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Real Humans of MBA Students: Georgetown McDonough MBA Class of 2023

georgetown mba class of 2023

georgetown mba class of 2023Esther Adusei, Georgetown McDonough MBA Class of 2023

Age: 29
Hometown: Kumasi, Ghana | Phoenix, Arizona
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Arizona State University, W.P Carey School of Business | Barrett, the Honors college
Majors: Finance, Supply Chain, Business Global Politics
Minors: French, Economics
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 5.5 years, Corporate Finance at Unilever, North America in the Consumer Product Goods Industry.

Why did you decide to attend business school? Why now?
I am a first-generation student and business school was always embedded in my academic goals. I had a phenomenal career at Unilever and learned how businesses go to market, leading and managing teams within the finance organization. After 5.5 years at Unilever and a year working at a social impact tech start-up in West Africa, b-school was the right next chapter to pivot my career to pursue my north star, pivoting into an industry that allocates capital where it is needed the most to support underserved communities around the world.

Why did you choose Georgetown McDonough? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
The location advantage of Georgetown McDonough was a prominent factor for me. I wanted to be close to family and build a career in the DC area, which is a hub for Development Finance, VCs, Impact Investing, and Social Impact enterprises. These are key industries that I am hoping to enter Post-MBA and Georgetown McDonough provides access through its vast alumni network and experiential programs like the Venture Fellows program, one of the top programs in the country for placing women in VC, and the Business for Impact initiative, which matches students with impact investing organizations and non-profits. The incredible altruistic students I met throughout my MBA journey also contributed to coming to McDonough as community and sense of belonging were key deciding factors for me.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2023?
Before coming to Georgetown McDonough, I worked at Unilever in 6 different finance roles for 5.5 years launching innovations like Dollar Shave Club into Retail or integrating acquisitions like Schmidt and Sundial into the business. These are unique experiences that I am hoping to continue to bring to the classroom. 

Tell us a fun fact that didn’t get included on your application:
I love creating culinary fusions in the kitchen, mixing West African culinary with a mixture of my global influences. A goal in life is to write a cookbook on Afro-fusions. 

Post-MBA career interests:
Impact Investing/Development Finance, Venture Capital, Product/Project Management

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
I will absolutely talk to students one on one, asking the hard questions.  No one school is perfect and thorough student responses on tough questions like “what would you change about the program based on your experiences and why” enabled me to decipher the right fit for me. Students across various MBA programs were transparent and gave me a flavor and taste of their experiences. This made all the difference for me in choosing the right program for my next chapter. 

–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
Asking for letters of recommendation was one of the hardest things for me because I kept overthinking the reaction of my recommenders. I was terrified that my Leadership team will know that I may be leaving the company the moment I request it, and this could result in losing out on promotions or leading different initiatives. I was also worried that if I do not get into an MBA program, my reputation will be tarnished, and I will be steeped in shame. However, the moment I found the courage to ask my mentors, my director was elated, and the entire Finance Leadership team was extremely supportive throughout my MBA journey. It was a completely different reaction in part because I did not realize the amount of rapport and community of mentors that I had built at Unilever. For one of the schools, I did not get into, my CFO wrote the recommendation letter and when I told her I did not make it, she said “It’s their loss,” and that completely made my day. 

Apologies for nerding out on my advice for this: A letter of recommendation is like a balance sheet, it’s a snapshot of all your assets and liabilities – be it your development opportunities, and your equity. To have a strong balance sheet is not a task done overnight, you must build rapport and credibility by producing excellent deliverables, bring your best self to work, and surround yourself with mentors and sponsors. Once you have this, do not hesitate to ask. Though they will be sad to lose you, they will often be quite willing to support you on your journey.

–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
The GMAT. During the pandemic, I was leading a new team and creating new processes all at the same time and it was quite demanding of my time. Finding the time to study was quite difficult. I went to an application seminar hosted by Georgetown McDonough and heard about the Executive Assessment (EA). I was already studying for the GMAT at that time and pivoted with ease to study for the EA. I took that instead of the GMAT and did relatively well. Georgetown McDonough gives 3 options for these exams, prep well, don’t hesitate to pivot, and choose the exam that works best for you.

What is your initial impression of the Georgetown McDonough students/culture/community?
I am blown away by the altruism of students. Students are willing to bend backward, giving their time and energy, and advice for the success of others. It sounds cliché, but it’s been so joyful to feel all the love all around; I cannot wait to pay it forward for others. 

What is one thing you have learned about Georgetown McDonough that has surprised you?
Students do not have to wait until the summer to immerse themselves in internships or experiential learning opportunities. Georgetown McDonough has so many opportunities to put classroom learning into practice during the fall and spring. There are programs like Venture Fellows, for students who want to break into VC; InSite Fellows, if you want to work in a startup; and Business for Impact initiatives for individuals passionate about working in Impact Investing or impact consulting for Social Enterprises or corporations. I recently discovered Launchpad, which matches emerging entrepreneurs with undergraduate students to bring their ideas to life. These are all excellent programs that students can join in addition to a summer internship, providing additional experiences to pivot into these spaces. 

Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your personal application or admissions process in any way? If so, how?
COVID enabled me to try new things. I went back to Ghana for about 3 months to work on a public-private partnership with an energy tech startup. This reinvigorated my passion for economic development in emerging markets which brought me to Georgetown McDonough to pursue my goals; COVID gave me a pause to reflect on the next chapter of my journey, to do some soul searching, and to live purposefully in my next career journey. 

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Before my MBA program, I often leaned into the safety of my strengths and remained risk-averse in my career and personal goals. I am anxious about defaulting back to my old habits, not taking enough risks in the first year of my MBA program. 

However, I am hopeful because a 2-year MBA at Georgetown McDonough provides a safe environment to explore, try, fail, and succeed. Students often don’t talk about rejections from internships, companies, clubs, etc. My new mindset is to celebrate my rejections and my successes. My rejections are my fizzles, and my successes are sizzles and that change in mindset is enabling me to remain uncomfortable throughout my MBA journey. I have nothing to lose when embracing failure is my superpower—it’s a mindset of picking myself up, persevering, and moving forward.

 What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I recently joined the InSite Fellow program, which matches MBA students with Start-Ups in the community. I am excited to get immersed in the Startup world as I navigate and explore new experiences, taking risks outside of what I know. 

Posted in: Real Humans of MBA Class of 2023, Real Humans of MBA Students

Schools: Georgetown / McDonough

About the Author

Lauren Wakal

Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.

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