Sainsbury Management Fellows

Interview 2: Emmanuel Lawal

Emmanuel Lawal (BEng Hons, University of Portsmouth, MSc, Politecnico di Milano), INSEAD


Prior to INSEAD, Emmanuel enjoyed a career working across several engineering and manufacturing industries. Most recently, he was a Project Manager at Safran Electrical & Power, a world leader in aircraft electrical systems and power generation. His previous experiences include Corporate Strategy work at Munich-based Infineon Technologies AG, a semiconductor manufacturer and nearly two years providing façade solutions on iconic construction projects in London. The MBA with its knowledge sharing platform enables Emmanuel to augment his knowledge of the various interconnected factors important to shape business, build lifelong relationships and experience international exposure at a whole new level

What do you hope to achieve through your MBA experience?
On a professional level, I would like to equip myself with a thorough knowledge of the various interconnected factors important to shape business. The MBA with its knowledge sharing platform between a diverse group of students with unique perspectives will certainly augment my understanding of global business. With this enhanced perspective, I will be able to approach problems with a wider spectrum and find creative solutions. On a personal level, I would like to build lifelong relationships, widen my network and experience international exposure at a whole new level.

How will you use your MBA to further your career?
I consider innovation a pivotal part of engineering and strategy is at the heart of this.  A role that offers scope to shape and influence direction will be of interest and is a great way to make a meaningful impact. The ideal scenario will be to leverage my experiences, network and business skills through the MBA in an engineering realm. There is huge potential in the adoption of new technologies in UK engineering and manufacturing. Technologies that allow hybridisation of aircraft, industrial processes such as additive manufacturing and augmented reality, the use of machine learning and big data for predictive maintenance, are few of the numerous possibilities. I find these incredibly fascinating and would like to lead and influence these technological advancements in UK engineering. In addition, the wealth of possibilities I will no doubt be exposed to over the course of the MBA creates room for ideas that may be outside my current perspective. The significant financial benefit afforded by the fellowship importantly creates room for experimentation with new ideas which is a great platform for innovation.

What are your hopes/expectations of being part of the SMF network after business school?
The SMF network is truly invaluable. The opportunity to learn and cross-fertilise ideas between engineers of various specialisms will no doubt be of tremendous benefit and significantly widen my perspective. Importantly, the network offers an enviable forum to share ideas and opportunities, receive and provide mentorship, and champion the values and growth of the community.

How do you hope to support SMF after you graduate from business school? Firmly in line with my dream and vision to be an inspiration to others, in particular, those from perhaps underprivileged backgrounds or with diverse profiles, my hope is to encourage and mentor young engineers to engage in engineering in schools, colleges and universities.  In addition, I would like to support initiatives in the SMF community such as the Engineers in Business Competitions and contribute financially as a donor to the fellowship.

When did you start thinking about doing an MBA?
After my very first work experience in engineering! At the time, I felt comfortable with the technical side but I quickly recognised there was much more to learn about business. I also quite enjoyed working with people and I became aware of the importance of a well-rounded skillset especially enhanced people skills, increased knowledge of business and greater understanding of how various roles converge. It was at this point I started to have an MBA in mind as a potential pitstop in the future.

How did you find out about financial support for your MBA?
I was fortunate to have a network to tap into from my previous experiences so I asked the questions from MBA alumni and researched online. INSEAD also provide guidance on available options on funding MBA studies, from loans to internal and external funding including the SMF scholarship.

How was your experience of applying for the scholarship?
The application process is well-documented on the website and I was able to clarify questions with the programme manager via email so in that regard it was well-guided. The word limit on the essay questions and interview time were certainly both challenging and stretched my ability to be concise and succinct which in itself was an education!

Another challenge was to identify what I felt were real differentiators in my skills and experiences, given the thoroughly impressive profile of previous cohorts, and then try to communicate these clearly to the selection panel both in the essay questions and the interview.

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The Sainsbury Management Fellows is registered as a charity: Engineers in Business Fellowship, charity number 1147203 and is a company limited by guarantee : 07807250