Meet MIT Sloan’s MBA Class Of 2021

Parisa Movahedi

Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management

“Compassionate, ambitious California girl aspiring to make a positive impact on people and the world!”

Hometown: Calabasas, CA

Fun Fact About Yourself: I have a lot of creative side hobbies! I am a makeup enthusiast and unofficial makeup artist. I love the artistry behind transforming a face with makeup, whether simply for a special occasion or more elaborately for Halloween. I also love to sing (I’m a soprano!)

Undergraduate School and Major: University of California, Berkeley, B.S. in Business Administration (Haas)

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: ZS, Strategy Insights & Planning Consultant

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Throughout my time at ZS, I worked on numerous projects that impacted our clients positively. However, the accomplishment I am most proud of in my career thus far is starting the Impact Team and pro bono consulting initiative in the ZS LA office. When I joined ZS, there were no corporate social responsibility initiatives in place yet (now there is a very well-established and awesome ZS Cares group!) Passionate about making a difference, I founded the Impact Team, a trailblazing group encouraging social responsibility by organizing events to serve the community. In our first year, we had just two members and raised $3K; by the time I left, I was leading a team of ten and we raised more than $20K this past year! Building on the Impact Team’s success, I subsequently established the pro bono consulting initiative to create an opportunity for consulting projects with non-profit organizations. The Impact Team and pro bono consulting initiative enabled me to make a lasting community impact while fostering a culture of collaboration and camaraderie among my colleagues. I am proud to know that I was able to start something that contributed positively to the office culture and that will continue even in my absence.

When you think of MIT, what are the first things that come to mind? How has your experience with the Sloan program reinforced or upended these early impressions? When I think of MIT, the first things that come to mind are a focus on technology and innovation, as well as a passion for solving complex problems on a global scale. My experiences with the Sloan program have shown that these early impressions stand true. An element that attracted me to Sloan was the integration of Sloan with the broader MIT community, whether through the curriculum, shared resources, or the intermingling of students. By bringing brilliant cross-disciplinary minds together, MIT is able to continue solving for the problems that affect our society most.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? It’s hard to choose one so I will say humility and helpfulness! I have not met all of my classmates yet (I am writing this before school starts), but I have had the great fortune of meeting some of my incredible classmates at AdMIT weekend, the Forté Conference, and through our Slack channel. Everyone I have met thus far has accomplished so many incredible things before coming to Sloan, but everyone is also very humble about their past successes and eager to learn and achieve more. “Sloanies helping Sloanies” is also not just for show. Even in the past few months leading to school starting, I found that Sloanies, both from my class and from the class above us, are willing to go the extra mile to help us prepare for the adventure ahead. I am very excited to meet more of my classmates and learn from all their experiences!

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 most important factor for me in choosing Sloan was that I was looking for a program that would foster growth, both personally and professionally, and push me out of my comfort zone. Sloan’s mission to “develop principled, innovative leaders to improve the world” resonated with me because I felt that Sloan was not focused on just getting students a job after the business school experience, but rather truly transforming them to be able to make impactful change in the world. This was important for me because a key driver for my return to school was to learn about opportunities and careers in which I can make a positive impact. I can think of no better way to learn of these opportunities than by partaking in Sloan’s action-based learning labs like the Global Entrepreneurship Lab (G-lab), getting involved with the renowned MIT Media Lab and Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, and learning from MIT’s esteemed faculty.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I am very passionate about helping women find opportunities to grow and succeed in business and beyond, so I am really looking forward to getting involved with SWIM (Sloan Women in Management). From a purely fun standpoint, I want to join the Sloan Happy Belly Club. I started following them on Instagram before school even started – yay food! I will likely complement that with participation in the Sloan Runners Club to help offset all the delicious eating and get in some gorgeous runs along the Charles River!

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? I’m not sure that there was one exact challenging question to answer during the admissions process, but the questions that required me to truly reflect and think about what I want to do with my future were very daunting at first. It really forced me to take a step back and think through all the “why” questions. Why is MBA the right next step? Why does “X” motivate me? In the end, I felt like the admissions process was somewhat therapeutic and relaxing because it made me get back in touch with my roots and reset my intentions for my future.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? Since I was in undergrad, I have always known that I wanted to get an MBA at some point in my career, with one key reason being that I have a huge love for learning and intellectual curiosity. The reason that I chose to pursue my MBA at this point in my career is that I wanted the opportunity to explore various industries, such as tech, retail, or e-commerce, before I started getting more specialized and focused in my prior work. I am also curious about the opportunity to start my own venture down the line, ideally with social impact built into the business model. Sloan has incredible resources and research around entrepreneurship and innovation, as well as opportunities to explore entrepreneurship both inside and outside of the classroom, which will help in any future ventures I may pursue.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Booth, Kellogg, Haas, HBS, Stanford GSB, & Anderson

How did you determine your fit at various schools? The most important factors for me in determining fit at the various schools were cultural fit, academic interests, and room for career exploration. From a cultural perspective, it was very important for me to have classmates who are collaborative, supportive, and passionate. Academically, I was drawn to programs that have a focus on rigorous analytics and data-driven thinking, while also having a global perspective and curriculum. From a career exploration perspective, I wanted an environment in which I can explore career options not only during my summer internship but also throughout the school year in action-based learning courses or through an internship.

The best way for me to determine these factors at the various schools was to visit all the schools. I visited some of them more than once (for the interview, admit weekends, etc.), and to speak with as many students and alumni as possible to get a feel for the culture, academics, and professional prospects. I reached out to some folks on LinkedIn and the majority of people at the various schools got back to me; nothing beats speaking to students to get a feel for each place! In the end, it also came down to gut feeling. I consulted my mentors and lots of friends and family members who know me well to help me determine where I would thrive the most. Sloan ended up checking all the boxes for me!

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? Though many defining moments have contributed to me becoming the person I am today, a key defining moment that stands out is the birth of my younger brother who is ten years younger than I am. Since he was born, I have aided with many aspects of his upbringing. From changing his diapers when he was just a baby to teaching him how to read and write to now guiding him in his preparations for college, I have thoroughly enjoyed being his older sister and providing him with love, knowledge, and compassion. My brother recently started his first job. On his first day, he told me that my resilience and work ethic were his inspiration. Knowing how I have influenced his life, and how he will live it, is a powerful feeling. My experiences with my brother also instilled in me a level of empathy, kindness, and patience that has proven invaluable in my ability to build strong connections and understanding with people around me.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? Currently, I am keeping an open mind to the opportunities that will come my way over the next two years of MBA, so I cannot be 100% sure of what things will look like in ten years. I hope to start out in an opportunity that allows me to understand customers better through data and really drive the customer experience while always learning and trying new things every day. Someday in the future, I definitely see myself leading my own venture that is focused on delivering high impact to customers, employees, and surrounding communities while revolutionizing the industries it touches. I see myself leading work that I am passionate about and that sparks joy. Additionally and equally as important, I would love to balance my aspirations with a happy family life as well.

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