Logo BusinessBecause - The business school voice
mobile search icon

Nigerian Banker Turns Entrepreneur After MBA At IE Business School

Adetobi Solanke launched her bespoke gifts startup in Nigeria after her MBA at IE Business School. Here’s how it prepared her for the ruthless world of entrepreneurship


Wed Aug 19 2020



Since she was a child, helping out on the cash register and wrapping gifts in her parents’ store in Nigeria, Adetobi Solanke has known what it’s like to be an entrepreneur. 

“Every young person in Nigeria has a side hustle,” Adetobi says, “We all want to please our parents, to get a 9-to-5. But young people know what they want, and do what they can to make it happen.”

But as she grew up, and began putting her own business ideas into motion, Adetobi found that entrepreneurship wasn’t simple. Her financial background wouldn’t be enough: she’d need operational knowledge, leadership skills, and a solid network. All things she hoped to find on an MBA program. 

From finance to an MBA

Adetobi jokingly admits that her intended career may have been predetermined for her by her parents. 

“Every Nigerian parent knows what they want for their children,” she reveals. While she had an artistic inclination, as well as entrepreneurial interests, Adetobi leaned towards a more conventional career in finance, taking her bachelor’s in economics. 

Moving across roles at a merchant bank in Nigeria, as well as stints as a treasury analyst for news channel CNBC Africa, Adetobi firmly established herself in the world of finance. She even took her CFA exam, for many the start point of a career in investment banking. 

While she knew finance like the back of her hand, she found she was lacking certain soft skills that would allow her career to advance further. 

“I needed to debate what would take me to the next level and differentiate me from my peers,” she says. An MBA seemed like an obvious choice. 

Highlights of the MBA at IE Business School


After researching European programs, she opted for the International MBA at IE Business School in Madrid. First and foremost, it was a program which had entrepreneurial credentials. Students can take a four-month entrepreneurship specialization as part of the elective period of the program. There is also a lab period, during which one of the options is a startup lab, where students can go through the steps of launching a business.  

For Adetobi, this answered many questions she had about entrepreneurship. Her MBA came about at a similar time as she was starting her first business, a fabric company, and acted as the starter kit she needed to boost her entrepreneurial skills. 

“I felt that certain things I did at the time didn’t come out successfully as a result of my decisions, and so felt I needed some knowledge from a school that is known for its entrepreneurial focus.”

Courses in operations management on the IE MBA helped her identify problems she had related to inventory. Critical thinking, which was a common theme across many of the courses, also helped her engage with different challenges she would face in business. 

“It taught me the way to handle a lean startup, which helped me streamline processes and see different ways of being efficient.”

One opportunity to put this into practice was during a fellowship trip to Brazil, where she deployed design thinking to help a local NGO in Rio.  

Launching the Pamper Trap Company

While entrepreneurship had always been at the forefront of Adetobi’s mind, her next venture would actually be more incidental.  bd1ae54aa42654091924d9803c9a3353420f92a1.jpeg

After graduating, she spent some time working in Spain, but moved back to Nigeria looking for a finance job to support her entrepreneurial ambitions. But in December 2017, a friend who worked at a large oil company approached Adetobi, and said she needed some gift hampers.

“It wasn’t my background, but they left it to me and trusted me.”

She seized the opportunity, created the gifts, and went about uploading pictures of the gifts on Instagram. Before she knew it, she’d had orders from investment banks, multinational FMCGs, all of whom are clients to this day. 

The Pamper Trap Company was born, which Adetobi describes as a "artisan gifting service”. 

“Our focus is bespoke or customised gifting experiences for important people and memorable moments.”   

She gives an example of the sort of present they provide—”We had a client whose wife was starting a new business. He came in and knew he wanted to give her something, and we said “Why don't you give her a new office?”

Growing the startup and giving back to the community

The next steps of growing the business presents some bigger challenges for Adetobi. She believes Nigeria, on account of constantly changing laws, is not the simplest place to do business. 

Adetobi also laments the fact that almost 80% of the physical gifts they offer are imported. She hopes to see more high quality, locally made Nigerian products and companies, which would help her business grow. 

Off the back of her own success, Adetobi is keen to give back to the community. In the coming years she hopes to be able to offer opportunities and advice to local young Nigerians, to ensure they have the same role models and ambitions that she had. 

“Entrepreneurial spirit is strong here, and I would love it if we could help people to see that in themselves,” she says.

In the meantime, her advice to aspiring entrepreneurs, based on her own experience, is simple. “Never close your eyes to opportunities that come up—you never really know if it could be a thing.”

Student Reviews

IE Business School




On Campus

My Review

Madrid Is incredible, I've had a fantastic time at IE University. I've had some excellent lecturers overall. They sincerely want the students to flourish and are concerned about developing a personal relationship with them. Having said that, students typically must fulfil their half of the contract by putting in the necessary work and demonstrating a desire to achieve success.




