Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Arwa Hasanali, Rice University (Jones)

Arwa Hasanali

Rice University, Jones Graduate School of Business

“Sometimes I amaze myself, and other times I put my car keys in the freezer.”

Hometown: Chicago, IL

Fun Fact About Yourself: The day I took the GMAT was the same day I found out I was pregnant with my first child!

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign, Major in Economics

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: 401(k) Investment Consultant at Alliant Retirement Consulting

What has been your favorite part of Houston so far? What has made it such a great place to earn an MBA? It’s hard for me to pick one. There is a lot about Houston that I love – the relaxed, family-oriented lifestyle, the diversity, the food and weather (besides summer), and the mix of old and new (oil and gas and start-ups). I have found that everyone can find a sense of community and belonging in Houston, regardless of who you are and where you come from. And that is what makes Houston such a great city to earn an MBA. Rice Business’s slogan, “You Belong Here,” not only applies to the program, but to the city of Houston as well.

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of the Rice University MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Rice MBA has one of the top finance programs in the country, and its reputation in Texas is extremely important to me now and going forward. I also like the intimate feel of our small class size – professors knowing your name is a welcome change, especially after attending a large public university for undergrad.

What course, club or activity have you enjoyed the most so far at Rice Business? I really enjoy being a member of Jones Student Association (JSA), which is Rice MBA’s student body government. We do a lot of amazing work to create a safe and fun community at Rice Business. When I accepted my admission to Rice, I wanted to make a lasting impact on the program and student experience. My classmates elected me to be their First-Year Representative of JSA, and it’s exciting to be involved with student government from the start. Getting to help with my cohort’s concerns and wishes, and advocate on behalf of them, is pretty rewarding so far, and I plan to stay involved throughout my time here at Rice.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest professional accomplishment is becoming a subject matter expert in 401(k) investments at a really young age and earning my clients’ trust. It’s not easy when you are the youngest person in the room, and earning their trust was an uphill battle. I’m proud that I was not only sitting at the table with C-suite executives, but also sought out for my input and advice.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far? I consider getting through the first semester without a major meltdown as a huge accomplishment. Between juggling classes, team projects, exams, case competitions, social activities, recruiting, coffee chatting, and networking to secure an internship in the summer, it’s hard to stay afloat. Top that all off with my personal life – I have an 8-month-old daughter and husband, both of whom I rarely see – and there is obviously a lot to manage in those first four months. I’m grateful for the help and support I receive from within and outside of the program, but tackling all of that while staying mentally stable is a huge win in my books.

What has been the most surprising thing that you’ve learned as an MBA student so far? My classmates surprised me. The Rice MBA student body is filled with so many accomplished people – each with a unique story and journey. And despite our multitude of experiences, cultures and backgrounds, we have all found commonality with each other. We inspire, motivate and support one another. The biggest surprise is in our teamwork – even though we are all recruiting for the same positions, there is no sense of competition. Everyone helps each other, whether it be interview practice, casing or simply keeping each other upright and focused. We all share our triumphs humbly, bear our challenges together, and champion each other through it all.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into the Rice University MBA program? This might sound cliché, but “fit” is one of the most important factors in deciding which MBA program to apply to and join. So be authentically you. From writing your application essays to conversing with alumni and current students, don’t be afraid to be yourself.

These next two years will be the most fulfilling but also the most trying two years of your professional and personal careers. And you will be going through it with classmates who will hopefully become your lifelong friends, family and colleagues. You want to feel like ‘You Belong Here.’


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