In this edition of Real Humans: Alumni, we hear from Ruth Adu-Daako, Stanford MBA ’18/MS ’19, who explains how her degrees prepared her for her role at Apple. She also offers insights into her non-Apple internships and how those experiences now inform her work as a closed-loop program manager.
Ruth Adu-Daako, Stanford MBA ’18/MS ’19, Closed-Loop Program Manager at Apple
Hometown: Kumasi, Ghana
Undergraduate Institution and Major: The University of Cape Coast, Bachelor of Commerce
Graduate Business School, Graduation Year and Concentration: Stanford Graduate School of Business, MBA 2018; Stanford School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, MS Environment and Resources 2019
Pre-MBA Work Experience: Three years in Agriculture and Energy
Post-MBA Work Experience: Three years in Technology
Why did you choose to attend business school?
Business school created a unique opportunity to reflect on my career journey, discover new pathways and continue to explore my life-long desire of self-discovery. Moreover, I knew that business school would provide the right setting to pursue my interests in technology and the environment on a global scale.
Why Stanford GSB? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Stanford GSB was such a perfect fit for me for the following reasons:
(1) My passion lies at the intersection of technology, business and the environment. The joint MBA/MS Environment and Resources program provided the right platform to explore these interests with like-minded classmates.
(2) Stanford GSB demonstrates a deep commitment to developing talent in Africa through its SEED and Stanford Africa Fellowship program. It was particularly important for me to know that I could form meaningful connections with peers that shared similar experiences and interests in Africa.
(3) The setting. I wanted an easy transition from Ghana temperature-wise, so sunny Palo Alto, California, was the most compelling choice.
What about your MBA experience prepared you for your current career?
As a joint degree student, I had a truly transformative academic experience. My favorite part of learning at GSB was the experiential learning process applied in classes, such as the Start-up Garage and Interpersonal Dynamics. These classes shaped my ability to explore new ideas and engage in difficult conversations in my current role as a program manager. Additionally, I took a lot of communication classes and courses at other Stanford University schools to further develop my skills in storytelling. Creative Writing and Film Production classes coupled with my experience from delivering a LOWkeynote allowed me to convey ideas in powerful ways through different mediums of expression. These skills continue to play a pivotal role in my journey toward becoming an inspirational leader that awakens people and mobilizes organizations to the necessity of change.
What was your internship during business school? How did that inform your post-MBA career choice?
I interned with Cardinal Agri — a coconut processing factory located in Palawan, Philippines. My role was to set up the necessary operational structures and controls to source fresh coconuts daily from about 4,000 farmers on the island. That same summer, I also had the opportunity to do a GMIX with D-Matcha, a green tea start-up in a small mountain village in Kyoto, Japan and take on a business development role. These two projects provided me with an opportunity to work directly with smallholder farmers in Asia and learn more about different business cultures. Both experiences deepened my understanding of supply chain operations and environmental initiatives, which I am able to apply in my current role at Apple.
Why did you choose your current company? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to work?
My goal was to work at the intersection of technology and the environment. The fulfillment from my pre-MBA experience drove me to pursue more impact at the macro level. This is exactly what I love about my current role as a Closed-Loop Program Manager at Apple. With technology, I believe I can play a huge role in driving awareness on environmental issues while influencing a large portion of the world’s supply chain towards meeting environmental goals.
How has COVID-19 impacted your industry/career plans?
Fortunately, COVID-19 hasn’t impacted my career plans negatively. As someone who loves traveling and adventure, I was able to discover and live in new places while still being fully present at work.
Advice to current MBA students:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of the job search?
I recommend that you utilize the GSB network and reach out to alumni in similar fields to learn more about their career journey.
–One thing you would change or do differently?
You should be deliberate about your course selection. This is very important, as there are many great courses, but limited time to pursue all your interests within GSB and the other schools across the street.
–Were there any surprises regarding your current employer’s recruiting process?
HR provided immense support throughout the process. My recruiter checked in several times during the process and provided useful resources along the journey.
–What piece of advice do you wish you had been given during your MBA?
Stay true to your interests and find ways to expand on them in creative ways. You get to define your experience and there are no limits to what these two years can look like.