If you’ve ever been to a spin class, then you know the energy, music, lights, and endorphins can change the way you think about fitness, or at least help you push through the pain.

However, for Dilan Gomih (MBA 2019), her first spin class left her saying “never again” but then her second spin class didn’t just change the way she thought about fitness, it changed the trajectory of her life and career.

Stocks, Storytelling, and Spin Bikes

That second spin class, and all the exciting adventures that followed, may never have happened if Gomih hadn’t taken an earlier chance that pushed her out of her comfort zone, going straight from her Political Science undergraduate degree to Wall Street.

When she accepted the Foreign Exchange Sales Analyst role at Bank of America, Gomih’s friends and family were a bit perplexed, but as Gomih describes it, the Foreign Exchange drew her in because of her love for storytelling. “It's not just about watching stocks go up or down,” she explained. “A country’s election or a medal won in the Olympics can affect the story of a currency on any given day. I learned the numbers and the selling part of the role, but I was also able to use my writing skills to explain to clients what was happening in a compelling way.”

Then one day a senior leader at Bank of America invited Gomih to a spin class. Immediately the stress of trying to clip her shoes into the bike at her first spin made Gomih want to say “Definitely no.” However, she decided to give spinning another shot and afterward immediately felt how exercise improved her productivity and mindset. Gomih was hooked and started quickly introducing lifestyle changes to make fitness and wellness central to her life.

Business School, Bootcamp, and New Beginnings

As her love for fitness grew, Gomih knew how wellness was improving her life, but she was less sure what this would mean for her professionally. “I felt like I had unlocked this secret of wellness and I wanted to do that for others,” she said. “So, in addition to my role in finance I became a fitness instructor and I loved it, but I wanted to make a bigger impact outside of the people who may or may not show up for a class.” For Gomih, the answer was business school and specifically HBS.

“I joke that it's the stereotypical Nigerian thing to do to go back to school, but I don't think I would have gone back to school if it didn't make sense, and this made sense to me,” she said. “I realized that there was some use of myself that I didn’t fully understand, and I wanted to learn the business of wellness.”

With conviction, Gomih states that the decision to attend HBS was one the best choices she’s made to date. “HBS helped me achieve exactly what I wanted, understanding the best use of myself,” she shared. “When I talked about wellness and fitness all I heard were people validating that, and learning about how others had arrived at HBS helped me to start thinking about how can I navigate my life.”

Owning her passion lead Gomih to start a fitness bootcamp at HBS and a virtual personal training practice, allowing her to test out entrepreneurship while exploring the business of fitness and wellness. It also built up her emotional resilience as she held out for the right summer internship. “I went in knowing that the jobs I would be interested in for the summer were probably going to come in April or May, and even though I saw people around me securing internships earlier in more traditional industries, I just had to be like okay with that,” Gomih said.

Flexing the Career Pivot Muscle

Gomih’s patience and persistence paid off, and when the call came from Equinox, a high-performance fitness company, she was ready with an enthusiastic “Yes!” After a summer full of valuable experiences and learning, Gomih stayed on with Equinox working for the COO through the fall of EC year.

With graduation approaching, Gomih then had three potential paths in front of her – continue in a corporate role within the fitness and wellness space, pursue fitness entrepreneurship, or build a wellness practice within an organization. There were no bad options, and ultimately Gomih decided that she didn’t have to choose. She continued building her personal training business while also taking on a Chief of Staff role at the coworking company, Industrious.

While the role brought her outside of the fitness space, that move taught Gomih some valuable lessons. “A Chief of Staff role is probably one of the best things that one could do when you're trying to understand what all the different functions of a company are,” she said. Another lesson – the pull she felt towards the fitness and wellness world wasn’t going away.

With that in mind, after a year, Gomih reached back out to HBS, connected with coaches in Career & Professional Development who gave her a sounding board and new perspective, and ultimately decided to make the scary but exciting jump back into the industry she loved. Her next role was as the Director of Strategic Initiatives at CrossFit, then later Senior Director of Digital Strategy and Talent at Barry’s Bootcamp.

“You’re not meant to go through life alone, and HBS doesn’t expect you to go through it alone,” said Gomih. “CPD wants you to tap into the resources, and it’s like they give you a mirror that empowers you to make good decisions.”

The Next Level of Empowerment

Gomih’s return to the fitness industry also coincided with major world events that would play a significant role in her career. First, the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in 2020, forcing the fitness industry to make immediate changes. “The pandemic presented so many opportunities in the wellness space,” Gomih said. “I was still running my virtual training practice while also seeing it from the corporate lens at CrossFit, and as a fitness instructor. At Barry’s we went digital, and I don’t know if that would have happened without this understanding that people want to be in person and have the ability to work out at home.”

In addition, the murder of George Floyd in 2020 amplified voices calling for racial justice in the United States and these conversations awoke an understanding in Gomih about how change is really made. “When George Floyd was murdered, I developed a deeper understanding of how closely human wellness and empowerment are tied for me, along with an understanding that change in this country starts with how capital flows and the most senior people in power,” she said. She knew the statistics, women and People of Color only receive around 2% of VC funding, and as Gomih considered what that meant for her future in entrepreneurship as well as the greater collective, the next career move was less clear.

However, when Gomih’s mentor from Bank of America came to her with the idea of starting a firm focused on helping women and People of Color raise capital and navigate strategic opportunities for growth, the pieces came together. “At first it was a solid no, I had donated all of my suits!” Gomih said, “But I realized there was an opportunity here to build out the future of work and create pathways for diversity in senior leadership.”

Gomih joined Independence Point Advisors (IPA) in 2022 where, as Head of Partnerships & Community Engagement, she activates communities of board members and senior advisors to support diverse founders and mentor exceptional talent at the senior level while also leading a focus on the future of work with health and wellness at its foundation. “This step is fairly tangential to the wellness space, but I did it because I have the trust in my mentor and want to work with her to build the world that I want be a part of,” Gomih explained. “She often says, ‘When you see a problem you can either accept it, change it, or shut up about it' and I'm not one to shut up.”

Looking ahead, Gomih remains focused on her goal of entrepreneurship and knows that the twists and turns throughout her career have led her to where she is now better than if she had followed a prescriptive plan from the start.

She advises students and fellow HBS alums, “Trust the process, and trust yourself even more.”