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In Omaha for the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting

In Omaha for the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting

‘Meeting’ Warren Buffett: My trek to “The Woodstock of Capitalism”

 

It’s called the Woodstock of Capitalism. Others say it’s a gathering of Warren Buffett fans, wannabes, value investors and other finance professionals. However you want to describe it, the Berkshire Hathaway annual general meeting lies somewhere at the intersection. For me, attending was a bucket list event. I recall when I first discovered Warren Buffett. It was off Investopedia, during a college internship at Vetiva Capital, in Nigeria, subsequent to which my father bought me my first book on him – Warren Buffett Wealth by Robert P. Miles. Then, I was 17 years old.

Visiting Omaha was not a reason for attending London Business School (LBS) but I planned to cross it off my bucket list at some point in this life. It was my selection as part of a group of 5 out of 50 applicants to participate in Matthias Riechert’s value investing forum, that inspired me to make the 12-hr trip down. Arriving Omaha on a warm Thursday evening, after hours reading Seth Klarman’s Margin of Safety, all I could do was help myself to a good meal at one of Omaha’s legendary restaurants after visiting Buffett’s impressive house since 1958. Considering the  number of visitors to Omaha for this event (35-40k) represents almost 10% of this quiet town’s population, Air BnB and Uber were in very high demand.

Warren Buffett's house since 1958

Warren Buffett’s house since 1958

On Friday, I met up with Davide Conti, LBS MBA2017, who was attending the meeting with a few students from his exchange school, Wharton. We kicked the day off meeting with renowned hedge fund manager, Whitney Tilson. He spoke about the importance of studying failure as much as we study success, somewhat in echo of Charlie Munger’s saying: “All I want to know is where I’m going to die, so I’ll never go there”. Sooner than later, he delved into the topic of marriage and divorce. We discussed the importance of accepting and dealing with our mistakes. He gave the example of how after taking the plunge and recommending an investment, he had to sell within weeks after a friend validly challenged his thesis. The ongoing disruption of industries was a topical issue (even throughout the trip), which follows on one of the major themes discussed at the recent GenerationE conference hosted by the LBS Tech & Media Club. We also discussed the role of incentives and compliance in controlling risk taking, when discussing Wells Fargo’s problems, as well as the importance of knowing and expanding one’s circle of competence.

After our meeting with billionaire Mario Gabelli, hedge fund manager Whitney Tilson and Wharton MBA students

After our meeting with billionaire Mario Gabelli, hedge fund manager Whitney Tilson and Wharton MBA students

We left for Centurylink Center, venue of the big meeting, to do some shopping, and unfortunately missed Warren when he swung by. We subsequently attended an investor briefing hosted by billionaire Mario Gabelli’s company, Gabelli & Company, and he had Q&A with us afterwards. Our next stop was the famous Yellow BRKers event, a gathering of long time Omaha visitors. To cap this day, we caught up with a big group of LBS EMBA alumni, many of which took the value investing courses at LBS and Columbia. We sought to spot Bill Gates and Charlie Munger at a far out location but to no avail. Nonetheless, it was a good evening, meeting more value investors and discussing their motivations to keep attending. We called it a night by 1:30am but needed to be up in 3 hours for the big day.

With LBS students (Davide {top right}) and alumni (Matthias Riechert {top middle}, Ninad, Konstantin, Melinda etc.)

With LBS students (Davide {top right}) and alumni (Matthias Riechert {top middle}, Ninad, Konstantin, Melinda etc.)

5:20am and we were alreaady on queue at Centurylink. Unexpectedly joined by a former colleague, we patiently waited for just over an hour to get in before sprinting across the hall to get seats on the lower ground. Suffice to say, organizers of the The Investors Podcast, Preston Pysh & Co., had shared a video recording of the sprint route to get the best seats. There were also strategic ways to game the Q&A session, with the hope of getting called upon.

