My EMBA experience as an entrepreneur and mum of four | TopMBA.com

My EMBA experience as an entrepreneur and mum of four

By Niamh O

Updated November 23, 2021 Updated November 23, 2021

“As a business owner, I am also able to make contributions in line with the activities and operations of my business. There is the opportunity for me to share my thoughts, perspectives and make contributions in line with how the business principles taught can be applied to a live business like mine,” says Oge Akinola, Imperial College Business School EMBA student. 

Juggling professional, personal, and family commitments as a working mother is often a heroic feat.  

Oge Akinola is one such mother smashing through glass ceilings – an entrepreneur self-funding her executive MBA at Imperial College Business School while scaling up her company. 

Bump N Chic is a well-being consultancy firm focused on supporting women before, during, and after pregnancy, empowering mothers to take care of themselves physically and mentally, in order to give them the best possible chance of ascending the career ladder. 

The idea came from Oge’s own experiences - she’s a mum of four and knows all too well how motherhood and ’women’s roles’ can make climbing the professional ladder that much harder – particularly during the pandemic, where she herself was balancing her work priorities alongside a huge amount of home-schooling. 

Her company has assisted more than 500 women in achieving ideal health and wellness levels, and supported countless companies in creating programmes and boosting productivity.  

Oge spoke with TopMBA about her company, female role models, and how her EMBA has helped her scale Bump N Chic. 

Why Imperial’s EMBA? 

Oge always wanted more out of life. More growth and challenges, and a desire to interact and network with other executives – especially women who were making an impact in their own circles of influence. 

Oge Akinola bump n chic imperial college business school emba

As a business owner, it was important for Oge to learn the principles and applications of how to scale up her business, and how to effectively monetise her offerings. 

After much research and soul searching, she felt it was time to go back to school and she says deciding what to study became easy after weighing up all the options. 

She said: “Doing an Executive MBA became my priority, and I was keen on doing it at a top institution. I was delighted to be accepted to Imperial College Business School. It still feels like a dream even after almost completing my first year on the programme.” 

Different perspectives on an EMBA 

Oge comes from a non-corporate background, but has this made the experience more challenging? She says yes and no. 

Yes because she hasn’t been in an academic environment for a while, and her work has been outside the sphere of corporate interactions and dealings.  

But from the ‘no’ perspective, being a part of the EMBA programme has created an opportunity for her to grow and work out of her comfort zone, stretching her in more ways than one. She said: “The exposure to business topics that I would probably not have been aware of otherwise has been mind-blowing.” 

She believes her EMBA experience sends a positive message to mums who probably thought EMBA programmes are only for corporate executives. She said: “My being here negates this assumption and makes it clear that anyone can be a part of this amazing journey, if you meet the programme requirements. 

“As a business owner, I am also able to make contributions in line with the activities and operations of my business. There is the opportunity for me to share my thoughts, perspectives and make contributions in line with how the business principles taught can be applied to a live business like mine.” 

Putting women first 

Oge knew she had to be the best role model for her children – but admits she lost herself and her identity after her first two children, as pregnancy and childbirth brought changes that she wasn’t ready for.  

She said: “I looked different. I felt different. My post-partum body and weight frustrated me. This was the trigger that led to the birth of Bump n Chic. Having my husband’s support helped me so much. My faith, fitness and nutrition became the building blocks that kickstarted my healthy lifestyle journey.”  

Oge believes motherhood should be enjoyed, not endured, and so she wanted to find workable ways to help women enjoy their journeys. She therefore interacted with women in that same rut to try and find a solution.  

“Today Bump N Chic has become a business which supports all women to become more, by building their health and wellbeing and feeling confident to be their authentic selves and live a more fulfilled life. 

“Recently we curated offerings to help mums in the professional and corporate environment to become more intentional leaders, committed to improving their health and wellbeing to reduce stress, anxiety, and burnout.”  

Breaking glass ceilings 

Oge is a firm believer in times and seasons, saying she’s mastered the act of enjoying life’s phases but this wasn’t an easy feat and admits she had to give herself permission to learn – and says it didn’t happen overnight. 

After her children, Oge made the decision to change career, but with four children under five, this was a challenge. 

She said: “I couldn’t do anything else except nurture them and support my family. However, as my children grew and their sleep patterns became workable, I found time to invest in my own development, research, register for courses, and get certified.” 

Oge advises starting by deciding what you want to do, ask ‘who am I doing it for?’, and know why you’re doing it. Once identified, you can set your action plan to accomplish your goals.  

She said: “I firmly believe women are created for more. It’s so easy for a mum to feel left out and undervalued, especially if she had to leave a well-paying or well-respected job or sacrifice her freedom for her family. 

“It can be a little difficult to adjust, so I encourage women to invest time in developing themselves whilst at home with their children, rather than waiting for the children to go to school. It may feel selfish, but no time is wasted when you invest in yourself.”  

Oge enrolled on Imperial’s Executive MBA as she desired more for herself. 

“I wanted to learn the ways of running an effective and profitable business. I desired to scale up my business plan and network with other business executives and entrepreneurs. I needed a mindset change and the tools to climb further up the professional ladder. 

“The programme is delivering this in more ways than one and, coming full circle, the skills I’m learning will allow me to support so many other women in their self-development journeys,” she said.  

Measuring Bump N Chic’s success 

According to a post by ‘Motherly’ in June 2021,93 percent of mums say they’re burned out – up seven percent from last year’s survey – and 16 percent say they feel burned out all the time.  

Understandably the pandemic hasn’t helped mothers with home schooling taking its toll and placing far more pressure on working mothers to juggle professional lives and their new full-time teacher and carer status on top of other family-focused responsibilities. 

Oge said: “During the pandemic last year, we tested a mastermind programme called ‘My Intentional Life’, for the professional, busy woman who needs help to find fulfilment in her personal and professional life. 

“We ran two trial cohorts of this seven-week programme, covering topics such as the power of imagination, becoming intentional about dreams, goals, self-awareness, fitness, wellness and more. Both cohorts were so successful that the first full course will launch in the first quarter of 2022.” 

Success to Oge is seeing the fulfilment in these women’s lives, whether through positive feedback and results from clients, growth of the client base, and the opportunity to share her story and experiences. 

What’s next? 

Oge is excited for what the future holds for her and the company.  

One area of the business that excites Oge is their current offerings to improve the wellbeing and health of mums in the workplace. 

She said: “We are keen to further work more actively with firms to improve employee wellbeing, especially in the area of finding peace and harmony with work, family life and personal lifestyle. 

“Looking into the future, we hope to keep growing the business and to help women continue to evolve and be the best that they can be for themselves and the people they love.” 

Sign up to attend the global QS Women in Leadership Event on 7 December. This event highlights the career benefits for women who want to pursue an MBA or business master’s degree. As both at the top of the business world and in business schools women are still in the minority, our aim is to empower female candidates to connect with leading institutions and learn more about their career opportunities via postgraduate education.  

This article was originally published in October 2021 . It was last updated in November 2021

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Written by

Niamh is Deputy Head of Content at QS (TopMBA.com; topuniversities.com), creating and editing content for an international student audience. Having gained her journalism qualification at the Press Association, London and since written for different international publications, she's now enjoying telling the stories of students, alumni, faculty, entrepreneurs and organizations from across the globe.  

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