The story of Dr. Hans Boateng, MBA ‘16 is one of achieving the quintessential American Dream. Born and raised in Ghana, West Africa, he and his parents immigrated to the United States to pursue greater opportunities and a better life. Today, he has proudly earned two higher academic degrees and runs multiple entrepreneurial ventures, all while continuing to give back to his native country through charitable work.
Yet despite all of these achievements, “Dr. Hans” as he’s now known professionally, continues to look for opportunities to give back to the communities that raised him. Utilizing skills he honed while pursuing a full-time MBA at William & Mary’s Raymond A. Mason School of Business he develops educational programs focused on teaching lower-income, minority, and immigrant populations on how to build personal wealth and invest on a limited income.
From an early age, Boateng was taught by both his culture and his family that the key to success involved getting a degree and finding a high-paying job. It was never a matter of if he would do it; it was a matter of how and what subject he would pursue for his studies.
“In the Ghanaian culture, there is always this emphasis on education being the way for anyone to be able to progress in life,” he says. “For most immigrant parents, becoming a doctor is the symbol of success. I was encouraged to think along those lines.”
After immigrating to the United States, Boateng and his family settled in Bronx, New York, primarily because of the area’s affordability and immigrant community. He enrolled in Lehman College which is a senior college of the City University of New York (CUNY) system and just a ten-minute walk from his home in the Bronx.
During this time, Boateng noticed that the individuals around him didn’t share his goals of long-term education. Many of his peers were instead looking to secure a job that paid above minimum wage; school was a secondary activity.
“At the time, minimum wage was $6 an hour. If they could get a job that was paying $15 an hour, they thought it was gold,” he explains. “Most of them would not show up to class and would be focused on making that $15 an hour. I just wanted to be out of that environment.”
Boateng began researching colleges and programs through which he could achieve his goal of becoming a doctor. Ultimately, he decided to pursue a professional doctorate in pharmacy. The University of Buffalo’s program was the best in New York state, so Boateng applied for a transfer, packed his bags, and said goodbye to his family.
“I had never been to Buffalo before,” he says. “But that being the top school, I said ‘I am going there.’”
Around the time he moved to Buffalo to begin pharmacy school, Boateng had a chance encounter with a millionaire businessman who recommended he read Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki, which ignited in him a passion for business and arguably changed the trajectory of his career.
“I always had this desire to want to build wealth. It may sound superficial, but to me, it felt like if I had the means to build wealth, then I would have the means to be more generous,” he says. “The first chapter of the book said the rich don’t work for money. But my parents told me if I wanted to be successful, I needed to become a doctor and I would be rich and successful.”
This contradiction piqued Boateng’s curiosity and he began to search for an answer to his question of what is the true path to building wealth? He determined that the way to build wealth was to either invest or to start a business. So, he began to read anything he could find on the topic of investing, entrepreneurship, and personal finance.
Approximately 400 books and 40,000 articles later, Boateng was reading more about business than the pharmaceutical industry.
“That’s when I realized my passion,” he explains. “When I graduated from pharmacy school, I knew in my heart I wanted to go to business school because of that passion for business, and wanting to know and learn more about it.”
Boateng’s reasoning to attend a full-time MBA program was two-fold: he wanted to build his professional network and his credibility as he pursued a career as a senior executive in the pharmaceutical or healthcare industry.
“I wanted the full experience of connecting with my colleagues in the full-time program because many people don’t realize that your network – the people that you have in your network – will determine your net worth,” he says. “I know the value of having the right network and cultivating and building those types of relationships.”
“I also realized that if I ever wanted to start my business or become a senior executive, if I ever wanted to rise the ranks to the very top, I wouldn’t want to have a glass ceiling whatsoever. I didn’t want to give anyone the opportunity to say that I could not become the CEO because I don’t have an MBA.”
