Pascal Ekeh, Mendoza College of Business MBA Class of 2025
Hometown: Imo State, Nigeria
Undergraduate Institution and Major: University of Ibadan (Nigeria), Law (LL.B.)
Pre-MBA Work Experience (role, company, years): Senior Associate, Forensic (Financial Advisory), Deloitte Nigeria – 4 years. As a Senior Associate at Deloitte Nigeria, I held a multifaceted role within the Forensic Unit of the Financial Advisory department. My responsibilities revolved around investigating allegations of corporate fraud and misconduct, conducting due diligence reviews, and performing corporate governance reviews for a diverse clientele. My work involved reviewing documents, examining financial records, scrutinizing transactions, and interviewing relevant parties to uncover fraudulent activities within client organizations. Although my role was not of a conventional legal nature, my legal background was instrumental. My job and the exposure I got from it were part of what reinforced my commitment to pursuing an MBA to further develop my business acumen and leadership capabilities.
Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
Pursuing an MBA has always been a part of my long-term career goals. I decided to wait until now to acquire some work experience before applying and to be certain I wanted to toe that path. As a lawyer, it made natural sense to go for a Master of Law program, but I didn’t want that for myself. After working for five years and witnessing tangible growth in my career, I decided it was time to upskill. I became aware that there is still much to learn, particularly in areas such as leadership, management, and entrepreneurship and I believe that an MBA will equip me with these skills. Furthermore, at some point, I realized that my existing line of work no longer aligned with my professional interests and future ambitions (euphemism for boredom). While I have garnered invaluable skills and experiences in my current role, I am eager to explore new opportunities and embrace fresh challenges. The MBA represents not only an opportunity to enhance my skill set but also a medium through which I can successfully pivot into a new career path.
Why did you choose Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
First, it was about the reputation of Notre Dame. While I was preparing to apply, my friend told me about Notre Dame and asked me to check it out. I saw that Notre Dame has an outstanding reputation in the United States and globally and consistently ranks among the top business schools. So, Notre Dame
went from not being on my list of schools to being among my top preferred schools. Also, Notre Dame has a reputation for a strong and responsive alumni network, and I recognized that being part of this network could open doors to numerous opportunities for growth, collaboration, and impact. Another critical factor that drew me to Notre Dame was its unique emphasis on growing the good in business. As a lawyer and fraud investigator, I have seen instances where businesses negatively impacted society while meeting the selfish needs of the few. I have experienced and read so many stories of corruption. I firmly believe that businesses should not just be profit-driven but should also have a positive impact on society. So, the “growing the good in business” mantra appealed to me a lot. Lastly, my intention to apply for roles in consulting played a significant role in my decision. Notre Dame Mendoza has a focused pathway for consulting, and I know I would benefit from that.
What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2025?
My most valuable contribution to the Class of 2025 is my unique experience, and I’m committed to being my authentic self. I come from Nigeria in West Africa, a huge multicultural society, studied law there, and worked with a firm with a global presence before coming to Notre Dame. I believe that by sharing my experiences and worldviews, I can help others learn and grow alongside me. So far, in my Ethics class, we have been having a lot of conversations around sexism and gender equity, sexual harassment, friendship, inclusivity, and workaholism, amongst others. I enjoy sharing my own unique experience based on my background, and I am happy to learn from others.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself that didn’t get included on your application:
I have a huge love for sarcasm, and it’s a trait that sometimes leads me into amusing situations and trouble too. It’s one reason why The Big Bang Theory remains one of my favorite TV shows. I resonate with the witty banter and clever humor.
Post-MBA career interests:
I am interested in building a career in consulting. I am interested in consulting because I understand businesses face a lot of unique problems in the face of a rapidly changing world. It would be a privilege to be at the forefront in helping to proffer solutions to these problems. In the long run, I also hope to establish my own consulting outfit. The picture is not yet clear, but it’s a goal I have.
Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
I will persist, like I did, through the application process. Applying for an MBA can be rigorous, and one needs to be tenacious. I reached out to the admissions team a lot for clarifications, and I think that helped me on my journey. I sometimes felt like I was being a bother, but they were always happy to answer me, so I’d advise any prospective to reach out to seek clarifications, when in doubt.
–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
If I could change or do one thing differently in hindsight, it would be to start the application process and take the required tests much earlier in the planning stages. This would have allowed me more time to prepare thoroughly and alleviate some of the time pressure I experienced. Additionally, I would have reached out to more people from the school, particularly current students, before applying. I reached out to some, but everyone is limited in their experience. Engaging more people would have helped a lot. There are things I now know that I wish I knew earlier.
–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
I would have gladly skipped the GRE test. Preparing for it while juggling a demanding work schedule was challenging. I know I could have done better if I had prepared better. Additionally, the visa application process, although not directly related to the admissions process, was overwhelming and emotionally draining. It came with a lot of demands and uncertainty. What helped me get through these challenges was the support of friends and staying organized. Also, I knew that good things don’t always come easy.
What is your initial impression of the Notre Dame Mendoza students/culture/community?
My initial impression of Notre Dame was positive. On my first day at Notre Dame Mendoza, I was warmly welcomed by the community. I had gone through a lot of stress in the preceding weeks and resumed a bit late. I was a bit unsure of myself at that point. But on my first day, I was warmly welcomed. The Director of Student Services, Christine, extended a kind and understanding gesture, acknowledging the challenges I had faced and reassuring me that great achievements often require significant effort.
I could sense that people were genuinely willing to help and offer their support. It was reassuring. Additionally, the campus itself is truly remarkable, with its beautiful surroundings and well-maintained facilities.
What is one thing you have learned about Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business that has surprised you?
One thing that has surprised me about Notre Dame Mendoza is the immense passion and energy surrounding football. The love for the sport is palpable and adds a unique and exciting dimension to the school’s culture. Even the professors are interested and engaged in the football culture, creating a unique sense of camaraderie. Before any match, my accounting professor always ends the class with a big, inspiring speech that charges us to support the team. The atmosphere during these moments is always electric, and it’s evident that these speeches not only create a sense of unity but also fuel our enthusiasm to support the Fighting Irish. I could not afford to be left out, and I wanted to see for myself, so I got the tickets for the season. I attended my first tailgate and football match on 2 September 2023 – Notre Dame vs. Tennessee State and it’s safe to say I have embraced the passion that football fever brings.
What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
One thing I am most anxious about in my first year is striking a balance between the rigorous academic calendar, non-academic/extracurricular activities, and career development. I feel like I am being pulled on many sides. Managing my time effectively and prioritizing these various aspects of my education and personal growth will be a challenge, but I’m eager to learn and adapt to ensure a successful and fulfilling experience. I am embracing collaboration to sail through.
What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
One thing I am most excited about in my first year is immersing myself in the culture of the institution and taking full advantage of the available resources for personal and academic growth. I look forward to embracing new experiences, building meaningful connections, and expanding my horizons in this vibrant and supportive community. I like my professors and classmates.