The Consortium MBA Fellowship Experience: An Interview with Ife Ibitayo

Apr 13, 2023
Ife Ibitayo posing for a group photo with his cohort of Consortium Fellows to commemorate the end of the Consortium’s Orientation Program.
Ife Ibitayo (back row, far left) and his cohort of UCLA Anderson Consortium Fellows posing for a group photo to commemorate the end of the Consortium’s Orientation Program.

In this interview, Ife Ibitayo speaks about the professional journey that led him to become a Consortium MBA Fellow at UCLA Anderson. Each year, The Consortium MBA Fellowship awards merit-based, full-tuition fellowships to top MBA candidates who have a proven record of promoting inclusion in school, in their jobs, or in their personal lives, and demonstrate commitment to The Consortium’s mission.

Tell us about your background and professional journey. What led you to the Consortium MBA Fellowship?

I like to say that I’m a bit of a conundrum. By the time I entered university, I’d already lived in four different states and six different cities. Along the way, I fell in love with mathematics. I loved Algebra and Calculus and ended up majoring in aerospace engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. I was also passionate about storytelling. After I took my first creative writing class in college, I transitioned from being a “writer” (quotes necessary) to a genuine creator with a passion for telling “meaning-filled” stories.

This tension remained as I pursued a master’s in mechanical engineering. As I developed algorithms to enable self-driving semi trucks, I began to consider what my next step would be. And I began to dream of launching a company that leveraged my engineering expertise and my unique narrative vision.

That is when I decided to pursue an MBA at UCLA Anderson, and in the process of applying, I discovered the Consortium Fellowship, which enabled me to attend school full-time and pursue my vision immediately.

Ife Ibitayo stands next to two women at event.
Ife volunteering at his first Woman Founder’s Network Fast Pitch Event in support of female entrepreneurs.

Can you describe what a week in the life of a Consortium MBA Fellow is like? How did this opportunity allow you to advance your career and expand your professional network? 

What I love about the Consortium Fellowship is that it has given me a sense of community within my larger Anderson network. The summer before school began, we attended the Consortium’s Orientation Program (OP). The OP program enabled us to bond with other fellowship recipients from across the country and through this process many of us secured summer internships before the school year even began. By being integrated into a larger collective of minority and minority-supporting students, I was blessed with an encouraging and supportive group from which to navigate the rest of my business school experience.

Since starting here at Anderson, we’ve shared resources, connections, and life experiences with one another. Fellow Consortium Fellowship recipients are known as C-Fam for a reason!

The Consortium MBA Fellowship awards merit-based, full-tuition fellowships to top MBA candidates who have a proven record of promoting inclusion in schools, jobs, or in their personal lives. Talk a little bit about this mission and how it has influenced the way you go about your work or view the world. What was it like connecting with so many diverse intellectuals who shared a similar mission with you? What has it been like navigating some of these topics with fellow members of your cohort?

Having grown up as the only Nigerian amongst a sea of white faces, I viscerally know what it feels like to be simultaneously spotlighted yet invisible. Because of my personal experience, I’ve prioritized mentoring others. From college, I volunteered yearly as a youth leader at a camp where 95% of the children who attended were African American and many came from single-parent backgrounds. And even now I joined the college ministry at my local church to serve college students. Besides my own father, I had few positive black male role models growing up, and I want to change that narrative in the lives of others.

Being a member of a community of intellectuals focused on fostering diversity has enabled me to engage in deep conversations on difficult subjects from navigating faith and the LGBTQ+ community to microaggressions and systemic racism. And I believe such open dialogue in a safe space amongst friends is the first step toward understanding, healing, and progress.  

Consortium Fellow Ife Ibitayo in a group photo with other members of his large cohort during the Tour of Warner Brothers Studios.
Ife (front center-right) on a tour of Warner Brothers Studios with c-fam and other UCLA Anderson classmates.

What application tips do you have for others who apply for the Consortium MBA Fellowship?

If you’re like me, you might initially believe that the Consortium Fellowship is by minorities for minorities. But many fellows in our class are allies of the community. So if you are passionate about diversity and have a proven track record of impact—minority background or not, your application won’t go unnoticed.

Interested in applying to this fellowship? Bookmark The Consortium MBA Fellowship to your ProFellow account.

Ibitayo Ifeoluwa headshot in blue dress shirt and navy jacket. Ife Ibitayo is an entrepreneur who’s spent the past several years of his life imagining the future and building it with his own hands. He holds a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue University and a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. He’s currently enrolled at UCLA Anderson as an MBA student to pursue his passion for telling “meaning-filled” stories.

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