2017 Best MBAs: Lamis Sleiman. Purdue University (Krannert)

Lamis Sleiman

Purdue University, Krannert School of Management

“A go-getter and a social butterfly. I draw windows where there are no doors.”

Age: 30

Hometown: Originally from Zahle, Lebanon, currently residing in Lafayette Indiana, USA

Fun fact about yourself: I am a culture enthusiast and an explorer. I travel to grasp art and translate them to paintings. Although I am quite a natural around large animals, I hide if I see a small insect or a reptile.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

  • American University of Beirut (2005-2008), BA in Public Administration, minor in Political Sciences
  • Syracuse University, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs (2008-2009), MA in International Relations, Fulbright Scholar
  • Concentration in Global Development, Conflict Resolution, and NGO Management
  • Area Focus: Middle East
  • Certificates: Program on the Analysis and Resolution of Conflict (PARC)

Democracy in the Middle East Project (DIME)

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Prior to the MBA, I was a Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist with Management Systems International in Beirut, Lebanon. My role entailed identifying and building the capacity of +100 Lebanese municipalities by using big data analysis and program evaluation frameworks.

I also have more than seven years of collective work experience in various countries, working primarily on USAID and UN projects in humanitarian relief, civil society capacity building, health awareness, and emergency response (Check resume for more details).

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? During the summer of 2016, I interned at Audi Capital, a leading private equity firm based in Beirut-Lebanon and caters to the Middle East and North African financial markets. I also consulted for an Ohio-based company on optimizing supply chain processes and inventory management.

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be working for Amazon at their biggest fulfillment center in Indianapolis in the capacity of Pathways Operations Manager.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Krannert School of Management Scholarship (2015)
  • Lebanese International Finance Executive Scholarship in Finance (2015-2017)
  • Association Philippe Jabre Award (2015-2017)
  • Golden Key International Award (2016)

Leadership Roles:

  • KGSA board member on the social committee
  • Mentor for first year students & student host
  • Pro-bono finance tutor for first and second year students
  • Career consultant for the non-profit and governmental organizations/ international students
  • VP of the Brazilian Club (Krannert)
  • Member of the Finance Club & Consulting Club (Krannert)
  • Co-founder of the Lebanese Club (Purdue)
  • Co-founder of Red String Consultant (alongside four other Krannert students)
  • Active in the Lafayette community (animal shelters, elderly, hospitals, etc…)

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Coming from a non-quantitative discipline, I feel very accomplished that I can understand and excel at quantitative problems, especially complex financial modelling. I also take pride in a very high GPA of 3.94, when at times I doubted myself if I can even survive the business school. Most importantly, I am so proud that this MBA cost me zero dollars, and the return on my investment in terms of time and energy is materializing into an amazing career, outstanding friendships that I will cherish for life, and a limitless network of alumni and mentors from different fields.

On the non-academic level, I am very proud to be the organizer and presenter of the biggest country highlight at Krannert. It was also a great opportunity to showcase my country, address cultural stigma, and enable my colleagues and friends to experience a new culture, cuisine, and folklore in an interactive platform.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am very proud of being the most recognized and consulted Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist for USAID in the Middle East. The tools I built, the case studies I undertook, the projects I planned and implemented with less financial and time resources than initially budgeted singled me out of the crowd.

Most importantly, I learned that nothing is impossible when there is a will and a solid plan in place, be it the refugee camps of Al Zaatari in Jordan, to the terrorism stricken terrains of Aleppo and Dera’a in Syria, or the sectarian shredded neighborhoods of Lebanon.

My biggest achievement, though, is the impact I left on thousands of people, the lives I saved because of my intervention and boldness where others would have just quit, and my non-ending passion to be a better citizen– hence a better public servant.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Huseyin Gulen captured my attention. I am sure I will go to the financial sector after my Amazon experience, and if I do, I owe that to him. Finance was a requirement for my scholarship, but Gulen made it a fun, concrete, and interactive field. Moreover, he told me how great of an academician I would be if I join the PhD program in Finance — something I would have never thought about myself.

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? My favorite course and the toughest was Corporate Finance by Professor McConnell. This course was similar to a (Ctrl+Alt+Delete) to everything I had ever learned in my undergrad and graduate school. It set the stage for my passion in finance and my understanding of financial evaluation in general. This was the only course that made me cry for nights at the beginning, and challenge myself constantly because the learning curve was so steep yet so rewarding. Doing the cases on my own, then explaining them to other students further solidified my knowledge and understanding of the subject. The daily discussions with the professor and other students made me realize important aspects of business such as loss, profitability, interest coverage ratios, NPVs, and other strategic decisions that leaders in the business world have to make on a daily basis. Without this course, my internship at Audi Capital would have been impossible! Kudos to Professor McConnell!

