Meet the MBA Class of 2021: The Go-Getters

Nijat Behbudov

University of Pittsburgh, Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business

 “Communicative, quadrilingual, American and French-educated, Azerbaijani IDP student passionate about business & technology.”

Hometown: Baku, Azerbaijan

Fun Fact About Yourself: I can rap better than most modern rappers

Undergraduate School and Major: Azerbaijan State Economic University, Accounting

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Procter & Gamble, Brand Operations Assistant

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: When I started in P&G as a marketing intern, my first-ever project was to launch a new upcoming product to Head & Shoulders female shampoo line. As a result of planning, managing and executing a full-scope nationwide marketing campaign with sales, finance, and media teams, the launch generated significant amount in sales, increase in market share, and a strong position in the female haircare market of Azerbaijan.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Diversity! Everyone is coming from different backgrounds, different experiences, different ages, and ultimately have different opinions and ideas.

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? What made Katz stand out from the four other business schools that I had an offer from was the “experience-based learning” and the “executives in residence” components of the program. While researching the prospects of Katz before even applying, I was able to talk to many alumni, read Poets & Quants articles, and get familiar with these components. You can read all the books you want and listen to all the lectures you can get, but if the “real deal” isn’t there, what good does it do? I am able to take classes that are fundamentally based on real-world problems, work closely with the career management team, and book a mock interview to have an advisory session with experienced executives in our school, and leverage such a huge alumni network all over the nation – these are the qualities that really put the Katz Graduate School of Business on my priority radar. Now that I am enrolled in the program, all I have to do is to take the full advantage of having such great opportunities.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I am considering joining the Consulting Club and participate in Business Case Competitions. Also, as a sports enthusiast, I am looking forward to playing basketball and swimming.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? For me, not only during the admission process but also everywhere, the most difficult question to answer was “Why you?”. Wherever you are at for an interview, you know the answer to “Why that school?” or “Why that company?”. The “Why me?” question requires more deep thinking, where you need to put yourself in the shoes of the interviewer and think from that organization’s perspective on how your interests and values merge with each other. In my Katz interview, I knew exactly what I was looking for in Katz. but building a strong answer to “Why should I be one of the 60 MBA students?” was challenging and, apparently, successful.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? As a 22-year-old MBA student, I have been exposed to different international programs, experiences, and have worked with various teams all around the world. After working in Procter & Gamble Azerbaijan for 2 years as a brand operations assistant, I thought about taking my career to the next level. I believed that I already had gained all the necessary experience in both soft and technical skills to push further for an MBA degree.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? University of Illinois in Chicago, University of New Mexico, University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, and Illinois State University

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I initially started looking at rankings, as many of the applicants would do. I knew I wanted one of the top 50 programs in U.S. and Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business was sitting at the high 40s. I also wanted my school to provide great networking opportunities and career management services. Talking with alumni, student ambassadors, and faculty members really helped me discover not only the program and its extent but also the MBA networking and career culture. Another helpful thing was to research the professors’ and dean’s profiles, go through their background and skim through some of their articles. I even found an Azerbaijani alumnus who graduated from this MBA program 16 years ago, found his contact details, and met him in my hometown where he has a C-suite position in one of the top Azerbaijani companies. Putting all these feedback, inputs and stories together I understood that Katz was the right choice for me.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? My defining moment was when I finished in 2nd place in the Azerbaijani Business Case Competition back in 2016 – the biggest national case competition in the nation. I was leading a team of four to reach a solution for real-world business problems. During the four rounds, I thought “Wow, I am really good at this and, even better, I am loving this!”. I understood that going deep into business challenges, analyzing internal and external factors, proposing solutions, and communicating are my real passion.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? In ten years, I see myself managing a team that designs and implements information technology software solutions to consumer goods businesses.

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