Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Mashiwat Mahbub, Northwestern University (Kellogg)

Mashiwat Mahbub

Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management

“Passionate about food, friends, women empowerment, tech, travel, and looking to try new things everyday.”

Hometown: Dhaka, Bangladesh

Fun Fact About Yourself: I don’t know how to ride a bike!

Undergraduate School and Major: Wellesley College, Mathematics and Psychology

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Investment Risk Analyst, State Street Global Advisors

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 wanted to pivot to into the technology industry and Kellogg’s technology pathway and its growing placement rates in the industry (employment report) were encouraging. However, what was most important to me was to find the right culture. Kellogg’s ‘high impact, low ego’ motto resonated with me from the get-go. I take pride in my work and want to make in impact in everything I do, but at the end of the day, I’m just like everyone else – human.

The high level of empathy in the Kellogg community was also something I was attracted to – I knew I would thrive in this type of environment. Even though it has only been a few weeks in the quarter, and I have been completely remote the whole time, I feel well-supported by my peers, second years, the Kellogg administration.

What quality best describes your MBA classmates and why? Collaborative. It is an established fact that teamwork is a big part of Kellogg culture. Throughout the last few months, and navigating Kellogg’s hybrid learning structure, the Kellogg community has continued to maintain and, in fact, expand its culture of collaboration that it prides itself on.

Even though I have been unable to join in-person classes and am operating in a time zone that is twelve hours ahead of Evanston, my classmates have made every effort to make me feel included. They have been mindful of time differences when scheduling discussion group meetings and have even offered to attend information sessions on my behalf to keep me updated on the information they receive from the in-person events.

What club or activity excites you most at this school? Kellogg EATZ is the club that excites me the most. As a foodie, who struggles to cook food that is appetizing, I love trying new cuisines and restaurants. The fact that Kellogg has an entire club centered around this hobby made me so excited! Even though I have been remote this quarter, I follow this group on their different social media platforms – Instagram, slack, their website – to ensure I stay updated on the restaurants to try once I get to campus. It’s been easy to make friends over a common bond, too.

Kellogg is often described as “team-driven.” In your experience, what is the most important quality of a team member? How do you intend to bring that into Kellogg?  Active listening is what makes a good team, a great one.

I used to assume that to be the most efficient means to implement the plan I thought was best involved not consulting other people. However, I quickly realized how important it was to actively listen to the others and gather feedback from them.

For example, I would think of a product that would be the most user-friendly for the risk users; however, the software engineers had valuable perspectives on the efficiency and viability of the product given they would be the ones building it. At the same time, the portfolio managers/strategists could opine on the usefulness of the product to the investment process.

By listening to members from other functionalities with various areas of expertise, a successful outcome is bound to emerge. I actively try to listen to everyone’s ideas, especially those of people who are not as willing to speak up, to make sure that we have a 360o view of the project at hand.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Though not tangible, I felt most fulfilled during my last day of work before I left to attend Kellogg. I received several thoughtful messages from my colleagues from all over the world. Even though I did not get a chance to work closely with a lot of them, I was humbled and touched by their appreciation for my effort. I thought it was an immense honor that my team members saw me as someone who brought positivity and engagement within the team. Additionally, I was honored to serve as a mentor to some of the analysts on my team – my mentors have always guided me and pushed me to do better. I was grateful for the opportunity to support other team members are they charted their course ahead.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? We live in a deeply unequal world today and I believe that access to credit, which remains unavailable to large sections of the global population, is crucial for upward mobility. After all, it was my parents’ ability to access credit that allowed them to support my remaining costs of attending Wellesley College even after I received a substantial scholarship.

As I reflected on the opportunities that I had access to, I realized that I wanted to work towards increasing financial inclusion. I believe that improving financial inclusion and an increased access to credit can empower people to pursue opportunities that lead to economic success and help us break away from the cycle of intergenerational poverty.

Through my MBA, I hope to get a wholesome business experience through the relevant strategy, marketing, finance, and operations lenses that will equip me with the tools and resources I need to start my own firm that focuses on increasing financial access and equity. Through experiential learning and technology challenges, I look forward to getting comfortable with the idea of creating something imperfect at first, and then learning from my mistakes to build a stronger product with lasting value.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Berkeley Haas, MIT Sloan, Stanford GSB

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? My most challenging question was ‘What is your Plan B?’

I was so focused on trying to figure out the specific aspiration I wanted to pursue while working on my applications that I did not really think of a back-up option – which in retrospect was not the best move!

How did you determine your fit at various schools? The process of interviewing with Kellogg staff, chatting with Kellogg faculty, and meeting the students helped me realize how Kellogg’s culture was the perfect fit for me. This was a determining factor for me. I wanted to be in a place where I was surrounded by worldly perspectives and backgrounds, as well as inclusive peers that would help me be my best self.

From a career perspective, I wanted to be in a school that had a growing rate of technology placements, post-MBA.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? I have been fortunate to pursue a high-quality education, work in the US (after three tries at the work visa lottery), and now attend one of the top business schools. As I reflected on the opportunities that I have been given, I recognized that not everyone is as fortunate, which led me to my ultimate passion project.

I believe that improving financial inclusion can expand people’s access to resources and allow them to pursue opportunities that lead to economic prosperity. I begin my tenure at Kellogg prepared with the goal of learning more about how a business is run, so that I can eventually use existing strategies and build additional tools that can bring about a positive change in financial inclusion.

What is your favorite company and what could business students learn from them? I think my favorite company currently is bKash, a mobile financial services company in Bangladesh. I worked there as an intern in 2012.

My peers can learn a lot from bKash, for example, what the startup culture looks like in a developing country and how the founder got creative in finding solutions for financial equity in the face of infrastructural constraints.

This company has done a lot to improve traditional finance necessities, using technologies to allow users to perform simple monetary transactions. They’re also working on making microcredit services available to people who may not have the traditional credit history report, which I find amazing.