Carnegie Mellon University

Ozioma Aniagu

May 03, 2024

From Intelligence Field Agent to Entrepreneur: Tepper School MBA Student Pursues Her Dream

By Sheila Davis

Sheila Davis
  • Associate Director, Media Relations
  • 412-268-8652

Ozioma Aniagu's journey from the intelligence field to entrepreneurship is a testament to her resilience, creativity, and determination. Before embarking on her MBA at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University, Aniagu spent a decade with the Department of State Service in Nigeria, mastering the art of intelligence and navigating complex government operations.

Upon moving to Canada, Aniagu earned a master’s degree in software engineering and gained five years of experience developing and implementing software solutions in various industries. Her diverse background laid the foundation for her next endeavor: pursuing an MBA to deepen her understanding of the global business landscape and bridge the gap between technical and non-technical teams within the tech industry.  

Aniagu made the move from Toronto to Pittsburgh to launch her MBA studies at the Tepper School. Her original plan was to pursue technical product management. However, inspired by classroom speakers and the resources available, Aniagu pivoted to entrepreneurship, fueled by an innovative idea that had been brewing in her mind since her time in Toronto.

“I took Marketing for Entrepreneurship and Lean Entrepreneurship and listened to the speakers in those classes and thought, ‘Ozi, these people are talking to you,'" she said. 

What she learned in class catalyzed Aniagu to take action.

Her idea: Aniagu's entrepreneurial vision centers on designing a consumer product that automates the cooking process of a widely consumed African staple, aiming to introduce and popularize this traditional cuisine and bring a piece of African culinary heritage into homes worldwide. Through her coursework and supportive school community, Aniagu found the inspiration and resources to turn her idea into reality.

As she approaches graduation, Aniagu is working on developing a prototype and aims to launch her product by 2025.

Reflecting on her journey, Aniagu credits the Tepper School for empowering her to realize her potential and pursue her entrepreneurial aspirations.

“I have all of these classmates and professors to talk to, and all of these resources here so I am going to commit to designing this product,” she said. “The Tepper School made me realize that I can do more. I can think how I’m going to use the gift of the resources around me.” 

Although her leap to entrepreneurship has been transformative, Aniagu noted that she initially struggled with small talk and the social nuances of business school. But through targeted exercises and support from the Accelerate Leadership Center at the Tepper School, Aniagu said she significantly enhanced her listening and interpersonal skills.

Overcoming these challenges, Aniagu not only improved her communication skills but also deepened her connections within the school’s community that fosters collaborative growth and leadership.  

“These experiences and relationships have not only enriched my MBA experience but also expanded my professional network, which will be invaluable after I graduate,” she said. “I think it’s important to reflect on my profound personal growth and insightful connections I made during my time at the Tepper School.”

Upon graduation, Aniagu plans to work as a technical product manager while continuing to develop her startup ideas. With her unique blend of skills and experiences, she is poised to make a significant impact in the business world.