This week’s Tell! Interview is really special as it is the first time we would ever be interviewing two people at the same time. Yay!
Less than a month ago, two students of the university of Ibadan qualified to represent Nigeria at the CFO Case study challenge in South Africa, and they emerged 1st Runner Up (Naija all the way!). This week, Tell! interviews gets to tell the story of Ayobami Olasupo and Seun Sunmola , the university of Ibadan students who represented Nigeria at the global competition.
Hey guys. We would like you both to introduce yourselves briefly
Ayo: I’m Ayobami Marcus Olasupo, final year student of the University of Ibadan. I aspire to help people and organisations do whatever they do, but better.
Seun: I’m Oluwaseun Sunmola, an Engineering student at University of Ibadan by day and a Growth Marketer at night. Talk to me about viral coefficients and retention rates, you’ve won my heart.
From your responses, it is obvious that you are both not typical UI Students. In 5 words, can you describe yourselves and your interests?
Ayo: Management Consulting
Awake? What does that mean?
Seun: Free to make my own decisions. Unbound by societal expectations.
Mad o. So it turns out your interests and your course of study don’t truly align, really. Abeg How Has school contributed to helping you learn more about your interests? How have you been able to find a balance?
Ayo: Well, it really has. Without school (and probably my course of study), I wouldn’t have found the interests, trust me. I can remember my first exposure to management consulting was when I met an alumni of my same course of study practising it. So, school has given me the chance to discover as well as the invaluable network.
The reason I opted for Elect/Elect was driven by my passion for technology. I still love solving problems via technology and I enjoyed my last 6 months internship doing just that.
Seun: Yes, it definitely has. I have interests in marketing for startups and contrary to conventional beliefs, marketing at this scale isn’t hinged primarily on creative thinking but rather data and analytics. And as an Engineering student, these are skills you utilize every single day in class. So yeah, school has helped largely in developing by competency with numbers and models.
To be honest, I wouldn’t quite say I’ve found a balance between my interests and school. As university requires you read and remember a lot of facts and I consider myself more of a hands-on learning kind of individual, so I tend to spend more time working on projects outside of the curriculum.
Congratulations on emerging as global first runner ups at the CFO case study challenge! Can you tell us a story of how the experience was for you
Ayo: It was an exciting, yet challenging experience. I could remember being intimidated when I first came across the past case studies and solutions. Coming from an engineering background, it was a long jump and required us to learn theoretical concepts and apply them within a short period!
We had two students from Economics on the team to also assist with the financial analysis et al. The CFO gave us the opportunity to compete on an equal footing with peers from around the world. We were absolutely glad all the WhatsApp group calls, weekend meetings, research assignments and video shoots paid off. Competing at the finals was absolutely exhilarating. The global presentations, feedbacks, new relationships, dinner conversations and what not.
Seun: Our biggest challenge came when we found out that the two Economics students on our team were unable to accompany us to South Africa for the semi-finals.
At that moment, we had two choices: either to give in to the reality that two Engineering students could never stand a chance competing against business and finance majors from top universities in Europe and North America or to level up and work harder to gain the ground we had lost.
I’m glad we choose the latter, and I’m grateful it turned out well.
Amazing Stuff!. So what would you say made you stand out and win?
Ayo: It’s simple:
We found out what’s required of us and stood resolute to give them all that. Part of the case study was overcoming Tesla.
The task is in doing the latter, we did that in every way possible. I took courses on edX, Seun had to read tens of articles and became so acquainted with Tesla as if he was a stakeholder there 😅
Seun: Ayo has said it perfectly, hard work in the right direction, to the point where the evening to the semi-finals Marcus was quoting some of Volkswagen’s financial figures down to the last unit. It took a minute for me to realise my dropped mouth was still open in astonishment. 😅
UI Cramming skills paid off! So What did you bring for us from South Africa?
Ayo: Some Mandela memorabilia 😅 plus apartheid folk tales.
Seun: Love lol
So, what’s next for you guys after the competition?
Ayo: Getting occupied with similar activities to sustain the vigour, especially reading of great books and articles.
The competition opens again on November 10, I should be available to mentor a couple of teams too.
Seun: In the short term, finish my last semester and graduate in March lol. But next year, travel to a couple of countries while building a high revenue yielding DNVB brand.
Where do you see yourselves in the next 5years? Engineering or Management?
Ayo:Helping a Fortune 100 company to rethink it’s strategy to sustain double-digit growth. Pretty close to management. Although engineering and management are not mutually exclusive. So, I’m not parting ways with engineering per se.
Seun: Walking on the streets of Berlin after advising on of the largest retail brands in Germany on how they can grow their sales online. That’s definitely not Engineering not sure its management too.
If there was one thing you could change in the CFO experience, what would it be?
Ayo: More global coverage. A lot of students still don’t know about the competition. I discussed it with the project director, he narrated the challenges they’re facing and assured me of their efforts in improving that.
Seun: I wish the competition didn’t run for 1 week but rather 1 month 😅, I want to stay longer in Sandton.
What is your advice to Other University students across Nigeria, generally who feel like the education system isn’t supporting them to achieve their dreams.
Ayo: Find your tribe and cling to it, let them be like a support system for you. There are people who passed through the same education system and are now shattering the ceilings in their respective disciplines.
Seun: This is not news, the system is broken and every Nigerian know this. But still many of people still go on to do incredible things.
Forget the system, focus on yourself, you have access to more information than all the libraries on Earth combined right (The Internet). And you’re still complaining.
If you never achieve all the dreams in your heart because “Nigeria’s educational system is bad”, it was your fault not the system’s.
Any quotes or parting words?
Ayo: Take a challenge and put yourself out there. You’re probably more valuable than you think.
Seun: Don’t let anyone deceive you, you have everything you need to make your dreams a reality, rise up and work.
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