Cold Call with Bryan Mezue (OI)
KL: First things first. Where are you from?
BM: I was born in a middle-sized South-East Nigerian city of Enugu, and spent my first 11 years of life there. After that I’ve moved around a lot with family and then later with my job. I’ve lived for significant portions of my life in Doha, London, Beijing, and now Boston.
KL: And after all that moving around, how does your hometown still define you?
BM: Technically, according to tradition, my hometown is my father’s hometown which is a village about an hour away from Enugu, but I secretly consider Enugu to be my real hometown. Unfortunately, I don’t go back home very often (even when visiting Nigeria, it’s not always one of the major cities on my itinerary), but I think having moved around so much makes it very dear to me. I’m becoming increasingly convinced that everyone needs one place that they can call home no matter what happens. So I’m glad to say that as hard as Enugu may try, it won’t be able to disown me as one of its children.
KL: What pop song captures the essence of your time at HBS?
BM: LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” was probably the pre-eminent theme to Section I’s domination in RC year. A big shout-out to all the wonderful Section I Tiger athletes and our fans from all around the world. This year we’re going for our rightful gold, especially in IM soccer.
KL: Where were you for J-Term?
BM: I was in China for an IXP this J-Term with Professor Elisabeth Koll to look at the entrepreneurial environment in China. Originally I was on the fence about the trip since I’ve lived in China before, but I have to say that signing up for the IXP was one of my best HBS decisions. We travelled across four mainland Chinese cities – Beijing, Changsha, Suzhou, and Shanghai – and met some super-cool companies (e.g. Baidu, Rovio, Yunifeng, Sany).
Some of the entrepreneurs and founders told very inspiring stories. We even met the acting governor of Hunan province, covering a population of 65 million (as large as France!). I also had a chance to relive nostalgic memories of China, and meet up with old friends.
Most of all, I met some super-amazing people (e.g. one Kate Lewis whose birthday dinner in Beijing was a big hit). It’s crazy to think that I am 75% of the way through HBS and I’m still meeting new people in my class. After the IXP, I spent a few days in Japan, visiting some of the monuments in Kyoto and meeting up with old friends.
KL: Do you like Chinese food in America? Do you like Chinese food in China?
BM: I’m a HUGE fan of Chinese food in China. My favorites are 宫爆鸡丁(Kungpao chicken) and 重庆火锅 (Chongqing hotpot). The spicier the better. We had some legendary meals during the IXP, mostly led by Yi-An Huang who I will now hunt down on a regular basis for Chinese food recommendations. One meal in Changsha involved frog meat, other unnamables and many many large bottles of Harbin beer.
I must confess, however, that I don’t eat much Chinese food in the US. I tend to prefer eating Chinese food in large groups, with someone who knows their stuff doing the ordering. In my RC year, Lily Pan and her husband Leo hosted many brilliant such meals for section I’ers. This year I moved off campus, and haven’t received the invitations. They think I’ve forgotten. I haven’t. The stomach never forgets.
KL: What is your second semester EC year resolution?
BM: My resolution is to build better habits, be more spiritual and spend more time with friends.
KL: What does being more spiritual mean to you? Is it going to a place of worship, praying more, being more thoughtful?
BM: I think it means each of those things, actually. I mostly draw my strength from within, so it’s very important for me to get that right first.
KL: And you say more time with friends. Is this at the expense of what? Always a tough balance of how to spend one’s precious time at HBS.
BM: I don’t know how much further I can cut down on school work, and I don’t watch any TV, so I guess it comes down to being more efficient. It means saying no more often to many of the wonderful opportunities around me at HBS.
KL: When you were little, what did you want to be?
BM: As far as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a doctor. When it came to college applications, however, I decided that I wanted a less defined career path and enrolled for Mathematics. But I still have the utmost respect for doctors. I think there’s something special about waking up every day and knowing that you’re healing people. You can see how important your job is in the eyes of the patients and families you help.
KL: Now that you’re grown up, what are you going to be?
BM: Now that I’m grown up, I am and probably will continue to be a confused man. I have too many interests and not enough time. One thing’s for sure, though, I want a job that touches people’s hearts in the same way that a medical career does.
KL: What is your favorite place on campus?
BM: I would say Aldrich 110, the home ground of Section I 2013, but the truth is I spent much of my time in that room quite clueless. This past semester my bike was stolen a month after its purchase (hullo out there! If you only “borrowed” that white Giordano-branded Italian beauty, it’s okay, I’d still like it back please) — so I had to carry out the arduous 10-min journey from my off-campus apartment to class by foot. It has been a blessing in disguise, though, as I’ve discovered some very cool spots. I especially like walking across the Western Ave bridge or footbridge at twilight, and the amazing views of the Charles River. Sometimes, on a walk back home, I am compelled to pause and admire the perfect symmetry of reflections on the water and contemplate how blessed I am.
KL: If you had to be an animal, which would you be and why?
BM: I would be an eagle, because I’ve always wished I could fly. Also, I’ve seen many weird and wonderful things on restaurant menus in China — but as of yet it seems that no one eats eagles.