“Dependable. Empathetic. Passionate. Relentless. Indefatigable. Globally-oriented. Adaptable. Optimist. A survivor.”
Hometown: Amman, Jordan
Fun Fact About Yourself: I taught myself to play the guitar and the ukulele. I would love to learn to play the harmonica next.
Undergraduate School and Major: University of Bath, United Kingdom – Mechanical Engineering
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Consolidated Contractors Company, Commercial Controls Engineer
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: During my last project, I was selected to lead the tendering process for a critical project area. The project was over budget and behind schedule. This project area I was assigned to consisted of luxurious residential units and dozens of retail and restaurant outlets. The client demanded that the project management expedite the work on this area to placate their customers who threatened to withdraw their deposits from the units they had purchased.
Since this project was hugely important to both the profitability of the project and the reputation of the client, our team was given the green light by the project director to by-pass a lot of the internal tendering procedures. I contacted the interested tenderers and explained that we needed to expedite the process. Some withdrew fearing huge risks from rushing to provide a quotation to complete the scope of work, but the rest submitted their offers within a week from the invitation. I took on the task of evaluating the proposals and recommended two finalist tenderers for a final round of negotiations. In recognition of my drive and work ethic, the project director invited me to be part of the negotiating team with senior management during the final few meetings with the tenderers.
I am extremely proud of this accomplishment as it demonstrated to management that not only was I able to take on major responsibilities, I also performed very well under immense pressure.
What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? There’s no doubt that every single member of the class of 2020 is talented and accomplished in their own way. However, what struck me the most was the sheer diversity of the class. Besides the diverse backgrounds and experience of the incoming class, there is a diversity of thought, opinions and skillsets. Needless to say, I will be learning a lot from my classmates, in addition to the faculty, of course.
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? The small class size played a huge role in my decision. I wanted to go to a school where I can make meaningful and genuine relationships over the duration of the program. It’s also important to participate in as many activities as possible, and with a small class size there is no excuse not to get involved in at least one major activity per semester. Whether that’s a case competition or an international trip, there are enough opportunities for everyone to get involved in and new avenues to explore that probably haven’t been considered before.
What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? The Rice Energy Finance Summit. This is an annual conference organized by Rice MBA students. The summit focuses on discussing contemporary issues facing the energy industry and invites corporate leaders from different sectors within the industry to share their insights.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I believe that the best investment you can make is in yourself and in your future. To be honest, I wasn’t satisfied with my previous job or the career path I was on. Additionally, I wanted a rewarding career rather than being stuck at a job I wasn’t happy in. To land my dream job in the industry of my choice, I would need a completely different skillset and business acumen that only a business education can provide.
How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? Taking two years off from work to pursue an MBA is a major step in anyone’s professional life. Besides the opportunity cost, an MBA requires a great deal of time and effort. From a financial point of view there is no doubt that this investment would pay off eventually. Someone once said that a good education pays the highest return in the long run. I fully agree with that statement.
What other MBA programs did you apply to?
University of Texas – McCombs
University of North Carolina – Kenan Flagler
How did you determine your fit at various schools? First, I looked at the top 30 business schools in the U.S. and shortlisted those that offered the resources I would need to achieve my career goals. In addition to this, I contacted current students to get an idea of the school culture. Unfortunately, I couldn’t visit any of these business schools during application season, but I got a good idea of each school’s culture just by speaking to alumni and students.
What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are?I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia just before my final year of my engineering degree. As per my doctor’s recommendations, I took two years off from my course to pursue chemotherapy. There was no choice but to make my health my number one priority. I remember promising myself early on in my treatment that I would return to university and complete my final year no matter what it took.
And that’s exactly what happened. I returned to university two years later, completed my degree requirements and graduated. Many people are diagnosed with all sorts of illnesses that may seem insurmountable at first, but it is important to persevere in the face of adversity. I like to think that my defining moment came when I successfully returned to university and graduated.
My story doesn’t end there. Unfortunately, I relapsed about a month after graduation and I sought a different treatment. I underwent a stem-cell transplant at MD Anderson Cancer Center in 2012 and I have been in remission ever since. For those who don’t know, MD Anderson is located in the medical center in Houston and is a stone’s throw away from Rice University. I am so fortunate to be back in Houston again to take on a different challenge.
What do you plan to do after you graduate? I have always wanted to walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain. I think I will be doing that immediately after graduation as I reflect on two wonderful years at Rice Business.
Where do you see yourself in five years? Working in the energy industry in a consulting or project management role. I would also like to share my experiences by giving motivational speeches to teenagers and young adults who are going through life threatening diseases while at school or college. Hopefully one day my story would inspire others to pursue their dreams and overcome whatever adversity they face.