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Kudiratu Usman is a recent MBA graduate of the University of Maryland College in the US, where she studied online while working for the Inland Revenue Service. Before attending business school, she studied for a degree at Gallaudet University, a liberal arts university for the deaf in Washington DC.
Ms Usman grew up in Lagos and Onitsha, Nigeria, where she attended the Ibadan School for the deaf before moving to the US. In her spare time, she enjoys archiving pictures, collecting gems and playing computer games.
1. Who inspires you?
For as long as I can remember, my family have believed in me. They truly believed that deafness could not and should not prevent me from achieving my goals . . . My mom especially knew what an education could do – she really helped my American dream come true.
2. What academic achievement are you most proud of?
Completed my MBA in a non-specialised institution.
3. What is your biggest lesson learnt?
Anyone can achieve anything in life with determination and perseverance.
4. How do you deal with pressure?
I ease off pressure by taking a walk, working out, watching a TV show or spending time with family.
5. What would you do if you were dean for the day?
I would integrate more learning opportunities for the deaf into the academic system, to enable deaf people to achieve higher degrees. I would also promote the institution according to its ranking, diversity and international presence [by speaking] to groups around the world so they can know that it is important for an institution to have diversity of all kinds, to enrich the classroom.
6. What do you hope women in business will achieve?
I hope women will achieve great success in international business and become recognised providers of job opportunities across the world.
7. How do you deal with male-dominated environments?
I co-operate with them in mutual understanding while seizing every opportunity to learn from and contribute to the achievement of common goals.
8. What is the last book you read?
Asking the Right Questions by M Neil Browne and Stuart M Keeley. In my job, I need to understand complex issues and get information that will help solve problems. I also need to keep developing my critical thinking skills.
9. What is your favourite business book?
The Successful Business Plan: Secrets and Strategies by Rhonda Abrams. Along with my education, I am always seeking out resources to help prepare me to someday start my own business.
10. What are your future plans?
In the near future, I intend to be actively involved in international affairs, such as the US State Department and Peace Corp, while serving as motivation to other deaf women. I would also like to move back to Nigeria to set up my own business.