Cohort chats: Siji's Oxford story

3 minute read
Siji Sowonola

Get to know one of our MSc in Major Programme Management current students, Siji Sowonola, by reading about his background, aspirations, motivations and plans for the future in an interview conducted by fellow classmate, Alexander Nowak.

Generations through Oxford
Expectations. Standards.
Aspirations. Dreams.

Being an Oxford scholar bears weight without respite, so how does one manage these with the added pressure that comes from living up to a true trailblazing lineage?

Let me introduce you to the curious case of the definition disrupting Siji Sowonola and his incredible path to the MSc in Major Programme Management (MMPM).

A little bit about Siji…

Born in Nigeria and a dual citizen of the United Kingdom, Siji has spent most of his life in his ever-dynamic home country. A first-class honours chemical engineer by training, he’s a battle-tested veteran of the oil and gas industry. Siji’s been delivering projects in a multitude of capacities, including senior process/project engineer, engineering manager, and project/programme manager, making him an ideal candidate for the academic and practical challenges that come with completing an MMPM degree.

It runs in the family

Never shy to speak up in class and question our assumptions, Siji is no stranger to challenging norms. He believes his confidently inquisitive nature can be linked to his family heritage, boasting a particularly noteworthy legacy of his grand aunt, Lady Kofo Ademola: the first black African woman to graduate from Oxford.

Siji says, ‘Her accomplishments made the family incredibly proud, and the challenges she overcame inspire me to push myself every day, including following in her footsteps by graduating from Oxford.’

While their journeys may have differed dramatically, with Lady Kofo being a Nigerian educationist and author, Siji did do her legacy justice (and family proud) in following her footsteps through the arches of Oxford University.

Why Major Programme Management?

Sometimes it’s timing, sometimes it’s fit, and sometimes? Sometimes it’s both.

For Siji, his eye had been on Saïd Business School for almost a decade. It culminated in an attempt a few years back but it just wasn’t meant to be.

‘I had tried out the MBA in 2015… I was having a discussion with a golf buddy sometime last year who happened to be a part of the MMPM cohort 6; he introduced the programme to me and said it would be the best fit for the type of career I had. Probably one of the best pieces of advice I ever received.’


Off hours? Tea tee time!

Always sporting a smile as wide as he is tall (a whisker under 200cm!), Siji embraces the Oxford ethos to engage, contribute, and relish all the community has to offer. A sports aficionado who almost turned pro in basketball, Siji loves hosting barbecues, hanging out with friends, and golf…especially golf.

A part of the University’s exclusive 18-member first team (OUGC Blues), Siji supercharges his schedule by travelling to different courses every weekend of Michaelmas and Hilary terms, playing against some of the best golf clubs in the UK and enjoying their great hospitality.

Siji says, ‘The highlight of the season is the Varsity match against Cambridge that takes place in Hilary term. Only 12 players would qualify for the varsity match with selection based on the season’s performance and a trial round early in Hilary term.’

What’s next?

Throughout the degree Siji aims to incorporate, bit by bit, the insights gleaned from academics, materials, and his classmates into the ever-challenging projects he manages. Post-degree, Siji expects to establish himself as a leader in his sector…with such a combination of pedigree, skill and motivation as his, following the path blazed by his grand aunt is certainly within reach.

Expectations, standards? Met.
Aspirations, dreams? Set.
Anything to add? Only inspirations.