Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Shamsa Hidayat, Ivey Business School

Shamsa Hidayat

Ivey Business School at Western University

“Purpose-driven and action-oriented strategic thinker with a passion for advocating for social justice.”

Hometown: Toronto, Canada and Karachi, Pakistan

Fun Fact About Yourself: I love fusing authentic spices from different countries into my food and cooking various cuisines. So much so that I have more than 54 different spices in my spice drawers!

Graduate School and Major: University of Alberta – Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Cushman and Wakefield – Project Manager

How has the case method enriched your learning? The case method is very different from the learning style that I was accustomed to in my undergraduate program. Learning using cases has taught me that a business is typically attempting to solve various problems, rendering the case applicable to multiple disciplines. The case method is analogous to experiential learning because it helps identify issues, prioritize them, and break them down into manageable chunks. Going through more than 300 such ambiguous cases over the year across different industries and functions provides an excellent foundation for a post-MBA career.

Another reason that the case method learning is so unique at its core is that it helps you leverage peers’ perspectives to solve problems. During class discussions, I often find that my colleagues provide different solutions to problems or prioritize issues differently. Only a few months into the program, I can process these brilliant solutions proposed by my classmates and think about why a particular response may work better than the one I suggested or where its weaknesses lie. This broadens my learning experience and contributes to intellectual humility.

Aside from classmates and cases, what part of the school’s MBA programming led you to choose this business school, and why was it so important to you? The alumni community was an essential part of my decision. Ivey alumni are known for their warm, collaborative culture with a penchant to give back. Being an immigrant to Canada, I had relied on the feedback and guidance of many mentors around me who helped me successfully navigate cultural differences and excel in my pre-MBA career. So when I learned about Ivey alumni’s unique qualities of giving back to the community, I knew that Ivey was a good fit for me.

The second reason that I chose Ivey was because of Ivey’s investment in equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) initiatives. Whether it be Ivey’s commitment to EDI through the establishment of its Advisory Council or through the programmatic efforts that Ivey has embedded in recruiting and the curriculum, Ivey has shown itself to be a leader. The renewed commitment to EDI ensures that the school recruits diverse candidates and fosters a community for these individuals to thrive and excel in and beyond the program.

What quality best describes your MBA classmates and why? My MBA colleagues can best be described as a community with a social conscience. This quality most recently came to light when a xenophobic act was committed against a Muslim family in our city, London. My cohort came together in various ways; some helped show support by offering a shoulder to their Muslim colleagues, others channeled their emotions by supporting Muslim-owned restaurants. My colleagues even volunteered to provide business support to a scholarship fund to honour the deceased.

While most students who attend Ivey stay in London for no longer than a year, our class showed their care and support to London and its diverse communities by going out of their way and channeling their efforts to work in a sustained manner to help discourage systemic racism.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest career accomplishment is tied to my goal of creating strategic impact across an enterprise.

At Cushman and Wakefield, I helped implement the return-to-office strategy. By July 2020, our team brought back 40% of the workforce to offices, which was ambitious to achieve at the launch of the initiative. This was a huge accomplishment because I led various initiatives in the program. For example, I spearheaded Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) procurement, scheduling the program’s execution, and trained office managers across the country. It was particularly challenging because I had to learn quickly to execute things I had never done before, including managing large-scale procurement, negotiating timelines amidst a supply shortage and working with a cross-functional team across North America.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far: During my few months as an MBA student, I have contributed to the institutionalization and scaling of EDI work within the Ivey Business School. In particular, as VP-EDI on the MBA Student Council, I have led three initiatives: I have created a BIPOC club, structured senator positions to focus on various aspects of EDI work, and developed a framework for clubs and senators to work together.

I created the MBA program’s first BIPOC club due to a noticeable lack of forums to start conversations about the community. The club further aims to help navigate biases in the workplace and advance the interests of its membership base. Second, I thoughtfully structured senator positions to focus on both systemic and celebratory components of EDI. Participation in the club and the senator roles helps ensure various perspectives are included, and multiple student leaders can influence activities for the year. Finally, I have created a framework whereby different EDI clubs and senators work together to leverage resources, avoid duplicative work, and enhance impact.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? While I had always thought I would pursue an MBA, holding various engaging roles within organizations made it difficult to find the right timing. My role before Ivey allowed me to lead end-to-end, multi-million dollar projects that were creating a visible impact on one aspect of the clients’ businesses.

Ultimately I wanted to be involved in strategic decision-making to create long-term value for organizations by impacting multiple areas of their business. To achieve this goal, I wanted to supplement my existing knowledge with business skills and broaden my professional network, which led to my decision that an MBA is the right next step in my career.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I initially applied to INSEAD because of their one-year program. Once I was offered admission at Ivey Business School, I quickly realized that I would call it home!

What did you do during the application process that enabled you to get accepted into Ivey? I invested time to reflect on the Ivey MBA’s role in my personal and professional journey and how it could act as a stepping stone to help me achieve my short-term and long-term goals. The introspection allowed me to portray my true self in the application process, and it continues to act as a constant reminder of the goals that I want to achieve during this one-year program.

I also spoke with multiple Ivey alumni to learn about their experiences, and they provided feedback on my candidacy. These individuals were instrumental in helping me land an offer at Ivey as they helped me reflect on my answers, identify my “why’s” and increase my self-awareness.


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