With my 5am line-up crew (Davide Conti & Ildar Davletshin) outside the meeting venue

With my 5am line-up crew (Davide Conti & Ildar Davletshin) outside the meeting venue

Before the official programme kicked off with the funny video, I went to the shopping hall to watch Buffett throw newspapers with Bill Gates. While I couldn’t get close enough for a selfie, the Financial Times featured pictures of me in the crowd on its live event blog (see below). Overall, between Charlie and Warren, they answered over 50 questions from analysts, journalists and the audience. It was impressive to see the duo, who met at 35 and 29 respectively and are now 93 and 86, answer questions with such brilliance and humor. It was an endless flow of business, investing and life principles, some of which @LBSAfricaClub shared on its twitter page.

Caught on camera by the FT blog with Warren Buffett and Bill Gates

Caught on camera by the FT blog with Warren Buffett and Bill Gates

During the lunch break, we had drinks with the team from Robotti & Co, where we met even more value investors. After the Berkshire Hathaway meeting, we met up with another group of value investors (partly organized by Shai Darshati and his team at Manual of Ideas), then met up with LBS Value Investing Professor, Eddie Ransden, and ended the night at drinks with former Berkshire Hathaway employee and now investor, Ian Jacobs. As you can imagine by now, the quality of the network was truly impressive and I must say that for most people I asked, this is partly what keeps them repeating the yearly pilgrimage.

By Sunday, one could see that the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting is quite a big deal to Omaha. As people departed, the town gradually lost its buzz. Even at the peak of activities on Saturday, there was barely traffic anywhere. On the day, we first attended the annual meeting organized by Markel Corporation, an investing group structured similar to Berkshire but more willing to invest in areas Berkshire might consider risky. We then met with a diverse group of people partly attracted to the meeting by The Investors Podcast, and then debriefed with a group of LBS alumni including my value investing forum teacher, Matthias Riechert.

With founder of The Investors Podcast, Preston Pysh

With founder of The Investors Podcast, Preston Pysh

As I wrap this up, I’m on my way back to London, reflecting on what was nothing short of an impressive weekend. Some of my key takeaways from multiple discussions include:

1) Most value investors don’t use CAPM in establishing a hurdle rate for their investments. As Matthias puts it, “no billionaire ever got rich using CAPM”.

2) Reading and research diligence are absolutely critical to one’s success as a value investor. In today’s noisy world, independence of thought is necessary. As many, including Buffett, put it, a good investor shouldn’t delegate his research responsibilities.

3) In as much as companies trade at different PE valuations, growth rates should play a key part in making sense of the multiple while still seeking a margin of safety. As the debate around investing in companies such as Google and Amazon continues, it appears to me that the platformization of businesses will remain a disruptive force across many industries.

4) My best quote was from Charlie Munger: “fish where the fishes are”. Focus on the areas within your circle of competence as all you need to be financially well off are a few good companies that will compound beautifully for you over time. Value investing is simple but the diligence required lies beyond many’s reach.

Amidst all the interesting things I’ve done at LBS, some of which I’ve blogged about, attending the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting was indeed one of the most impactful. Although I unfortunately didn’t get to meet Warren Buffett personally, this trip brought to life for me our famous hashtag – #whyiloveLBS.

Outside CenturyLink Center, venue of the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting

Outside CenturyLink Center, venue of the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting

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What a break! Myanmar…is…amazing! To think that this country was largely closed for so many years, yet possesses such hidden and endangered monumental pieces of history, it deserves your visit. After my NEO survey (you do this early in your LBS MBA life) suggested I needed more adventure, I decided to go on the trek to Myanmar instead of the more popular Japan trek because of the former’s unique appeal; lay on top of that the lure of original Asian food and my continued interest in frontier markets. After grueling exams, a block week and minimal sleep, Myanmar did not let me down.

