After multiple years in the workforce, MBA graduate Gbemi Maiyegun returned back to school to discover new career opportunities. At SMU Cox, Gbemi says that her MBA program allowed her to leverage her collective professional experiences in the classroom setting, and reach "unprecedented levels" of success.
Name: Gbemi Maiyegun
Hometown: Grew up in France, Kuwait, Nigeria, Austria and Texas
What are/were some activities you are/were involved with outside of class? How do/did you balance your time?
- President of the Black Graduate Student Association
- Cox Student Ambassador
- National Black MBA Association member
- Women in Business
- Cox Wine Club
- Marketing Club
- Teaching Assistant- Master Negotiation
It was important for me to stay active on campus and interact with other students and faculty through on campus organizations and activities. It took a lot of time management and prioritization in order to stay on top of studying, group meetings, social events, job hunting, and networking. I made sure to plan out my schedule at the beginning of every week and update my calendar as things came up. As a business student, my priority was to do well in class and land my dream job, but I also saw being involved as an important part to being a well rounded student. I was able to make great connections, gain new experiences, and acquire valuable leadership skills.
Why did you choose your MBA program? Do you have advice for students on how to make a decision?
After doing my research, I knew the tremendous opportunities that the Cox School of Business offered including; a strong network, a structured mentorship program through the Cox Associate Board, a unique culture, a rigorous curriculum, and an esteemed faculty. It was apparent that Cox strived to cultivate global citizens through a built-in study abroad opportunities for full time MBA students. I can say that my global leadership trip to Hong Kong and Shanghai was one of the best experiences I had in the 2-year program. Having lived in Dallas, TX since 2011, I was exposed to Alumni, mentors, and colleagues who shared their amazing experiences at the Cox School of Business. Knowing that I would have access to a strong network of people in a growing city with many world-renowned companies, I knew that Cox would be a great stepping stone to success.
I would advise prospective students to go to as many open networking events as they can where representatives from select business schools will be present. Prospective students should look into their current networks to see if they have any connections to current MBA students in schools that they are interested in so that they can set up meetings to gain insight into the program and the business school application process. Try to get a feel for the culture of schools as much as possible whether it is through conversations, events, or on-campus visit.
What is something that you learned that was unexpected?
One thing I learned through my MBA experience is that professors view MBA students as their colleagues. My professors were very open to discussions, collaborations, and helping students grow academically or professionally. These interactions created a very comfortable and collaborative atmosphere and allowed students to freely express their ideas and open up to explore new ways of learning.
When did you decide you wanted to pursue an MBA? What inspired you? Did you pursue your MBA in order to switch careers?
Upon graduating from the McCombs School of Business with a BBA in Marketing, I knew that I wanted to gain some professional experience for a few years before obtaining my MBA. After graduation I went on to work for Teach for America as an educator where I was passionate about transforming the way students approached education. Although this was a rewarding experience, I wanted to understand the intricacies of a large corporation so I went on to work as an account consultant at a healthcare company. As a Nigerian woman that grew up in different countries around the world, I have always had a passion for understanding how similar products and services have the ability to transcend across numerous cultures due to the power of effective marketing. This has always drawn me to marketing. After 4 years in the workforce and networking with business professionals, I knew that in order to properly navigate the Marketing/Brand Management industry an MBA would play an integral role in taking me to the next phase in my career. Although I have been successful thus far and grown in past and present roles, I knew that an MBA would take me to unprecedented levels and I was excited to leverage my collective professional experiences in the classroom setting.
Did you do an internship during your MBA? How did that experience influence your education and career?
I interned at Kimberly Clark Professional during the summer of my MBA program. This was a very exciting and rewarding experience where I was able to put my knowledge into action and work on a challenging project for the company. For career switchers like myself, the summer internship was very important for me to get a feel for the marketing field and also gain exposure to the business of consumer packaged goods. Through this internship, I was able to see that marketing is such a multidimensional field that involves a lot of moving parts. It was great collaborating with different cross-functional teams and getting an opportunity to work with people that had many years of experience. Through this summer internship, I was able to solidify my passion for marketing, gain valuable marketing experience, network with other MBA students from across the country, and learn from marketing experts aa well as other cross-functional professionals that are integral to the overall marketing process.
Advice for Future Applicants
What is the one thing you wish someone had told you before you started the MBA application process?
I wish someone had stressed the importance of a strategic and properly managed internship and job hunting process. Business school in itself is, but when you throw in all the extracurricular activities and job-hunting it can get very stressful quickly. I had to constantly remind myself that Job offers will not start flying your way as soon as your start networking. I have learned that one must stay positive and continue to persevere regardless as how many times they hear “no”. Landing the ideal job takes a lot more than just showing up and putting on a smile. Students should be prepared to do a good amount of research about the company, industry, and role. I also made sure to be myself, be honest, and follow up afterwards in all interactions with companies that I was interested in. The job search is a learning experience, and although it is very challenging will be very rewarding in the end.