Looking back, paying it forward: with Shakira Adigun-Boaye
As a charity, we are extremely proud of our 5,000 strong alumni network of talented professionals taking their industries by storm. The work we do to help those from underrepresented backgrounds prepare for successful careers wouldn't be possible if not for their continued support of our programs serving as mentors, trainers, coaches, volunteers and donors. We caught up with Shakira Adigun-Boaye, who has just graduated from the MBA program at Columbia Business School, and has supported the charity immensely over the years as a buddy and mentor; recently making a generous donation to help further our impact. We want to say a huge thank you to her and wish her continued success in all her endeavours.
Thank you for agreeing to feature in Looking back, paying it forward. Tell us a bit about your journey with us and what you've been up to since graduating from the Careers program ...
Which SEO class and program were you a part of?
I enrolled on the SEO Investment Banking program in 2008. I spent the summer interning at Merrill Lynch and joined the healthcare M&A team the following year.
What do you remember about your SEO experience?
I remember being very well prepared! SEO provides you with a lot of support during your summer internship from the training to numerous networking opportunities. I was also pleasantly surprised by the welcome, support and advice that I received from alumni who were working at ML during that time. It was reassuring to know that there were people who wanted to make sure you succeeded.
What impact did the Careers program have on your life?
A huge impact; I secured a full time offer for a great graduate program which turned out to be a helpful launching pad into Private Equity. I also tapped into the network once again for advice when I was applying for an MBA. However, what I value the most is the connections made; I made great friends during training and other SEO events, friends from multiple classes, which I am most grateful for. Even now I’m still meeting people, it’s such a small world. For example, during my MBA I met an SEO alum, who was a few years below me, whom I had met briefly before and actually helped out during training!
How have you engaged with the charity since finishing the program?
Immediately after finishing the program I became an SEO buddy, then mentor and also helped to run the investment banking training sessions during the summer. I’ve not done that much in last 2 years as I was studying abroad but now I’m back I plan to get stuck in again.
What motivates you to remain actively involved with the charity and why did you make the decision to donate?
Lots of reasons! Firstly, I am grateful for the support I have received from SEO throughout the years and so donating time and money is one of the most effective ways that I can give back; it’s also nice to be able to use the finance skills that I have acquired in a meaningful way by helping to train people. Secondly, SEO is focused on a mission that resonates with me strongly, tackling the challenges of inequality within our society, so I’m keen to support the efforts. And lastly staying involved has been fun! Particularly training days, I enjoy meeting the new class and also reconnecting with old faces.
Do you have any final remarks for our students or your fellow alumni?
Stay engaged, stay connected! I’ve just finished my MBA and one of the first things you realise upon enrolling is the power of the community that you have joined. During the graduation speeches they emphasised this again: that when you enter a community and share an experience - as we do on the SEO program - this community is your family; and as with all families and communities, the experience becomes most enriching and life-enhancing when you stay connected, in order to support and guide each other in reaching one’s goals. So I recommend being intentional and investing time in your SEO relationships because what may start as interns bonding together over a coffee break could evolve into something greater in the future.