Me, trying to get a selfie with some incredible Pagodas in the background

Me, trying to get a selfie with some incredible Pagodas in the background

 

My fun notes…

When I took the first stab at this blog post, I had spent two days in the country and was drawing the curtains on an exhausting day in Bagan. Visiting the temples therein were the day’s highlights, coupled with using some of my negotiation skills from local markets in Nigeria to the benefit of my mates in local markets here.

On day 1, we met with a few prospective students of London Business School, had drinks with some diplomats and on-the-ground professionals, and helped ourselves to leisurely meals. I found the history of Myanmar’s political evolution quite interesting and reached the conclusion that solid execution of a clear and consistent economic development plan will be key to keeping the country’s economic momentum going and elevate it on the league of globally minded countries. On a separate note, one interesting observation was that the restaurants tended to have separate or combined Thai, Burmese and Western menus. While not fully sure why this is the case, I think it’s the outcome of receiving such a diverse pool of tourists over the years.

On day 2, we flew a small plane for 60+ minutes to Bagan from Yangon (former capital of Myanmar). Here we spent the day visiting ancient Buddhist temples (about 3,000 remaining vs. peak count of over 10,000), some undergoing refurbishment after a 2016 earthquake caused damage to legendary structures. We also took a horse cart ride round town to see more temples and watch the sunset from atop one of the town’s largest ancient temples. In-between and afterwards, we tried multicultural meals at different restaurants. Coming from London, the perspective on pricing was important. For the quality and volume of food we had, we found London about 3-4x more expensive – no surprises!

Sun setting picture of temples in Bagan

Sun setting picture of temples in Bagan

Day 3 was an early start. 5am and we were off to the fields for a hot air balloon ride across Bagan. The sights were incredible. There were at least 10-15 balloons in the air simultaneously. We found the operational quality outstanding and weren’t surprised to hear the manager of Balloons over Bagan say they operate by UK standards. Watching the sunrise over the many temples that litter Bagan, was, as you can already imagine, nothing short of beautiful. We subsequently grabbed electronic bikes, riding round town to take in more views of the ancient town. Overnight, we took a long bus ride to Inle Lake. Other than being chased by a stray dog late at night, it was a smooth experience.

Touring Bagan on electric bikes with my MBA mates

Touring Bagan on electric bikes with my MBA mates

Day 4 for me was one for conquering my fears. Since falling off a jet-ski in Miami in 2015, I’ve harbored some fears about extensive and potentially risky water adventures. Discovering that Inle Lake involved a lengthy boat ride renewed some of those extant fears but I braved them and went with the flow. Barring the occasional strong waves which sent the boat tilting one way and an engine misdemeanor in the middle of nowhere, it was a nice sunny ride. The town also boasts some ancient temples, some of which were also under repairs. Subsequently we visited a warm spring resort where I crushed any remaining water-related fears, thanks to encouragement from my MBA mates. This day ended with a cooking class, with some students taking turns to prepare Tempura.

We took an early morning flight on Day 5 to Ngapali (“Napali”), welcomed by video cameras of the local news stations. This was scheduled to be a lazy day. Ngapali’s main highlight is its pristine beach front. If I rated the previous hotels and days’ activities a B (due to my uber-high standards) then this day was definitely an A, with Bagan in close competition. We spent the day on the beach, in the pool and reading books (I was reading Margin of Safety by Seth Klarman, CEO of Baupost Group). As I reflected on the previous two days, I had learnt three things: 1) our fears are for the most part just a mental block, 2) confronting our fears openly in a safe environment where helping hands exist is often a sure winning strategy, and 3) it pays to be open minded, as help can sometimes come from the most unexpected places. The day ended with karaoke on the beach front.

Clockwise: A fisherman in Inle Lake putting on a show for us; Me in my rice farmer hat after the Inle Lake boat ride; Great shot of me by Hiroshi after a beautiful day in Ngapali as the sun set

Clockwise: A fisherman in Inle Lake putting on a show for us; Me in a rice farmer hat after the Inle Lake boat ride; Great shot by Hiroshi after a beautiful day in Ngapali as the sun set

Day 6-7 saw us head back to Yangon. This was another leisurely day spent trying food at really local restaurants, market shopping, visiting the first KFC location (a Zinger burger with fries and a drink costs GBP2.96 vs. GBP4.79 in UK), watching the sunset from the Shwedagon Pagoda (most sacred temple in Myanmar), drinks with the expat community, viewing colonial buildings and the stock exchange (massive building with only four listed stocks), trying out street food and wrapping up with a boat party.

