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Collaborating with others in your MBA program: An interview with alum Chikezie Anachu
One of the goals of the W. P. Carey School’s Executive Connections program is to foster connections beyond the classroom.
During his time at Arizona State University, alumnus Chikezie Anachu (Full-time MBA ’22) created relationships that continue to influence his life and career. “My mentor is someone who I will keep in touch with for the rest of my life,” he says.
Now residing in Dallas, Anachu is an associate for McKinsey & Co. — the organization he interned with as an MBA student. His mentor helped him gain the confidence to pursue a career and know he could succeed in the fast-paced consulting industry.
W. P. Carey spoke with Anachu about his Full-time MBA experience and the way it’s influenced his career since graduation.
Q&A with Chikezie Anachu
What is it that makes Executive Connections so unique and impactful? Mentors, alumni, and current students know best. This conversation has been edited and condensed.
Question: Why did you decide to pursue your MBA at W. P. Carey and ASU?
Answer: The opportunity to learn from not only the great faculty we have here, but from the excellent graduate programs we have across the university. This is a very special place in the sense that you've got top-ranked programs in law, business, sustainability, and engineering on campus, and the MBA program allows you to take classes across these programs and learn from the faculty. Beyond that, it's also a very personal experience. It's a small, close-knit MBA community, so there's a lot of support for every individual's needs.
Something else that's very important to me is the career outcomes available at the end of the program. This program delivers some of the best outcomes out there in business education. You have all kinds of top employers coming at you, so the job outlook is great. The class interactions and the relationships are amazing, and the curriculum across not only the business school, but all of ASU is fantastic too.
Q: What did you gain from your MBA, and how will those skills transfer to your career?
A: When I think about the MBA program, it’s a learning journey, an evolution of going from the pre-business school person to the post-business school person. That growth evolves across two different lines: your personal growth and professional growth. For me, the MBA experience was helpful for developing as a person, particularly with respect to my leadership skills. I got involved in different clubs and helped plan events that engaged the community. When I was at school, COVID was still very much a thing, so it forced us to get very creative about how to build personal relationships in a time of hardship. For me, those experiences will be valuable for the rest of my life, not just interacting with people in person, but virtually in a hybrid format.
On the professional side, we learned a lot, whether it was aspects of accounting, economics, or marketing. You learn these nuggets and this foundation of knowledge that become the springboard for a successful career. Being able to grow personally and professionally while in the MBA program was a real pleasure.
Q: What was the best piece of leadership advice you received?
A: Develop a growth mindset. Continue to imagine yourself as a learner, whether that's as a student in an MBA program or as a professional out there in the working world. Something my mum loves to say is that there's always going to be someone who is better at something than you are. But if we see it as an opportunity to learn from them and take whatever skills that are valuable or they are great at, and find ways to learn and improve those things yourself, you can set yourself up for a lot of success long term.
I constantly preach having a growth mindset and having the opportunity and humility to look back at the things you haven't done well. Look at people who are better at those things than you are. Learn from them, and add to your career moving forward.
Q: What would you say to a student who is considering the Full-time MBA program at W. P. Carey?
A: Just do it. Don’t second guess it. This is one of the best programs in the country. I'm saying that not just because of the curriculum, the faculty or the wonderful recruitment outcomes, but because it's a place of growth. Here in the Phoenix area, you get to learn a lot about the American Southwest, but also get to really know people because it's such a small, close-knit program. If you put in the work, you get to see all the ways you can grow as a person and you can achieve all the professional outcomes that you want for yourself. So if you get a chance to do the MBA program at W. P. Carey, you should do it. Don't overthink it.
Q: How did the Executive Connections program influence you as a person and your career path?
A: My mentor was an investment banker, so he understood at a deep level what it means to work in a fast-paced career. One of the things I shared with Rohnn early on was that I wanted to be in a fast-paced professional environment. I wanted to work at one of the top management consulting firms in the country. There are all these things that consultants have to do, including frequent travel and working very long, busy hours. I wanted to understand what it’s like to do that kind of job. Rohnn had that personal experience, had lived it, and was able to share that with me.
One thing he really helped me understand was that I could do it. I could be just as good and as driven as anyone who works at a top investment banking or consulting firm. I just had to believe that I could do it. He really encouraged me to focus on getting the career that I wanted out of the MBA program. That support is invaluable. He understood what it takes to get there, what it takes to succeed, and he was willing to show me the ropes. So working with Rohnn was very valuable in my recruitment experience and helped me choose a career in management consulting.
Q: How has the idea of Where Business is Personal showed up for you in your experience?
A: One of the ways that I felt like I completely understood Where Business is Personal at W. P. Carey is the way that our classmates who had babies were supported. One of my classmates had a baby during my time in the program, and it was amazing to see everyone rally around him. He couldn’t make some classes in-person, and I wasn't able to see him for a little while. But everyone sent him a message of support and celebrated the new baby.
For me, it was really uplifting because that's something that shows how much we all understand each other at a personal level and the things that everyone’s going through in their lives. Babies are always something to celebrate, but when you get to celebrate a baby as a class, there are very few moments in life where you get to do that with a group of people you only met recently. It's something that I'll always remember.