IMD International

Leveraging family support for a life-changing degree program

The story of 2004 MBA Ariwoola Ogbemi, Country Managing Director, Statoil, Nigeria

April 10, 2014

In 2004, Ariwoola Ogbemi, head of Statoil Nigeria's IT department, felt a need to further challenge herself and embarked on an MBA journey at IMD. In her own words, here is her story of what it was like to take on the degree program: 

At the time, in 2004, Statoil was charting a path for international growth, so my main goal was to change to a more business oriented role that would create a path to top management in an international setting. 

When I decided to do the MBA, my kids were just two and four years old - I spent months trying to figure out how it would work. The MBA is a significant investment in time and money which is quite difficult to prioritize when you have a young family. I finally made the tough decision to leave my children with my husband in Nigeria for a year. In my mind, it was clear that the MBA, apart from being a personal goal, was also a way of improving the opportunities available to me and my family, but I couldn't have done it without my husband's 100% support. 

I remember the exact moment I got the phone call letting me know I had been accepted to IMD. It was about 2 hours after I finished my interview and I was on the train to Geneva to catch my flight home. I was just so happy. I immediately called my husband, mother, brothers… everyone and told them!    

The IMD MBA widens your perspectives and expands what you think is possible. I lived and worked with very bright people for 11 months and it was a real eye opener to what can be achieved. The lecturers inspired all of us and made me push myself harder. I remember them saying, "you will be the business leaders of tomorrow." 

As the end of the program approached, I was lucky to avoid the stress of multiple applications and interviews in different countries as I knew I wanted to stay within the oil and gas industry. I took the option of returning to Statoil, but in strategy and business development. From there, I took on increasing responsibilities in different business areas and broadened my knowledge base. I had to be flexible and mobile in order to take advantage of different opportunities - I moved my family from Nigeria to Norway twice, which was not easy. But now I lead the Statoil Nigeria organization, which is probably what my ideal outcome would have been when I started the MBA. 

IMD's development of leadership and self-awareness is invaluable when you have to work in a team or lead organizations. Understanding different personality types, how to work with them, how to motivate them, this helps a lot in getting the most out of your organization. I learnt the value of regular reflection and self-examination. In making tough career choices or important business decisions, being able to really reflect and judge what you believe is best provides more clarity in the decision making process. It was definitely worth it.

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