“A passionately expressive business professional who believes in making his own luck through relentless effort.”
Hometown: Karachi, Pakistan
Fun Fact About Yourself: Went on a three-day Astro Navigation and desert survival course in one of the largest deserts in Asia, the Thar desert.
Undergraduate School and Major: Institute of Business Administration (IBA, Karachi); BBA (Marketing and Supply Chain)
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Business Development Manager, Emirates Supply Chain Services
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I was assigned my company’s second-largest account, Reckitt Benckiser Pakistan (RB), at the brink of a major supply chain reshuffle. We had to expand our warehousing and logistics capacity to meet the requirements of an RFQ that we won by delivering substantial rates savings. The expectations seemed near impossible: We had to find a bigger warehouse to move into, induct new vendors, set up new transportation routes and train the team while having to contend with the year-end sales pressure from our client. Leading operations and finance teams indirectly, I had to figure out the best way to deliver client and company expectations to ensure a win-win scenario. My finance and operations teams also raised concerns about overhead costs and ability to train staff at such a short notice.
I proposed radically restructuring the warehousing logistics model by subletting our operations to another vendor and overseeing the vendor rather than operating the warehouse on our own. This helped us retain a healthy PnL since this 4PL model effectively removed overhead costs and the need to train floor staff. I also managed to retain some key contractual staff by having the vendor take over their payroll, so even though they were no longer on my team, the relationships I had with them ensured that I retained a modicum of control over our vendor’s operations. In this way, I was able to deliver the project and retain the client all within a very narrow time frame.
What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? If there could be one word that would eloquently describe my peers in the MBA program, it would be “Driven.” Regardless of the varied experiences and walks of life they came from, they all desire the pursuit of excellence. A desire to marry their personal goals and self-belief to the careers they want to pursue. The conversation at Carlson begins and ends with how one can leverage their authenticity and essence to set themselves apart. Carlson grads are encouraged to become trail blazers instead of cogs in a machine. This “Drive” is a virtue the Carlson School of Management prides on instilling in its graduates.
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? In my opinion, the Enterprise experience was the kicker that helped cement my decision to pursue an MBA here. The Enterprise experience acclimatizes students to the Minneapolis-St. Paul business community, which includes 18 Fortune 500 companies, by pairing them up with live projects even before the start of internships. Apart from being a great resume builder, the Enterprise experience allows grad students a unique insight into the company culture that research and info sessions alone might not be able to provide.
What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I am looking forward to joining the Carlson Graduate Volunteers Consulting Club. It takes on several pro bono consulting projects for nonprofit organizations in the Twin Cities over the year. To me, it represents both an amazing opportunity to apply classroom concepts in a real-world setting and a way to contribute to the common good of society. That’s also another reason why I chose the Carlson School of Management for my MBA, because of the potential for experiential learning and community building at the same time.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? Even though my career has been fulfilling in terms of variety and opportunities, it has so far been on the strategy execution side. I want to move from the tactical level to the strategy formulation level. To that end, I reasoned that an MBA from Carlson would provide the networking opportunities and skill sets necessary to make that pivot. I already had seven years of business development experience across three different industries, and I felt I hit the sweet spot in terms of experience for pursuing an MBA.
How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? The Carlson MBA is ranked as one of the best programs for return on investment in the country, but as an international student, I was looking for benefits other than just the dollar returns on my degree. I wanted lifelong friendships and an opportunity to become part of something larger than myself. These are benefits that cannot be quantified but are definitely worth the investment.
What other MBA programs did you apply to? I applied to the University of Indiana-Bloomington (Kelley Business School), the University of Notre dame (Mendoza Business School), and Boston University (Questrom school of Business) other than Carlson.
How did you determine your fit at various schools? I focused primarily on the size of the cohort and the parent university. A small class size would enable me to bond with my peers on a much more personal level than I would be able to if the cohort was 500+ students and the size of the parent university would grant me access to a large alumni base. School rankings were an important aspect, but I made sure I did not fixate over rankings too much as I wanted to graduate with an MBA experience rather than just a degree.
What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? My defining moment was when I was being interviewed by my former employer. At the time, they were looking to set up operations in Karachi and the executive team was visiting the city. I had networked with the company through an alumni event and requested an interview. Even though my background and experience weren’t the best fit with the role they were hiring for, I was successful at petitioning for an interview through a referral from one of my former clients, Unilever Pakistan.
Advocating ideas excites me, and while I was presenting my idea to set up logistics operations in the city I grew very conscious about coming off as too excited, and was pleasantly surprised when I was told later on by the country manager that my passionate nature stood out in the interview and turned out to be a major reason why they decided to hire me. I came to the realization that most companies are looking for people with more than just ideas; they are looking for people who can get excited about working for them.
What do you plan to do after you graduate? I plan on pursuing a strategy role after I graduate. My experience in business development left me with an appetite for situational leadership roles in demanding, high-visibility projects. Working in teams and on deadlines energizes me, and my ideal role would have a mix of both.
Where do you see yourself in five years? I see myself in a leadership role with significant advocacy potential within the company. My definition of achievement would be moving into a specialty role, as opposed to a generalist role, in my industry. Five years of post-MBA experience is ample time to figure out an industry preference and gradually migrate into a specialized role in that industry.