Adunola Okupe: Keelite of the Month March 2015

2006 Business Economics

Adun Okupe What am I doing now?

I am working as the Africapitalism Research fellow (post-doctorate) at the Sustainable Business Initiative of the University of Edinburgh. My role involves managing the Africapitalism Research Project which is aimed at understanding what the role of African business leaders can be in the sustainable development of Africa. The project is being carried out in four countries, Cote D’Ivoire, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, so there is travel which is exciting and gets me away from windy Edinburgh.

How did you get to where you are now? 

I took a bit of a roundabout way to get back to academia after Keele. I did an internship at the end of my second year with KPMG in London, and got offered a full-time job, which I took up following graduation. I trained as a Chartered Accountant with them and then decided to return to academia, did a Masters at SOAS and a PhD at Surrey, and I am now working as a research fellow.  I had always wanted to do a PhD but I took the advice from respected people who thought it would be good to take some time to work in the corporate world, This was very sound advice as the corporate experience contributed to my research, my network and also enabled me to have a rounded perspective of how the world works, in academia and outside. It also informed my choice to do a practice-oriented PhD on Leadership behaviour in the Airline Industry.

Adun with friend What has been your biggest achievement so far?  

I think you should ask me this question in ten or fifteen years’ time, but so far, I would say it is in self-discovery and self-acceptance; really getting to understand and realise that everyone has their own magic, but we have to find it, and sometimes, people may not appreciate this magic, but it is still magic and magical.

Photo left: With my brother Ope Okupe, also a Keele graduate (2007), at Hogmanay.

And your biggest mistake?

Always assuming and wanting to see the best in people. I have now realised that it is good to give people the benefit of the doubt, but also to protect oneself. Humanity is beautiful, but not always.

What are your ambitions now?

To continue to discover my skills and talents, and use them to the sustainable development and mind-set change in Africa.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to work in a similar field? 

Ask questions, do your research, persevere, persevere and enjoy the journey

What made you choose Keele University?  

I wanted to do the international foundation degree programme, and Keele University offered the opportunity to do this, in a university environment. I then had the choice to apply to other universities, but I had fallen in love with Keele, and did not want to leave.

Adun with Rom Isichei What kind of a student were you? 

I was a very studious student! Okay, maybe not totally, but I think I knew the main reason for coming to Keele was to get a good undergraduate degree. That said, I remember the advice my mother gave me, which was to make sure I had a lot of fun, got involved in the university and ensured that I did not just pass through Keele but the university passed through me as well. I think that was very valuable advice and I will say the same to everyone. Work Hard, Play Hard, as the university experience goes by so quickly and you never get that type of time again, well, I think, not until after retirement.

Photo right: Adun with her favourite artist Rom Isichei.

Adun's Graduation Day How has Keele influenced your life? 

I tell people that I found myself at Keele. I think being in such a space that is open, friendly with many different activities taking place enabled me to broaden my horizon, to reflect on who I wanted to be in the world. I met people (lecturers, and friends) along the way who have supported and encouraged me, and who I still remain in touch with. That has been very influential in the person I now am.

What is your favourite memory of Keele?

Walking along Keele lake and watching the squirrels go about their business.

What is your impression of Keele now? 

Beautiful, progressive and enchanting

Anything else you would like to add?

Nothing at the moment.