Class Year: 2020
Hometown: Abuja, Nigeria
Everywhere Alexander Nwobi Opaluwa has gone, he’s made friends.
“My friends would say ‘Alex could network at a funeral’,” he says.
His ease with networking and forming friendships goes back to his childhood in Nigeria, then took on an international dimension during college in China, where he lived in a dormitory for foreign students. His first job, after finishing college and graduate school, took him all over the world, visiting one or two countries every month. “When my colleagues and I would go somewhere, there’d be someone waiting for me,” he says. “Every country I’ve ever been to, I have someone there.”
By 2013, he was drawn back to Nigeria to take part in the country’s National Youth Service, a requirement for anyone who wishes to work in government or civil service. “I came back and enjoyed it so I stayed,” Opaluwa says, adding that he ended up working for a Chinese multinational in Nigeria for five years.
With business experience from both countries, including international sales, he felt that an MBA from a US school would provide him with “the western business mindset” and complete a global triad of knowledge.
He’d previously visited the United States for business, and his mother, a lawyer, knew a faculty member at Drexel’s Kline School of Law. “I read more about Drexel and I realized that it’s much more practical. It’s not just classwork – it’s more experiential learning, and that’s what attracted me here.”
“I would love to help any American company that has dealings internationally,” he says. “With my experience in Africa and Asia, they’re two of the top areas for growth and I want to help American companies understand those markets.”
Opaluwa has marveled at the international makeup of his MBA cohort. “It’s exciting, because it gives you an idea of what a typical working environment would be,” he says. “Every time I go to class, I see myself in a company of internationals, working together.”
In addition to his classes, he’s working as a fellow with the Coulter-Drexel Translational Research Program, reviewing proposals for new technologies in The College of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems. He’s also active in seeking out networking events and guest speakers: “Every week, there’s always a new idea. There’s just so much for you to learn.”
In the midst of all this, Opaluwa says he wants to focus on business development and marketing. “I want to be that person that is going to help develop a product or service,” he says, adding that he’s previously started his own businesses, including a website that he envisions as an African marketplace alongside Amazon and Alibaba.
“I want this site to help Africans to sell to the world,” he says. “It’s my own little thing, but it’s something that I feel that is going to help alleviate poverty. There’s so much potential in Africa but very little access.”
Opaluwa describes himself as constantly thinking up ideas for new businesses and novel strategies, and he has found the environment at LeBow especially conducive to inspiration. “With all these lectures and discussions, it widens your brain to things you think about but you don’t know how to explain,” he says. “Somehow, every class gives you a ‘wow’ moment.”