Once again, Ingram’s introduces 50 Missourians from all walks of business, people who help give the state its unique flavor and who live Show-Me every day.by Dennis Boone
This is why Benjamin Ola Akande, from most every success metric you can think of, elevates both Webster University’s business school and the broader St. Louis area: “Missouri needs to start thinking big ideas, transformational ideas that will move us,” he says. “We need to transform the way business is dealt with—in tourism, food technology, life sciences—and we need to be clear what our competitive advantage is, what we do that nobody else could do, even if they wanted to.” That kind of thinking has driven improvements at Webster’s George Herbert Walker School of Business and Technology, where he’s been dean since 2000. During that time, student enrollments and graduation rates have risen by more than 40 percent within Webster’s largest academic unit. The Walker School is responsible for 63 percent—$136.8 million—of the institution’s $220 million total tuition revenue. A Nigerian by birth, Akande holds two master’s degrees (in public administration and economics) from the University of Oklahoma, where he also earned his doctorate in economics. If Akande were a stockbroker assessing the state, his recommendation would be “Buy!” Its emerging potential in life sciences and entrepreneurship, and its ability to bring top-level students in from around the world—and keep them here—are the transformational elements he says the state needs to leverage.