MBA Mama Spotlight: Folaseto Akin-Olugbade of London Business School
Folaseto is a rising second-year MBA candidate at London Business School. Prior to LBS, Folaseto was a Manager in the Transactions team at Pricewaterhouse Coopers in Nigeria, where she covered various industries, advising local and international investors. Notably, she was instrumental in setting up the Deals Strategy team as a subset of the Transactions team. Prior to PwC, she worked at KPMG as a Management Consultant, and at Afrinvest as an investment banking analyst.
At LBS, Folaseto is an executive of the Private Equity and Venture Capital Club and an active member of the Women in Business Club. She is passionate about private sector development. In her spare time, she provides free advice to SMEs to help define and achieve their strategic objectives. She is also an active member of WIMBIZ, the Professional Women Roundtable (PwR) and Fair Life Africa Foundation, a charity aimed at enriching the lives of those less fortunate. Folaseto holds an undergraduate degree in Computational Mathematics from the University of Leicester, UK.
Folaseto is mom to Teni, age 4. Folaseto and her husband currently have a cross-continental relationship while she pursues her dream of a professional degree.
As part of our Spotlight Series, Folaseto shared her MBA Mama experience with our team.
Why London Business School?
Folaseto chose LBS mainly because of its location — London, the hub for private equity investments in Africa. Luckily Folaseto also has family in the UK who she was able to get a great deal of support from during her program. Additionally, the flexibility of LBS’ program enabled Folaseto to work part-time during her MBA, which she wanted for her MBA experience.
Throughout her MBA and part-time work experience, time management was one of Folaseto’s biggest challenges.
I did not anticipate the amount of work that the MBA demanded. I really struggled to juggle being a mom, assignments, networking, traveling, club activities and so on. I am still trying to organize my life as I speak as I have the tendency to exert myself. My advice for pre-MBA women in the Class of 2018 is to start organizing your life now so that you get into the habit quickly and better manage the demands of the MBA.
Folaseto also advises MBA moms not take on more than you can chew. Do not commit to leadership roles if you do not feel up to it. You do not have to go on every trek or every happy hour!
When I got to LBS, I applied for every possible leadership position and got rejected from many of them. I am so grateful that I did not get any of those positions as I would have pulled all my hair out by now if I had gotten them. You cannot possibly do everything and be a mom. Do not conform or get distracted by what others are doing. Stick to what you can handle and when you have some spare time, take on a bit more. However, if you know that you are up to it then by all means, go for it. Remember to write your own MBA story and do not try to live someone else’s MBA.
Advice About Family and Career Planning
Folaseto offers the following advice for professional women considering an MBA and/or starting a family:
When the opportunity presents itself, take it and I promise you would never regret it. Look at it this way, you have nothing to lose and a lot more to gain. In most cases, the timing is never perfect and there are many distractions; a promotion, an engagement, pregnancy, and so on. When I got my offer at LBS, one of my bosses tried to convince me to stay back in Nigeria and offered me a dream career opportunity.
If you are considering starting a family and doing the MBA, it is not impossible, but you need to have the right support system. I know two women at LBS who had newborn babies when they started the program and were able to successfully complete the MBA. Nonetheless, everyone’s situation is different, so make sure you are well prepared to take on this responsibility.
Like other international students in MBA programs across the globe, Folaseto and her husband are managing a cross-continental marriage.
She shared how they have managed to make it work.
Honestly, we take one day at a time. It is really hard for most people in long distance relationships. Sometimes, I have had a really long day and need a hug and end up making do with my electric blanket!! Most importantly, we try to keep the communication lines going, making sure we speak at least once a day. He knows everything going on in school and I know everything going on with him back home. We also try to fly out to see each other as often as we can.
Folaseto has had a great support system throughout her MBA journey, she shared that:
I have mostly relied on my family for support and they have been so amazing. I had to get a visa for my daughter’s nanny however the visa is only valid for 6 months at a time after which you have to renew for another 6 months. She has to go back soon to renew her visa but luckily my mum is available to come over for a month while my nanny is away.
My husband has been most understanding and supportive; helping me fully achieve my dreams and not holding me back. For the entire first term, he had to look after our daughter while I settled into school, and he did an amazing job looking after her. Coming from a super-traditional country like Nigeria, that is a rare quality to find in a man. Our daughter is now in England for the rest of the year so that I can be closer to her; and my sister and her family have been simply wonderful, providing a home-away-from-home for our daughter, and standing in for us while I’m at school.
My classmates have also been really great; two of my closest friends at LBS are mums like myself who have been very supportive through this journey. We have 8+ parents in my class, and we try to have picnics and get together as often as we can. It’s great to have people around you who understand the peculiarities of being a parent on the MBA program.
Highlight(s) of her MBA experience
I have many highlights but will mention just two. One of my classes had a case about a Nigerian company that was an ex-client of mine and one that I knew really well. My classmates bullied me into taking an active role in class that day! It was really interesting trying to enrich my classmates’ learning experience by explaining several aspects of the case, putting things in context and telling them the company’s story post the case and where the company is today. I felt really privileged to be part of such an international school and be able to share my own experience.
I spent 9 months planning the LBS Africa Business Summit, whilst juggling school, being a mum and starting a new job just before the conference. The conference was amazing, the day went seamlessly and most importantly, many people got inspired. A friend of mine, who was considering staying in Europe post-MBA, decided to move back home instead and make an impact on the continent after attending the conference. Getting feedback like that and working with an amazing team made it so rewarding and worth the nine stressful months.
Folaseto has begun a summer internship with and African Private Equity firm. When she graduates from LBS next year, she plans to transition into a full-time career in PE, an industry that has traditionally been very male-dominated. Only 11.8% of senior North American private equity executives are female, according to Preqin. The MBA Mama team applauds Folaseto for tenaciously pursuing her career goals in such a competitive industry.