Real Humans of Yale School of Management’s MBA Class of 2021
Jonathan Okafor, Yale SOM MBA Class of 2021
Hometown: Verona, NJ
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Brown University BSc in Applied Math Economics
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): Professional Athlete (6 years, soccer) Senior Project Manager (3 years, environmental)
Why business school? Why now?
I played soccer professionally for quite some time post-college and shortly afterwards I worked for a small environmental firm. It was a very rewarding experience, but I felt that it was time to refine my business acumen and continue building my quant skills. I saw business school as a great opportunity to simultaneously pursue both my goals.
Why Yale? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Yale is a very strong consulting school, which is the industry I intend to pursue post-graduation. The alumni resources and the proximity to New York made it an easy choice for me. Additionally, Yale is very close to my home state of New Jersey, which gives me an opportunity to go back home and continue working on my startup with the rest of the leadership group.
What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2021?
I have a unique story that blends athletics and entrepreneurship. I have also worked in 3 different countries and experienced dealing with vastly different governance structures. This makes me very diverse in thought and action, which gives the class an opportunity to learn about experiences they might otherwise not have the opportunity to hear about. I believe this gives others the space to be reflective in ways that could have been overlooked. In the end, we all draw on one another’s experiences to further an individual or collective goal.
Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application?
I play chess on average about 10 hours a week!
Post-MBA career interests?
Consulting Data/Sports Analytics
Advice to current prospective applicants:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Go to the different MBA events because it really gives you additional perspective on the different programs and schools.
–One thing you would change or do differently?
I would have refined my story WAYYYYY more. I think I struggled in interviews because I did not have a clear-cut idea of what I wanted to do post-MBA. Frankly, I do not think I gave the exercise enough thought as I was more focused on test scores and recommendations. Even if you are not 100% sure what you want to do, you should still craft a story that makes your journey look purposeful. Yale places a lot of value on diversity so really make that shine forth in your application.
What is your initial impression of Yale’s students/culture/community?
Very diverse and accepting. The community does a great job of supporting students which is vital because this can be a scary transition,
One thing you have learned about Yale that has surprised you?
Coming from Brown, I always looked at Yale as one of the more highly structured and strict Ivy League institutions, which had always been a turn off for me. To my surprise, I could not have been more wrong – SOM has been very accepting and open. They are doing a great job of allowing me to explore my interests while providing the resources to set me up for success. I think the balance between those two levers is extremely important. So far, the balance has been perfect.
Thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Recruiting! Consulting recruiting cycle starts almost immediately and that can be difficult when you are also getting used to a new environment, navigating new friend groups and switching your backend system from Gmail to Outlook (very annoying!!!).
Thing you are most excited about in your first year?
Probability and Statistics with Professor Nils Rudi! I was able to tweak some of my older bid pricing models that I still have running at my old company because of his processes. The models are 6% more accurate in predicting government project bids. Hopefully, I can make the model even better in the coming weeks.