A lawyer's path to the Oxford MBA

4 minute read

We are excited to welcome the Oxford MBA Class of 2021-2022 to Oxford this September. Get to know our incoming students in this blog post series as they prepare to join Saïd Business School. Here, inaugural Laidlaw Scholar Ifeoluwa Ogunbufunmi tells us what led her to the Oxford MBA.

'What made you so confident to try something so unconventional as a lawyer?' 'You took the GRE?' 'How could you even get through that hurdle?' 'Weren’t you scared?' 'What if it didn’t work out?' These are some of the recurring questions I haven’t stopped answering since I secured my admission to Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, for my MBA.

I trained as a lawyer in Nigeria – that meant five years in university and one year of law school. At the start of my career, I was very fortunate to be exposed to a career-defining opportunity – working in the Office of Nigeria’s Vice President (thanks to the faith my mentor, Dr Jumoke Oduwole, had in me). I was the youngest on her team – as a Senior Aide to the Vice President, who led the country’s Ease of Doing Business team. For me as a Legal and Strategy Associate, this involved a lot of exciting opportunities and responsibilities – from making presentations on behalf of Nigeria in Johannesburg, South Africa and Washington DC, to championing and implementing business climate reforms that impacted Nigeria’s business environment. It was such a rich experience!

Fast forward to two years later, I moved from my job in the public sector to work with one of Nigeria’s top-tier commercial law firms. I started as an Associate in the Finance team of the firm. Within a few months alongside some close colleagues, I pioneered the FinTech team in the firm. I worked very closely with young tech founders, as they developed new products and expanded their businesses to different countries on the African continent. It was exciting for me to be in those rooms and actively involved in those conversations.

But I knew that I wanted more experiences – that required not just the legal documentation for tech businesses but being at the core of thinking and strategising on how these businesses evolve and can make so much impact on people’s lives. 

When I started to think deeply about the best graduate degree to apply for, I did a lot of soul searching (thanks to traffic-saving hours occasioned by the pandemic and working from home). I asked a lot of questions, reached out to a lot of people, did lots of research, and most importantly to me as a Christian, did a lot of praying. The more I did all of these, the more it became clearer that, as I looked to build a career in technology and strategy, the MBA was the best-suited degree for this.

And so the journey began – exhilarating and daunting all at the same time. From studying for the GRE between June and December 2020 and taking the exam twice while working multiple jobs, to putting together strong essays that conveyed my experiences and clear desire to get into the Oxford MBA, to the interview prep and finally getting to that day on 19 March 2021 when I received my offer for the Oxford MBA! 

It is all still so clear in my mind and crazy how far I’ve come. I remember at my send-forth lunch at the firm, my team’s partner said she knew very few lawyers who had gone to get their MBAs but no one was as young as I was. It was so fulfilling to hear!

The support as I went on this new and ‘unconventional’ path was massive – my dearest family, my amazing friends who we all went on this journey together and got admitted into our dream business schools, my MBA community (City of Lane), my recommenders, well-wishers and God Almighty (who consistently crowns all my efforts with mind-blowing wins).

Today, I am an MBA candidate at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford – one of the world’s greatest universities and also the recipient of the full tuition scholarship from the Laidlaw Foundation! I’m thankful, grateful and absolutely thrilled to be joining a class of more than 320 students from 65+ countries.

I’m prepared to immerse myself in everything – travelling with my cohort, learning with and from my cohort, and the stellar faculty on the Oxford MBA. I’m looking forward to sharing more and more experiences as I go along this beautiful journey in the next 12 months.