African women are transforming the continent and breaking stereotypes

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Top of the class

Poets & Quants Best & Brightest Executive MBA Graduates

Madonna is one of the school’s 30% Club Scholar and volunteers alongside classmate Raluca Epureanu on the Oxford Liber Project. Recently completing her Executive MBA, Madonna has been listed in the Poets and Quants' Best & Brightest Executive MBAs of 2022.

It feels surreal to be listed amongst Poets and Quants 2022 Best and Brightest EMBAs. I am honoured to represent the School because it is an institution that has supported my personal and professional development goals. Oxford Saïd has also equipped me with the right tools and skills to grow as a leader and given me the opportunity to collaborate on interesting projects. I am excited that the world gets to see how African women are transforming the continent and breaking stereotypes.


Why the Oxford Executive MBA?

As an African woman, it was important to choose a programme that would develop my leadership capabilities and give me the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded individuals on projects. I considered factors such as diversity of the cohort, experience of the School’s teaching faculty and African student societies. My conversations with alumni, current students and Jonathan Dover (Head of Recruitment for Africa) were also instrumental.

I am happy that I chose Oxford because the EMBA has been instrumental in my career journey and personal growth. It has provided the environment and framework I need to generate solutions that will improve my community.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work?

I think the biggest lesson I gained was confidence. Black women are stereotyped as 'angry or unreasonable' when we disagree with decisions at the workplace or speak out against bias, inequality and discrimination. The EMBA has given me a platform to voice my opinions and speak up without shame. At work these days, I know that my opinion not only matters, but is impactful and valuable. This level of confidence allows me to lead and make better decisions because I trust my own intuition.

Juggling work, family and education

I started a new job six months into my EMBA. It was the most intense year of my life because I was committed to not only attending classes but crushing my objectives at work. Months later a fire broke out at home which caused significant damage. I recall waking up one morning tired, grumpy, and drained - eyes red and swollen. Not only had I contracted malaria, but I had a deadline at work, a school group assignment that was almost due and I was living out of a suitcase with my Mom in a hotel as renovations to repair the fire damage were at a fever pitch at home. I stayed up late every night playing catchup on school, work and managing laborers. I had a sit-down with my line manager and was honest about my struggles and the need for adjustment. My EMBA study group was also very understanding throughout the entire experience.

Despite these challenges, our department at work achieved a best practice recognition for innovations that I had introduced in compliance. I think the most important thing for me was that I was surrounded by people at home, work, and school who understood and supported my journey.


What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an Executive MBA programme?

Choose a programme that aligns with your future goals and is right for you. Do not be afraid to network or go outside your comfort zone. Speaking to alumni and current students is very helpful and gives you an insider’s perspective.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal?

According to an African Development Bank report, women are the bedrock of food and agriculture production in Africa, supporting its population by producing 60% of the food. However, women rarely own land in Nigeria or usually have access to it through male relatives. My long-term goal is to design a Women in Agriculture Empowerment index that migrates women farmers from analogue systems of farming to a digital platform. This insight into the extent and sources of agricultural disempowerment will assist the Federal Government in preparing budgets that encourage women to pursue careers in the food and agri-business as a revenue generating activity. Hopefully this will lead to more women becoming financially independent and taking on leadership roles in their communities.