Northeastern grad Emmanuel Nasamu talks about the biggest risk he has ever taken

Emmanuel Nasamu with his hands raised in the air
Emmanuel Nasamu shows his excitement after the Northeastern University in Toronto convocation at Roy Thomson Hall. Photo by Tobias Wang for Northeastern University

TORONTO—Emmanuel Nasamu says it was the greatest risk he had ever taken.

After working in technology for 20 years, Nasamu had concerns. He had spent almost five years in the telecommunications industry before working 11 years at British American Tobacco, where he had increasing levels of responsibility, including IT director for West Africa. He then took a similar position at Coca-Cola for the West Africa region and was subsequently promoted twice in the company.

However, despite compiling years of industry experience and earning several degrees—including an MBA from Lagos Business School in Nigeria, Nasamu concluded he needed an analytics degree to excel in business with all the evolving technology. 

So he decided to take a chance, a big chance. He chose to leave his executive position, move his wife and two children across the Atlantic Ocean and attend Northeastern University in Toronto to study data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence while earning another master’s degree.

“It is the biggest risk that I’ve taken in my life,” Nasamu says.

“I had worked for 20 years, and as you can imagine, technology, the way technology was when we started 20 years ago is not what it is today. And I wanted to improve my depth in this area to reinvent myself maybe for the next 20 years,” he says.

Nasamu earned that master’s degree from Northeastern University in Toronto and graduated in June. He says it was the right decision.

“If there was something that I believed in, it is the fact that I believe that the only thing that can guarantee a future is if you have value to offer, you are likely to find the opportunities to express those values,” Nasamu says. “And if you express the value appropriately, you will get rewarded for it accordingly.”

Education, Nasamu says, creates great value.

Emmanuel Nasamu shaking hands with Aliza Lakhani
Northeastern University in Toronto graduate Emmanuel Nasamu shakes hands with Dean Aliza Lakhani at the Toronto Convocation held in Roy Thomson Hall. Photo by Tobias Wang for Northeastern University

Nasamu was concerned about leaving the workforce completely, so the experiential learning offered by Northeastern made his decision easier.

“I didn’t want to just take a course and go back to the classroom full time. Eighteen months and not having that touch point with industry, what’s that going to mean? So that was how I kind of made my decision to come to Northeastern,” Nasamu says.

Nasamu completed co-ops at Royal Bank of Canada and, most recently, Agritecture. At Agritecture, Nasamu worked to create predictive machine learning models for three states—Idaho, Oregon and Washington—to predict the yield of hops to help better manage supply chains.

“It would also be a very good use case in helping farmers understand what varieties to plant and why,” Nasamu says. 

Nasamu, who grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, the youngest of five children, gave the student address at the campus convocation. In his speech, he said he feels “rich” with his education and encouraged his fellow graduates to reach positive outcomes across the globe.

“As we leave this esteemed institution, we are not only equipped with the skills and knowledge to succeed, but we also have a responsibility to use our education to impact the world positively. Whether we choose to work in the private sector, public service, or pursue further education, we must always keep in mind the impact that we can make in the lives of others,” Nasamu said

Praised for his commitment to Northeastern’s community, Nasamu won the Outstanding Graduate Student Award in Leadership. 

Nasamu was very active within and outside Northeastern. He was involved in the peer mentorship program, Global Learner Support and president of the Africa Students Association. In addition, he participated in several discussion groups on campus, including a panel with Jill Dunlop, Ontario’s minister of colleges and universities, when she toured the campus.  

Before attending Northeastern, Nasamu worked for Coca-Cola in the consumer-packaged goods industry. And now he will return to CPG with a position at Kenvue, a consumer-health company of Johnson & Johnson.

Mark Conti is managing editor of Northeastern Global News. Follow him on Twitter @markconti11.