Andrew Adeniyi (MS Management, Strategy and Leadership ’19)

When Andrew Adeniyi decided to pursue his Master of Science in Management, Strategy and Leadership, the desire “to gain more knowledge and invest in myself so I can be a better leader” was his primary motivation, but his family’s “trend” of high educational achievement was an equally strong motivator.

“In my family, education is huge — both my parents have Ph.D.s, my older sister has a Ph.D. and my younger sister has her master’s,” he explained. “So, education is ingrained in my family as important.”

Just as important in his family is a work ethic to achieve in the face of any obstacle, a value passed down by Adeniyi’s parents, immigrants from Nigeria.

“The story of my parents making it here and doing well is pretty large,” Adeniyi said. “There’s not many people from their hometown doing well in Nigeria, let alone making it to America and doing well.”

The family’s Nigerian roots run deep, with most of Adeniyi’s extended family still residing there. In 2013, his parents built a hospital in Nigeria, and Adeniyi serves on the board of directors. It’s a role that has allowed him to travel back to Nigeria several times.

“Not a lot of people realize that I’m plugged in with that and that my parents own a hospital in Nigeria,” he said of his family’s work. “They’re super hardworking individuals, and they definitely laid the foundation for myself and my siblings.”

Overcoming and achieving

Adeniyi encountered his own unique obstacles on the journey toward completing his master’s degree. As he participated in the 20-month online program, he pursued his own start-up consulting/branding company, continued to work full-time as a district manager with Aldi and then joined Kroger as an area manager, relocating his family for the new position. Adeniyi’s family also welcomed a new addition, baby Elijah.

“It was a challenge, to say the least,” Adeniyi said of the many converging life events, all of which reinforced one of his “whys” for choosing MSU’s M.S. in Management, Strategy and Leadership.

“It was completely online, which was huge for me,” he says. “Having that flexibility to complete the program was crucial.”

While the online convenience and flexibility were key, MSU’s respected reputation and the specialized master’s degree were deciding factors in making MSU the only choice for Adeniyi.

“I wanted to go to a reputable organization, for one, and Michigan State is definitely that. I love the rich tradition and prestige that MSU offers,” Adeniyi said of the school’s recognition. “And then I also wanted to specialize in exactly what I was passionate about but also skilled in, so I wanted to have a more specialized master’s degree as opposed to a general MBA. So when I was searching for that, I realized that management, strategy and leadership were the areas I’m most passionate about, and I was able to find a program that did just that.”

Real-life examples, real-world application

It didn’t take long for Adeniyi to dive into those passions and start applying concepts from the program’s “real-life examples that really just … reeled you in,” he said.

“I’m very passionate about strategy and casting vision, coming up with a plan to execute, and some of the courses I had that talked about that specifically were very intriguing to me. They gave real-life examples of ways to craft strategy and thoughts to take into consideration when creating a strategy.”

Adeniyi found that the program’s concepts and methodology can transcend the professional business setting, such as applying his knowledge gained from the Negotiations course “to a real-world situation of having to purchase a car,” he explained.

“Learning the tactics and thoughts you need to have, what resistance point you need when you’re negotiating and some of the prep work that needs to go into you having those conversations, that really stood out to me because it’s very applicable to just real life, let alone business,” he said. “It’s very transferable.”

Adeniyi rated “two major takeaways” from the program as most valuable for his continued success: the importance of human resources and the importance of being a curious and active reader.

“HR needs to be intertwined in everything that you do as a company that deals with people, so there was a lot of content that I was finding or circling back to on your HR philosophy or your HR strategy,” he said. “As I climb up the ladder at various organizations, I anticipate making that a key part of my strategy.

“The other big thing was invigorating my love of reading. It’s always been something that I’ve wanted to do more of and just hadn’t found the time, and I think being in grad school … doing a lot of reading and a lot of writing, it made it become more of a pattern.”

“Just do it”

Finding the time by implementing effective time management was the most challenging aspect of completing the program for Adeniyi, which is not surprising given the many important people and projects that vied for his attention as he worked towards his master’s degree. Even with the challenges, the journey has all been worth it, he said.

“It’s a fantastic program,” Adeniyi said. “You just need to take the steps, knock it out and do it — and manage your time wisely.”

And “do it” is the advice he has for anyone considering the Master of Science in Management, Strategy and Leadership program.

“Literally, just do it,” he reiterated. “Being able to be tied to Michigan State is huge, I think. Being able to specialize in today’s market is huge, instead of being a generalist. … Ultimately, I think this program blends together all the most important concepts of HR, management, strategy, leadership. It’s very convenient, very flexible, gives you an opportunity to complete it at your pace, and it’s very reasonable.”