2020 Best & Brightest EMBAs: Ayobami Olunloyo, University of Cambridge (Judge)

Ayobami Olunloyo

Cambridge Judge Business School

“An uncompromisingly committed leader who is ceaselessly passionate about impacting the world through excellence.”

Age: 43

Hometown: Ibadan, Nigeria

Family Members: Olaide Olunloyo (Wife), Darasimi Olunloyo (Daughter), Victor Omololu Olunloyo (Father), Funmilayo Olaitan Olunloyo (Mother), Siblings

Fun fact about yourself: Family Nickname – “An Officer and a Gentleman” (after the 1982 Richard Gere movie); still nursing a not-so-secret desire to serve in the military.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Birmingham, UK, Electronic & Electrical Engineering (MEng)

Where are you currently working? Jesus House London, Multimedia Production Manager & Member of the Pastoral Council

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: Invited to give vote of thanks for Lord Karan Bilimoria on behalf of the 2017 & 2018 EMBA cohorts; Delivered keynote speech about “Giving Back” at fundraising talent show in aid of ‘Room to Read’ (a charity that supports education in low income communities by focusing on literacy and gender equality in education).

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? The delivery of a Team Consulting Project for UNICEF UK that was highly commended by the client. Working with a memorable team of a few brilliant colleagues who are now life-long friends, we successfully delivered a new Child Safeguarding Consultancy Model which UNICEF UK plans to adopt as a new income stream for its business operations.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? My most memorable achievement was born out of the COVID-19 pandemic. My organisation, a governing church, had to totally reinvent itself amidst the UK lockdown and government advice on social distancing. By God’s sheer grace, I effectively led the media production efforts that successfully shifted the paradigm on how we ‘do church’. We created a virtual experience that retained all the core elements that guests would benefit from at a physical gathering. By so doing, we were able to help thousands of Christians all over the world to continue to engage with their faith despite the challenges of the time. This was an especially rewarding experience because, in the midst of it, I also rediscovered my own passion for what I do. Give me a crisis any day and I come alive!

Who was your favourite MBA professor? Dr. Allègre Hadida is a University Senior Lecturer in Strategy and Fellow of Magdalene College. She taught my elective on Creative, Arts, and Media Management, a course that is unique in its own right by being the only one of its kind on the planet. Allègre was not only imaginative and novel in her style, but her willingness to connect with students individually and her passion for imparting knowledge were truly infectious.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? Cambridge had always been a dream of mine, so much so that I did not apply anywhere else. The iconic setting of a renowned medieval university at the heart of a beautiful city hosting a cutting-edge technology cluster makes the Business School truly unique in its access to facilities, experiences and opportunities available through many touchpoints, including the colleges, found across the university.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? The people. The friendships I have made, the richness of the learning, and the memories I will take away all come down to PEOPLE. It really was fantastic getting to understand and engage with various personalities and perspectives while benchmarking one’s own outlook against others’. The social time will also be cherished and was also just as important as the seriously intense academic periods.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? I learned a lot about myself and have begun to better understand and accept who I am. Specifically, I successfully validated my strengths against a 126-person cohort. Far more importantly, I came to recognise, and I am able to name my weaknesses. This highly-illuminating experience has been liberating at work because I can engage the correct triggers (and avoid the wrong ones) that help me deliver my best work.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? The truth is that the EMBA taught me to be very decisive while keeping my priorities right. For me, the course, though temporary, was a serious part of my life, not a 20-month side attraction – least because of the significant investment involved. However, my family, especially my wife Laide, were always highly accommodating which was a great help. I did miss the odd school event with my daughter Dara, but at least, thanks to her Aunt Lola, I will never forget watching her walk up to collect her Speech Day Maths Prize live over WhatsApp video from a Cambridge lecture theatre. Having a great team at work who stepped up in my absence was also a blessing.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Make sure it is really what you want and need to do at this time. If it is, remember it is for a season, then throw your whole self into it without looking back. You will love the new ‘you’ that comes out the other side but do find a school that fits you like a glove, as Cambridge did me.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? The EMBA is not easy, but evidently, it is doable! So, to think that one can return to undergraduate life is definitely a myth. The EMBA is a different kind of life and a different kind of commitment. It requires diligence and superb time management. Looking back, I’d advise prospective students to be ready for that and not be caught unawares.

What was your biggest regret in business school? That I could not have even more social time with my fellow cohort members. This was sadly one of the inevitable but necessary sacrifices that resulted from having to balance my time between the EMBA, family and work.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? My ‘brother’ Demetris. Demetris Papaprodromou is the Founder and CEO of Centaur Trust Group and a social entrepreneur. My family and I were honoured to be splendidly hosted by Demetris and his wife Lefki at their offices in Cyprus, along with Christos and his family (who along with Demetris make the Cypriot chapter of our cohort). Demetris is not only a highly experienced business leader with great vision, he is an extremely generous and humble soul, who I have no doubt will continue to make a significant global impact for years to come.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…it dawned on me that I needed to reinvent myself to get to my next level.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I have no doubts that I was made for public service, so I am on a collision course with a political career in Nigeria. My business school experience was aimed at intimating me with the inner workings of the corporate world, which I intend by God’s grace to apply as a bridge between my current reality in the non-profit sector and my intended future in government.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Amongst other things, the ‘Class Priest’, but more seriously I do hope they will remember me as someone who stood out as an encourager and left them with hope that despite the world’s challenges, human beings can still be overwhelmingly decent.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  1. To visit every country in the world.
  2. To run for office in Nigeria.

What made Ayobami such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

“From the outset, it was clear Ayo approached the Executive MBA at Cambridge with the right attitude. His drive for academic success, willingness to embrace challenges and dedication to supporting others all contributed to a rich classroom experience.

Ayo is a great ambassador for the programme and through his work has shown the outside world an example of greatness at Cambridge. He ensured he got the most of our every visit to Cambridge over the 20-month programme by working hard and contributing much, but also by taking part in extracurricular opportunities and social events. I am in no doubt Ayo will continue to make valuable contributions to the world through his work.”

Khal Soufani
Director of the Executive MBA


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.