Why did you choose this business school? Krannert was a natural choice for me as I moved from Lebanon to Lafayette, Indiana with my husband. I met some staff members in the department and interviewed a few students who only said the nicest things about the program, faculty, and student body. After some research, I found myself drifting away from my desire to become a PhD student at Purdue in Politics and more into business. Krannert is very advanced in terms of preparing its students not just for their careers but also to meet the outer world. It sets the expectations right about how to be a leader; how to deal with different crowds; how to utilize resources and make decisions that increase your net impact; and how to be a refined version of yourself. In 2015, the school had gained a significant leap in ranking, which was also encouraging. However, what really sold me into this program is the versatility, intensity, and how integrated academia was with the business world.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? I enjoyed diving into the quantitative analysis, which was not a pillar of my prior experience. From Business Analytics, to Supply Chain Analytics, Finance, and Spread sheet Modelling, I felt that my ‘tabula rasa’ is taking a concrete shape and color. Aside from academia, I owe every day of my business school years to my amazing friends and colleagues. It would have been impossible without their support, love and trust. I know we will all part ways in May, but the friendships I formed at Krannert are immortal.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you?I knew that Krannert takes it seriously to match its students with good companies to kick start their careers. What surprised me is how much dedication and vigor professors, KPDC, and the MBA department employ to ensure that students have all the tools, resources, and support to achieve this goal. To me, this was not only surprising, but also comforting and rewarding.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? I advise newcomers to set their expectations right. If you think the MBA is a walk in the park, think again. If you think a high GPA and landing a job happen over a coffee chat, think once more. The MBA will have you sweat more than anything you have embarked on earlier in life. Train yourself to be disciplined in terms of time and deliverables, explore and engage with people outside your comfort bubble, and be ready to stretch your threshold and horizons. Be daring and be present.

What is the biggest myth about your school? I am not sure if it’s a myth or not, but we were told that one C on one exam and we will be kicked out of the business school. It never happened to any of my cohort members, luckily! I think that it’s a myth just to keep students on their toes and prepared. The Krannert curve is a life saver for many students.

What was your biggest regret in business school?I regret not being able to attend every possible city trek and country highlight due to my heavy schedule inside and outside of Krannert. I also regret not having a sleeping bag and spending my nights and days at Rawls. Every minute not spent with those amazing students is a minute lost.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I admire Dennis Hernandez the most. He is my best friend, my companion, my soul mate, my cooking and shopping buddy, and the best teammate I have ever had. Dennis strikes me as someone who is extremely hard working, dedicated, organized, and caring for others. He also puts others ahead of himself, is very generous, and keeps a smile on his face no matter how tough life is for him on the inside. He reminds me so much of myself, of the many hardships I went through in my life while pulling out a smile and channeling my energy towards something productive. He is the Phoenix bird, a symbol of perseverance and abundance.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I left the non-profit world and felt I didn’t know much about the private sector.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…a PhD candidate in International Affairs and Public Diplomacy.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I would revisit some of the courses in the curriculum and ensure that internships are mandatory, to be followed by a presentation at the school level as well. 

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I aspire to become a diplomat who promotes economic development across the US and the Middle East.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My biggest gratitude goes to my husband, who has been very supportive of my crazy study hours away from home, my anxiety around midterms and finals, and my endless trips with school without him. I would also like to thank my brother, whose physical presence by my dad who suffers Alzheimer’s made it possible for me to be present at Krannert and take my career up to the next level. Another big thank you to my professors, KPDC, and my friends for the constant support and admiration, for believing in my potential and problem-solving skills regardless of the issue at hand.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? As the energetic friend and achiever, who will always be there for them no matter where life takes them.

Favorite book: The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho & The Broken Wings by Gibran Khalil Gibran

Favorite movie or television show: American Genius (Documentary), 3rd Rock from the Sun (Comedy), The Skin I Live In (Movie)

Favorite musical performer: Feyrouz (Lebanon singer), Yann Tiersen (French musician)

Favorite vacation spot: Maldives Islands

Hobbies? Travelling, painting, belly dancing, cooking, hiking, and camping

What made Lamis such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

“Lamis is a nominee based on her infectious spirit, a self-proclaimed culture enthusiast, student involvement, and academic performance. Originally from Zahle, Lebanon and prior to her MBA, Lamis was a monitoring and evaluation specialist with Management Systems International and has more than seven years of collective work experience in various countries on USAID and UN projects in humanitarian relief, civil society, capacity building, health awareness and emergency response.

Lamis has maintained a solid academic performance throughout the duration of her two year program and is in the top 10% of her cohort. She has also been a dynamic student role model by being actively involved in community work and leadership roles. She was a board member on the social committee for the Krannert Graduate Student Association, a mentor for 1sty year MBA students, pro-bono finance tutor, career consultant for non-profit and governmental organizations, Vice President of the Krannert Brazilian Club, member of the finance club and consulting club and co-founder of the Lebanese Club.

Lamis is also a recipient of several scholarships and awards. She is a recipient of the Krannert School of Management Scholarship (2015) and the Lebanese International Finance Executive Scholarship in Finance (2015-2017). She was awarded with the Associational Philippe Jabre Award (2015-2017) and the Golden Key International Award in 2016.

Upon graduation, she will be working at Amazon as a Pathways Operations Manager in Indianapolis, Indiana. Lamis is creative, determined, daring individual that is sure to leave her mark on the world.”

Greg Beaver
Director MBA & MS Programs
Purdue University

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