Our Stories

Marching to His Owen Drum

Rising star Damilola sets his sights even higher

Damilola Olu-Ayeni
Senior Vice President, Investment Banking (Middle East & North Africa)

Vanderbilt MBA 2013

Even before earning his Vanderbilt MBA, Damilola Olu-Ayeni had a Wall Street career. After an internship there with Merrill Lynch’s private wealth division, he worked as a securities analyst for Wells Fargo.

Then his career took him to Nigeria and South Africa, where he led a team that helped Standard Bank (Africa’s largest in terms of market cap and assets). His team performed so well—exceeding the target set for them by 60 percent — that Damilola received a promotion and quadrupled his responsibilities.

Why would someone rising so quickly in the investment banking world return to school for an MBA? “It sounds funny,” Damilola says, “but I wanted to learn more about business and finance. I also wanted to develop my leadership and managerial skills and I wanted to learn more about myself and how executives think.”

He knew about Vanderbilt from former colleagues at Wells Fargo, who spoke glowingly of Owen’s culture. “Upon further investigation,” he says, “I found that the cosmopolitan nature of the Owen class was ideally suited to my outlook and the world-renowned finance faculty and intimate class size appealed to me.”

Damilola, who played drums for a local band in the DC area during his days at Howard University, now has the tools to pursue his goal of becoming a managing director on Wall Street—or even the World Bank or United Nations. “I’ve grown personally and professionally,” he says, “and I have made valuable relationships I will cherish for a long time.”