Alum of the Month - February 2017

Femi Oni

London Programme - Mar 2015

Femi Oni

What and where did you study before your Mountbatten internship?
Prior to Mountbatten, I held a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance from the Federal University of Ilorin in Nigeria. I was also a professional of the Institute of Operational Risk (IoR), United Kingdom.

What made you apply for the Mountbatten programme?
I got a call from an ex-colleague of mine who was enrolled in the Aug 2014 programme. He said to me in very clear language "Femi this programme has your name written on it". That colleague was Tochukwu Mbanugo A.K.A 'TK' who happened to have been on the same team with me at Deloitte Consulting and he knew my passion for all things Startups. TK and I also had many brilliant conversations about the world of startups before he proceeded to do the programme. TK thought that the MA Programme was best suited for me and encouraged me to apply and so it seemed to be a no-brainer. He also told me about the amazing instructors especially Femke Van der Veer. The financial implication of the programme at that time also seemed like a WIN-WIN proposition (I saw it then as an opportunity to get paid while learning). So before I came to the programme I had my appetite whet and I had some real expectations.

Describe your sponsor company and your role within it.
I had very exciting interviews with three different organizations (Pomerol Partners, Citi Private and UBS) but eventually got a role with UBS Investment Bank as a Business Manager in the Global Cash Equities practice. My role as a Business Manager was a mesh of operational risk management, strategy and consulting and I liked that a lot. As a Business Manager even though I was a Mountbatten intern, my Manager empowered me to do so much. I was the Secretary of the weekly Production Meeting where I was responsible for documenting the proceedings and outcomes of each meeting; this meant that I had to take Minutes something I didn't particularly like at the beginning but it turned out to be a most remarkable task for me. I was able to develop real listening skills and the fact that I had to circulate post meeting Minutes meant that I really had to listen and make sense of what was initially jargon. I did similar tasks for at least four other very strategic meetings, so I became quite a master of meetings in a year. I ran at different times all sorts of analysis varying from cost to complaints data. I also had multiple supervisors with different styles of managing people and this dimension was equally interesting. I got the opportunity to also volunteer both internally and externally; I saw this as part of my role as an ambassador of the UBS brand which actually paid off; I had one of the most amazing sendoffs with many gifts and accolades from my many bosses. Altogether, the UBS experience was hands-on, stretching and value adding in every sense of it.

What was the highlight/most memorable moment of your working experience during this year?
I was part of the maiden effort to develop a front to back Value Stream Map (VSM) for the Equities Business and this was an amazing opportunity to really learn Investment Banking on the fly. I was a Project Manager on the VSM project and it gave such a marvelous opportunity to access the rainmakers in the bank. In retrospect, this project experience has been a truly formidable one even in my current role after Mountbatten.

What was the social highlight/most memorable moment during this year?
There were a few of those such as the bonds of new friendships that I formed with fellow Mountbattens and the esteemed Mountbatten staff but winning a trip to Iceland courtesy of LinkedIn was the high point of my year (See our newsletter dated April 2016). The trip to Iceland left me with such awe and wonder as well as a heightened awareness of the world around me. During the trip to Reykjavik, Iceland staying at the ION Hotel amongst such brilliant persons such as Sebastian Schelper; Head of BMW InnovationWorks, Vladimir Klitchko (former world boxing heavy weight champion), the head of EMEA LinkedIn; John Herlily and other tremendous personalities who impacted me and others over the course of 4 days. This experience remains quite indelible in my heart and one that I couldn't have possibly had in the shape and form which it happened without the Mountbatten opportunity.

Please share a little wisdom/philosophy that you acquired during your internship.
Putting one's best foot forward has to be something everyone should strive to do. In life, there are boundless opportunities but very few people apply themselves to those. I am convinced like Steve Jobs (RIP), that the difference between those who the society celebrate as being successful and many others who do not make an impact, is in the little things which essentially culminates into stepping up and leaning into opportunities. Right where we are there are new and lofty things that can be discovered and beyond where we are in time and space, many more opportunities beckon. All we have to do is reach forward and onward and in other moments all we have to do is pause and contemplate, which the art of reflection is.

If you could change anything about your internship, what would it be?
To be honest, I wouldn't change any part of the programme and this is not because it was glitch free. Indeed, there were a few instances when one wished that things were done differently but in retrospection, I have come to accept those moments as part of the package. The full on nature of the programme, which meant combining both work and study was sometimes a tough nut to crack but even that had its benefits. Personally, I feel like I have developed the capacity to manage multiple priorities and the ability to do this is something that is particularly useful in the real world of work and for this I am grateful

What happened after completing the year - what did you do next?
After the programme, I returned to Nigeria without any job in sight but a few interviews in the pipeline. In the first few weeks on returning to Nigeria, I had to firm up my thesis which was extremely difficult to pull together because there were other pressing realities. I managed to turn in my thesis when it was due and at that moment felt a huge relief. Prior to leaving the UK, I had applied to a few job openings within and outside the UK and did in fact attend a few interviews but nothing crystallized except one. I had an option to go back to Deloitte in Nigeria (I managed to keep in touch with people back there) and I began the interview process with Accenture Ireland. To my surprise, I scaled the hurdles at Accenture and finally got an offer at the beginning of May (barely two months after the Mountbatten year). However, I didn't resume until October as I had to go through a very arduous process to secure my work permit and travel documents. Life after Mountbatten was quite onerous as I felt very much like people and things had moved so fast in a year, but none of these caught me by surprise as it was expected as the Institute did well to prepare us. The feedback I got from the recruiter was that my UBS experience was a huge factor in considering me.

Where are you now in your working life and what do you do?
I currently work with Accenture Ireland as a Management Consultant in the Finance & Risk practice. I work with clients on behalf of Accenture on strategic engagements with varied objectives ranging from stabilization to change and security. I recently concluded a six-week project with a leading Irish bank where I led an engagement involving rapid assessment and the design of a Solutions Outline Document (SOD). This particular assignment was quite nostalgic as it reminded me of the Consultancy Report I had to submit as part of the Chester / Mountbatten NELA requirements. In many ways, I credit the Mountbatten experience with helping me to firm up my intellectual muscles. The art of reflection which is the bedrock of the MA programme has also been hugely profound and life changing for me.

Do you have any future plans that you would like to realize & what are they (career & social)?
My vision is to mentor 1000 startups in Africa and beyond over the next 10 years. It is a mission that I am fully committed to. I like to think of it as my Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG).

What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Passionate
Curious
Inspiring

What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I am not sure any of my cohorts will be surprised by the things I am doing at the moment essentially because I have always been quite open about my preferences and plans. I am getting married soon to my girlfriend of three years. I will be hoping to launch a mentorship program for startups; currently working out the modalities for that and will be looking forward to working with fellow Mountbattens across the world on this. I have also been musing about the idea of producing a few songs or writing a few books. I look forward to partnering with fellow Mountbattens world over.

Is there any other information that you would like to be included?
I maintain a blog www.femioni.com where I write on life, love, God, business and society. I welcome everyone to visit sometime and leave a note.

If you'd like to get in touch with this alum of the month, please contact MIAS.