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Real Humans of the Chicago Booth MBA Class of 2024

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Olalekan Wahab, Chicago Booth MBA Class of 2024

Age: 29
Hometown: Lagos, Nigeria.
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Obafemi Awolowo University; Economics.
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): Strategy Consulting, Principal Investing; Four years.

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
Before pursuing my MBA, I worked with an awesome team to help structure the financing and development of infrastructure in Africa. Coming into the MBA program, I was eager to round out my skillset and prioritize my leadership, interpersonal, and technical finance toolkits, while honing my professional network. 

Why did you choose Chicago Booth? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
The decision to apply to and attend Chicago Booth was not an ordinary one. I considered that the school treats me as a leader by allowing me to customize my academic and social experience. Perhaps Booth’s choice system resonates more for me than most other candidates. I have realized that my defining academic, extracurricular, and professional achievements have come in contexts where I had the freedom to craft my experience and decide my own activities. Booth offered me this opportunity not only to determine my MBA experience, but also how I will leave a mark on the Booth class and the world. 

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2024?
One potential impact I plan to leave at Chicago Booth is to deepen our leadership in the financial/investment space. In a foretaste of my involvement at Booth, I am already discussing setting up or incorporating an infrastructure finance club/activity within our finance ecosystem. Our reasoning is that an opportunity exists around building our community and incorporating sustainability principles into infrastructure financing solutions for developing regions such as Africa and Latin America. Also, given my background in private equity and structured finance in Africa, I look forward to bringing my emerging market perspectives to enrich my classmates’ experiences in and out of class discussions. 

Tell us a fun fact about yourself that didn’t get included on your application:
I am the third of six children and the first of two boys. Growing up, I stuck around my mom and sisters, from whom I picked up excellent culinary skills. I make primarily west African cuisine but recently prepared Thai rice with curry flavor with the help of my friend and classmate. My signature dish is Nigerian party jollof rice. 

Post-MBA career interests:
I would love to be part of a team that helps companies raise capital and advise them on their most critical strategic decisions.

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application?
Talk to current students. They provided helpful guidance on approaching the application process and even mocked me for the interview. Speaking with 2Ys is also an opportunity to evaluate your fit with the school’s culture and narrow your list.

What is one thing you would change or do differently? 
I wrote the standardized test closer to the round 1 deadline and rushed the application process. So, I spread myself too thin. To the extent possible, I recommend you start the process as early as possible. In my experience, my classmates are some of the most brilliant people I have come across, some of them with near-perfect GMAT scores. Yet they told genuine stories to earn their spot. Also, I would communicate why I want to be at Booth and not somewhere else and highlight my potential value-add to the community.

What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
I am not the best with recorded prompts, so I found the short video question quite tricky. My friend was helpful by staying behind the camera, so it felt like I was talking to him while I focused on the camera. In hindsight, I found this stage a lot more reflective, and it provided additional data to bring my application to life. 

What is your initial impression of the Chicago Booth students/culture/community?
Beyond the pay forward culture, I love seeing my classmates switch easily from finance, marketing or entrepreneurship enthusiasts to social butterflies. We recently organized a global social event where Booth year one students from all around the world hosted everyone else and gave insights into their unique culture. It was fun for the African team to share our smoky party jollof rice and afrobeats with other Boothies whilst we also jammed to Indian gallan goodiyaan and Brazilian samba among others. Despite the racial, social, gender, and sexual orientation diversity, Chicago Booth is an extremely cerebral academic and inclusive community. 

What is one thing you have learned about Chicago Booth that has surprised you?
The sheer homeliness of the Booth environment is refreshing. I feel very welcome at Booth because the students and faculty members have constantly shown a genuine commitment to one another that goes beyond personal ambition. 

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Two years seem far but can go by quickly. I am eager to balance academic and recruiting activities while making the most of my social experience. 

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year? 
I am really excited about the numerous experiential leadership opportunities at Booth. One of my major motivations for pursuing the MBA is to evolve into a global and more intentional leader, and I have no doubt that the resources at Booth will be instrumental to cultivating these skills. We recently had our first LEAD (the only required course at Booth) event at Wisconsin, and the activities offered me fresh perspectives on the importance of self-reflection, awareness, and capitalizing on the strengths and weaknesses of my team members.

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.