2019 Best & Brightest MBAs: Mohamed Faras, University of Illinois (Gies)

Mohamed Faras

Gies College of Business, University of Illinois at Urban-Champaign

An energetic, ambitious, caring believer who is passionate about leveraging technology to help improve lives.”

Hometown: This is a challenging question. I am a Global Citizen. I am an Indian (hailing from the coastal city of Mangalore, Karnataka) who was born and brought up in Dubai, UAE.

Fun fact about yourself: I almost broke the world record for the most donuts eaten in 12 minutes. I ate 32, and the record then was 34.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Bachelor of Engineering (B.E.) in Computer Science from Sri Jayachamarajendra College of Engineering, Mysore

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I worked as a Lead Engineer at Samsung R&D, Bangalore

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? I worked at Google in New York as a Solutions Consultant Intern.

Where will you be working after graduation? I have accepted a full-time position with Google in New York as a Senior Solutions Consultant.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

I am a merit scholarship recipient at Gies College of Business. A substantial part of my tuition is waived due to my academic and professional excellence.

I am also involved with multiple organizations at Gies Business. I served as part of the Student Board having been elected as VP of Communications for the MBA Association.

I was also selected as a Dean’s Fellow where I work with the MBA program to help represent the quality of the program for recruitment, and I help first-year students by providing career guidance to those interested in the Product Management/Technology track.

I work as a coordinator for the several case competitions organized by the MBA program at Gies College of Business. I am a teaching assistant, mentoring first-year students in Marketing Management. I am also a senior manager for seven MBA action learning international projects, where I manage and guide the consultants to address client requirements such as market entry strategy, marketing/sales strategy, innovation process development, and operations improvement. Specifically, I provided guidance to entry-level project managers on subjects such as project planning, execution, risk analysis and risk management, stakeholder communications and setting project scope, quality, resource and budget analysis, and developing strategic problem-solving techniques.

I also received Edward E. Mineman Scholarship because of my contributions to the MBA program at Gies College of Business.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Action Learning projects have been a big part of my MBA curriculum, and I have been involved in at least one consulting project every semester of my program. My proudest achievement related to school was when my team of five MBAs consulted for a tech giant in the bay area. We were able to develop a strategic contingent workforce hiring strategy by integrating a carefully selected technology solution to deliver 19% overhead cost savings, valued at more than $10 million. At the end of the final presentation for the project, the client was not only extremely satisfied with what we provided but also our strategic plan to integrate our strategic plan with their system. It was really rewarding to hear the client recommend our effort and compare it to professional consultants in terms of quality and the expertise shown overall.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? During my years at Samsung, I was an active part of its CSR group, Samsung Seva. Through its social efforts, I am extremely proud of having been able to help more than 30,000 children in rural Bangalore, India. Our initiatives helped motivate them to continue schooling. We were able to provide the children with notebooks, stationery kits, dictionaries, and more. It touched my heart when a second-grade student wrote us a thank you letter and handed it to us as a token of gratitude.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Andrew Allen, Director of Action Learning is my favorite MBA professor. He is the man who organized experiential learning in the MBA curriculum here at Gies. He believes in learning through practice, and he has taken the initiative to design the Action Learning model that thrives on both fronts: student learning through projects and keeping it focused on the curriculum. He is highly optimistic and truly stands for what he believes in. I have seen the program improve and become more structured every semester.

What was your favorite MBA Course? Ethical Leadership by Professor Denise Loyd was my favorite MBA course. Prior to the program, ethical issues were the most difficult situations for me to handle. The course opened my mind to approach ethical issues in a more organized manner. It also helped me realize the scope and complexity of ethical issues and taught me to think about all the parties involved to arrive at the right solution, even though might be harsh for the receiving party.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Illinois because of its small class size, a heavy emphasis on action learning, and the strong tech industry connection. I had also heard about the family-like culture which I am experiencing on another level now.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? If you are looking to get into a program with a family-like atmosphere, a heavy emphasis on action learning, and a high return on your investment, the Gies Business MBA should be your top priority. Emphasize why a family-like culture is important to you in your application, and reflect upon how you plan to take advantage of the massive University of Illinois alumni network to build your dream career. The Gies MBA provides a ton of opportunities that you could take advantage of along with your curriculum. Research and highlight them in your essays.

What is the biggest myth about your school? I thought of MBAs as always being in suits or in formal attire. The reality was quite the opposite. We dress formally only for events which require us to be professionally dressed, not otherwise.

MBA Alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? The MBA has broadened my horizons to a lot of new things. It has brought me out of my comfort zone to try and learn about things I would have never tried previously. For instance, I realized my passion for design thinking and product development through my MBA, and this has completely shaped my career path and my future aspirations.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The MBA student I admire most is Logan Walker because of his drive and an unremitting devotion to the things he sets out to accomplish. Logan is concentrating in Real Estate and will be the first person to graduate with his joint degree program. He not only works hard, like all MBAs, but he brings in his passion and dives into it with vigor.

In my first semester of action learning, I got to work with Logan and see his passion for the built environment. He has taught me that when you are passionate about something, like real estate in his case, you don’t hold back. You have to give it everything you’ve got, and do it in style.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My family influenced me the most to pursue business in college. My father always wanted me to aim higher, and he encouraged me to complete my MBA because he never had the opportunity to do so. He motivated me at times when I was slightly confused and unsure whether to pursue my MBA or not. He always believed in me and supported me with his positive attitude. I am truly thankful to my family for pushing me to do this.

What was the goofiest MBA term or acronym you encountered – and what did it mean? LIBOR – I thought it was “labor” misspelled. It stands for London Inter-bank Offered Rate

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…working at Samsung as a Lead Software Engineer or promoted to a Project Manager position.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? $150,000. Every computer science engineer dreams of working for a giant like Google. For me, it was more than a dream to not only get an internship offer from them but also convert it to a full-time position. I believe the skills I developed in the program helped me land this offer, and my MBA journey is worth much more than what I am paying for it.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Go scuba diving and explore China for Halal food (the foodie in me)

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Selfless, extremely helpful and a smart business focused techie.

Hobbies? Cooking, traveling, watching documentaries, playing football (the American soccer)

What made Mohamed such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?

“Three things stand out once you meet Mohamed Faras: he’s incredibly smart, he is genuinely humble and he’s a truly good human being. I met Faras in his first semester in the Gies MBA and I had the chance to travel with his action learning team to San Francisco for their final client presentation. His command of the project content was impressive, both to me and to our client. Since then, we’ve interacted many times after he was selected to be a Senior Manager in our Action Learning program. Faras is inquisitive and always ready to learn, and also proactive in making things happen.

Here is what his peers said about Faras from working with him on our client projects: “Faras was always professional. His suggestions were always effective.” “It was clear that he really understood the highly complex technical content. He played an integral role in selling the recommendations to the client.” One peer highlighted his “willingness to help others and taking the time to help even when it isn’t convenient.” Faras has made a huge impact on his peers and on our program and we’re proud to have him represent the Gies MBA.”

Andrew Allen

Director of Experiential Learning

Gies College of Business, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign



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