2022 Best & Brightest Business Major: Chike Okonkwo, University of Minnesota (Carlson)

Chike Okonkwo

University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management

“Chike is a devilishly handsome fun-loving energizer.”

Fun fact about yourself: I once tried the world’s hottest pepper, the Carolina Reaper. After you get past the excruciating pain, it’s a fairly tasty pepper.

Hometown: Maple Grove, Minnesota

High School: Osseo High School

Major: Marketing

Minor: Finance

Favorite Business Course: Marketing 3040: Buyer Behavior

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • University Senate & Minnesota Student Association—Carlson Undergrad Senator
  • Carlson DEI Action Workgroup—Undergrad Representative
  • Business Board—Executive Board Member
  • Emerging Leaders of Color—Student Mentor
  • Carlson School of Management—Ambassador & Outreach Ambassador Co-Lead
  • Big Brother Big Sister—Volunteer
  • Youth & Mentoring Program for Children of African Descent—Lead Drumming Instructor

Where have you interned during your college career?

Best Buy-Category Management Intern—Richfield, MN

Johnson & Johnson- Consumer Development Co-op—Minneapolis, MN

Where will you be working after graduation? I am still deciding between a few positions

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? The greatest lesson I’ve learned from studying business is that you must have the traits of resiliency and adaptability to succeed. Business is a field where people are constantly tackling new problems that come to their respective markets. Put simply, there is no such thing as easy in business. Business professionals get hit with problems that put them on their backsides all the time and it’s up to them to have the resiliency to bounce back. Furthermore, they need the adaptability to change their strategy to better fit the task at hand.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? I would tell any student looking to major in a business-related field to get connected and stay connected with any of the talented faculty, business professionals, or students they come across throughout their college career. Most people in the business world are more than willing to mentor and give advice to the next generation, so why not take advantage of this eagerness to help? You can gain a lot from a quick, 15-minute conversation with a business professional and you never know when or how they’ll help you throughout your career if you keep that connection strong.

What business executive do you admire most? The business executive that I admire most is Dan Price because of how much he values his workers. In 2011, Dan took a nearly 95% pay cut and redistributed the funds to better compensate his employees. With this action, he was able to show these employees that they are essential pieces of his business and that he values them as such. As a leader, this attitude toward management is so important because every business and company is a team where everyone plays an integral role. When the team wins, I win, and not the other way around.

Which classmate do you most admire? The classmate I admire the most is Parthsarthi Mishra, a senior with whom I’ve worked closely throughout my time at the Carlson School. Parth is a driven, hard-working, and articulate individual who often is juggling many things at once. From being a part of multiple business ventures to his leadership positions at the Carlson School, he finds a way to balance it all while still excelling in his coursework and career. However, the quality that I admire the most in Parth is his willingness to help others. Regardless of all the activities he’s involved in, Parth will actively seek and make time to help a prospective student, colleague, or friend in need. This drive to help others exemplifies why I think so highly of him.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? The person I’d want to thank the most for my success is my mom. To put it simply, she’s been the North Star of my life. The example she set for me acted as the blueprint for my success so far and to see her continue to take on new ventures motivates me to succeed even more.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

-Work and live in another country

-Start my own restaurant, preferably an Afro-Caribbean fusion

What are your hobbies? When it comes to my hobbies, they can be summed up as food, sports, and TV. With food, I enjoy cooking anything tasty and try to eat out at a new restaurant every week. With sports, I’m a notorious competitor so I enjoy playing or watching whatever as long as I know the rules (basketball is the #1). Lastly, with TV, I’ll watch anything that is critically acclaimed, but my favorite is Japanese anime because of the creativity and artwork.

What made Chike such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“Throughout his time at the Carlson School of Management, Chike has been a steady and positive force for change. Whether serving as a student ambassador, warmly welcoming potential students to our college, acting as a mentor to high school students from underrepresented backgrounds through the Emerging Leaders of Color program, or crucially, working towards a more just, welcoming, and equitable environment at our college by serving on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Workgroup, Chike has proven himself to be a role model to students, past, present, and future. Despite his heavy workload, he has somehow maintained his warm and outgoing disposition, further demonstrating the skills and temperament necessary of a true leader.”

Jontue Austin
Academic Adviser| Undergraduate Program



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