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Nana from Ghana

Banker Becomes More Than a Student

Nana Kyei
Senior Vice President, Jefferies

Vanderbilt MBA 2011

Nana Kyei enjoys challenges. In his native Ghana, he took the SAT exam for the first time just after completing elementary school. After coming to the U.S., he left his career as a rising star at Merrill Lynch because he saw his learning curve become flatter. "I wanted a career that provided a constant opportunity to learn and be challenged," he says.

Nana was attracted to Owen because of "the strength of the financial program" and because of the "genuineness of the community" he found. Not surprisingly, he took on a formidable task, with a triple concentration in Finance, Accounting and Strategy that some, he chuckles, regarded as "a little crazy." It was the rigorous preparation he says he needed to reach his goal of someday running his own business.

Just one week before classes began, a visa problem required an eleventh-hour trip back to Ghana. But Owen's staff and administration—including Dean Jim Bradford, who paid for Nana's airline ticket with his corporate credit card—dropped everything to get him there and back in time. The experience, Nana says, "taught me I was part of a family. It crystallized what the program stands for."

Now, as Vice President at Jefferies, he's well on his way to his goal. "I want to be at the forefront of the financial market, making decisions that shape the future of businesses, their employees and communities. I believe my calling is to create change."