Boateng stumbled upon William & Mary’s Raymond A. Mason School of Business website, and the information he read about the full-time MBA program made everything click. After speaking with Amanda Barth, Director of Admissions, about the full-time MBA experience, he applied and was accepted into the class of 2016 cohort. He immediately felt the impact of the Tribe pride on campus and at the business school.
“When I say that William & Mary is a tribe or William & Mary is a family, it really is,” he says. “It’s a place that doesn’t look at the color of your skin or where you are from. Everyone is welcome. Everyone is treated just like family.”
Now that he was in the full-time MBA program, Boateng shifted his focus to learning all of the hard skills and information he could to be a better businessman. But the program’s focus on soft skill development is where he saw the most personal growth.
“The program made me a better leader,” he explains. “Coming into the program I didn’t really know what type of leader I was. I didn’t know if I was a leader in all honesty. The program enlightened me to my leadership style and it helped me identify my greatest weaknesses. It was such a huge personal development and leadership development experience.”
Boateng also sought out additional opportunities offered to students by the business school to further expand his skills related to his passion for investing and growing personal wealth. He learned of the Batten Fund, the Mason School’s student-run stock portfolio, in which students collaboratively research and manage real investments in the stock market on behalf of the school. Despite having no experience in accounting or finance, Boateng was awarded one of the coveted spots.
“That experience just further ignited my passion for wanting to do stock research and investment research,” he says. “It would later lead me to my entrepreneurial ventures.”
After graduating from the full-time MBA program, Boateng secured a position with the Williamsburg-area Riverside Health System. As a Lead Inpatient Pharmacist, he coordinated with doctors to improve patient health and managed medication therapy.
He did not, however, abandon his entrepreneurial goals and passion for investing. Concurrently to his work in the healthcare industry, Boateng founded The Investing Tutor, a private tutoring service that, to date, has taught over 3,000 individuals about building wealth through investing, personal finance, and debt management.
“I think that an individual has a certain level of credibility when you have an MBA. Individuals take you seriously,” he says. “If I had just started a business myself without an MBA, people would have said, ‘What is he doing? He’s a pharmacist.’”
While he may be running successful ventures in the United States, Boateng has not forgotten his roots both in Ghana and the immigrant community he came up through in the Bronx. He serves on the Board of Directors for The Akaa Project, a non-profit organization whose mission is to create opportunity for families in the eastern region of Ghana. And his next professional project aims to break down the barriers and assuage the fear immigrants have towards investing and personal finance.
“As an immigrant, I got to know about investing and the importance of it because someone told me to read Rich Dad, Poor Dad. That led me to learning and understanding about what the stock market is,” he explains. “Unfortunately, the majority of immigrants and minorities never get to really understand what the stock market is. Many of them don’t even know what a 401K retirement plan is. Often they feel it’s extra money being taken from their paycheck.”
“Most immigrants work so hard and they get to retirement and they have nothing to show for all their hard work,” he continues. “And it’s simply because they weren’t taught how to invest or how to build wealth. It brings a lot of fear to these individuals. They feel burdened.”
Boateng saw an opportunity in the marketplace and has committed himself to educating immigrants, minorities, and low-income individuals about the importance of investing and building wealth as well as cultivating an understanding among these groups of people as to how they can achieve financial liberty.
Recently, he launched his next project – a generational wealth challenge. For just $5 a day in 2020, Boateng will mentor program participants on how best to invest their money for the duration of the year. The program is gaining traction; over Thanksgiving weekend he had 110 individuals commit to the challenge. To date, he has upwards of 150 people signed up with the ultimate goal of reaching 200 participants by the end of December.
“People think that you need thousands of dollars to build wealth. I want to be the person who gives honest and genuine financial information and to help them understand that no, you don’t need thousands of dollars. You just need to start and you can start with $5,” he says.
“I feel that this program is going to be one of those monumental things which literally changes the dialogue around investing in this country. I feel over the next five to ten years it’s going to transform how immigrants and minorities are investing.”
Story was written by Kristine Hojnicki. Featured on William & Mary Business School Website.