Meet Matthew Shokunbi: An international leader with borderless ambition
Nigerian Matthew Shokunbi was already working in the US when he decided to apply to Nexford. Now, his perspective can only be called global
One night, after a long day at work in California, Matthew Shokunbi was browsing Twitter when he came across a familiar face from his homeland. It was former Nigerian Education Minister Dr Oby Ezekwesili, who had just been appointed as a board member for Nexford University. “It caught my attention,” says Matthew. “I thought ‘Nexford? What is Nexford?’ So I did a little background research and I found that it was a new university based in Washington DC. I thought it would be brilliant to do my master’s degree there.”
With only a few days to go until the current application round finished, Matthew decided to apply right away. Nine months later, he’s now fully immersed in an MBA with a specialization in Robotics and Artificial Intelligence, and life is good.
As an Assurance Senior at one of the largest professional services firms in the world, in Nigeria, Matthew joined the firm’s office in San Jose, California, in November 2018 for an exchange program. His time there so far has shaken his world – in a good way – and opened up opportunities he never knew existed. “I now work in the home of tech!” he says.
The office culture is actually the same in Nigeria and the US, except for the exposure to the different clients. It’s outside the office where the culture shock happens!”
Joining Nexford has taken the experience of a lifetime to a new level. Matthew says that he had thought about doing a master’s in America or the UK for a long time, but the ability to specialize and get a pocket-friendly program was the encouragement he needed to make it happen.
“I need to give my career as long a path as possible. That’s why I applied for Nexford’s MBA. It builds on the experience and exposure I’m getting in California and gives me global visibility. I’m now looking to the future, and I know my MBA coupled with my work experience opens me up to a world of opportunities anywhere in the world.”
Matthew is experiencing first-hand the challenges that come with opportunities and works tirelessly every day to cover his bases at work, with his studies and as a husband and father. His wife and two-year-old son are with him in California and spending time with them is a priority. “Nexford is structured in a way that enables me to complete my assignments around work and family commitments,” he says. “Yesterday I got home at 21.30 and had to do a bit of study.” How does he make it work? “I reach out to my professors and my success advisor when I need extra time. And I have an understanding wife!”
For Matthew, Nexford is about the people behind it: the faculty, success advisors and his peers. “Fitting everything in can be tough, but the wonderful people make it a beautiful journey,” he notes. About faculty, he says: “The first time I had a lecture with Dr Debbie Wilson, I realized how she makes everything very simple. She’s just a great facilitator. And my success advisors are always available to offer career advice. The only problem I have with Nexford is the online library, and it isn’t really a problem at all: there’s just too much to read! There are so many up-to-date case studies and articles that I would love to read but time has been the constraint.”
He says that because Nexford learning is practical and designed to be immediately applicable at work, his studies have already helped him in his job. “I loved the first two courses of global business and leadership. When we had to take on business leadership roles. For example, making strategic decisions in setting up international businesses and dealing with the challenges that come with it.”
Matthew, who penned the book, “Strength of Failure”, wants everyone to know what studying with Nexford has done for him, and he still takes to LinkedIn to encourage would-be applicants to go for it. “Someone from the Ivory coast commented the other day that they would love to be part of Nexford,” he laughs. “I said ‘Come and join us!’ For anyone applying now, I would say ‘Get ready for a career-defining moment. Period.’”
Favorite quote: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” – Jim Elliot
All-time favorite book: “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” – Robert Kiyosaki. Even though he read it when he was 14, he still rates it.
Who inspires you? “I have a self-sponsored NGO in Nigeria that works with the underprivileged, and through that, I sponsor those who need it. For example, I support a girl who is blind, so she can go to school and university – and go after her goals. She’s very inspiring: they all are.”
About the Author
Anna Johnston is an award-winning Head of Content, who tells galvanizing stories with a creative team at Nexford.
Anna was the overall Award 2020 winner for the business case: Satya Nadella at Microsoft: Instilling a Growth Mindset, with Professor Herminia Ibarra and Aneeta Rattan. She is formerly a writer at London Business School, consistently ranked among the world’s best its MBA.
Anna’s work has been published in Forbes, Thomson Reuters, Huffington Post, HR Magazine, the Financial Times, and thought-leading firms such as Accenture and McKinsey & Company.
Anna is a speaker, coach, and presenter. More information about her can be found on LinkedIn.