boost both the firm’s and my own profile. The decision meant another postponement of my postgraduates’ study.
However, in early 2022, I checked back and saw that NBS had changed the start date of the MBA to September, and I began my application. Fulltime because managing the consulting firm, other sundry companies I co-owned and being present in my home country would be a major distraction that may elongate or even likely end in abandonment if I opt for a parttime MBA as work/projects demands can sometimes be overwhelming and I also do not have more than one year to get the programme wrapped up as I cannot be away from work for too long. I also needed the sugar-rush that comes with the intensity of the one-year MBA.
2. How has the Full-time MBA improved your leadership skills?
My leadership skills have been drawn majorly from learning on the job (from leading and providing leadership to teams), attending short leadership and management trainings/workshops, and reading leadership books. The Leading and Managing People module of the MBA has brought new and great dimension to my leadership skills and in retrospect, I would have done some things and handled some situations better than I managed them in the past.
Leadership, Leading Change, Talent Management in Today’s world, Responsible Leadership and Well-Being, and Strategic Human Resource Management (SHRM) and Contemporary People Issues are some of the topics from the module which have the most impact on me as a leader. Although, these were taught under limited time frame, the deep diving and the class discussions on the issues and listening to fellow cohorts (majority of whom come from different continents with diverse experiences and cultures) on how they managed challenging situations faced as a leader provided some key take-aways from the sessions and have contributed in no small ways in improving my leadership skills.
3. Do you think any modules in particular will impact your role and drive significant change as to how your organisation (and/or sector) does things?
With 17-year experience covering Accounting, Taxation, Treasury Management, Finance and Financial and Management Consulting, I have a good/fair understanding of majority of the modules in the MBA except Sustainability Management.
The Sustainability Management module will have the most impact on me as an individual and as a change driver. Coming from Africa, where the issue and subject of sustainability has not been taken as serious as the rest of the world, I am looking forward to this module to equip me as much as possible to be a change driver not only in my organisation, industry but also the continent of Africa.
I appreciate the way the school (NBS) has infused the subject of sustainability into every module we have done so far. From Financial Investment and Accounting (where Peter Ellington, who is a champion on sustainability and sustainability reporting took his time to explain how accountants can save the world and his detailed explanation on the potential and opportunity that Finance and Accounting for Sustainability holds) to Operations Management, Processes and Digital Systems (which has a dedicated topic on Sustainable Operations Management) and Leading and Managing People (where Ivan Mitchel kept asking and re-emphasizing “How would you lead a change initiative for Net Zero?”).
These are pointers to the importance of the subject and as a late comer to the party, who now realise the magnitude of the subject and that sustainability is not solely the responsibility of the government, but every one of us has an important role to play in ensuring that we leave a better planet for the next generations. I cannot wait to get started with the module.