From MBA Classmates to Soulmates

Is it romantic at business school? To answer that light-hearted question, we turn to Tere Carral and Jaja Okigwe, two former students who attended the HEC Paris MBA 23 years ago. Jaja was a full-time MBA student; Tere was on a 6-month exchange from IPADE Business School in Mexico.

The two of them met during their very first day of the MBA program, during a cocktail mixer held in the Z building. “She didn’t say a word to me, not in French nor in English,” Jaja remembers, “but a group of us decided to go out for dinner in town. We started to get to know each other.”

By the time Tere completed her 6-month exchange, the couple were exploring ways to align their career paths. That idea became a reality a few years later, when Tere’s then-employer, Procter and Gamble, selected her for a position in the company’s Cincinnati headquarters. Tere and Jaja have now been married for 18 years, with Tere the founder and CEO of a marketing agency, Bridge Latino, and Jaja recently being named the President and CEO of First Choice Health in Seattle.

In April, the couple returned to campus for the first time since Jaja’s 1997 graduation, to show their son and daughter where it all started. “The school really has a special place in our hearts,” Tere explains. “It opened my eyes to marketing as a career, and opened us both up to different cultures. It made us the people we are today.”

We want to thank them once again for sharing their story with us, and we would like to politely suggest that Paris can be a perfect place to celebrate a 50th wedding anniversary.