2019 Best EMBAs: Chizoba Ngwube, Arizona State (W. P. Carey)

Chizoba Ngwube, MD

W. P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University

“I am a very analytical but empathetic individual who continuously strives to do more with less.”

Age: 37

Hometown: Quite an interesting one… Born in Chicago, grew up and raised in Enugu, Nigeria. Afterward, I have lived in several U.S. towns (New York; Atlanta; Charleston; Washington, D.C.; St. Louis; Houston) during the course of our (my husband and I) training and careers. Presently residing in Chandler, Ariz. So, I guess Chandler is my adopted hometown.

Family members: My husband, Alex, a pediatric bone marrow transplant physician. My 8-year-old son, Kandu, and my 5-year-old daughter, Emelum

Fun fact about yourself: I founded and presided over Capable Children’s Club (a kids’ club) at age 8 with the objective of creating an avenue for increased socialization and creativity amongst other kids together with outreaches to the poor. I believe that was when I developed my initial fundraising skills. During multiple medical mission outreaches to underserved parts of Nigeria, I played various characters in theatrical performances as we tried to connect with indigenes of the community.

Undergraduate school and degree: College of Medicine, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nigeria (medicine and surgery)

Where are you currently working? I am an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Family and Community Medicine Department at the University of Arizona, Tucson.

Extracurricular activities, community work, and leadership roles:

  • Member, Beta Gamma Sigma International Honor Society
  • Board member and financial director, Noela4Kids (non-profit, Christian organization that began as a need to fulfill the call in response to the obvious hunger and deprivation of underage children in local villages in Africa)
  • Member, Christian Medical and Dental Association
  • Member, Peer Review Committee of Steward Health Care
  • Mentor/Ally, W. P. Carey School of Business EMBA program
  • Financial director, Nigerian Conference of Christian Medical and Dental Students (local chapter)
  • Class Representative, College of Medicine, Nnamdi Azikiwe University (Class of 2006)

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Outstanding Graduate Student Award (Spring 2019). I had so many feel-good moments that included finishing with a 4.0 GPA and induction into the Beta Gamma Sigma International Honor Society. However, my proudest moment was when I was awarded the Outstanding Graduate Student (OGS) of the W. P. Carey School of Business. This was despite my role as a mother of two, a wife, and with my full-time job … a reminder that you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it even if it is outside your comfort zone.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? It was the opportunities to turn lives entrusted into my care around, to have people trust me within a limited time and letting me into their life’s issues. Being found worthy to be entrusted with such responsibility is indeed my most proud professional achievement.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Too hard to make a pick. My professors were superb subject-matter experts who were all great at delivering knowledge. They were reachable anytime we needed to discuss or run things by them. I was particularly inspired by Dr. Uday Kulkarni’s course (Business Data Analytics). He also took out time to meet with me to discuss my innovative ideas for electronic medical records, an issue unrelated to school work. Our professors also made us believe we were really good at what we did. Professor Greg Collins made me feel like a supply chain expert already, offering me a guest speaker invitation to a different class of his. If I keep going, I probably would end up naming everyone. Like I stated earlier, they were all great!

What was your favorite MBA course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? With every course that I took, I felt like a child in a candy store, but the business analytics course was head-and-shoulders above all, in my opinion. The intelligence from data analysis creates a treasure trove of limitless possibilities in health care!

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? I chose W. P. Carey’s EMBA program because of its reputation and the favorable schedule it offered.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? It was he interesting stories from my peers’ industries and companies; the networking and comradery amongst my colleagues; the real-world cases we dissected in class together with how I could relate to and apply them to my work; and the joy of going through quantitative sciences (my secret pleasure) again after several years.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? One of the many lessons I picked up from my MBA is the ability to diagnose adaptive challenges earlier on in projects and management using adaptive designs. As rigorous as this process can become, I have been able to use this learning to map out strategies that are currently changing values and processes in my unit.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family, and education? I remember the Friday when I got off work, rushed over to my kids’ after-school program to pick them up, and bundled them to my school for my team meeting as I had no childcare that evening (my husband had to stay back at work for an emergency). I quickly packed luggage with sleeping bags, blankets, electronics, homework books, snacks, as I couldn’t tell how long my team would be meeting. We ended up staying until past 10 p.m. Surprisingly, my kids loved the experience and looked forward to more of such crazy days.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? No other MBA program gives you the level of opportunity as the executive MBA does to interact and learn from a variety of industry leaders outside of your own. Also, you will get out of the program as much as you are willing to put into it.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school (and how was it the same or different than what you experienced)? One is too old to get back into school and excel. Well, that’s certainly not true. I met many students who were older and had strong desires to excel academically – and they really did! Succeeding is a matter of committing and putting your mind to what you want to do. It is a matter of continuously operating with a growth mindset regardless of age and previous achievements.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I can’t think of any regrets except maybe for the limited time I had with my family. However, I had a very understanding and unconditionally supportive family that was very interested in seeing me succeed in the program, so really… no regrets.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? My colleagues are comprised of a variety of very gifted and fun-loving individuals that I learned so much from. However, I was particularly inspired by the CEO of Degan Construction LLC, Denver Whetten. Shortly after he started his company, the 2008 recession hit his new company badly. Hearing him describe how he endured, his ability to keep all his employees satisfied (amidst some being enticed with by other companies) during such a difficult stretch and the enormous progress he has made afterward was inspiring to me. I saw a great leader in him.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…my frustration over the misalignments between health care administrations, policymakers, insurers and health care providers continued to increase. I knew that for me to become more impactful as a clinical leader in the current system, I needed a better understanding of the business side of medicine.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? To become a revolutionary health care leader strategically involved in changing the dynamics of health care systems toward one with improved health access, outcomes and cost containment for America and the world.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like my peers to remember me with a good smile or two.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Visit every country in the world and make a cameo appearance on a TV show.

What made Chizoba Ngwube such an invaluable addition to the class of 2019?  

“Chizoba is a physician and faculty member at Banner Health in Arizona who grew up in Nigeria. She was the top performer in our EMBA class and yet demonstrated an uncommon humility at all times. She asked the most thought-provoking questions in class and by doing so enhanced the learning for all her classmates and faculty members. Her teams consistently performed at the top of the class despite rotating members throughout the program — she was the common element!”

Gerry Keim

Faculty Director for the Executive MBA

Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship

“Beyond academic performance that was outstanding, Chizoba brought personal intangibles to the classroom that enhanced the quality of experience for everyone else. Intangibles are not easy to explain, but her curiosity about what was being discussed in the class and, more importantly, what more she wanted to know about what was being discussed, was amazing. It gave me an opportunity to “up the ante’ by challenging the class. And Chizoba did it in a humble and pleasant way.”

Uday Kulkarni

Associate Professor of Information Systems


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