One dream, two scholarships & 3,000 miles: Abdulhameed’s journey from Nigeria to INSEAD

Nigerian Abdulhameed bonded with his classmates simply through a shared desire to learn about business. He told MASTERGRADSCHOOLS about his experiences so far studying the Master in Management program at INSEAD.

In short

Abdulhameed Obileye (Nigeria) - INSEAD

Abdulhameed Obileye had long suspected that he would end up studying at INSEAD. He first heard about their program during his undergraduate years in Lagos, Nigeria, where he studied engineering. However, a minimum requirement of five years work experience meant that INSEAD remained very much a long-term ambition – until he heard about their Master in Management program.

With no minimum requirement for work experience, the INSEAD MIM is targeted at young, ambitious graduates just like Abdulhameed. It was perfect for him. As his bachelor’s degree was drawing to a close, he began to put together an application for his dream business school. Just a couple of months after starting a job as a business analyst in Lagos, Abdulhameed got the news: He had been accepted into the INSEAD MIM!


“I chose to bet on the program. I chose to bet on INSEAD’s credibility and alumni. I reached out to a couple of MBAs and they shared with me their experience from Nigeria to INSEAD. They let me know that you’re going to a reputable school, you’ll get a lot of support but you will need to put in a bit of work!” he tells MASTERGRADSCHOOLS. (07:09)

He believes that his overall profile, rather than academic achievements alone, was key to his successful application: “Of course they want to see that you have a good GRE or GMAT score. But I think INSEAD looks at the big picture really. They’re trying to understand you. What’s your capacity for leadership? What’s your international experience? Have you done an exchange program? Can you speak another language? I think those are the things that really matter to INSEAD.” (02:02)

Making the MIM a reality

Yet having been accepted into one of the world’s most prestigious business schools, the next stage of Abdulhameed’s journey was every bit as challenging: funding his studies. Through a combination of family financial support, an INSEAD scholarship, and a scholarship from the French government, he was able to gather together enough money to make it happen. He was going to INSEAD.

Leaving behind family and friends in Nigeria, he made the 3,000 mile trip across the world to INSEAD’s Fontainebleau campus, located just outside of Paris. After his arrival – in the midst of a global pandemic no less – he joined a cohort of more than 80 students from all over the world in his MiM program. The experience has so far been revelatory.

“It’s really diverse in terms of the backgrounds of different people, the countries they’re from, and what they studied. Some people like me studied engineering, some other people maybe arts or communications or economics” he explains. (04:07)

Finding commonality with classmates

Arriving in France, an “entirely different” country from his native Nigeria, it’s unsurprising that Abdulhameed was looking for some commonality with the MiM students there. He didn’t have to worry. He told us that the one thing the students have in common is simple: “All of us want to learn about business” (03:27). Whether you’re from Nigeria or Nicaragua, the desire to better yourself professionally and personally is the common thread that runs throughout the MiM cohort. It makes the classroom an exciting and inspiring place to be.

Abdulhameed was also impressed by the standard of teaching at INSEAD. He says, “The quality of the professors at INSEAD is something I haven’t experienced previously. [We are] working on real-life cases and trying to understand problems that actually happened.” (09:29)

“[INSEAD] forces you to think in different ways and it forces you to prioritize collaborative learning (14:46). Some of the small things that I have experienced here have introduced me to a more efficient way of learning and a more efficient way of working.” (15:15)

What does the future hold for Abdulhameed?

Abdulhameed may only be a few months into his INSEAD experience, but the school’s mission for business to be a force for good is already influencing his career ambitions. He told us about plans to eventually start a social enterprise and make a positive influence on the world. But for now, he’s simply trying to “learn as much as possible, contribute as much as possible, and see how I can help my immediate community.” (17:02)

It is a trio of objectives which could easily double up as the school’s mission statement. Abdulhameed is living proof that no matter where you come from or where you hope to go, there is a school out there for you.

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