Graduate Student Profile: Oludolapo Makinde

Oludolapo is a Nigerian-trained legal practitioner pursuing graduate studies at Allard Hall. She’s currently concluding her research masters and will commence a Ph.D. at UBC in the fall. Her research masters focused on an evaluation of Nigeria’s corporate governance framework and her Ph.D. research seeks to examine how corporate governance can be used as a tool to tackle corruption.

Why did you choose UBC and the Allard School of Law?
When I decided to pursue graduate studies, the question of where to do so came down to either the UK or Canada. I had heard so much about how Canada was a welcoming and progressive country and how Vancouver is a beautiful place to live, so that really drew me to Canada. 

I then chose the Allard School of Law for many reasons. For one, it offered me the opportunity to learn from leading corporate governance scholars like my supervisor, Dr. Carol Liao, whose areas of research fascinated me and opened my eyes to new aspects of corporate governance. Allard Law is also one of the prestigious law schools in Canada and across the world, UBC is known for its intensive and innovative research programs, and all of this comes at a cost which international students like me can afford without breaking the bank. To add to that, generous funding is also provided for graduate studies. Allard Law has exceeded my expectations. I have had a really rich experience so far and look forward to more rewarding experiences during my time here.

How did you become interested in your research topic?
After I obtained a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Lagos, Nigeria in 2013, I had the opportunity to practice with the law firm of Kenna Partners for a period of 4-years. The firm’s Principal Partner, Fabian Ajogwu, SAN, is a professor of corporate governance, so I had the opportunity to learn quite a lot from him on the subject. Such that although I started out working in both the litigation and corporate practice units, towards my 2nd year at the firm, I developed a particular interest in corporate law and really enjoyed working as company secretary (through the corporate unit), to companies and not-for-profit organizations. I saw first-hand how businesses were run and I was enthusiastic about guiding boards of directors towards not only making decisions that are in keeping with the laws of the land, but also sustainable in the long term. I therefore decided to pursue graduate studies and chose to first embark on a holistic examination of Nigeria’s corporate governance system to get a sense of its strengths, weaknesses and suggest possible ways it could be improved upon. This formed the basis of my research masters which I recently concluded. My Ph.D. takes a step from further from this to examine how corporate governance can be used as a tool to tackle a deeply-rooted ill in many societies⁠—corruption. 

What are some developments in your area of research that fascinate you?
For my research masters, I discovered that although Nigeria’s corporate law regime is often criticized as being ineffective, Nigeria’s laws are similar in many respects to Canadian law and there are in fact, particular areas where Canadian corporate law could borrow a leaf or two from its Nigerian counterpart. Although corporate governance in Nigeria is not where it should be at this point, I observed that regulatory agencies and private organizations such as the Society for Corporate Governance Nigeria, are putting in effort to improve the current framework. However, for so long, the focus has been on enactment of laws and issuance of corporate governance codes and less on enforcement and implementation. My call to action is therefore for subsequent changes to Nigerian corporate law to focus more on addressing issues of corruption, inefficient judicial and regulatory systems.

What made you pursue graduate studies?
Once I decided to become a corporate governance expert, I knew that the next step after gaining some practice experience would be to pursue graduate studies. Through my studies, I am able to immerse myself in corporate governance discussions, share and exchange ideas with other scholars, and gradually establish my voice in the field of corporate governance.

Do you have any advice for students thinking about pursuing graduate studies?
Graduate study at Allard Law is an exciting experience but getting into the program is quite competitive. So, it’s important that you do not leave your application till the last minute. Once you start your program, set your goals, establish timelines and discuss this with your supervisor or committee members so that they can work with you to achieve your goals. Also endeavor to take time out to do other things you enjoy. All the best!