2019 Best EMBAs: Moses deGraft-Johnson, IE Business School-Brown University

Moses deGraft-Johnson

IE Business School and Brown University (IE Brown Executive MBA)

“Outgoing and driven to the point of detriment.”

Age: 45

Hometown: Born in Ghana raised in Houston, TX

Family Members: 3 siblings (Elizabeth, John, and Jeffrey)

Fun fact about yourself: I hate horror films

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Prairie View A&M University – B.S (major Biology, Minor Chemistry)

Ross University School of Medicine M.D (Medical Degree)

University of Minnesota School of Medicine (Cardiothoracic Surgery)

Where are you currently working? (List Company and Role)

The Heart & Vascular Institute of North Florida – Managing Director and Founder (U.S Company)

Owner & Founder:  Sisimbo Group (Ghana Companies) 1. Cabo Corso Burger Company 2. Sisimbo Farms 3. Sisimbo Real Estate & Construction Company (Ghana & South Africa) 4. Sisimbo Film Works & Animation (Ghana & South Africa) 5. Diggie Bros Entertainment 6. Gold Coast City Specialty Hospital 7. Polyphenol Company (Cote de Graft Vodka & Gin) 8. Cote de Graft Restaurant 9. Leviticus Night Club 10.Rabbit WiFi network

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Board Member: Harlem Junior Tennis Education Program Sisimbo Foundation

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school?

  1. Everything listed above
  2. Being accepted to the London School of Business for MPA program

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career?  I did something that conventional wisdom suggested otherwise. Starting my own Outpatient Based Surgery Centers. It was a critical time in my professional career as a cardiac surgeon. Medicine was changing and I saw an opportunity that could innovate the field that no one else saw.  Hospital leadership rejected the idea, but I was so certain of the future in outpatient-based surgery labs – I was on an island by myself.  Thanks to the encouragement of my wife, I started my program that competes directly with the hospital and it is a success.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? This is a tough one because I enjoyed all of them even the ones with unreasonable deadlines.  Jill Payne & Marco Trombetta took me through the academic metamorphosis of a caterpillar to butterfly.

What was your favorite MBA course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it?  All of the courses gave me something special that I’m currently using to run all my business, One class, Entrepreneurial Opportunities in Developing Regions, introduced me to Ted London’s ‘Making Better Investments at the Base of the Pyramid.’  I applied this concept to most of my business in Ghana. Cabo Corso Burger Company was built on the idea of selling to the bottom of the pyramid.  Today we have six stores and a food truck, and our number one competitor is Burger King.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? I understood that I needed a school with international exposure because of the scope of my plans for my business. The IE Brown EMBA program provided traditional business learning plus humanities. The partnership between IE Business School, which is very reputable international school, and Brown University was the obvious answer. The program has given me all the necessary tools to be successful in my many entrepreneurial endeavors.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? The opportunity to be back in school with my wife and the network of friendship from all over the globe is priceless.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? Academically, it was the concept of “base of the pyramid.” This is the core principle of our business in emerging economies like Ghana. Also, learning the importance of partnership and collaboration has allowed me to increase my resources and stretch further than I could have before.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? Well, for those who know me, they often wonder how I do it. I am a full-time Cardiac Surgeon, Entrepreneur, Father, Husband, and Son. My typical schedule starts at 4 a.m. Monday morning and then I am on a 6 a.m. flight from NYC to Florida. On Thursday evening, I’m on flight from Florida back to NYC to be with the family. I work on an average of 120 hours per week. When I leave the house at 4 a.m., I have all my reading materials ready in my briefcase to review during the flight. My children always remind me of important dates because it is so hard to keep up with their activities. I love those guys because they don’t feel badly when I miss a game or performance because they understand the sacrifices I make. Not to mention, they enjoy taking turns walking on my back to help relieve the pain from standing in surgery all day long! Nothing would be possible without my wife and children. They are the real MVPs here. They each understand their role and the family objective.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Be ready for a journey and a lifetime of friendship: Like Nike, JUST DO IT!

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? That you are too old to think. For me, I actually think I was more efficient than college and medical school because I knew my purpose and objective goal and how the information was relevant to my business and everyday life, which made it bearable, unlike medical school.

What was your biggest regret in business school? Not being able to work with all my classmates.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? All of them are very unique. However, Alejandro was the most interesting of them all. This guy spent most of his time traveling the globe providing resource and investments to underserve communities to help lift them from poverty.  He has several businesses like Microfinance that support women in different parts of South America and Africa.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I realized I could run for the office of the President (Ghana).”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal?  To be the President of Ghana.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? The guy who believed all things are possible and never accepted NO.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

To see Ghana and the rest of Africa in the next five to ten years as a middle-class economy.

To see every part of this God-given gift we call earth.

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

“Moses deGraft-Johnson is an all-star individual, professional, and MBA student. He is the heart and vascular surgeon with 18 years of surgical experience, a serial entrepreneur with outpatient-based surgery centers in the United States, and different companies with social impact in the medical, retail, film, entertainment, and housing sectors in Ghana.

With a successful career, entrepreneurship experience, mindset, and orientation for the social complexities of our global world, he was a perfect match for the IE Brown Executive MBA.

He was born and raised in Ghana until the age of 11 when he moved to the United States and was inspired by his childhood experiences in Ghana to go back, contribute, and lift the community. With his determination to give back to his country by initiating big ventures and projects in Africa, he searched for an MBA to receive the framework and context necessary to properly run all of his businesses.

He has been a great student, team player, and guiding example for others on how to be an inspiring leader with a focus to give back to developing communities and create impact.”

Patricia Carnicero Collado

Executive Director of the IE Brown Executive MBA Program


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