Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Mohammad Jama, Stanford GSB

Mohammad Jama

Stanford Graduate School of Business

Somali-American, learn-it-all, decade-plus ultimate frisbee player; cares about empowering others to develop as leaders.”

Hometown: Ann Arbor, MI

Fun Fact About Yourself: I became a home barista before the pandemic! Been making delicious lattes since 2017.

Undergraduate School and Major: I earned a BS in Chemical Engineering and an MS in Industrial and Operations Engineering at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. I also completed the International Minor for Engineers through Engineering Global Leadership (EGL) within the College of Engineering Honors Program.

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: I worked as a Camera Sourcing Engineer and Sourcing Program Manager at Microsoft. I was a Sourcing Engineer for on camera modules on HoloLens and Surface and Sourcing Program Manager for Cloud Gaming on Xbox.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of Stanford GSB’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? The GSB’s focus on personal leadership development. Long-term, I intend to serve as a general manager, board director, partner, and parent. To be most impactful in these roles, I need to establish a leadership foundation that I can continually improve upon over my life. Hence, the experiential leadership development opportunities at the GSB through courses (e.g., Leadership Labs, Interpersonal Dynamics) and extracurricular opportunities (e.g., Personal Leadership Coaching, Arbuckle Leadership Fellows) were really appealing. I was particularly excited about the Arbuckle Leadership Fellows program. As a Fellow, I’d get the chance to apply my leadership style in group and individual contexts, receive feedback from MBA2s, MBA1s, and a leadership coach, and derive new learning about my leadership from those experiences.

What has been the most surprising thing that you’ve learned about Stanford GSB so far? It was how connected the GSB is to the rest of Stanford. At the GSB, 20% of the class takes advantage of a joint or dual degree to complement their MBA, and close to everyone takes at least one class outside of the GSB (also known as ‘across-the-street’). One academic highlight of my first year has been taking CEE 250, a product management class taught in the School of Engineering. I worked on a quarter-long project with two designers and a CS student to develop a browser extension that helped librarians quickly identify the right expert to address a patron’s query. It was such a fun learning experience, and I enjoyed getting out of the business school bubble every week. One bonus of taking classes outside of the GSB is biking the rest of Stanford’s beautiful campus on a regular basis.

What quality best describes your MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Inspiring – because of challenges they’ve overcome, organizations built, changes effected, and vulnerability shared. The conversations I’ve had with classmates here have almost always prompted me to rethink, reframe, or reimagine something about the world or myself.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Working on the cross-functional team that developed and launched the nine camera modules that power HoloLens 2, Microsoft’s industry-leading mixed reality device. Launching the cameras for HoloLens 2 was a herculean effort because cameras are so central to enabling augmented reality. To overlay digital experiences onto the physical world, cameras must accurately see the world all the time. We had to develop high-performance, high-reliability cameras at-volume without losing sight of cost, quality, and supply. It was a special learning experience, and I’ll never forget watching Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announce the release of HoloLens 2 at the 2019 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far? Working with star co-chairs Chisom Obi-Okoye and Meghan Hunter to plan and execute the Stanford GSB Black Business Student Association (BBSA)’s first IN-PERSON Black Leadership Conference and Gala since 2019. We brought 26 esteemed Black leaders – across technology, media, consumer retail, venture capital, sports, and nonprofit – and 500 students, alumni, and professionals to Stanford for an energizing weekend of learning, connection, celebration, and thoughtful dialogue. It was truly an unforgettable weekend! I will be co-chairing the conference and gala next year, and I am so excited to see what my BBSA friends and I put together.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? CBS, Haas, HBS, Sloan, Wharton

What has been the biggest epiphany you’ve gained about yourself or the world since you started your MBA program? I won’t be anywhere close to a finished product as a leader and business thinker when I graduate from the GSB, but I’ve gained access to incredible research, teaching, and speakers and an opportunity to put theory to practice through experiential courses and extracurricular opportunities. As much as I’ve grown and learned here, there’s so much more to be learned after I graduate. My time at the GSB is only the beginning of a lifelong learning journey on leadership and business.

What advice would you give to a prospective applicant looking to join the Stanford GSB Class of 2024? Minimize the time and energy spent worrying about what you cannot control during the application process. (Easier said than done, I know.) Give the application process your best effort, but once you’ve submitted your application and completed interviews, let it go! Really. Remember: You cannot control an admissions decision, just the application you submit. All the best!

DON’T MISS: MEET STANFORD GSB’S MBA CLASS OF 2023

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