2023 Best & Brightest Executive MBA: Olaedo (Ola) Osoka, INSEAD

Olaedo (Ola) Osoka


Age: 30

“I’m a life-long learner, resolute and passionate about life, making an impact and showing up!”

Hometown: I spent my childhood in Lagos, Nigeria and have found homes in England and Ghana and London home. Home will soon be Frankfurt.

Family Members: My partner, our parents and my 4 siblings.

Fun fact about yourself: I was 15 when I arrived at university to start my undergraduate degree in England. I turned 16 a few weeks later; I got used to being the youngest in the room early on.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

  • London School of Economics and Political Science – Master of Laws (LLM), Distinction (2012 – 2013)
  • University of Essex – Bachelor of Laws (LLB), First Class Honours (2009 – 2012)

Where are you currently working? I am currently the Chief Executive Officer (West Africa) at Daystar Power Group, a company that finances, installs and maintains solar plants across for businesses and industries in ~400 sites in West Africa.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles:

  • I served as the inaugural Vice President of the Association of Ghana Industries, Solar Working Group between 2022 to 2023. The AGI is the largest businesses association in Ghana with over 1,200 members from the manufacturing and services industries. My role as VP of the working group was to promote the use of renewable energy, in particular solar energy in Ghana.
  • In 2020, the Africa Solar Industry Association named me “Woman of the Year in Solar” in recognition of my efforts in the solar industry in Africa.
  • Between 2018 and 2019, I mentored young women through the Women & Careers Network and minority students at the LSE via the Minority Mentoring Scheme in 2020. Today, I continue to provide mentorship to young career professionals, driven by a sense of responsibility to make their path smoother.
  • Between 2016 and 2018, I volunteered at LifeBlood Nigeria, an NGO dedicated to bridging the gap between blood supply and demand in the country. By promoting regular, voluntary blood donation, our goal was to promote a culture of blood donation and increase the supply of high-quality blood to meet its everyday and emergency needs.
  • From an academic perspective, I graduated with a first class from the University of Essex and distinction from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). I received an award for the best performance in Corporate Law at the LSE. This was a decade ago in 2013.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of the developments I have made from the process of re-evaluating my life goals, passions, and purpose. I have spent the last six years building a start-up, which was rewarding in many aspects and culminated in an acquisition by Shell. In that time, I poured myself into work leaving little time for rest and “me”.

During business school, I started bringing my well-being and intentional personal growth back to the centre stage. I have more clarity on what I really want in life, beyond just professional success, which I believe makes me a better person, leader, and colleague. I am excited about the new opportunities this change will bring.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I took a wide pivot with no reference point from being a commercial lawyer in one of the leading law firms in Nigeria to being a pioneer member of a team building a start up in renewables at a time where renewables were niche in Nigeria. It was scary to move from a comfortable office in a leading law firm to having no office in a start-up that could fail.

I am proud that I had the courage to take this step and each step after that, transitioning from law and rolling up my sleeves to learn and eventually becoming the Chief Executive Officer for West Africa. In this role, I oversaw the expansion of the business from Nigeria into Ghana, Togo, Côte d’Ivoire, and Senegal, culminating in an acquisition by Shell. I am proud of what I built alongside the team; a company that is an industry leader that is helping industries in Africa decarbonize and also reduce their operational costs.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? The faculty is truly world class, and it is incredibly challenging to pick. A few of my favourites are:

  • Seung-Youn Oh (International Political Analysis): She created an enabling environment for transparent discussions around sensitive geopolitical topics. I left her classes with a fresh perspective and empowered with frameworks to pro-actively navigate the ever-evolving geo-political landscape.
  • Olivier DESSAINT (Finance): He delivered formal and technical finance training in a way that was super fun but at the same time challenging, relevant, and practical.
  • Phil Parker (Professor of Marketing): He opened a new world into the power and applicability of artificial intelligence to drive sales and profitability.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? I chose to pursue an EMBA at a pivotal moment in my life, where I was seeking to challenge my perspective and expectations. When it came to selecting a program, three key factors led me to choose INSEAD:

  • I was drawn to their emphasis on values and personal development, exemplified by their unique Leadership Development Programme.
  • Secondly, I was impressed by the calibre of the faculty and cohort – both world-class leaders with diverse backgrounds and practical experience. I wanted an experience that transcended borders; my classes for instance are in France, Singapore and I opting for additional classes in Brazil and the United States.
  • Finally, the practicality of the schedule was a major selling point, with classes every other month allowing me to balance learning with work and life commitments.

