Mariam Olagunju, Senior Projects Officer, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Government of Alberta

About MariamPicture of Mariam Olagunju

While pursuing her HBA in Digital Enterprise Management at the University of Toronto, Mariam Olagunju realized something that would shape her future: it feels good to create something from scratch.

She and a group of her peers launched the Digital Enterprise Management Society to raise the profile of their unique but little-known program, which was then under 10 years old. They started with no funding and no name recognition in the wider community. However, after cold calls, meetings, and a lot of work, they had attracted $12,000 in sponsorship. Within the first year, they had successfully created and hosted the Young Entrepreneur’s Conference, which attracted 300 students and continues to be held annually.

Realizing her passion for creating new things, Mariam began seeking other entrepreneurial experiences—first, helping a friend launch a catering business and then working with a fledgling radio station. This entrepreneurial drive eventually led her to the Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET) program at the University of Waterloo.

After graduation, Mariam applied her creativity and business expertise to her work as a consultant with Deloitte’s Technology Strategy and Architecture firm, helping large organizations solve problems and serve their customers better. She now works in the Government of Alberta's Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, as Senior Projects Officer, Small Business and Entrepreneurship. 

Impact of MBET

Mariam came to the MBET program with the goal of gaining as much exposure to entrepreneurship as possible, while exploring her own entrepreneurial ambitions. She experienced venture creation firsthand in BET 604 through her venture Daily Deals, and also worked with a team of others on inVUze™ for her practicum project.

Through the Certified Management Consulting (CMC) coursework, which is imbedded in the MBET curriculum, Mariam realized the potential of management consulting as a career. It was an excellent fit for her personality and values, offering the opportunity to interact with people and work on a wide variety of projects in diverse industries. The academic component of the CMC designation gave her an edge when applying to consulting jobs.

Another significant benefit of the MBET program was the many opportunities it provided to get out of the classroom and into the community. For Mariam, this meant waking up at six am to attend networking breakfasts at Communitech, spending hours at the farmer’s market talking to customers about her venture, and applying her classroom knowledge in consulting competitions with the UW Management Consulting Group.

The main thing that MBET offered was exposure,” says Mariam. “I was uncomfortable all the time—but it was a good kind of uncomfortable, the kind that makes you better.

Success to Date

Even before her final exam of MBET, Mariam had secured a job with Deloitte. She worked in their Digital and Lean groups, helping businesses in a variety of industries including media, banking, finance, and pharmaceuticals. Surprisingly, these large organizations face many of the same kinds of problems as startups.

Mariam’s work involved scaling the lean methodologies used by startups and applying them to address the challenges of larger organizations. Learning how to test quickly, get feedback quickly, and provide value to clients are lessons that she experienced firsthand in MBET.

I frequently bring the skills I learned at MBET into my work as a consultant,” says Mariam. “When a client comes to us with a problem, the first thing I ask is, ‘how much value can we provide to the end customer, and how can we make quick wins?’

Now as Senior Projects Officer with the Government of Alberta, she supports the small business ecosystem (entrepreneurs, industry, and communities) to execute economic development initiatives that support sustainable economic growth projects throughout Alberta.

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