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Fellows of the Month: Aba Ackun

Aba AckunAshesi University (Ghana, West Africa), Business Administration, 2006
Darden School of Business at University of Virginia, 2014
Hometown: Accra, Ghana
Pre-MBA Work Experience: Currency Sales and Trading & Credit Risk Management in Microfinance

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?
I had reached a point in my career where I realized I could only go so far with my undergraduate business degree.  The opportunities for growth all required an MBA.  I also realized that I needed to learn how to be a manager.  That’s why I chose Darden for its strong General Management focus.  I realized that strong technical skills need to be balanced with equally strong or even better managerial skills. I came to business school to learn those managerial skills.

What advice do you have for women who are considering business school?
Just go for it! As soon as you realize it may be for you, do it. The earlier you do it, the better it is. It just propels your career very quickly, and you learn in 2 years what it would take several years on the job to learn.  It is rigorous and very intense, and so mothers and women with family obligations can consider a part-time program.  Just do a lot of research to find a program that fits your objectives, and lifestyle.

What’s the most surprising you learned about business school during the application process?
I took the GRE and not the GMAT, and I had initially thought that it would count against me. I asked several schools whether or not I needed to take the GMAT and they all agreed to take my GRE scores.  I am happy to say, it did not count against me.  I got into all but one of the schools I applied to.  Once the GRE scores are strong, it won’t matter too much.

Do you feel prepared for business school?
I am an international student from Ghana and so for now, I am a bit apprehensive. I have never studied in the American system, and the case method is very rigorous. I have a background in Finance, and so I think some of the quantitative subjects should be a little familiar. I am looking forward to lots of hard work.

What do you do in your free time?
In my free time, I like to blog.  I have a fashion blog focused on African women, which I share with a small group.  Maybe sometime soon, I will make it a public blog.  I also like to cook. I collect recipes from around the world and try them.

Please share something about your experience with Forté.
I do appreciate the Forté network at Darden. I also find the career assistance we receive very useful, especially since I am international and have to build a brand new network within the US.  Forte certainly helps to make the transition into a global career much easier.  I also watch the podcasts and follow the articles and Linked in posts to keep myself updated on industry trends.

Business school can be a huge financial investment and risk for anyone, especially for internationals. I am still at the beginning, but this is a lifetime investment, where the learning not only takes place in the classroom, but with the community where lifelong bonds are built.  Where else, would I sit in the same room as people from over 30 different nationalities on a daily basis to learn and to share?