Overall, I felt that INSEAD offered me the opportunity to learn from the best, challenge myself, and grow both personally and professionally.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? I have learned a lot of valuable lessons, but one of the most impactful for me has been in the area of leadership. Specifically, the Leading People and Organizations course by Charles Galunic has emphasised the importance of the behind-the-scenes work that effective leaders do to create and sustain successful organizations. One concept that I have applied in my work is fair process leadership. By extending the involvement of stakeholders and creating more avenues for feedback and buy-in, I have noticed higher levels of engagement and a deeper sense of value from my colleagues. It has been great to see how small changes in leadership approach can make a big impact on organizational success.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? In the first module, I had a steep learning curve and struggled to find the right balance between work and school. With the help of my supportive colleagues, I was able to manage the workload better.

I also made sure to prioritize my family and include them in my journey. At least once a day, I took the time to video call and have a coffee with my partner. On tough days where I video calls were challenging, I sent voice notes or videos bringing him and my family along the journey. My family is my support system and having them (remotely) on the journey with me motivated me to keep going.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? My advice to anyone considering an executive MBA program is simple: seize the opportunity and do not wait for the “perfect” time to start. It is important to know what you want to get out of the program, so take the time to research and speak to alumni to see if the program aligns with your needs and goals.

Once you choose a program:

  • Be open to inspiration and new perspectives. Approach the program with a blank canvas, ready to challenge your assumptions and expand your horizons.
  • The relationships and experiences you gain from the program are just as valuable as the knowledge and skills you acquire. Invest time in building relationships with your classmates and take advantage of opportunities to network and learn from each other.
  • Pursuing an executive MBA while balancing work and personal responsibilities can be challenging. Make sure you have a support system in place to help you navigate. The program is not without challenges, and overcoming those challenges is what makes it rewarding and worthwhile and remember to enjoy the ride!

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? The biggest myth about going back to school for me was that balancing personal life, work, and school would be overwhelmingly difficult. However, I discovered the EMBA program was more manageable than I initially thought. With classes held every other month over a two-week period, I was able to maintain a healthy work-school-life balance. Plus, as I progressed through the modules, I found more rhythm and navigated with more ease.

What was your biggest regret in business school? Fortunately, I do not have any regrets. What has been most important for me during my time at INSEAD has been to go beyond learning to also about building meaningful relationships with my classmates and spending time getting to know them better. Nurturing these relationships has given me a deeper appreciation for diverse perspectives, valuable networking opportunities, and a supportive community that will extend far beyond the classroom.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I have many remarkable classmates but Afi Vanderpuije, stands out of the crowd. Afi is not only a successful CEO but also a person of great character, intelligence, and strength. What sets her apart is her unwavering commitment to her values and family.

She consistently demonstrates her character in both her personal and professional life.

In addition to her impressive professional accomplishments, she is a well-rounded individual with a diverse set of skills and interests. She never misses an opportunity to use her voice and her ability to balance multiple responsibilities is truly inspiring, I am grateful for the privilege to call her my friend.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? The main reason I chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives was because I wanted an immersive in-person experience. Being able to physically interact with my cohort has provided a more holistic learning experience, allowing me to witness real-time transformation and growth. This opportunity to learn and connect in person has been invaluable and has allowed me to build a strong network of like-minded professionals who I know I can rely on for the rest of my life.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I want to extend my work beyond renewables in West Africa to address some of the pressing challenges facing humanity in areas like agriculture, energy, and climate sustainability.

I also want to make meaningful impact by mobilizing investments and building companies that create a positive socio-economic and financial returns at scale.

What made Olaedo such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“Olaedo came with a very impressive academic background, having studied in the UK and with a postgraduate degree in Law from LSE. Originally from Nigeria, she currently lives in Ghana, where she is the CEO of Daystar Power Group (DPG), the largest solar power provider in the region. During her tenure at DPG she has led the company’s expansion from Nigeria into Ghana, Togo & Senegal.

The Admissions Committee members were very impressed, not only by her business acumen but also by her natural leadership skills, talent and drive to succeed. They all agreed that her positive attitude would bring a lot to the INSEAD EMBA Class.”

Teresa Peiro-Camaro
Associate Director Global Admissions, Degree Programmes at INSEAD


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