2017 MBAs To Watch: Julanda Al-Riyami, Ohio State (Fisher)

Julanda Al-Riyami

Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University

“A humble, selfless community member who strives for excellence through leadership and empowerment.

Age: 25

Hometown: Muscat, Oman

Fun fact about yourself: At 15, I built an electric guitar from scratch THEN learned how to play.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Penn State University, Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering, Minor in Six Sigma

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? C.R. Bard, Supply Chain Analyst

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? Visagio (Sao Paulo, Brazil)

Where will you be working after graduation? To be decided.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Oman Ministry of Higher Education Scholar, Fisher Leader student mentor, professional development advisor for Omani Student Association at Ohio University, winning team in a Deloitte case competition, “Best Idea” in a P&G case competition

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Getting a top 3 placement in three consecutive case competitions. In Spring 2016, I ambitiously enrolled in two case competitions in the same month. Getting third place in the first competition, the ACG Cup, gave my teammate and I the confidence to win the second one, the local Deloitte Supply Chain Challenge. This opened doors for us to compete at the national level two weeks later, which we approached with high spirits and a winning mindset. We delivered a winning presentation in the knockout round, and received second place in the final round. Though I was disappointed at first, in retrospect I am most proud of this achievement because I learned first-hand the value of diversity and project management, as only one person on the team had any significant consulting experience. We were able to leverage our skillsets to lead a high performing team.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? It was working as a process improvement consultant role in Latin America. When I was a Supply Chain Analyst at Bard in Arizona, I was constantly exposed to process improvement opportunities and had a passion for traveling abroad. I led global initiatives, where I worked with people from around the world and facilitated successful international projects. At Fisher, when I came across Visagio, a Management Consulting firm in Brazil, I knew my passions were aligned with what the opportunity presented. Visagio was looking for an intern to work with a global client and launch a cross-continent project to implement a management model. Luckily, my experiences were aligned with the goals of this internship, and I gladly accepted an offer to work in Sao Paulo. The global nature of my role at Bard prepared me to embrace this new challenge as I took a deep dive into a completely new culture with different business practices, management philosophies, and political environment. I am most proud of being able to successfully launch the global management model and have a lasting impact on my client and my team.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Jay Dial. In addition to enlightening the class with the names of new groups of animals every morning, he was very good at structuring strategy problems into frameworks to prescribe solutions with a creative and holistic approach.

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? Mergers & Acquisitions. I learned to logically diagnose and analyze business growth strategies and identify opportunities for creating and capturing value. This skillset is not only important to have as a leader in the business world, but also in a daily context where news publishers continuously monitor and inform us about the technological and cultural shifts (as well as changes in the political environment).

Why did you choose this business school? As I explored my options for business school, one theme I heard repeatedly was that people in Ohio are very friendly and welcoming. The warm culture of Columbus and the diverse student population were important to me as I believe I can learn a lot from people with different backgrounds. And since traveling is one of my passions, I wanted to join a program that offered international projects. Fisher had no shortage of global experiential learning opportunities, such as GAP, GBE, and opportunities for career placement.

However, the most compelling reason to join Fisher was the small class size of less than 120 students. This meant that I would get a unique experience with access to many academic and professional resources. During my interview with the admissions team, it was comforting to learn that I would get personalized career development support and I would have many opportunities to meet and network with industry partners and recruiters. In addition, the small class also meant that professors are more likely to be available outside of class to support students and college initiatives,

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? Business school to me was the perfect low-risk environment to try new things and meet people from all over the world. I was amazed by the cultural diversity in the program and how much my perspectives have changed over the last two years. Although our student body was highly diverse, we were very supportive of each other as we all took similar risks by stepping out of our comfort zones and joining business school for a career switch, academic aspiration, or entrepreneurial venture. I will always cherish the friends I made at Fisher and the influence they had on me during my journey through business school.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? As in all my prior education, I was expecting the classroom environment to be driven by the professor while students have minimal influence. I was very surprised by how much of the learning comes from other students’ experiences and discussions.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Time management is key to success, so prioritizing your goals early will give you a head start. As you enter business school, you will realize there are many opportunities to get involved in the College of Business and broader university. Take advantage of as many opportunities as possible, be a sponge and absorb as much knowledge as you can throughout the two years.

What was your biggest regret in business school? With the flexible curriculum of the Fisher MBA, I regret not taking classes outside of the business school. I already had access to many resources at Fisher and did not spend the time to explore what the rest of the university offered academically.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I admire Conrado Castro for his remarkable networking and communication skills, active leadership roles at Fisher, continuous involvement in the Columbus community, and most importantly being a superstar father of two kids.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I recognized the value of strategic thinking from my onboarding colleague at Bard. He was an MBA graduate who could analyze and articulate business processes at all levels and develop solutions with the long-term in mind, and that earned him the tough projects. I wanted to be in a position where I solved strategic problems, so my degree of choice was the MBA.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…working in Oman in the oil and gas or transportation industry and supporting a family business.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I would create more events and opportunities for the first and second year MBAs to interact because each class has just as much to offer in terms of classroom learning and professional experience.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? Be a change agent for corporations and the government in Oman, and play an influential role in developing the business environment through economic policy.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My mom has been the biggest advocate of my higher education and career development. She raised my brother and I to set high standards, build determination to achieve our goals, and support others as much as possible. She believed in me in every step of my career development; she provided enormous support to take risks and encouraged me to get involved in new ventures, but also helped me stay rational and focused on the long term.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? A warm, welcoming, open-minded friend who values integrity, diversity, selflessness, and authentic leadership.

Favorite book: Straight and Crooked Thinking by Robert H. Thouless

Favorite movie or television show: Game of Thrones

Favorite musical performer: The Weeknd

Favorite vacation spot: Rio de Janeiro

Hobbies? Traveling, photography, hiking, soccer, raquetball