For Nigerian native Kernie Obimakinde, her career is all about paying it forward.
“My country is blessed with both natural resources and smart people, but many Nigerians are barely surviving,” she says. “I came to Haas to understand the world’s best business practices, to better manage resources and people, and then apply those tools to the gaps I see at home.”
After earning a bachelor’s degree in both electrical and computer engineering, Obimakinde worked for 10 years in Nigeria before entering Haas. After graduation, she became a strategic and privacy program manager for Google, working first in the U.S. then in Zurich to be closer to family in Nigeria.
Recently, Obimakinde was a fellow for the Google.org project, which supports nonprofits and social initiatives with everything from funding to pro bono employee time. Obimakinde spent six months as the lead program manager for Global.health, an open platform that makes epidemiological data freely available so diseases can be tracked in real time. She and her team helped Global.health with a major rebranding effort, which required her to manage people across seven time zones during the pandemic.
Obimakinde sees her career arc as a reflection of not only the networking support she’s received at Haas but also her own ability to translate her enthusiasm into good management.
“My experiences at Google and Global.health have been amazing,” she says. “I’m thankful for the opportunity to develop my program management skills so that when I go back to Nigeria, I can work with like-minded people in shaping a better nation.”