Seun Ajewole, MBA’18, is a student in the Part-Time MBA program with a concentration in technological entrepreneurship at Northeastern University. He is taking over the D’Amore-McKim Instagram account @damoremckim and giving us a peek through his lens, from work, study, and travel. Read more about why Ajewole chose Northeastern, how he stumbled into digital design, and why he advises students to stick to a schedule.
Q:Tell us about how you came to Northeastern and why you chose the Part-Time MBA.
In true business student form, I weighed out all my options. I was looking at my alma mater (Boston College), Boston University, and Northeastern. I was accepted into all three.
I really liked the program here. My little brother went to Northeastern. I went to high school nearby at Boston Latin School, so I was really familiar with NU and I’d been watching it grow over time. NU is becoming an elite school, and I thought it would be great to get my Part-Time MBA during that period. I also liked the flexibility of the program, the teaching curriculum, and the technological entrepreneurship concentration. I liked that it was in the middle of the city, right along Huntington Ave. Another reason why I joined Northeastern was the staff, like Linda Harding, who was great. She gave me the fuel to the fire. I appreciated that. All of that combined, I thought NU was a good place for me to blossom into the person I want to be.
Q: What made you choose technological entrepreneurship as a concentration?
I’ve always been into technology and dabbled with computers. So I can appreciate how powerful technology is and how it’s made our lives easier and complicated at the same time.
Being a “minority,” I felt like there wasn’t a good representation of people like me in the space. That’s due to a combination of individuals like me not having access to the technology and not having role models in the field. But I’ve always been a geek about technology. I was just fortunate enough to have the resources at my high school that put me on this path.
I’m also in the concentration because I’m doing some entrepreneurial activities right now that go hand-in-hand with my personal interests. I’m not ready to share those details yet, but it works well with where I want to be in the future.
Q:What is your current profession and what led you there?
I’ve been working in the healthcare industry ever since I graduated about five years ago. I currently work as a contract specialist/analyst at a health insurer. After I graduated, my mom, who is a Registered Nurse, said ‘why don’t you look at healthcare?’ I had never really thought about it, so I looked at the management of the business, specifically the analytics side. From there, my path evolved to where it is now where I specialize in Medicare preferred products. Basically my role is a combination of population health management meets financial analysis meets provider relations meets operational resolution.
Q:How has visual art and design influenced your interests, personally and/or professionally?
One of my pet peeves is when people think you can only do one thing and have to put you in a box. Throughout my whole life, I’ve wondered why our society tries to label people and doesn’t believe individuals can be talented in different spaces. I know it’s rare to be a virtuoso, but you can be very good at a few things if you really put your mind to it. I believe if you put in the work you can be a master of anything. I’ve definitely put over 10,000 hours into visual art and it’s starting to pan out.
I was really into anime and video games when I was younger, which led me to try to draw. I couldn’t draw for anything. I had to be honest with myself. I have a natural eye. I know math. I know symmetry and those are big parts of digital design. My friend asked me to edit something, and I kind of stumbled into Adobe Photoshop and Premier Pro. I liked how nimble the software was and how you can easily manipulate a lot of things. From there I jumped into other Adobe Suites. I had a curiosity in it. I figured out what I was good at and focused on getting better at it. When I learned to be good at one thing, I looked at another aspect of design and concentrated on that.
It progressed and now I’m working with local artists, nonprofit groups, and doing some personal design projects. For my job, I do a lot of presentations, so understanding good design and photography has helped a lot. The return on investment in this skillset has been massive.
Q:From recent coverage in the Adobe Customer Story, you discussed the balance of your corporate profession with your creative side. Can you expand on this?
This is where I have a lot to say. It may sound cliché, but I’m going to say it: big data is nothing without good design. If you have good data and you don’t know how to present it well, it’s not going to be effective or efficient. It’s not going to do what it needs to do. I currently deal with a lot of data. I deal with all of the claims, all of the members, and all of the medical interactions. When I first came into my job, I saw ways to improve how we represented provider opportunities and financial trends through better visualization of the data from our systems. So I started doing something about it and started working with my co-workers to improve things. Just take a look at successful businesses today. A lot of what you see is based off of presenting good data; good user interface/user experience. I think that is where the future lies. It’s what I’ve been pushing for at work; automation, good design, and presenting data in a way to make a quick, understandable point. I apply this to my job and it blends with my creative side as well [See Adobe story here].
Q:How has your experience at D’Amore-McKim influenced you and your career?
What I find interesting is how I apply work to class and vice versa. It happens all the time. I feel like the program has good professors who are more focused on actually applying concepts rather than exploring lofty theories. I also learn technical things in class that apply to my job. For example, I consider myself advanced level with Excel and Access. It’s a big part of my job. But my statistics professor taught the class this really cool macro that I’d never seen before. He showed us a coefficient variation that I wasn’t privy to, and access. I tried it out at work and started using it from then on. Even at my job, I’ve learned certain things with regard to the healthcare industry, and if we talk about it in class, I feel very well-versed.
It has been hard though. I’ve had to learn my bandwidth with regard to work and school. I try to do things little by little. I re-adjusted my strategy and have since grown a lot. Being a part of a structured system that improves you every class and applying that to work the next day is really good. I’m lucky enough to have a great boss who understands my abilities and where I want to be. It’s very encouraging and it makes me work harder.
Q: What additional insight do you have for the D’Amore-McKim community?
Try to make a space for yourself every week where you can work. Make it a habit. For me, getting back to studying took some adjustment time. I make sure Tuesday and Sunday nights are when I’m in the library. Giving yourself that space every week really forces you to be structured. That way, you can plan when to work and plan when to play. Keep on that schedule.
Follow @damoremckim on Instagram for a closer look at Seun Ajewole’s experience as a Part-Time MBA student beginning Monday, May 22.
Instagram Takeover with Seun Ajewole, MBA’18
Day 1: Hi, it’s Seun!
Day 2: Collaboration in motion
Day 3: Ruggles in Motion
Day 4: Huntington in Motion
Day 5: Flashback Friday
Day 6: London in Motion
Day 7: Signing off