Meet Babson College’s MBA Class Of 2020

Hamad Alfares

Babson College’s F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business

I am passionate about creating and leveraging collaborative relationships in business to deliver successful outcomes.”

Hometown: Qortuba, Kuwait

Fun Fact About Yourself: I have competitively raced in the most dangerous track in the world, the Nurburgring, aka the infamous “Green Hell..

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Missouri-Kansas City, Bachelors of Business Administration-Entrepreneurship

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: The Ministry of State for Youth Affairs-Kuwait, Managerial Coordinator

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: “Just run the business and sign the checks on my behalf until I get back from Germany” was how my father initiated my two-month responsibility of running the German ready-made kitchen retail company Hacker in Kuwait.

I knew that if I was to sign checks on my father’s behalf, I needed to understand the company’s operations. I delved into the accountant’s records and studied various operating models. It was soon obvious that although Hacker Kitchens (HK) had large amounts of revenue, it was not breaking even due to the operating cash cycle length.

HK was paying for and holding inventory anywhere from three months to two years. Storage costs were greater than 15% of total costs on average. HK was also relying on deep discounts to sell and cover the costs of outdated unsold inventory, negatively effecting the brand’s quality perception.

My objective became clear. Lower costs through decreasing the operating cash cycle length. I soon stumbled upon a proprietary design software that was already paid for by the HK but never used. This software allowed the user to build kitchens with various options of designs, materials, and colors offered by the franchiser and view them in 3D.

This discovery allowed me to think outside the box: I asked why not only order customized kitchens? I set in motion the changes needed to fundamentally change the business model. Initially, Large TVs were installed in the showroom with seating areas to facilitate customers’ kitchen customization process. The marketing department soon followed, advertising the build-your-own-kitchen system that we recently adopted.

Results of our changes came by the year’s end. Not only were our operations costs exponentially decreased, our sales also grew. Storage areas became obsolete, allowing us to use my family’s personal farm for short-term storage at no cost. The operating cash cycle length was heavily decreased and constant at around two months, decreasing cost variation and allowing self-financed growth. The franchiser took notice and we were visited by the regional franchise manager keen on understanding the changes we made and checking if implementation in other markets is possible.

My experiences at HK have been fundamental in my professional growth. They have molded my work ethic and leadership style, giving me the confidence to ask questions, think analytically, and take decisive action.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Collaborative. Based on my pre-MBA research, I expected the classroom experience to be very competitive. Gratefully, my classmates have shown a clear commitment to positively contribute to the quality of the learning experience.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you?  I carry my grandfather’s name. A lawyer who had worked across the Middle East. Growing up, I always wanted to be a lawyer. I was interested in the intellectual challenge of critiquing ideas by finding their gaps and points of strength. Now, I intend to carry this challenge to early stage investing.

Joining a high-quality learning community and gaining the necessary education in Babson will offer me the knowledge, network, and skills that increase my chances of success in my future endeavors and hasten my career path to becoming a leader, innovator, and disruptor.

I aim to take full advantage of the interpersonal skills acquired throughout my Babson MBA journey by learning from a diverse set of faculty members and students. I would also like to further strengthen my practical leadership and management skills, analytical skills in business situations, and academic credentials.

When planning my MBA, I only looked for the highest-rated universities offering an emphasis in entrepreneurship – leading me to the leader in the field, Babson College. As is clear, I am not only interested in entrepreneurship as a subject matter, I am also interested in the real-life applications of this knowledge. Therefore, I also based my decision on the area’s entrepreneurial eco-system. Boston is known as the up-and-coming startup hub that presents numerous area-specific offerings like high-caliber accelerators and incubators that allow me the chance to get hands-on experience in a cutting-edge startup environment. This will enable me to be several steps closer to reaching my career goals and aspirations.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I am interested in the process of articulating, communicating, and selling a new venture idea. Therefore, I plan to make full use of the pitching opportunities and competitions. This would be especially advantageous given the diverse and informed peers, faculty, and network that Babson offers.

I am also interested in the direct entrepreneurial business support organizations like incubators, accelerators, and co-working spaces. Consequently, I look forward to working with the Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship, especially within the startup acceleration field.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I aim to create a program that accelerates startups in the oil and gas industry across MENA. This career path will provide the mental challenge that I crave for and the ambiguity that enables and empowers innovation and creativity. Matching investments with an academic curriculum will also offer personal satisfaction due to the positive interaction with startups and their founders. I would love an opportunity to create something out of myself and to become a constructive influence on the regional startup ecosystem.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? I remember it like it was yesterday, the day I got the acceptance for Babson College. To be completely frank, I was surprised. My father, a PhD holder, was not. In a heated discussion with him about price and value of an MBA program from Babson, he stated: “When trying to measure return-on-investment for education, it should be compounded.” This not only gave me a new perspective on the value of education, it also made me confirm my acceptance to Babson College.

What other MBA programs did you apply to?

– Miami University

– Loyola Marymount University

– Colorado University-Boulder

– University of San Francisco

– University of South California-Marshall

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I am passionate about entrepreneurship as a subject and a career. My undergraduate major was Entrepreneurship, I have gained experience in The Entrepreneurs Department in the Kuwaiti government, I co-founded three apps, and I am currently working on two academic research papers within the entrepreneurship field. Unsurprisingly, the most relevant reference was the entrepreneurship program ranking, in which Babson College is first.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? I always had a fear of heights. It was never life-altering, but it always affected my psyche that I had an irrational fear. I decided to face this challenge the only way I know how to, head-first. My mouth was dry, knees shaking, and looking down from a rocky cliff in Queensland, Australia. After more than 45 minutes of self-motivation, I jumped. I enjoyed it so much, I jumped again. Now I enjoy bungee jumping and am currently planning my sky diving experience in San Diego.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? I aim to create a program that accelerates startups in the oil and gas industry across MENA. This career path will provide the mental challenge that I crave for and the ambiguity that enables and empowers innovation and creativity. Matching investments with an academic curriculum will also offer personal satisfaction due to the positive interaction with startups and their founders. I would love an opportunity to create something out of myself and to become a constructive influence on the regional startup ecosystem.

Where do you see yourself in five years? I aspire to be a successful leader of a startup business accelerator in the Middle East by offering value to up-and-coming entrepreneurs. I also aspire to use my acquired Babson knowledge and network to accelerate the improvement of the entrepreneurial eco-system in the area.