“The best thing about LBS is the community: the breadth of achievement and the fact that everybody will make time for you.”
Ayo Gabriel MBA2018 is having the time of his life. Nearing the end of his three-month exchange in Hong Kong, the life-long Londoner is revelling in the sunshine and culture of his temporary city, while his friends and family back home shiver through the snowiest and coldest March in decades. The exchange, he says, is just the latest in a long line of London Business School (LBS) experiences that have exceeded all expectations.
Getting the Mark Le Goy Memorial and MBA1997 scholarship was a total surprise to him. “I was over the moon to get the scholarship”, he says. “This was an opportunity to take almost every aspect of my life to the next level. Part of the financial burden – which was large – was gone. It took away some of the worry and allowed me to maximise this opportunity. I was so grateful to be one of the few that was chosen.”
Although Ayo has always exceeded academically, it was the charity and mentoring work he does in the community he grew up in that stands out: “I didn’t have many role models to show me a good range of career paths growing up, so back then I joined a charity that gives black students in London boroughs the chance to have mentors, to widen their perspective. High grades aren’t enough!” he says. After returning as a mentor, Ayo then became a trustee of the board and helps drive the strategy to achieve the charity’s mission. He says that ‘paying it forward’ is his biggest priority in life, and that the global network he’s found at LBS will play a big part in enabling him to do that.
Before the MBA, Ayo was at Thomson Reuters, quickly climbing the ladder from a graduate role to become Northern European Sales Specialist. “After selling to some tier 1 banks in the UK, I decided I wanted to get involved more in finance,” he says. “I realised that the LBS MBA would be a great way of doing that.”
Passionate about furthering the understanding people have about finance, Ayo’s goal is to go into wealth management: not only for his immediate career, but to also be able to help others in disadvantaged communities and increase social mobility. “I want people to understand what it means to be financially sound. Having an international community of top business people means that I have access to talents and specialisms I can leverage for the greater good”, he says. “I chose LBS because it’s at the epicentre of global business in so many ways. I also chose it because I was excited about the biggest and best companies in the world coming to LBS to seek talent; but perhaps more than that I wanted to be a part of the LBS community. The best thing about LBS is the community: the breadth of achievement and the fact that everybody will make time for you.”
Ayo is a big part of the Africa Club at LBS, where his role as Co Vice-Chair Operations of the Africa Business Summit gave him one of his best experience to date. “Although I was born and raised in London, I’m very connected to Nigeria. The Africa Business Summit gave me a chance to meet and share the thoughts of some people who are making big changes in Africa right now. Getting that view from the inside is phenomenal.”