2021 Best & Brightest EMBAs: Omokhaye M. Higo, Washington University (Olin)

Omokhaye M. Higo

Washington University in St. Louis, Olin Business School

Age: 57 

“Loyal, dedicated and wired to see the best in people.”

Hometown: O’Fallon, Missouri

Family Members: 3 daughters Ibilola (28), Aarika (23), Imani (16), and son Isaac (19)

Fun fact about yourself: I would have been a stand-up comedian if medical school had not worked out.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Ibadan, Nigeria, BSc Physiology; University of Ilorin Nigeria, MBBS

Where are you currently working? I am an associate professor in the Department of Anesthesia at Washington University’s School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. I spend about half of my time in the OR as the co-clinical lead in Neuroanesthesia/ENT/Spine. The other half of my time is spent as an attending physician in the various ICUs within our healthcare organization.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work, and Leadership Roles: Hiking (completed the Camino de Santiago), traveling, volunteering/financial support of various NGOs, chief resident in my anesthesia residency program.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Completing the EMBA (Executive Master of Business Administration) program. Why? I did it while carrying an enormous clinical load during the COVID-19 pandemic and, for some part, virtually.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of getting on the Specialist Register (Anaesthetics) of the GMC (General Medical Council) in the United Kingdom. Why? It’s the fulfillment of my childhood dream of becoming a consultant anesthesiologist/intensivist in the USA/UK.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Mahendra Gupta was my favorite professor due to his grace, patience, humility and ability to make cost accounting understandable. He is the embodiment of what leadership looks like.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? WashU Olin came well-recommended by a mentor/work colleague who had been through the program. I did research and found in Olin a school that placed a lot of emphasis on “thinking beyond the bottom line while making decisions to benefit business and society.” The intense world-class leadership part of the program also was integral to my decision to attend WashU Olin. It also helped that it was local, making combining schoolwork and family much more manageable.  

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA, and how did you apply it at work? I gained a true appreciation of leadership and why a higher purpose in an organization matters. In my work life, I am now more intentional about clarifying to the team our vision, using the skills I acquired in the EMBA program to adjust my leadership style to one that best suits the team I am directing. I am doing more listening and less talking. I am giving more frequent and intentional feedback to the team

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family, and education? My son took part in an art exhibition at his college in Kansas City on a Sunday. I attended EMBA class from a Wednesday morning to Saturday evening. I was up into the wee hours of the night getting my part of the group deliverables done and then drove to Kansas City for his art exhibition. I then returned to St. Louis later that evening to ensure I was at work in the ICU on Monday morning at 6:30 a.m.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Know exactly why you are doing an EMBA and come with an open mind and ready to learn.  

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? School and learning gets more difficult as one gets older or the more time that has passed since being in school. 

What was your biggest regret in business school? That Excel and PowerPoint were not widely available when I was in college, and I did not brush up on them before classes started.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Amy Guthrey: wife, mother of three lovely kids, and our team leader. She drove down from Kansas City for every in-person class session. She was a superwoman, juggling family, work and school while demonstrating a dedication to excellence in all she did.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? I was looking to close some skillset gaps in my leadership portfolio. I was unable to find a part-time or online program that met that need.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I would like to transition into a leadership role in a healthcare organization/consulting group helping to reimagine and meet the healthcare needs of the 21st century and beyond.

What made Higo such an invaluable addition to the class of 2021?

“WashU Olin Business School has five core values–Integrity, Collaboration, Diversity, Leadership and Excellence. Higo exemplifies each of them–in class, in his medical profession and in his communities. He has a deep intellectual curiosity and a drive to make a difference. He has a way to ask questions that opens up a wide range of untapped perspectives. His values are uncompromising, and his actions bring others along. Higo is a very patient listener. He treats every thought with open mind and every person with respect. I am sure his patients find it a great comfort to be in his hands. He is a constructive disruptor and destined to lead. I will be watching and cheering as his success unfolds. Good luck, Higo!!”

Mahendra R. Gupta
Former Dean and Geraldine J. and Robert L. Virgil Professor of Accounting and Management
WashU Olin Business School


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