Interview 9: Lynda Nwike

Lynda Nwike (BEng (Hons) Mechanical Engineering, King’s College London, MPA-International Development (Quantitative Economics) Harvard John F Kennedy School of Government), Harvard Business School
Lynda was inspired by a career in the energy industry at the age of 14 when she attended an “Energy Challenge” in Scotland. She later received an Arkwright Engineering Scholarship before attending university. She has worked globally for ExxonMobil, Schlumberger and Royal Dutch Shell in Public & Government Affairs, Engineering, Operations, Contracts and Coaching with the majority of her career spent on offshore platforms. During this time, she acted as Chair of the Europe, Russia and Israel Student Operating Board for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and as a STEM ambassador and advocate with the Arkwright Trust.

When did you start thinking about doing an MBA?
I was definitely not a person who saw the MBA as part of my trajectory early on! That largely came from an initial misunderstanding of what the MBA is and its value add. I started contemplating an MBA in November 2019 after a conversation with my brother where I reflected on what I had achieved so far in my career, but more importantly what I wanted the next part of my journey to look like. I had a general idea of where I saw my career heading, but I knew I needed the time and space to better understand the intricacies of this plan and the more discrete steps that needed to take place. As I reached out to others with varying backgrounds and aspirations and heard how their respective MBA experiences shaped them on not only a professional but a deeply personal level, I knew without a doubt that it was the next step for me.

What do you hope to achieve through your MBA experience?
My hopes are threefold for the MBA experience. Firstly, I hope to develop fundamental skills that will enable me to succeed in any business environment. Secondly, I hope to learn from, collaborate with and be inspired by an international network of peers who are all looking to make an impact in their respective spaces. Thirdly, on a more personal level, I hope to use this time to better define my path in improving energy access and equity globally – whether that be through infrastructure development, cleantech, impact investing etc. This will come through a deeper understanding of my individual skillset and understanding in what capacity I can best affect change.

Where do you see yourself career-wise in 5 years?
In five years my hope is to be operating in the energy access/equity and sustainability space, particularly as it pertains to economic development and international relations. My hope is that the MBA will provide me with both the skills and the time to create a more granular plan to realise this ambition.

What are your expectations of being part of the SMF network after business school?
Collaboration is key to personal development, professional development and to creating impact. The SMF will provide ample opportunities to support/mentor those looking to attend business school in the future, to engage with highly ambitious and impressive peers and to be mentored by inspirational leaders. As someone who has benefited greatly from the support of those around me, I truly understand and appreciate the importance of having both a personal and professional support network and wish to pay this forward for others. I’ve also begun to engage with my fellow SMF cohort and look forward to further engagements and discussions where we can support each other in creating the impact we hope to see in the world.

How do you hope to support SMF after you graduate from business school? 
I hope to be involved with the SMF in many different capacities! As discussed, I had the good fortune of having an incredible network of people who supported me and continue to support me throughout my career, and I hope to pay this forward to the next generation of young engineers coming through. I expect to do this through mentoring and helping others explore career opportunities and paths that resonate the most with them. I also expect to support the SMF through involvement in initiatives and to even help create new initiatives to increase outreach to young, aspiring engineers. Lastly, because of the generous financial contribution offered by the SMF, I plan to financially contribute to the scholarships for those in future SMF cohorts.

How was your experience of applying for the scholarship? Anything that you found especially challenging or surprising?
I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of applying. Everyone I had the pleasure of engaging with was very supportive and responsive. For me the application was in many ways integral to the larger process of applying for an MBA. The SMF application forces you to continue to reflect on what should already be a highly reflective time as you apply to schools. What I found most interesting is the many facets I realised my aspirations had. What I mean by that is that the impacts I hope to achieve interfaced with so many different areas – sustainability, energy, infrastructure, economic development, trade – and it truly was a very exploratory experience to pull what at times felt like a large intangible idea into a more cohesive narrative.

What tip would you give to someone seeking financial support to do an MBA?
I would say that there are many opportunities available for financial support for the MBA, but you need to appreciate the time to firstly find them and to apply to them. Additionally, don’t discount yourself for any opportunity – yes there are many competitive applicants, but focus on putting your best foot forward and articulating the reasons why an MBA is the best next step forward for you. Being honest, transparent, and genuine in your intentions shine through any application – whether it be for financial assistance or the MBA itself.

Lynda Nwike can be found on LinkedIn.

Find out how to apply for our scholarship.


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