Tade Fayomi, a former Vice President in the Asset Management Division of Goldman Sachs who is planning to go for a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) at INSEAD Business School, explains to Funmi Ogundare why it is imperative for people to constantly learn new things and leverage on their network to be successful in life.
At a time when most of her mates are probably focusing only on marriage or just thinking of charting a career path for themselves , Ms Tade Fayomi, 29, at a very young age knew what she wanted in life.
Straight from university, she joined Goldman Sachs, a leading global investment banking, securities and investment management firm with international offices worldwide. She worked there for eight years and rose through the ranks from Analyst to Associate, and Vice President while being moved to work in the organisation’s London, New York, Singapore and Dubai offices.
In May this year, while she was in the Dubai office, she resigned from the firm to pursue a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) at INSEAD Business School in Fontainebleau, France.
She spent summer in Lagos, working in infrastructure finance and familiarising herself with business in Nigeria, reconnecting with her network; comprising old school and work friends and getting acquainted with the market in order to gain perspectives that will be useful during and after her MBA..
In an interview with THISDAY, she talks about what it takes to get an MBA, saying, “For very competitive schools the process can be very demanding. It could take you up to a year to put your entire application together. For most schools, you also have to take the GMAT exam which could be quite challenging. Schools post their average GMAT scores and it’s only natural that you’ll want to at least reach it or do even better.
“They may not specify on their website a required score. People do it quite a few times to get it right. Schools also want students who already know what they want to do with he MBA, have an idea of their career goals, and who are leaders in various sectors.
“It is not everybody that can manage people and have the skill set required. That is what they can teach you and they so so with case studies such that, for example, when you are taken to a new country or business in five years time, you know what you need to do to make the business successful. So they look out for the leadership and entrepreneur skills and your ability to grow businesses.
On how getting an MBA will transform business education and management practice, she said it is about utilising one’s skills to manage different types of individuals at different sector and different situations.
“It is not just about managing people because there are different unit with different individuals at different sectors and different situations. I learnt on the job, not as a manager, but through my managers and colleagues on the different teams I had to work with, at different stages in their business cycle. I worked on different teams in the UK, Singapore and Dubai. But now I think about it from the angle of what I can learn in the classroom, from my professors and the other students in the MBA program.
“That is really different and I know that I when I go to a top school for my MBA, I will be able to learn from experts who have done so well in their industry and have become professionals. So from learning from them and establishing that network, I can leverage that when I come to Nigeria. There are about 500 people in my class.
“It is a super diverse class, no one country is more than five percent of the class . we have people from Turkey to Taiwan, such that if I go into fashion for instance, my classmate who is from Turkey knows where I can get cheap fabric . That is what I want to have; the network, because that is what you are paying for.”
She said getting an MBA will add a lot of value to one’s career development, noting, “First from the academic perspective, it is a must thing to do. There are many jobs out there , you can’t even apply for them if you don’t have a master’s degree, secondly, it is a perfect opportunity to learn so much especially if you have been working in one industry .
“For many people that I know who have completed their MBAs, it is an opportunity for you to learn a lot more and acquire the skills you need for the next stage in your career. From the employers perspective , managers will see that you went to a really good school to get an MBA and gained the necessary skills.”
On what it takes to manage people, Fayomi said, “Good managers are people who genuinely want their team and business to succeed. You need to know their strengths and weaknesses and what they need to work on. For example, if you are scoring a B in one area and a D in another, it will likely be easier to turn that B into an A, than to turn that D into a B. People who have been managers know their team’s strengths and they ran with it.”
With her experience, the former vice president said it will impact the socioeconomic development of the country and the education sector adding, “More and more people are going abroad to get their MBA which could mean more and more business schools being established in Nigeria.
“With my experience it is difficult to say, but it all boils down to what I want to do after school. I definitely want to have a positive impact in Nigeria and at this point I am just thinking to myself that the best way to do that is to work with businesses and help them to grow, and specifically to work with women entrepreneurs. If you look at our culture, there are many hurdles for women in business.
“Women do not have have a lot of access to capital. If you look at the statistics, women don’t have as much access to capital, mentorships, networking and training. I want to work with this women. This is what I am passionate about. That is the kind of thing I want to do, that is the kind of impact I want to create, and see how these women do businesses that have been running for a couple of years and you just need the education and determination to actually grow.
“Statistics show that if you give one dollar to a woman, it benefits the economy more than one dollar given to a man. Women spend money on children, school fees, food for the family, etc.
She advised the youths on skills needed to succeed saying, “Doing business has to do with being persistent, recognising what you want and so your marketing, and thinking about new creative ways to engage with clients and customers. One of those things I learnt at Goldman Sachs is strategy and thinking of different ways to engage with people and have something impactful to convince them with .
“You must be able to use your network and reach out to different people and leverage on that. If you are looking for customers, your first port of call should be your immediate network – your family, friends and former classmates. All of whom are your first first customers. You also have to constantly learn new things through conferences and empower yourself . In Nigeria, people take a lot of shortcuts which harm their businesses.”