Working and studying for a master’s degree is no easy feat. Yet, Uchechukwu Adiele not only survived. He triumphed.
A few months ago, he graduated from the Smith School of Business at Queen’s University with a Master of Management Analytics degree. He also won the Student Leadership award for his role as the Class President for his cohort.
Today, he’s working at Johnson & Johnson, Toronto as a Senior Financial Analyst in the Pharmaceutical segment (Janssen). Before heading to Queen’s University, Adiele had earned a bachelor’s degree in Statistics and Economics from the University of Nigeria and worked as a management consultant in public accounting firms like PwC and EY.
We caught up with Adiele to find out how he pulled off this series of successes.
Where does your interest in analytics and business management stem from?
I decided to get a master’s degree in analytics and management to complement my experience in consulting and finance. I already had two professional designations directly related to finance so I felt it would be a good blend to have some training in analytics, especially since data and analytics have really evolved over the last few years.
What drives you to strive for the best? Tell us more about the Student Leadership Award from Queen’s University.
I’ve always tried my best to make a difference and stand out. So, going to grad school wasn’t going to be any different. I took it upon myself to put in time and effort for all assessments, tests, exams, assignments and presentations.
Proud to say my grades were all As. It’s the little yet consistent effort that counts. One thing that drives me to strive for the best is remembering I have a story to tell which might keep someone pushing and striving for success. Also, keeping my goal in mind to focus on.
With respect to the Student Leadership Award from Queen’s University, I had the opportunity to contest for the role of student president for my section at the beginning of my programme. It turned out to be some extra work in collaborating with students, professors and the programme management team.
This wasn’t an easy role coupled with my work and responsibilities as a student. However, I did this to the best of my ability and at the end, students from my cohort had to vote on who would win the award. It was refreshing to know that my actions were noticed by my peers and it meant I made a difference in some way.
Why did you choose to pursue your postgraduate degree at Queen’s University in Canada?
I have a cousin who finished from the same programme who had a lot of good things to say about it. Also, the Smith School of Business at Queen’s University is one of the top b-schools in Canada.
I felt I would benefit a lot from the programme and alumni network. I must also say that the flexibility of this programme made it attractive because I had the opportunity to work and go to school (even though this combination was super intense!).
Do you think it would have made a difference if you studied at a local institution?
During my undergraduate studies and work in Nigeria, I always thought about schooling abroad. This became important as the collaboration in the corporate world isn’t local anymore. It’s getting more diverse.
The world is a global village and with the development of technology, it’s important to note the levels of interaction have moved from people in your locality to people all around the globe. With this knowledge, I knew studying locally wouldn’t give me the international experience and exposure I wanted. So my decision to study at Queen’s University made a world of difference as I had the chance to learn with people from all over the globe.
What was your most memorable class?
My most memorable class would be the intense sessions we had for over 10 days at our main campus in Kingston, Ontario. During this time, we went through two courses: Intro to Analytical Modelling (Statistics) and Intro to Management. It was nice going back to the basics of statistics which I learnt years ago in my undergraduate days.
Do you have any fond memories with teachers at your uni that stood out for you?
I enjoyed a good relationship with my lecturers both as a student and as the class president of my section. I truly love the passion and dedication of my professors. Specifically, I recall playing chess virtually with my then programme director and professor Dr. Stephen Thomas.
I also remember the various coaching sessions my team and I had with our coach Linda Melnick. These experiences really remodelled my idea of student-professor relationship.
Do you plan to progress into further study?
I’ve always loved the idea of getting a PhD so I won’t take that off the table. My cousin and aunt both mentioned that doing so would be a good idea. However, for now, I’m taking a break from studies and using my skills at work to keep incorporating analytics in finance.
You also work as a senior financial analyst while studying. What does a day in your life look like?
Firstly, I’d like to say that it’s an awesome feeling to get the support and understanding from colleagues and supervisors at the office while studying at the same time. I really got that from my manager.
My work as a senior financial analyst entails performing different analyses on both sales and expenses, as well as having meetings to discuss important issues and other ad-hoc tasks. I am also part of some employee resource groups because I love volunteering activities.
My typical work day will involve meetings (because I’m working remotely, it’s a lot!), plus time set aside for analysing data and reviewing numbers and any other tasks that come up. In all we do daily in the organisation, we focus on working with our credos and values, putting the concerns and needs of patients in mind.
What is something you miss from home and how did you substitute it?
I miss my time with my family. They’re my world and being far away from them isn’t easy. Thanks to technology, I get to talk to them often. I also miss some Nigerian dishes I grew up with but thankfully, my cousin who lives in the same city and my aunt in Calgary sometimes make the foods I miss.
What budgeting tips do you have for international students?
Schooling and living abroad can be expensive but there are things to look out for. Most places offer discounts to students and all you have to do is show your student ID. Take advantage of this.
Also while studying, take advantage of internship and volunteer opportunities which could open doors for you upon graduation. Don’t live beyond your means. Life can appear sweet and tempting but strive to control your expenses to avoid unnecessary spending.