Wrapping up an excellent trek to Myanmar with a water-fight themed boat party in Yangon

Wrapping up an excellent trek to Myanmar with a water-fight themed boat party in Yangon

Two random observations:

  • Justin Timberlake is really popular and is probably spoken about every day. If you want to say thank you in Burmese lingua, just say ‘Justintimberlake’ really fast!

 

  • With two students having forgotten their phones in the taxi and each time it was returned to our hotel, I couldn’t help but think the Burmese must be really honest people.

 

Needless to say, this was an incredible trip. Now that London Business School will for the first time offer a Global Business Experience (GBE) trip to Myanmar, this is a country I highly recommend for its unique experiences and growth opportunities.

Till my next post, “pyan tot mel”!

To learn about my serious takeaways from our trip to Myanmar, get on my LBS Student Blog page to read Part 1 – My serious notes.

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LBS MBA and MIM students in Myanmar (Inle Lake region)

LBS MBA and MIM students in Myanmar (Inle Lake region)

What a break! Myanmar…is…amazing! To think that this country was largely closed for so many years, yet possesses such hidden and endangered monumental pieces of history, it deserves your visit. After my NEO survey (you do this early in your LBS MBA life) suggested I needed more adventure, I decided to go on the trek to Myanmar instead of the more popular Japan trek because of the former’s unique appeal; lay on top of that the lure of original Asian food and my continued interest in frontier markets. After grueling exams, a block week and minimal sleep, Myanmar did not let me down.

My serious notes (Quick takes on the economy, banking system and real estate market)…

  • The country reminds me of Ethiopia. Rather, what Ethiopia could be in a few years with a little flexibility towards foreign investments. Myanmar, a country of c.60mn people, is seen by some investors as the next growth frontier (IMF: 7.3% GDP growth in 2015) given its relatively lower wealth in the South East Asian region and the still basic nature of goods and services currently available.

 

  • As with many countries when they start opening up with an intention to attract tourists, the airport, hotels and restaurants are some of the early areas that attract investments. Myanmar possesses quite a decent and functional airport (significantly better than that of my home country, Nigeria) as well as a number of high quality hotels and restaurants connected by very good roads. The conscious attempt to develop the country with tourists in mind is quite apparent. While we went during low season, the number of hotels/resorts and feedback from locals suggests things gather significant momentum between August-January.

 

  • On a separate note, we heard about a heating up in the real estate market, largely demand-side driven. As I dug further on this issue, I discovered from locals that Myanmar is predominantly a cash-based economy. Also, real savings rate is negative, at the regulated 8%, considering inflation is 11-12%. Therefore, most of the professionals I met mentioned locals keep stacks of cash and/or gold at home or invest in real estate given the lack of low risk alternatives. This means that while the locals may be concerned about a bubble, the heating up could be sustained until maybe structural changes are made to improve the intermediation of the banking system.

 

  • While the average Nigerian has 3-4 bank accounts, it’s not uncommon to find a local here with no bank account; and where he/she does, its one bank account with balances sometimes as low as $10 equivalent.

 

  • The Kenyan government can take a cue from Myanmar on the negative implications of lending and deposit rate caps (13% and 8% respectively in Myanmar), to observe the stifling impact on credit availability to the private sector.

 

  • The banking system, with 14 private banks, is largely dominated by big business men, partly due to a shortage of alternative funding sources for their businesses. There are 14 other government-linked banking entities. Commodities (gold and other precious materials) are a key driver of economic activity and one professional mentioned that the military still has back-end control despite the 2015 elections which further entrenched democracy in the country.

