“Egyptian immigrant, a revolutionary, a curious and fearless leader, and visual storyteller.”
Hometown: Cairo, Egypt
Fun fact about yourself: I love to explore the world with my camera. Before business school, I took a two-month vacation and drove 7,000 miles around the United States with my wife. We experienced 36 states and camping in 10 national parks.
Undergraduate School and Degree:
The American University in Cairo
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Economics, 2008
Where did you work before enrolling in business school?
- Founder and Wedding Photographer at Boraie Photography LLC – 2 years – Arlington, Virginia
- Financial Accountant at IFC – International Finance Corporation (World Bank Group) – 5 years – Cairo, Egypt
- Financial Accountant at Scotiabank – 1 year – Cairo, Egypt
Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? Campbell Soup Company, Camden, NJ., as Associate Marketing Manager Intern
Where will you be working after graduation? I will be working for PepsiCo in New York as an Associate Marketing Manager with the North America Beverage marketing team.
Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:
- The Middle East and Muslim Business Students Association – Founding member and VP of Marketing.
- The Smith Graduate Marketing Association – VP of Marketing and Communications
- Elected as a First-Year Student Representative – MBA Association
- MBA Student Blogger – Office of Marketing and Communication
- Terrapin Fellow – A scholarship award from the University of Maryland for professional and academic achievement.
Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I decided to continue my wedding photography business after I started business school both to help pay for school and maintain a business I created from the ground up. Balancing my business with finishing a joint MBA/Masters in Finance degree in two years sometimes became incredibly challenging, yet very rewarding. I would go to school during weekdays and sometimes spend over 14 hours on a Saturday photographing a wedding.
Maintaining and running my company meant sacrificing other activities. It also enabled me to pay for my MBA in full and allowed me to continue to pursue my passion – photography. I also made it a point to stay active in my community. This included engaging as a first-year representative and helping to establish and lead a Middle East and Muslim Business Students Association at Smith to showcase and promote diversity within my community.
What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? When I moved from Egypt to the United States in early 2014, I decided to start my own business and pursue wedding photography full-time. This meant leaving behind a career in finance and accounting at the World Bank. I felt nervous leaving a very stable job with benefits to an industry where customers pay for your creative production.
Though I never had lived or worked in the U.S., I quickly learned how to run my business in a new country by working with other established, local photographers and working through questions/problems one by one. Subsequently, I’ve developed and sharpened my abilities in such areas as marketing, digital advertising, branding, presenting during sales meetings, managing and forecasting cash flow, client management, and professional networking.
In 2015, Capital One featured my company in a regional campaign highlighting small businesses that adopt banking products to best serve customers. I couldn’t help but feel a great sense of accomplishment when I first saw the corresponding billboard on the streets of Arlington, Virginia, with my company logo next to the Capital One logo.
Who was your favorite MBA professor? Joe Bailey, associate research professor in the Department of Decision, Operations & Information Technologies, for how he simplifies concepts and applies design thinking to make the classroom a very collaborative environment by which students learn by doing and learn from each other. His humor and creativity enlivens the classroom atmosphere. Among my favorite memories, he organized a sailing activity to help engage new students as part of an experiential learning course.
What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? My favorite course is financial valuation, taught by professor Maria Cecilia Bustamante. It has given me great insight to valuing a business and the importance of top-line growth and how it can influence financial performance. The course also has revealed great insight into how companies balance long-term strategy with the short-term shocks from the market.
Why did you choose this business school? It boils down to the community. The collaborative environment and small class size at Smith makes it a great learning environment especially for “failing fast to learn quickly.” Smith’s collaborative environment creates a friendly, educational ecosystem that allows you to take risks and grow.
What did you enjoy most about business school in general? I enjoy meeting passionate and smart people. And at Smith, there is plenty of opportunity to connect and meet global leaders and influencers. Learning their stories, passions and insights from their experiences is life-changing and exciting. For example, the Smith School provided the opportunity for me and my classmates to travel to Omaha, Nebraska and meet with Warren Buffett. The experience was inspiring and a reminder that passion for what you are doing is an essential element for career success and long-term career happiness. Also, at a “CEO at Smith” event, I met SAP CEO Bill McDermott and learned details of his incredible life journey. Bill was one of the most charismatic public speakers I have ever met, and he exhibited great skill for storytelling.
