2019 MBAs To Watch: Mehreen Haider, McGill University (Desautels)

Mehreen Haider

Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University

Avid traveler and scuba diver, curious and passionate about the world, sustainability and martial arts.”

Hometown: Karachi, Pakistan

Fun fact about yourself: I have scuba-dived in over 10 countries.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Business Management, Institute of Business Administration, Karachi, Pakistan

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Assistant Vice President, Global Markets, Dubai Islamic Bank, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Scotiabank, Toronto, Canada and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, Toronto, Canada

Where will you be working after graduation? Rotational Associate, Global Capital Markets, Scotiabank

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Vice President, McGill Masters’ Women Association:

  • Organized McGill MBA’s largest workshop and guest speaker panel with over 30 participants, on Unconscious Bias in the Workplace
  • Visualized and led a HeforShe style campaign to include male MBA students in all our activities, boosting male attendance from nil to at least 30% in club events

Raised $5K from an overnight team effort to raise funds for victims of the Mexican earthquake in 2017.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I won the prestigious Women in Capital Markets Heather L. Main Scholarship during the MBA program. Only five women from across Canada win this scholarship every year, after highly competitive superday style interviews. This scholarship is unique in that it offers successful candidates $25,000 towards their MBA fees and a paid 4-month internship in capital markets the following summer. I am delighted that I was one of the five recipients for 2018.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I led a 32-member cross-functional team to deliver a new product suite within 6 weeks, as opposed to the typical 12 weeks. We had to work across three separate products and their respective workflows in order to provide a seamless, integrated product to the client. It was exhilarating to work under that kind of time crunch while engaging all members of the team and ensuring we delivered a world-class product!

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite MBA professor is Sebastien Betermier, Associate Professor of Finance. (Also on Poets & Quants’ Best 40 Under 40 list). He can relate finance terms to real-world applications and make finance (in general) and investment management (in particular) a very approachable subject for everyone. His classes are completely booked out!

Sebastien taught me how to relentlessly yet respectfully dig at an argument until I am satisfied with the thread of logic and able to explain it in simple terms to my mother. I have become a more driven and systematic thinker after sitting in his classes.

What was your favorite MBA Course? My favorite course is Pensions Investing (I am currently enrolled in it). This course is unique to the McGill MBA by being a research-driven course seeking solutions to pension investing problems around the world. The course feeds into the McGill International Portfolio Challenge, which is the world’s first-ever case competition on the future of pension investing with $50,000 in cash prizes.

Rising life expectancy and declining fertility rates have led the World Bank to forecast a global pension shortfall of $400 trillion by 2050. The course is teaching me how interconnected the problems in pensions investing are and how even successful pension funds have their own challenges in the current late economic cycle.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose McGill for its alumni network and location.

McGill has one of the largest global alumni networks among Canadian schools, and when I reached out to students or alumni from various programs, whether BCom or Faculty of Science, I felt a strong spirit of community and willingness to help.

McGill’s location in Montreal, Quebec, is an opportunity to explore a unique part of Canada, and I simply had to live it for myself! (including the winters, when I could learn many new skills, such as ice skating).

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Connect with McGill’s MBA Ambassadors, current students, and alumni to get a feel for the unique nature of the program and to understand the multiple opportunities this program offers to help define your career path post-MBA.

What is the biggest myth about your school? I truly believed I would have far more time to myself than I actually did!

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? I wish I knew how quickly time flies in an MBA program. The 20-month nature of the program made me feel I would have more time to explore all opportunities, case competitions, clubs, and events.

MBA Alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? I have learned to redefine myself and pivot quickly with each new challenge I faced during my MBA journey, while still staying authentic about my goals and motivations. I came into the program aspiring to learn about areas of finance, such as investment banking and pensions investing, and I secured two internships that provided me with the opportunity to work and learn in both these areas. Over coffee chats with several professionals and during my internships, I realized that the tools of business analytics are critical for developing a strategy and analyzing performance and thus changed my concentration to Business Analytics, so that I can master these tools and apply them to capital markets.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? This is a tough one! My class is exceptionally gifted, friendly, and hard-working, and each of us brings a unique perspective and accomplishment to the cohort. I have seen my fellow-students tackle challenges head-on, relentlessly push for answers, and innovatively brainstorm to solve global problems including world hunger. In the process, they emerged as stronger future leaders.

If there is one person I wish I could emulate, though, it would be Tanzilya Khakimova, who is originally from Russia and who went on a consulting internship to South Africa last year. She strikes a great balance between delivering 100% to the rigors of the MBA course and finding time for following her passions outdoors.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My role model is my mother’s sister, a doctor, who rose to head the Anesthesiology Department of Pakistan’s largest cardiovascular hospital (National Institute of Cardiovascular Disease), and who exemplified the sheer effort and commitment needed to shine, irrespective of gender, in Pakistan.

What is your favorite movie about business? Trading Places. The movie tackles “Nature versus Nurture” in a very interesting manner. Apart from engaging me in this debate from the very start, the movie showed me how many difficult situations can be overcome with communication and collaboration.

What was the goofiest MBA term or acronym you encountered – and what did it mean? Someone (who is very passionate about cats, and not at all about finance) thought CFA stood for the Cat Fanciers’ Association – and wanted to sign up for the program!

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…developing and bringing solutions for sustainable energy to developing economies.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? The value of an MBA derives from how students challenge themselves during the MBA journey, and the friendships developed over time. Both of these are a two-way street, but having a diverse cohort like McGill further enriches this process. I found the McGill MBA to be worth way more than what I paid for it.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Earn a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Explore national parks and protected reserves in Canada and the Americas (Canada alone has 47, so this is a pretty long list!)

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? “Mehreen was always ready to help and curious to learn.”

Hobbies? Martial arts. Exhausting my Kindle’s battery by reading whenever I have a moment to myself

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

“Composed, professional and with a maturity beyond her years, Mehreen came to the program with a solid foundation in finance. She thrives under pressure and made a strong impact with her ability to excel in her work, academics and extra-curricular activities. Furthermore, her ability to navigate in the often male-dominated world of Investment Banking is admirable.”

Sema Burney

MBA Career Coach

Are you a friend of Mehreen? Leave a comment to congratulate her.