2021 Best & Brightest MBAs: Dunia Alrabadi, Brigham Young University (Marriott)

Dunia Alrabadi

Brigham Young University, Marriott School of Business

“A fearless and visionary learner, driven by exploring truths, and connecting deeply with others.”

Hometown: Ajloun, Jordan

Fun fact about yourself: During this last summer, I hiked a 1 mile destination trail with 1100 foot elevation gain every day.  It was hard to find the motivation to do it every day but hiking it with Jordan Rapp, a friend from the MBA program, made that challenge a little more exciting.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Undergrad at BYU. Masters of Business Administration at BYU

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Software Test Engineer at O.C. Tanner

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? Technical Product Manager at eBay

Where will you be working after graduation? Technical Product Manager at eBay

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  1. VP of international affairs in the MBA association
  2. VP of recruitment for the Product Management Association
  3. VP of inclusion for the Supply Chain Student Association
  4. VP of Outreach for Women in Management
  5. Consultant for the Kaizen MBA improvement team
  6. Savage consultant and scholarship recipient
  7. Recipient of the HAWS scholarship award: Graduate Emerging Scholar Award recipient

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am proudest of being part of establishing a new STEM program within BYU Marriot’s MBA program. Coming from the Middle East, I grew up wanting to leave a legacy. However, as a woman, I faced active pushback from my culture as I chose to move to the U.S. and pursue my education. A driving goal of my education was to prove that legacy is within the reach of anyone. Leaving BYU with this new program makes me feel that I have indeed left a legacy. I was so passionate about this project that I begged the director of the MBA program, Grant McQueen, to allow me to work on it, even though I had maxed out the 21 credits I am allowed to take. It took a lot of research, negotiations, phone calls, meetings, searching through government websites, and conducting surveys. I even took a risk of challenging some of the regulations and policies in place to see this goal come to life. This new program is huge for BYU because not only will it help BYU be more competitive with other schools, but a STEM-focused curriculum will help future students learn hard skills like data analytics and coding to find better roles in the growing field of STEM.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? It was becoming the lead test engineer at Digi International. After one year of being employed, my development team was left with no test engineers. At the time, I was the only engineer with testing experience, so most of the testing responsibility fell on me. The company was interviewing candidates for the position, and I started to think that maybe I should just ask for the position. It took a lot of courage to approach my boss to ask for more responsibilities, especially after being only here for one year. However, I knew that, given my experience at the company, I would be able to uplift my team and to grow professionally. During my time as a Lead Test Engineer, I trained every single team member on conducting their own testing. When I left Digi International, almost every one of my team members were knowledgeable in our testing frameworks and able to perform without me.

Why did you choose this business school? The faculty and the culture! I did my undergrad at BYU and because of that I wanted to go somewhere new for my graduate degree. This is why, after being admitted to BYU and other schools, I paid my enrollment deposit at a different school. However, I chose to forego it in order to come to BYU. During my time at BYU, I developed a strong appreciation for the faculty’s expertise, but mostly for their huge investment in students. Having a culture of personal connections was important. Not only did I want to attend a top academic institution, but I also wanted to enhance my learning by having professors I could connect with. For example, Dr. Wilde welcomed me as a part of his family and, for 4 years, made everyone sing me the Happy Birthday song on my birthday. Having had that example, I expected to experience it everywhere else, but not every school is like BYU. Since I started my MBA, I’ve grown close to many of my professors; a few welcomed me into their homes and got to know me beyond the classroom. One of them even offered to let me use his house as my wedding venue. The Marriott School of Business is more than just a number on the TOP 100 MBA schools. It’s the home and family of the brightest and most world-changing individuals I have ever met

