Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Hamza Zahid, IESE Business School

Hamza Zahid

IESE Business School

“Energy professional and sports enthusiast, passionate about leading teams with empathy and authenticity.”

Hometown: Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

Fun Fact About Yourself: As a field engineer in the energy industry, I underwent offshore survival and “Helicopter Underwater Escape” training; thankfully, I never had to put these skills to the test!

Undergraduate School and Major: American University of Sharjah, BSc Mechanical Engineering,

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Baker Hughes, Regional Service Delivery Manager – Middle East

What makes the case method so attractive as a means to learn and become a better manager? The case method offers students the opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge in the context of real-life business issues, and develop practical problem-solving skills. Classes are driven through interaction and, given the diversity of the cohort, there is always something new to learn from your peers.

What has been your favorite part of Barcelona so far? What has made it such a great place to earn an MBA? Weather, landscape and diversity. Barcelona offers an eclectic landscape, which is perfectly complemented by its mild weather. In addition to this, I’ve been left pleasantly surprised by the diversity the city has to offer; my MBA experience has been enriched by engaging with people from all over the world, not just within IESE, but outside the classroom setting as well.

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of the IESE Business School MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? IESE’s emphasis on the case method was key. After experiencing the case method in action during the assessment day, I was convinced the school’s teaching methodology would be ideal for an individual like myself, who prefers an interactive, practical learning environment. Furthermore, IESE’s global network offers students the opportunity to complete an exchange with any one of the world’s top 30 business schools, which I found extremely appealing.

What course, club or activity have you enjoyed the most so far at IESE? My experience with the Consulting Club has been the most enjoyable thus far. The club offers thorough consulting interview coaching. It also regularly organizes networking events with MBBs and other leading consulting firms, giving us first-hand insights into the world of consulting.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: After a series of service failures, I was tasked to lead a performance turnaround project for the Middle Eastern arm of a key global account. Given the importance of the customer, the issue had been escalated to our Global President and the expectation was to drive an immediate, sustained improvement in performance. I led a cross-functional, cross-border team of 20 members, drove an in-depth analysis of local procedures to re-align these with global best-practices, conducted an organizational restructuring to strengthen the local team, and drafted a detailed failure investigation analysis that helped iron out the root causes behind the failure. Following these changes, our client executed all services flawlessly for over a year and won a multimillion-dollar contract as a result of improved performance, enabling the organization to become the outright market leader in the country. I was recognized for my role in this process and awarded a performance excellence award.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far: Adjusting to the demands of a rigorous curriculum after a gap of over 10 years – coupled with the hurdles that come along with relocating to a new country and adjusting to a different culture – has been extremely challenging. The fact that I’ve been able to balance all of my academic workload along with a few other activities is something that I reflect fondly on. First, as someone who never spoke Spanish prior to enrolling on the MBA, I’ve successfully managed to pass the first 3 modules of the Business Spanish Program. Second, having taken accounting electives during my undergrad education, I volunteered to tutor classmates who come from non-business backgrounds, with each of them successfully navigating through the exams.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into the IESE MBA program? First, take your time to learn about the school and do your research. IESE is one of the very few business schools in the world that offers one-on-one chats with a member of the Admissions team and I advise all aspiring applicants to take advantage of this opportunity.

Second, connect with current students through LinkedIn and take the time to learn about their IESE experience.

Third, attend a virtual IESE class to get more insights into the IESE case method and determine if the case method really is for you.

Finally, as cliched as this might sound, always be yourself across all aspects of the application process; whether it’s essays, assessment day or interviews, utilize this opportunity to show your true self.

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