I’ve come to realize that at Smith you can learn “the what” of business in the classroom, while learning the “the how” of business through engaging with incredible leaders among many experiential opportunities.
What was the most surprising thing about business school for you?I was surprised by the knowledge I gained through collaborating with my classmates. For example, I was selected to be part of mQuest, a Smith learning community focused on solving business challenges through system innovation and design thinking. My mQuest team consulted in a problem-solving project with a major telecommunication company. In the process and through my team members, I learned a lot about managing client expectation, developing a customer centric product and navigating conflicts.
What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Find a story from your experience that highlights your capabilities in terms of collaborating, communication and emotional intelligence. Many Smith MBA classes require a collaborative, final deliverable/project. This makes your emotional intelligence and the ability to communicate with team members indispensable for being effective as a team player and a good fit for the program.
What is the biggest myth about your school? Since Smith’s full-time MBA program is small with about 100 students per class, I feared missing out on what I had thought was would be an experience exclusive to larger schools in terms of class offerings and experience. However, Smith’s program exposed me to larger-than-anticipated range of academic offerings because the program operates as part of a large network, including part-time MBA, executive MBA, master of finance, master in marketing analytics, master in information systems programs, plus the PhD program.
For example, my interest in B2B marketing led me to take a class offered for the part-time MBA students at our Washington, D.C. center. The experience was especially enriching given most of the classmates are working professionals who shared valuable knowledge from their daily experiences.
What was your biggest regret in business school? I wish I had more time to get to know more of classmates and faculty and learn about their likely-inspiring experiences and backgrounds!
Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Apart from an individual, I admire MBA international students who are spouses and/or parents. I know first-hand the challenges that comes with moving to a new country. But the challenges get more complex when you balance a demanding MBA program with finding childcare, for example, and navigating language and cultural barriers.
“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I realized I needed to retool my skill set in order to reach my career aspirations and positively influence the world around me.”
“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…an entrepreneur! I would have started another business.”
If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I would designate business ethics and business law as core classes in the MBA program.
What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I would like to lead and transform a Fortune 100 company by designing and marketing innovative products that enhance the human experience.
Who would you most want to thank for your success? My wife, Catherine and my family. Business school has been incredible experience, but I would have not been able to do it without my wife who has helped me and supported me and is the person I consult on all major decisions. Catherine is truly a life partner, advisor and a friend.
In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? A trustworthy and reliable team player, who is always curious and fearless.
Favorite book: The Kite Runner
Favorite movie or television show:
TV Show: The Big Bang Theory… “BAZINGA” is one of favorite words
The Office, US version … Every office has its “Michael Scott”
Favorite musical performer: Pink Floyd
Favorite vacation spot:
Hobbies? I am an avid Yogi with a passion for traveling and sailing.
What made Mohamed such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?
“Mohamed is a strong presence in the Smith community. His first-year colleagues elected him a Track Representative, in which he worked with his classmates and the administration on multiple efforts to improve the student experience throughout the year. As a dual MBA and Master of Finance candidate, he has a unique perspective and experience at Smith. He is completing the dual degree program in just two years, a demonstration of his strong intellect and incredible dedication to his educational pursuits. His academic performance has been outstanding and is a vocal contributor to his courses.
Mohamad not surprisingly excelled in mQuest, a multidisciplinary program for elite full-time MBA students who cultivate relationships with outside companies and scope out and execute action learning projects as multidisciplinary, self-selected teams. The program’s director, Professor Joe Bailey, describes Mohamed’s stand-out qualities this way: ‘He brings incredible energy, enthusiasm, and optimism to learning. Mohamed is an ideal teammate who always puts the team and the community interests before his own. I am proud that Mohamed is going to work for PepsiCo after graduation and will bring his hard-work ethic and intelligence to their team. I have no doubt that he will continue to make the Smith School proud.”
Mohamed also gives back to his classmates by sharing his talents of photography. In both of his years at Smith, for example, Mohamed has taken corporate style headshots for his classmates and donated the proceeds to Kiva. This speaks to Mohamed’s caring and selfless character. His optimism and good-natured spirit are contagious. Every time I pass him in the halls, he is smiling and enthusiastic about his activities. PepsiCo will quickly realize the outstanding individual joining their ranks!”
Associate Dean for Masters Programs
Robert H. Smith School of Business