 

  • The most incredible thing I discovered is that loan sharks here lend for as high as 12% per month. Even when the loan is collateralized with gold (sometimes kept in mattresses), the lending rate drops to only 8% per month! These monthly rates are almost equivalent to 100-150% per annum on the same principal, ex fees (NB: In Africa, micro lending rates tend to range 2-5% per month, on average). Clearly prohibitive and points to the weak intermediation role of the banks in this economy. One professional mentioned 1) that banks often ask for 200% loan collateralization, 2) prefer this to be land, and 3) the banks rarely have credit committees. Consensus seemed to be building among the locals that a banking crisis may be around the corner.

 

Was this post too boring for you? Then get on my LBS Student Blog page to read Part 2 – My fun notes!

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Africa business summit

Few would disagree that countries in Africa have gone through a rough economic patch over the past two years, particularly the continent’s largest economies. Commodity cycles have played a big part. Poor governance at different levels also. But Africans always rise to the challenge and this time will be no different.

It is against this backdrop that the London Business School (LBS) Africa Club is putting together, yet again, the high impact Africa Business Summit. Themed “Made in Africa”, it’s an attempt to engender discourse on internal solutions to the continent’s unique challenges while celebrating its triumphs. In this vein, on 22 April, at the prestigious London Hilton Hotel on Park Lane, we will be hosting some of the best minds from the continent to discuss Africa and Africa-related issues.

So why must you attend the largest student-run conference at LBS?

1. Fact check 1: Do you know which African bank has generated equity returns of 25% on average over the past 15+ years? That’s Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank); and its CEO, Segun Agbaje, will be a keynote speaker on the day. If you’ve never heard him speak then you need to get plugged into his brilliant mind. Watch this. Come and listen to how the bank achieved such an implausible feat amidst volatile political, economic and competitive dynamics in Nigeria, and what catalytic role the bank is playing in shaping the ‘Made in Africa’ narrative. By the way, at LBS, we study a case on GTBank’s organizational culture in Managing Organizational Behavior. At the LBS 2016 Fall Stock Pitch Competition which I won, GTBank was the winning stock pitch which the Student Investment Fund subsequently invested in.

2. Fact check 2: What is the most renowned mobile banking platform in the world that has taken financial services right to the grass roots and transformed an entire generation of people? Think about people living on less than $30 a day but because of the transformational nature of M-Pesa, the financial services sector in Kenya continues to go through massive disruptions which has, on a net basis, been positive for the common man. Bob Collymore, the bold and visionary CEO of Safaricom (40% owned by Vodafone), will also be a keynote speaker and you definitely do not want to miss him. At LBS, if you take the elective on Entrepreneurship in Emerging Markets, you get the option to study a case on M-Pesa.

3. Now that your appetite is whet, let me tell you who else will be gracing the stage: Yvonne Ike, Managing Director Investment Banking (SSA ex. RSA) at Bank of America Merrill Lynch; ever lively Charlie Robertson, Global Economist at Renaissance Capital who will be moderating the finance panel; Oba Otudeko, Chairman and Founder of Honeywell Group and Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) Holdings Plc; Jay Ireland, President & CEO of GE Africa; and Harold Leenen, Managing Director & Global Head of Transaction Banking (Middle East & Africa) at Deutsche Bank.

4. Fact check 3: What is the largest student-led conference at LBS? The LBS Africa Business Summit, which regularly attracts over 400 delegates and speakers.

5. Moving away from the serious stuff, the gala night will be LITT, and as you probably know, no one parties harder than the Africans!

6. Get your signed autographs from the winners of the LBS 2017 Tattoo Talent Show. In doubt? Watch the victory performance and read this inspirational LBS blog post on how we did it.

7. Meet the representatives of some of the companies that will be receiving the CV book, including BCG, CDC, WorldRemit etc. (NB: you can submit your CV during registration).

