Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Sulaiman Aldaffaa, Cornell University (Johnson)

Sulaiman Aldaffaa

Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Cornell University

“An ambitious young man who is looking to help transform his country to becoming a better place.”

Hometown: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Fun Fact About Yourself: I was a professional soccer player for one month.

Undergraduate School and Major: Industrial Engineering, King Saud University

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Program Manager, Boeing

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of Cornell’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Cornell Johnson has created an environment characterized by group learning, socialization, and a culture of inclusion. I was accepted at other business schools, but none of them have represented such an importance on the values of meaningful interactions with others through community engagement as compared with Cornell.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Cornell? As someone aspiring for the C-suite, I also plan to join the Executive Management Association at Johnson. I believe it is incredibly important to give back to the community in a meaningful way. Therefore, I plan to join the Community Impact Club. I want to lead service-learning trips and volunteer within the local community to help the disadvantaged. Volunteering has been an important part of my journey and I intend to continue this passion as I find it incredibly rewarding.

What excites you the most about living in Ithaca and the Finger Lakes region? Getting out of a large metropolitan city like Riyadh and reconnecting with nature. I quarantined on a farm in a rural area in Saudi Arabia for three months. Those months were the best days of my life because I was able to connect with nature, and “detox” from the stress of living in a very large urban area.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Building and implementing an effective quality management system for a complex defense repair operations that improved customer satisfaction by a large percentage.

How did COVID-19 change your perspective on your career and your life in general? At first, it was hard for me to understand how the pandemic would change my perspective on life apart from the temporary isolation and getting closer to family. Everything changed when I got COVID in June 2020. I was fortunate that I had mild symptoms and had access to healthcare. Unfortunately, not everyone was as privileged as I am. After that experience and reflection, I have dedicated a huge portion of my personal time to volunteering in funding campaigns for people with health issues and supporting vaccine-awareness initiatives in Saudi Arabia.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? I discovered that being an engineering undergrad and working in the engineering field limited my professional networks with investment banking and consulting industries. I hope the MBA degree, especially at Cornell, will open doors that were previously difficult for me to enter, and I hope that I will be successful in starting my management consulting career post-MBA.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Fuqua, Booth, Ross, and Stern

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Cornell’s MBA program? Don’t be super consumed with the standardized tests to the point that you forget about other important areas of your application. Cornell MBA program’s admission looks at your application holistically, not only your test scores. Make sure that you take time to represent yourself authentically, including your interests, and your work throughout the application.