On Campus

Coming Master

I spent 1 semester on my Erasmus during my BBA trip. This was the great experience and after that I decode to enroll for the master program there. I must say that the only disappointing fact is connected to distribution of the students. Master students are being connected to the old campus what is not fully fail.




On Campus

Former BBA

As the former BBA student I can say that the level of the learning is quite high. In addition the place (IE Tower) is probably one of the most innovative and networking-support place in the Europe. I totally recoupment this Uni for business students.




On Campus

International focus

IE university has a global perspective and attracts a highly diverse student body, with students from all over the world. This international environment fosters cross-cultural understanding and prepares students to work in a globalized world. This is same for the faculty members as well, the university's faculty members are from diverse parts of the world and are reputable. they are not only experts in their fields but are also often actively engaged in research and industry. Their practical experience and academic expertise create a stimulating learning environment.




On Campus

Loved it

IE University, in my experience as a student, stands out as an outstanding institution for higher education. Its international perspective is a major strength, evident in the diverse student body that represents a multitude of countries and cultures. Interacting with such a global community has broadened my horizons and deepened my understanding of various subjects, providing a rich and comprehensive educational experience. The quality of the faculty at IE University is exceptional. Many professors bring real-world experience to the classroom, making the learning process more practical and relevant. This approach not only enhances engagement with coursework but also ensures that students are well-prepared for their future careers. The accessibility of professors and their willingness to engage with students personally fosters a collaborative and supportive learning environment. Practical learning is another significant advantage at IE University. The integration of real-world projects, internships, and case studies bridges the gap between theory and practice. This emphasis on hands-on experience equips students with practical skills and industry insights, making them more competitive in the job market. IE University offers a wide range of programs across various fields of study, making it a versatile choice for both undergraduate and postgraduate students. This diversity ensures that individuals can find a program that aligns with their academic and career interests. However, like any institution, IE University has its challenges. The cost of attending can be a major concern for some students, as tuition fees are relatively high. While scholarships and financial aid are available, not all students may qualify for them. This financial aspect is an important consideration, particularly for those with budget limitations. The competitive nature of some courses and programs can create a high-pressure environment. While competition can be motivating for some, it may also lead to stress for others. Maintaining high academic standards can be demanding, and students should strive for a balance between excellence and well-being. The workload can be quite challenging, especially for students undertaking double degrees or heavily involved in extracurricular activities. Effective time management is essential to manage academic demands while maintaining a healthy work-life balance. In conclusion, I would recommend IE University to prospective students with specific considerations. If you value an international perspective, practical learning, and a diverse educational environment, IE University is an excellent choice. However, it's crucial to carefully weigh the tuition costs against the benefits and to be prepared for the competitive nature of some courses. Students should also be ready to handle a demanding workload. IE University has provided me with a rich and globally-focused education, equipping me for a career in an interconnected world. Ultimately, it's important to make an informed decision based on your educational and financial goals, along with a willingness to confront the challenges that may arise.




On Campus

Rather Exciting

As a student at IE University, enrolled in the Business Administration program, I can confidently say that my experience at this institution has been overwhelmingly positive. IE University's innovative approach to education stands out as one of its most remarkable features. The interactive classes and focus on critical thinking, particularly through the use of case studies, have significantly enhanced my ability to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world business scenarios. Additionally, the global perspective at IE University, fostered by the diverse student body and international faculty, has broadened my understanding of global business practices, which is crucial in the field of Business Administration. The university's strong industry connections have proven to be invaluable. These connections provide students with numerous internship opportunities and networking prospects, allowing us to gain practical experience and build professional relationships while still studying. Moreover, the comprehensive career support services offered by IE University, such as resume building, interview preparation, and job placement assistance, have been instrumental in preparing us for the job market. On the flip side, it's important to mention that tuition costs at IE University can be relatively high, which may pose a financial challenge for some students, even though there are scholarships and financial aid options available. Additionally, the programs at IE University can be intensive, demanding a significant time commitment, which might not align with everyone's preferences. In conclusion, I wholeheartedly recommend IE University to individuals considering a degree in Business Administration. The innovative teaching methods, global perspective, strong industry connections, and comprehensive career support make it an excellent choice for those aspiring to enter the world of business. However, prospective students should be aware of the financial considerations and be prepared for the intensive nature of the programs. If you're willing to invest in your education and are dedicated to your studies, IE University offers an exceptional and enriching educational experience in the field of Business Administration.




