Meet Jerry Ejikeme, founder and CEO of digital distribution platform Sochitel and recipient of the School of Management’s 2023 Entrepreneur Alumni Award
"Like a lot of entrepreneurs, I struggle with self-doubt and a lack of self-belief but my faith and convictions keep me going,” says Cranfield Exec MBA alumnus Jerry Ejikeme, founder and CEO of digital distribution platform Sochitel and recipient of the School of Management’s 2023 Entrepreneur Alumni Award.
“My favourite memory of my Exec MBA at Cranfield was towards the end of our organisational behaviour sessions when we were asked to stick single-word, non-threatening opinions onto flipchart sheets attached to the back of our colleagues as we moved around the auditorium.
“I was pleasantly surprised at how I was viewed by my contemporaries and have kept my sheet with all the opinion stickers to this day.”
Jerry credits his lecturers and fellow students with providing him with his best memories of studying at Cranfield.
“The initial gelling together with my learning group through some difficult OBL sessions left an indelible imprint in my life and created strong friendships that exist to this date,” he explained.
“Making lasting friendships and professional contacts from my cohort was, for me, the best part of the course.
“I also gained valuable insights and tools that challenged my conventional ways of thinking which I apply to my business to this day.
“For example, we were challenged to intentionally create greater opportunities for women and minorities to thrive in the workspace. By implementing a deliberate strategy, our business has grown from 5% female participation to nearly 40% in three years, with many on a career path to senior leadership.
“We have also become a diverse and culturally-mixed team that thrives from the unique perspective that each member brings.”
Asked what advice he would give a current student looking to follow in his footsteps, he said: “In today’s digitally connected world, ideas can easily scale to serve a very large audience.
“I would advise anyone looking to become an entrepreneur to make sure your solution or idea can scale to serve the largest number of people possible.
“Secondly, I would strongly recommend that the formation of any business must be anchored on a fixed set of core values. What you stand for and believe in will guide you through the peaks and troughs of your business journey. It will also help define, attract and align you with the right kind of team to journey with.
“Finally, I’m not a fan of scaling small and self-financing the growth of a business. We are in an age where information is accessible instantly. While you are trying to slowly incubate an idea, you may lose your first-mover advantage to others with deeper pockets and greater resources.
“Therefore, work hard to access funds or secure collaboration opportunities that can help you raise money and/or access resources. Try and raise a lot more money than your immediate budget requires to give you the best swing at an opportunity.”
Reflecting on his alumni award win, Jerry concluded: “I was surprised and humbled to be nominated, let alone win this award.
“I am driven by personal conviction and inspiration to provide solutions that enable digital access to and from Africa.
“The Cranfield award is a wonderful ‘cherry on top’ of all our activities. I am absolutely delighted to be the recipient of such a prestigious award.
“Cranfield is a highly respected institution that has produced great alumni. I am proud to be counted amongst this group of people.”