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‘Preparation Meets Opportunity’: Abraham Kola-Amodu Shares His Journey from Nigeria to Corporate America

Abraham Kola-Amodu has accomplished much over the past several years — from authoring three books to becoming the senior finance manager at AT&T — and yet his goals for the future are even larger.

Kola-Amodu, however, has faced his fair share of roadblocks along his professional and personal journey. Born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, he emigrated to the United States in 2017 to pursue a relationship with his long-distance girlfriend, now wife.

In his most recent book, “Through My Eyes: A Nigerian American Journey,” Kola-Amodu details the first three years of his new life in America, walking readers through the early hurdles he had to overcome as an immigrant — such as culture shock, a new career and applying to MBA programs — in order to land his American dream job.

Abraham Kola-Amodu

A class of 2020 Consortium alumni of Washington University in St. LouisOlin Business School, Kola-Amodu recently shared with us the ups and downs of his journey — a story of preparation meets opportunity.

Seizing Opportunities

Growing up in Nigeria, Kola-Amodu’s father had a strong influence on his life outlook and work ethic. “My dad was an avid believer in positioning yourself with the right people — in a genuine manner — and getting the best of education so when opportunities come, you can recognize them and make the best of them,” he says.

Kola-Amodu has carried this mindset with him throughout his career, both in Nigeria and the United States. Before emigrating, he was already educated and ingrained in the world of finance. “I had it going decently well for me, but I decided that I wanted to play on a global scale,” he says. “I wanted to spread my wings and soar, and a great way to do that was to leave my comfort zone and explore new opportunities.”

Relocating to the U.S., Kola-Amodu found an abundance of opportunity. “Things that may have been conquered in the past were now presenting themselves afresh in a new and interesting landscape,” he says.

However, actually getting a job posed challenges. Lacking a degree from a U.S. institution, Kola-Amodu found that positions aligned with his qualifications and experiences were out of reach for him.

“The culture in the United States is different from Nigeria, and I had to deal with a few culture shocks in the workplace and quickly learn to pivot at every point in time,” he says. “I experienced racism here and there, and I had never been asked to select a ‘race’ option when applying for a job before moving here. My knowledge was never questioned or doubted because of the country I was from, prior to coming to the U.S.”

Though not expected, these difficulties pushed Kola-Amodu to grow professionally, benefiting him in the long run. He received his MBA from Washington University, making invaluable connections while there, and was able to dive head first into the American business market.

Abraham Kola-Amodu

“The U.S. market has shown me how world-class businesses and corporations are formed and managed,” he says. “I have had the opportunity to work with a few friends who have startups and have birthed companies.”

Finding Support

Though Kola-Amodu’s experience moving to the U.S. is unique in its own way, he knows it offers only a glimpse into the challenges immigrants face.

“I want to preface this by saying that there is nothing new that I have faced or am facing that the average immigrant has not or is not dealing with,” he says. “One of the major challenges that immigrants face is being overqualified for many jobs, yet not being offered the job because they lack an American education.”

For Kola-Amodu, The Consortium’s mission and efforts are key to supporting others who’ve had similar experiences. “The Consortium provides a level playing field by granting a subsidized cost for the MBA — or even free for many — setting members up with the best companies possible and focusing on a unique set of people: minorities,” he says.

As a Consortium alumni, Kola-Amodu has personally felt and benefited from the support of the community he gained in The Consortium, as it helped him grow personally and professionally.

“Today, I’m attractive to leading organizations and my network, which is filled with highly resourceful individuals, and a huge reason for that is being a member of The Consortium,” he says.

Moving Forward

Though Kola-Amodu is grateful for his past, he has big plans for the future. In addition to his first few published books — which also include “A Bachelor’s Sojourn” and “Thirty Before 30” — Kola-Amodu wants to write more about his experiences.

An entrepreneur at heart, he hopes to be the CFO of a major corporation and is working on starting his own company, which would focus on offering a marketplace for exchanging personal assets for short-term trade.

Beyond his finance goals, Kola-Amodu wants to return to his roots — running for office back in Nigeria. “A major challenge Nigeria faces is a lack of appropriate policies and the adherence to current policies,” he says. “It is my hope that I can get into a place of influence and help to institute the right policies needed to make the system work better.”

As Kola-Amodu progresses in his career, he says he will lean on the principals that have carried him through the unpredictable ups and downs of his emigration, educational and professional journeys.

“I believe in luck and in opportunities,” Kola-Amodu says. “However, luck is when preparation meets opportunity. Getting equipped to seize that opportunity — that is the key.”

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