On Campus

A Decent Experience

I've had the privilege of being a student at IE University, where I've been pursuing a degree in arts. My experience at IE University has been highly rewarding and unique. One of the aspects I appreciate the most is the university's strong emphasis on interdisciplinary learning. The opportunity to collaborate with students from diverse fields, including business, technology, and social sciences, has enriched my artistic endeavors. This cross-pollination of ideas has added depth and diversity to my creative work. IE University's international perspective is another significant advantage. The institution's diverse student body and faculty from various corners of the world have broadened my artistic horizons and encouraged me to think more globally. In the field of arts, where cultural influences play a pivotal role, this global outlook has been invaluable. The university also invests in modern resources and technology, providing students with access to cutting-edge software, creative tools, and state-of-the-art facilities. These resources have allowed me to explore new mediums and techniques, pushing the boundaries of my creativity. Furthermore, IE University places a strong emphasis on practical experiences. This practical orientation has given me insights into the professional art world and how to navigate it effectively. Opportunities for internships and collaborations with art institutions have been instrumental in bridging the gap between academic learning and real-world application. On the downside, tuition costs at IE University can be relatively high, which may pose a financial challenge for some prospective students. Additionally, the university's programs are quite intensive, demanding a substantial time commitment and strong time management skills. In conclusion, I would wholeheartedly recommend IE University to students seeking an arts education with an interdisciplinary and global perspective. The institution's innovative resources, practical experiences, and international approach have significantly enriched my artistic journey. Nevertheless, it's crucial to consider the financial aspect and be prepared for the demanding nature of the programs. If you're willing to invest in your arts education and are committed to hard work, IE University offers a truly unique and rewarding artistic experience.




On Campus

A Great Experience

As a student at IE University studying architecture, I have a unique perspective on the institution. Let me share my thoughts on this university: Overall, my experience at IE University has been quite positive. The university's commitment to a holistic education, combined with its innovative approach to learning, has made my time here rewarding. Here are some key aspects I appreciate: Interdisciplinary Approach: IE University places a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary learning. In the field of architecture, this means I've had the opportunity to collaborate with students from various backgrounds, such as engineering, business, and design. It's been enlightening to work on projects that integrate different disciplines, mirroring the real-world scenarios architects often find themselves in. Faculty and Industry Connections: The professors at IE University are experienced professionals in their respective fields, and they bring a wealth of practical knowledge into the classroom. This has greatly enriched my architectural education. Additionally, the university's strong connections with industry professionals and firms provide students with valuable networking opportunities and potential internships. Global Perspective: IE University's international approach to education is a significant advantage. I've had the chance to collaborate with students from all over the world, which has broadened my cultural awareness and global perspective. This is particularly important in architecture, as it's a field where global influences and trends play a significant role. Innovation and Technology: The university's commitment to staying at the forefront of technological advancements is impressive. In architecture, this means access to cutting-edge software, tools, and resources, which have been instrumental in my academic and design work. On the flip side, there are a few aspects that might not suit everyone: Tuition Costs: IE University is a private institution, and as such, tuition can be on the higher side. This might be a challenge for some students, but there are scholarship opportunities and financial aid options available. Intensive Programs: The university's programs are often quite intensive, requiring a significant time commitment. While this can be beneficial for learning, it can also be demanding, so time management skills are crucial. In conclusion, I would certainly recommend IE University to those interested in studying architecture. Its unique approach to education, international perspective, and strong industry connections have enriched my architectural journey. Just keep in mind the financial considerations and be prepared to put in the effort, and you'll find a stimulating and rewarding academic experience at IE University.




On Campus

A Global and Innovative Learning Experience

IE University is a dynamic and innovative institution that has gained recognition for its unique approach to education. There are several aspects that make it stand out, and while it may not be the perfect fit for everyone, it certainly has a lot to offer. One of the notable strengths of IE University is its commitment to fostering a global perspective. The university attracts a diverse student body from all over the world, creating a rich multicultural environment. This diversity enriches the classroom experience and prepares students to thrive in an increasingly interconnected world. The emphasis on international exposure through study abroad programs, exchange partnerships, and a global network of alumni further enhances this global outlook. IE University is also known for its focus on entrepreneurship and innovation. The institution places a strong emphasis on practical, real-world learning experiences that encourage students to develop an entrepreneurial mindset. This approach aligns well with the demands of the modern job market, where creativity and adaptability are highly valued. Furthermore, IE University's faculty is often comprised of professionals with extensive industry experience, providing students with valuable insights and connections in their respective fields. The small class sizes enable more personalized attention, fostering a close-knit community and facilitating meaningful interactions between students and professors. However, no university is without its drawbacks, and IE University is no exception. One potential downside is the cost of tuition, which can be relatively high compared to some public institutions. While scholarships and financial aid options are available, this cost may still be a barrier for some prospective students. Another consideration is the intensity of the academic programs. IE University is known for its rigorous curriculum, and students often find themselves facing a demanding workload. While this can be an advantage for those who thrive in a challenging environment, it may not be suitable for individuals seeking a more relaxed college experience. In conclusion, IE University is an excellent choice for students who are looking for a globally oriented, innovative, and academically rigorous education. Its emphasis on entrepreneurship, international exposure, and practical learning experiences can prepare students for success in a competitive job market. However, the high cost of tuition and the demanding nature of the programs should be carefully considered. Ultimately, whether IE University is the right fit depends on the individual's goals and preferences, but for those who are up to the challenge, it can be a rewarding and transformative educational experience.




On Campus

The liquid learning method

I do like my program so much, since it gives me the possibility to develop my own personal skills while building a strong professional cv with plenty of extracurricular material. The amenities are extraordinary and the campus is super professional and convenient for networking!