What is the biggest myth about your school? “The culture is very competitive and cut-throat” Nothing can be farther from the truth! I can go on naming how every single one of the 110 students in my cohort went about serving and uplifting the other 109. I could go on about Sarah Wagnor, who went above and beyond serving our program as MBAA president; Jamie Cropper, who cased every single student interested in consulting; Matthew Goodson, who quietly paid attention to everyone’s needs and constantly reached out; Jordan Rapp, who was there to help on every single VBA project; Kegan Despain, who is always happy to go with you on a photoshoot when you need a picture for the Quants and Poets Best and Brightest Award nomination; Matt Sabey, who is willing to give you his whole supply of fun games for an MBA party; Ryan Brown and J Washburn, who without hesitation take precious time to proofread my writing; Angela Smith, who helped me maintain healthy eating habits; Spencer Erickson, who is my career confidant and who I can always trust to be honest with me even when I don’t want to hear it; Carly Jo Lang, who probably gave haircuts to 95% of the student body. Myth: The culture is very competitive and cut-throat. Truth: The Marriott School of Business is a synonym for family, and that is in fact what we are.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? Just like how networking is 70% of landing a job, networking is 70% of getting into business school. I made it a point to meet the MBA staff and give them a glimpse of the person that I am beyond the GPA, the essays, the resume, and letters of recommendation. It’s hard for people to connect with a person on a paper, and so I attended every prospective student event and enjoyed having relaxed conversations with the staff. Not only did that allow them to judge my ability to culturally fit within the program, but also to connect with me on a personal level. I connected with Treavor Peterson, the Managing Director of the MBA at one of the MBA Tour events, and we stayed in touch as I went about choosing MBA schools. I also connected with Jason Hall, the Recruiting and Marketing Manager, and constantly involved him in my application process. I am very glad I did this! There isn’t a week that goes by without me going up to the MBA office to chat and catch up with the MBA team. They are easily one of my favorite parts about the BYU MBA program.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? That might be the hardest question to answer! Every single one of them inspired me in one way or another, but if I had to pick one it would be Juan Jorge Poemape. I first met Juan when we were in engineering school, but didn’t know him very well. I am grateful to have gotten to know him better in the MBA program. Most of the time, we, as MBA students, get lost in seeking our own success. Not Juan. Juan is constantly lost in serving others. He is always helping. Even before school started in 2019, Juan was on Slack helping everyone get ready for National Black. He took initiative to provide better documentation and resources for prospective and incoming students without being tasked with the job. Having personally struggled with resume writing, he helped me improve my resume. When struggling with class concepts, he was ready to hop on a zoom call. The craziest thing is that he probably won’t recall doing any of this, because he is just that kind and selfless. While he might not remember, I’ll never forget the example he set.

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? It was definitely disruptive! We got the news that we were going remote on my birthday. It was a really sad day. How was an extrovert like me supposed to go without people? Was this  going to be the last day I saw the 150 classmates who had become my dear friends? Was there going to be a graduation? How were classes going to be run? These are just a few examples of questions that blew up Slack as we expressed concern about the first pandemic any of us had ever witnessed.

Having said this, BYU and the MBA program were quick to provide mental, emotional, and financial support to those who suffered from COVID. Professors and faculty made themselves more available as we needed to talk to someone. While COVID was a nightmare, friendships started to flourish and many of us spent hours on Zoom and Facebook messenger reconnecting with family and old friends. The loneliness of COVID was actually the reason I started to get more in touch with one of my best friends, Nagham Qanadillo, who got to learn more about the MBA program and joined it later that year.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? It was Roque Monteseno, one of my co-workers during my time at Digi International, who later became a very dear friend, who had the most influence on my decision. He was the perfect teammate and mentor. When Roque joined the company, he immediately showed interest in me and my life outside of work. We worked closely together on various projects, and would regularly eat lunch together. Roque saw my potential and was very supportive as he would regularly encourage me to apply for roles that excited me at Digi. Specifically, there was one time when our team was without a product owner. Even though I’d only been with the company for two years, Roque encouraged me to apply. Roque was so invested in my success that one time he looked at me and with excitement said, “Dunia, you should go to business school.” I laughed at the idea of an engineer turning into a business woman, but Roque said “You would do great.” I couldn’t resist looking into the idea, and it wasn’t very long after that I started my business school application process. Roque was one of the writers of my letters of recommendations to BYU and still remains a great friend.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  1. Establish a scholarship fund that will be dedicated to women from the Middle East who choose to pursue their education in the USA.
  2. To teach as an adjunct professor; the classroom is my happy place and I’d love to have a constant connection to it.

What made Dunia such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2021?

“Dunia Alrabadi permanently resides in the part of the productivity curve most people only visit briefly a few times in their careers. She is always doing. Her productivity has left a permanent legacy in the BYU Marriott MBA Program. She helped lead an effort build an MBA STEM Specialization. She is an academic star (recipient of a prestigious Hawes Scholarship) who also builds culture. She is active in multiple student life roles—VP of outreach for Women in Management, the VP of inclusion for the Supply Chain Association, and the VP of recruitment for the Product Management Association. She consistently volunteers her time to serve the community, and she embodies the BYU Marriott MBA values daily.”

Dan Snow
Director of the BYU Marriott MBA Program



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