Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (and Lauder Institute)
“Lifelong learner with a passion for cultures and technology.”
Hometown: Beirut, Lebanon
Fun Fact About Yourself: After being a long-standing cinema aficionado, I adopted filmmaking as a hobby. One day, I hope to find the time to finalize a full-length screenplay.
Undergraduate School and Major: American University of Beirut, Electrical and Computer Engineer
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Strategy&, Senior Associate Management Consultant
Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of the school’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? I have long been interested in how technology can increase transparency and fight corruption, specifically in the banking sector. Wharton’s MBA program offers a strong foundation in both finance/banking and technology and is situated solidly on the forefront of the FinTech scene. In addition, Wharton’s Lauder program combines both an MBA and an MA in international studies in a two-year program, allowing me to indulge in my passion for culture and travel with a focus on the Middle East.
What quality best describes your MBA classmates and why? Inclusivity immediately comes to mind. My classmates come from all backgrounds and walks of life, but they have this in common: they care about each other, support each other’s different endeavors and initiatives, and value diversity and originality. This has been especially true of the Lauder class, a smaller family within the larger MBA context. In Lauder, I enjoy a kinship based on a shared love of cultures and travel. I can safely say that I have formed some of my closest friendships here.
What club or activity excites you most at this school? Given my passion for screenwriting, I intend to join the Follies club to help shape the Wharton opening night theatrical production. I look forward to working with talented actors and producers to ensure the success of this proud tradition.
What makes you most excited about getting your MBA at Wharton? What makes you most nervous about starting business school? My priority at Wharton would be to reclaim my time and focus on recalibrating my hobbies and professional interests. After an intense four years as a management consultant, I look forward to rekindling my meditation practice, participating in amateur improv theater, deepening my understanding of tech and finance, and brushing-up on my programming skills.
What worries me most is the uncertain impact of COVID-19 on the MBA experience in the next two years. While the administration has done a great job of connecting our community through virtual means, it is unclear when and how we will be able to resume larger group activities while maintaining safety norms.
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: As a management consultant in the Middle East, I had the opportunity to work on high-impact business assignments. However, the task I am most proud of is not a multi-million project but rather consists of a revamped mental health strategy for a healthcare regulator. The new strategy increased mental health access from 35% to 55% of the population through legitimizing mental health screening as part of primary care and improving the model of care in place. This new model also challenged the mental health stigma prevalent in much of the Middle East.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? As I took on increased responsibilities as a management consultant, I realized the importance of both in-depth content expertise and leadership ability with clients and in the workplace. I decided to pursue an MBA to lay the theoretical and practical groundwork for growth in both areas, nurturing my knowledge of finance and technology, as well as maturing the leadership style I cultivated as a consultant. In addition, after spending four years in the Middle East attempting to grasp the region’s complex makeup, I hope to obtain an in-depth cultural, geo-political, and historical perspective to gain greater insight on many of its idiosyncrasies. To this end, the Lauder program seemed like a natural fit.
What other MBA programs did you apply to? I also applied to Chicago Booth, Harvard Business School, MIT Sloan, and Columbia Business School.
What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? The most challenging question I was asked during the admissions process was how my specific experiences would contribute to the Wharton community. Identifying the right experience that embodied my firmest values and clearly illustrated my potential contributions to the school required ample self-reflection.
How did you determine your fit at various schools? Four factors were decisive in determining my fit to the MBA program: culture, academics, extracurriculars, and professional growth. To evaluate these parameters, I spoke with alumni and current students with similar backgrounds and aspirations. A strong cue for evaluating a program’s culture was the enthusiasm with which my interviewees expressed their experience and their sense of belonging at the school. This passion – combined with a solid academic curriculum, clubs aligned with my interests, and a tight-knit network – were indicative of a good fit.
What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? Last year, I lost access to a significant portion of my savings as the currency crisis in Lebanon intensified and stringent capital controls were implemented, while the wealthy and connected were able to siphon their funds abroad. Similarly, my parents lost most of their life savings in the currency crisis of 1976 after years of hard work. As history repeats itself, and political corruption endures, I wondered if there was a better way. I entered business school with the belief that digitizing the banking sector has the potential to provide greater transparency and establish firmer accountability. I will spend the next two years at business school exploring that idea and its potential in the region.
What have you been doing since you were accepted to prepare for business school? Given the distance between the US and my home country (Lebanon), I purposefully maximized my time with family and friends.
DON’T MISS: MEET THE WHARTON SCHOOL’S MBA CLASS OF 2022