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Independence Day: US Business Schools Share Stories Of Diversity And Social Impact

Business schools in the United States have plenty of reasons to be positive, despite the political gloom

Wed Jul 4 2018


From an outside perspective, the reputation of the US seems to be in perpetual freefall, spoken into submission by President Trump’s anti-immigration, protectionist rhetoric.

When the Declaration of Independence was finalized on July 4th, 1776, few would have guessed that, 242 years later, the man at the helm of the United States of America would be Donald Trump.

This Independence Day, we picked out some stories which highlight how diversity, collaboration, and integration are still as ripe as ever across business schools in the US; call it our Declaration of Interdependence if you will.

An international Merrill-go-round

Leke Sodipe hails from Nigeria, holds an undergraduate degree from the Beijing University of Chemical Technology, and has just finished his MBA at Yale School of Management; a seasoned traveler, then.


After returning from China, he built up a passion for investment banking, working first for the Nigerian Stock Exchange before becoming an associate with United Capital Plc. Those jobs tickled his yearnings for a more international investment banking experience.

“There’s pretty much only one capital market that is extremely robust,” he says, “and that’s the US. So, I pursued an MBA to make that transition.”

In the middle of his MBA at Yale, he landed a summer associate position with Bank of America Merrill Lynch—he’s set to start a full-time position in New York with the bank next week.

Was he ever concerned about his career post-graduation? “There’s always a concern, especially with the way things have gone politically,” he explains. “But, the truth is there are plenty of opportunities. Big companies are always looking for qualified candidates.”

International graduates need not fret. A lot of the larger corporations—the multinationals—Leke says, have international offices that offer the opportunity to transfer should there be visa troubles, or issues around immigration.

“The industry I’m recruiting for is open and willing to hire international students right from the get go,” Leke asserts.

Opportunity extended to his MBA peer network too—Leke says a number of fellow international graduates from the Yale MBA class of 2018 landed roles in the investment banking sector, consulting, and tech. They have started working on the West Coast, in the mid-west, and around 30 have joined him in New York.

Through exposure to multiple countries, Leke has come to understand the importance of cross-cultural immersion.

“My parents were diplomats and so growing up I lived all over the place,” Leke continues. “Learning about different cultures is important for growing your outlook. You come up with your own opinions and I when I went to Yale my ideas were always challenged by people from different backgrounds […] and you learn something from everybody.”


Across the US, many business schools boast a strong international student presence. It’s something that Jason Garner, director of admissions at American University’s Kogod School of Business, says schools pride themselves on.

“International students bring a unique cultural and business perspective to our curriculum that we not only welcome, but also celebrate,” he says. “As we continue to see a solid number of strong international applications, we will also be actively recruiting international students into our programs this coming recruitment cycle.”

Looking at the Financial Times’ Global MBA ranking 2018, Babson College’s Olin Graduate School of Business sits top of the pile in the US when it comes to international student percentage—79% of the MBA cohort originate from outside of the US.

50% of the MBA cohort at Columbia are international students, followed by MIT Sloan, where 45% of MBAs are international—Chicago Booth and Yale also boast the same figure—and Yale (43%), as well as USC Marshall (38%).

A host of other schools have MBA cohorts where international students make up over one-third of the class—Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business, for example, where 33% of MBAs are international.

Ming Xu is one of those students, an MBA graduate from the class of 2018 at Tepper, who is a senior associate for PwC.


“US firms want to hire international students because they bring value to the firms,” he says. “If companies find some international students who own some valuable skillsets or experience, they still want to do sponsorship case by case.”

Ming says that most of his international classmates landed jobs in the US after graduation, primarily in the consulting and technology sectors. He wants to stay in the US long-term and, he says, Tepper plays a big role in consulting and coaching international students to alleviate any fears they had when moving to the US.