Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Saif Nazrul, Emory University (Goizueta)

Saif Nazrul

Emory University, Goizueta Business School

“An inquisitive optimist who thrives on a good challenge.”

Hometown: Dhaka, Bangladesh

Fun Fact About Yourself: I used to be a spelling competition champion when I was in elementary school, but now I rely on autocorrect to fix the way I spell “separate.”

Undergraduate School and Major: BA in Business & Management, University of Hull, UK

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Senior Business Consultant and Project Manager at LightCastle Partners Limited, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

What makes Atlanta such a great place to earn an MBA? Atlanta has been rising in prominence as a major center of growth in the American Southeast. Major companies are vying to open their local headquarters here and it seems like almost every other day a promising startup is born out of Atlanta. Emory, being in the heart of Atlanta, exposes MBA candidates to a myriad of opportunities to network and get involved with these exciting initiatives. Atlanta also happens to be a melting pot of cultures, with a proud civil rights history, which makes it a great case study for leaders interested in furthering and promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion. Finally, there is the beautiful southeastern weather – what more could you want?

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of Emory Goizueta’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? One of the biggest draws for me to Goizueta’s MBA program was its close integration with the school’s various institutes. Having worked in the startup ecosystem of Bangladesh for over half of my full-time career, I had a particular interest in The Roberto C. Goizueta Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation (CEI). As a CEI fellow and program manager for the CEI’s annual Siggie awards ceremony for investors, I have already had unparalleled access to Atlanta’s brightest start-ups, largest investors and financiers, and Emory’s incredible entrepreneurship infrastructure — and this is just the beginning. To me, such experiences are important and strongly complement the classroom learning in an MBA program.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Emory Goizueta? I am excited at the return of the Global Experiential Module (GEM) of Goizueta this year for the first time since COVID-19. The GEM offers students international exposure at a selection of geographies around the world, with the goal of exploring contemporary topics within the context of an international setting by engaging in company visits, meeting with business and government leaders, and cultural activities in the host country that provide a vantage point unattainable from the classroom. After over a year of Covid lockdown, this is a wonderful opportunity to satiate my wanderlust, refine my cultural awareness, and develop global leadership skills.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: One of my biggest accomplishments was to help commercialize Shurokkha — a tele-health application that connects rural cattle farmers in Bangladesh with urban veterinarians. Shurokkha was in its trial phase when I joined its parent company, but after following two rounds of project funding applications from various international financiers, which I led, Shurokkha is now an AI-enabled product with a scaled-up reach of 25,000 farmers across Bangladesh. I am particularly proud of this achievement as it was a prime example of my desire to achieve technological progress and social impact through a business model.

How did COVID-19 change your perspective on your career and your life in general? While the world had witnessed global pandemics before, the COVID-19 pandemic is the modern world’s first encounter with a deadly virus of this scale. The transition from our normal lives to a virtual one was instantaneous — almost overnight. People across the world became confined to their homes and were experiencing the pandemic together at their fingertips through their digital screens. While the virtual experience of a pandemic has had its benefits, it also brought along a new challenge: combating fake news and misinformation. Never have we as a planet relied on virtual information to this extent, and never have there been tools so readily available for people to manipulate information. In the midst of all this, if there is one major lesson that I have identified, it is that in an ambiguous world, truth is the most important currency and it will be harder for people to distinguish it going forward.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? I was at a point in my career where I’d had a chance to lead several teams and had a better appraisal of myself as a leader and as a person when I chose to pursue my MBA. With its focus on soft skills and strong culture of peer-based learning, I knew an MBA would help me grow personally and professionally with exposure to varied leadership styles and diverse organizations. I feel it would also equip me with the skills and experiences necessary to advance my career trajectory and lead diverse multicultural teams on a global scale.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? University of Virginia (Darden), University of Michigan (Ross), Rice University (Rice Business), University of Georgia (Terry), Boston University (Questrom), and University of Rochester (Simon)

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Emory Goizueta’s MBA program? In my short time on campus, I have already met people from almost every conceivable background — from athletes, to international human right activists, from schoolteachers to inventors. Goizueta values diversity and there is a place for you here. A valuable piece of advice that I cherish from my application process is that there is something in all of us that sets us apart from the rest. We all have our stories, so you should take pride in your story; share it and celebrate it, and stay true to yourself and your vision.


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