8. Meet a diverse pool of LBS alumni with a focused interest on Africa, who are making high impact in the entrepreneurship and corporate space.

Hesitate no longer. Proceed to www.lbsabs.com to get your ticket NOW. Tell a friend to tell a friend! I look forward to hosting and meeting you.

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Over the weekend, a team of eight came together to pull off an historic feat for the Africa Club – win the London Business School (LBS) 2017 Tattoo Talent Show. Talk about diversity, the group comprised six nationalities: Russian, Nigerian, Jamaican, South African, British and Moroccan. (If I include Kadotien’s incredible voice over, then add Ivorian to the list). And what brought us together for Tattoo – a love for dancing and a strong desire to portray the beauty of African dance to the LBS community. In a nutshell, the performance not only displayed different African dance moves including Shoki and Azonto, but it was also a story of love crossing boundaries.

I must say that the quality of performances from the other clubs was incredible and choosing the top 3 must have been quite a difficult task for the judges but I’m glad that we won! We won despite having practiced for just a week and one member (guess who?!) having rehearsed all the moves in less than 24hrs before the show. So how did we do it, in the face of skilled professional performances from so many other clubs?

 

  1. We had a very dedicated dance captain in Ayo Gabriel, who coordinated the entire process and spent many hours in solo practice at home so that he could successfully pass the skills and energy across to his team. Equally important was that he had a very supportive team: Elena Zhukova and Eme Caiafas provided valuable insights on organization and dance steps; Ellie Stoneham, Monique Cheri Baars and Samantha provided much needed logistics support, particularly in sourcing fabrics and Simba; while Nabil Lahbil provided incredible energy and tremendous help bringing me up to speed with all the moves in less than 24hrs.
  1. There was tremendous passion across the team and the energy was electric. We didn’t set out to win but wanted to put on a really good show for the audience. We were cognizant that we were the last team coming up and wanted to leave a lasting impression on our audience. Through it all, we were buzzing with too many creative ideas for time to allow.
  1. Though we only met to practice five times, in reality, we put in significantly more hours in private. Speaking for myself, after only joining the team to rehearse our moves on Friday night, I spent time watching dance videos and our recorded sessions at home to master every step in detail. Such was the level of desire to put on an excellent show and to not let my mates down on stage.

 

Basically, I can summarize our success as being down to four key factors: dedication, team work, passion and hard work. I believe as with many things in life, talent can sometimes be overrated and life’s winners are sometimes those who are willing to put in the hard work that success demands.

On the night, given the spectacular performances, I believe every group was a winner. We all showed the beauty of embracing diversity and team work across the different programmes, and this is what makes the London Business School experience truly special.

Hats off to Professor Tahoun, our special judges and MCs, and to all of you for making #lbsTattoo2017 great again! Special thanks to Akitoye, Matthew, Jonni, Yemi, Solomon, Cheke and the club executives for all their background work making the rest of the Africa Club’s showing at the festival a truly memorable one.

Africa Club team - winners of LBS Tattoo 2017 Talent Show

Africa Club team – winners of LBS Tattoo 2017 Talent Show

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Term 1 ends. Random musings.

Posted by: Adesoji Solanke
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I survived! We made it through what has been nothing short of an extraordinary past few months. As the saying goes – time does fly when you’re having fun. But I remember vividly, days when I was drowning under mountain high and rising to-do lists and all I could say was: one way or another, I’ll make it to term end, and here we are. I must say, that nothing can sufficiently describe to anyone, the experience of the London Business School MBA other than simply experiencing it; and so far, many of my mates will agree it’s been busier than even a full-time job!

As I type this up, it’s the night just after a marathon weekend of final exams – grueling! Many are gearing up for what will be a phenomenal week at one of LBS’s flagship December treks, in Val Thorens – the Snow Trek (FOMO). Many are setting out with friends anew to countries around Europe and elsewhere, and others heading back home to family and friends. For others, it’s the perfect time to finally explore the UK and get out of the Baker Street bubble. And for some, it will be a holiday busy with case preps, interview preparations, networking, retrospection, planning for what comes next…and reading The Goal (-_-).

