After working for more than 20 years as a business strategy consultant, it's the “simple things” that fulfill Conrad Grebel University College alum Paulinus Okoye. “Whether it's exploring scenic landscapes, enjoying cozy evenings at home, or embarking on adventures with our two children and Tucker, our beloved dog,” said Paul, “every moment is a cherished memory.” Living in the moment reminds Paul of what is truly valuable and acts as a consistent motivator to continue his social justice work.

Inclusion, increasing marginalized representation, and striving toward social equality were constant pursuits throughout Paul’s career. He graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Ottawa and attained a Master of Business Administration from Georgia State University and a Master of Theological Studies (MTS) from Grebel at the University of Waterloo. He has worked as a leader in human resource advisory and management consulting with a focus on business strategy, culture, diversity, equity, and inclusion. In his work, Paul focuses on helping to translate organizational visions and strategies into desired outcomes. “As a management consultant, I enjoy the privilege of working alongside organization and community leaders,” he remarked. Once again, it is the relationships formed while at work that galvanize Paul and affirm his vocation. “I enjoy solving messy and complex problems with real human impacts. Knowing that my work has helped improve so many lives at work and in my community is immensely rewarding.” 

For Paul, helping to improve the quality of life of those in his local Waterloo community extends past his day job. As an advocate for community engagement, he is an active member of the City of Kitchener’s Equity and Anti-Racism Team, working toward fostering an inclusive community. He is also a member of the City of Waterloo’s Economic Development Advisory Committee, where he collaborates with the City’s mayor, Council, and other committee members on initiatives aimed at promoting sustainable economic growth.  

“My burning passion for social justice was cultivated during my time at Grebel,” Paul remarked. “The academic rigor, the knowledgeable professors, and an environment that invites passionate, yet respectful engagement immediately brought me into Grebel’s community. All these pillars created an amazing opportunity for me to grow.” The numerous classes he took as part of the MTS program, particularly courses on Liberation Theology and Theologies of the Global South, reignited Paul’s drive for creating positive change in the world.  “The lectures, conversations, and passionate arguments continue to serve as inspiration for me as I apply my skills in the workplace. As a professional motto, I always seek to give a voice to the marginalized and alongside those with the least power.”  

Paul Okoye during a lecture

Paul had many praises to pull from when regarding the support he felt at Grebel. “Grebel is more than a school, an experience, or even a community and family. It is all that and more.” Whenever he left the classroom, Paul recalled that he would be filled with a lasting feeling of excitement to go out into the world and enact positive chance. “The vigor that Professor Derek Suderman held for his work, and his complete understanding of his topics, along with his pure wonderment every time he learned something new about his expertise was electrifying.” More than anything, Grebel instilled in Paul a sense of justice: “Because of Grebel, I am, more than ever before, an avid advocate for a more equitable world that is lived out in our families, communities, and workplaces.” After graduating, among other consulting roles, Paul served as a sessional instructor at Grebel teaching Peace and Conflict Studies at the undergraduate level and as a trainer in Grebel’s Conflict Management Certificate program.

The simple things that Paul came to cherish later in life weren’t always recognized earlier in his career. “In the early stages of my career, when I was required to travel across the world on a weekly basis, I took these relationships for granted,” Paul explained. “Mid-way into my career, I really had to ask myself what was truly important. I had to make decisions, including changing my work schedule, finding a new employer, and changing my career focus to ensure that I had my family as my priority.” After aligning his values according to his introspective reflections, Paul was finally able to enjoy life to the fullest. “Together with my wife, we savor the tranquility of our surroundings and create lasting bonds through shared experiences and laughter.” While his numerous degrees, complex multi-national projects, or other work-related endeavors are impressive, Paul said that they “pale in comparison to the beauty of simply spending a Saturday with my family. That would be, by far, my greatest accomplishment.”  

Given his realization of the importance of appreciating the now and the people around him, Paul urges Grebel students to appreciate the current moment for what it is, before it is too late. “If you can, slow the time and take in everything that Grebel is and what they offer. Time flies a little too quickly, and so will your time at Grebel. So, get involved, meet people, enjoy the classes, soak it all in. And, when Grebel finally bids you farewell, take all you learned and invest it into the world around you.” In short, Paul believes there is always time and value to build impactful relationships, at any stage in life. Quoting Grebel’s Mission statement, Paul said that “in the increasingly damaged world we live in, the world needs people that seek wisdom, nurture faith, and pursue justice and peace in service to church and society.”  

By Jiho Mercer

Paul Okoye is a business strategy consultant with a strong desire for social justice work. He graduated with a Master of Theological Studies degree later serving as a sessional instructor teaching Peace and Conflict Studies at the undergraduate level, and as a trainer in Grebel’s Conflict Management Certificate program. He is also a member of Kitchener’s Equity and Anti-Racism Team. Above all, Paul values quality time with his family; he enjoys exploring scenic landscapes with his wife and embarking on adventures with his two children and their dog, Tucker.  

Paul's story is part of Grebel's 60 Stories for 60 Years project. Check out our 60 Stories page for more articles in this series. If you would like to nominate a Grebel alumnus to share about their experiences at Grebel, please submit a nomination form.