We’d like to introduce you to Manasseh, b-school applicant, doctor, investment manager, and blogger at The MBA Journey of an African Doctor. Enjoy Manasseh’s unique journey below!
Accepted: We'd like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? Do you hold any other degrees? What sort of doctor are you?
Manasseh: I am from Nigeria. Got my undergraduate degree, as a medical doctor, also from Nigeria. I am what you will refer to as a general practitioner i.e. I did not specialize. I don't have any other degree but I have the CFA charter.
Accepted: Why are you pursuing an MBA at this stage of your career? What do you plan on doing post-MBA?
Manasseh: Honestly, I should have applied a little earlier, but I was not financially stable because of my young family and a few challenges along the way. I have gotten to the peak of my career as an investment manager, and I believe that it is now time to bring my knowledge of two disparate industries, healthcare and finance, together. I want to work at the intersection between finance and healthcare to bring healthcare delivery to the poorest in Africa.
Now is also the right time to acquire the skills that will help me to achieve this goal because Nigeria has been privatizing different sectors of the economy in order to improve the quality of services. Telecommunications and the electricity sector have been privatized and it will soon be the turn of the health sector. I want to be ready when that happens.
Accepted: I see you're considering top b-schools in the U.S. (HBS, Wharton, and Stanford), as well as INSEAD. What would you say are the pros and cons of studying in a U.S. institution versus a European school?
Manasseh: Most US institutions have two year MBA courses, which allow the students time to really reflect about their post-MBA goals and to also assimilate the curriculum. However, this may not be too good for an older candidate like me who may want to quickly integrate back into the system because emerging markets such as the ones in Africa are changing very rapidly and six months may be a very long time away. Most European institutions are one year accelerated MBA programs that cut down this time to 10 - 12 months. However, I am not afraid to be away for such a long time because I don't think two years is enough to get a lot of traction in the health sector in Africa, given some other factors that are currently playing out.
A two year MBA course will allow me the time to really imbibe the required skills that I need to get to the next level.
Accepted: What would you say has been your greatest challenge so far in the application process? What steps did you take to overcome that challenge?
Manasseh: My greatest challenge in the application process was getting the Transcript. In most parts of Africa, academic records are still kept in paper files. It also becomes a little complicated for someone like me who graduated from the university about 8 years ago because papers get missing and results disappear. It took me a solid 11 months to get my Transcript. I actually got it about three days before the INSEAD Round 2 deadlines. It was the non-availability of the transcript that stopped me from applying for the INSEAD Round 1.
I could have said GMAT was the most challenging because I took it three times but that was entirely under my control since I got a 670 on the first try and I knew that a 700 was just at arm’s length but the transcript was entirely out of my control, and it also took soooo long.
Accepted: As an international applicant and a doctor from West Africa, you certainly have an edge when it comes to the diversity factor that b-schools seek. How have you worked that into your application strategy?
Manasseh: Trust me, I really brought out all the factors that I believe would make me standout. An international applicant, a medical doctor, an investment manager with a CFA charter, CIO of a fund worth over $2 billion and a very personal unique factor. I worked everything into the application strategy right from personal experiences when I was 9 and how all of them came together to the end where I hope to be a major player at the intersection between finance and healthcare in a potential $100 billion industry in sub-Sahara Africa.
If anything would work against me, it would be my age (I am in my mid 30s), my poor academic performance and three tries at the GMAT (which I was able to explain since I had to finance myself through medical school because of my family's financial circumstances, and my ability to pass all three CFA exams at one sitting each).
Accepted: Can you offer some advice to our international applicant readers here?
Manasseh: Most international applicants, especially from sub-Sahara Africa who spent their whole lives in Africa tend to be older candidates. This can discourage them especially with so many blogs out there that claim that your chances are near zero once you are over 30.
I think the Adcoms would understand that we have a different way of life. Some of us have to contend with difficult conditions such as incessant university lecturers' strikes, poor infrastructures (I practically did 90% of my studies for the GMAT and CFA exams using candles), and many of us have to travel many hours by road or by air just to take the GMAT.
I would advise such applicants to look for a way to get really personal. We do not have opportunities that are taken for granted in the West. International applicants should look for a way to really work all these into their stories, and make them understand that it is much harder to attain certain things in life in an environment like ours where poverty rate hovers around 70% and unemployment rate is stuck at 25%.
Accepted: Can you tell us about your blog? Who is your target audience? How have you benefited from the blogging experience?
Manasseh: My blog address is www.knightmba.com. I call myself a knight because of what I want to achieve in the future. Sub-Sahara Africa is my lady. I started the blog because I know that an MBA will provide a powerful turning point in my life especially if I get into my dream school (well, my dream school changes every day, so pardon me if I cannot tell you which one it is right now). I look forward to business school and putting down all my thoughts. Maybe my experience will inspire many other Africans to get the same experience so that we can all work together to push our mother continent beyond the place where our fathers have brought her to.
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