I envy the MBA2019s. As an MBA Student Ambassador, I was excited to congratulate some of those who recently received their admission offers from LBS. More exciting however, is that they will be first to explore the revamped LBS MBA offering. The option to waive the language exit requirement and tailor your core courses are some of the brilliant changes to the core MBA programme I sometimes wish were retrospective. Nevertheless, just as I found it reassuring to hear alumni say how much better the MBA is, now versus when they were here, I’m glad I can already convey a similar message to the incoming class.

How do you think about impact? So, we all want to be successful but to what end? What is the essence of our success and what will its impact be? As I draw the curtains on term 1 and look forward to an exciting year ahead, it is perhaps pertinent to draw on Stephen Covey’s Habit 2 in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” – Begin with the end in mind. Framing the end is often an ongoing process (and the GLAM course required us to do this) but it’s important to have it in mind as a guide for today’s actions and decisions. Excel’s Solver won’t optimize for you here (#DMDjokes).

Okay, this post is as random as the title suggests but I think it has achieved its objective nonetheless – to give an insight into the LBS MBA student experience. Thus, to you, my Japanese friends, and those gearing up for the Japan trek: ‘Meri-Kurisumasu’ and ‘Yoi otoshi o’! Sayonara!

My random study group - American engineer, Brazilian banker, British pharmacist, Nigerian analyst, Indian PR consultant, Italian consultant

My random study group – American engineer, Brazilian banker, British pharmacist, Nigerian equity analyst, Indian PR consultant, Italian consultant

 

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There is a popular connotation in Nigeria called ‘J.J.C.’, short for ‘Johnny Just Come’, which is used to describe a newbie to a particular environment. For a country I felt instinctively attuned to, I have had so many ‘Soji Just Come’ moments in the U.K. so far, and there are still many to come.

Flying into London for school couldn’t have felt any more natural. I felt like I was back at home; home to a country where I had often traveled to make investment pitches to multiple frontier and emerging market funds in my role as Head of Nigeria Research and Lead Sub-Saharan Africa Banking Analyst at Renaissance Capital. Those trips involved many black cabs and tube runs, great meals in some of the best restaurants London has to offer and accommodation in top rated hotels in Central London.

Still basking in the euphoria of arriving London to meet proper sunshine, my first week was relaxed and I visited all my favorite spots and lived life forgetting I wasn’t swiping the corporate card anymore. Then reality dawned. Looking at my cash burn rate after just a week, I realized I had to change tact swiftly. This meant that for one whose cooking skills were low, I needed to find a sustainable solution, quickly. Luckily, London had many affordable solutions, including some Nigerian ones! But it is in the plethora of options that I have found some of my biggest challenges and learning points settling into London.

Beyond feeding, I needed to find an apartment. I needed to figure out the most cost effective transport solution; and for such a regular question, there was surprisingly no straight forward answer. Do I get the rail card? What of the student oyster? Travel card, PAYG, off-peak, banks etc. Then came energy bills, water bills, TV bills, council tax, heating, dry cleaning etc. and the list goes on. We had not even gotten to orientation day and I was already feeling overwhelmed. But I wasn’t alone. With >90% of the MBA2018 set being international students, almost everyone had similar questions. The discovery of Slack (the chat app) kept the community alive and the discussions structured in groups.

My SJC moments have been plentiful but the often generous assistance of alumni and current students has meant that these moments have reduced. Now that my settling down phase is largely done, another phase, which brings a different kind of busy than what I have been used to, has commenced. 8:15am classes, late night tutorials and language classes, cases, assignments, career events, sundowners, leadership skills trainings, PLP sessions, club interviews and events, parties, exams, stock pitches, networking, Arsenal matches etc. Indeed, one’s MBA story is probably best told while living it. Watch this space and follow my MBA journey through what has been an exciting time at London Business School!

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