2023 MBA To Watch: Ashraf Hammouri, UC Irvine (Merage)

Ashraf Hammouri

UC Irvine Paul Merage School of Business

“Proactive, curious, and driven professional who loves taking on big challenges and learning through experiences.”

Hometown: Wichita, KS

Fun fact about yourself: When I interned at Disney Parks & Resorts as an undergrad, I got to dress up as Eeyore during an event they called the Character Experience. It’s very cool being inside the costume!

Undergraduate School and Degree: B.S. Industrial Engineer / Wichita State University

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Owner of Vera Medical Technologies and International Sales Manager at Q Medical Industries

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? Edwards Lifesciences, TMTT US Marketing

Where will you be working after graduation? Edwards Lifesciences, Strategic Leadership Development Program

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: President of the Merage Healthcare Association, Co-President of the Merage Marketing Association, VP of Sports for Challenge 4 Charity, and the elected student representative for the Full-time MBA Class of 2023

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Working on Team SnapHealth during the Stella Zhang New Venture Competition and placing 2nd in the consumer services category. SnapHealth was a viable business concept that sought to improve Healthcare Providers’ access to patient records. The reason I cherish this opportunity and achievement the most was that it felt like the way to bring together what I had learned and apply it to a problem that can improve the experiences of both patients and providers.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? It was starting a company that provided hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies greater access to the supplies they needed during the height of the pandemic. The oxygen masks, nasal cannula, and non-rebreathing masks were devices the patients urgently needed, and I was able to help more hospitals with the supplies they needed. I may not directly be a healthcare provider, but I hope to always be a part of the ecosystem that helps care for patients globally.

Why did you choose this business school? The community was what made Merage the top choice for me. This school is known for fostering a close connection among the MBA students. I also wanted to be a part of the well-represented Merage Alumni community working in the Medical Device industry locally.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Maritza Campo: I took Organization Behavior with Professor Campo. I imagine that this subject is one that can be difficult to teach well, but she did! She made the course relatable to everyone in the room. She also had a way of getting more engagement from the class than I saw any other professor manage to do. The greater engagement helped make that class more enriching.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? Probably a surprising choice, but it was Financial Statement Analysis II. The course was a great introduction into thinking like an equity analyst. I’m sure this will come in handy as I progress through my career, and I’ve also found myself reading company 10k’s for fun now!

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Every year, Challenge 4 Charity helps to organize events that bring us all together. I loved the Halloween Party and other events they put on. This again brings back the notion that Merage is a community-oriented school. We all know one-another and these parties were just a great way to relax and enjoy ourselves.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? When I came here, I had a two-year-old daughter and I was very cautious with committing to anything long-term. As a result, I let go of the chance to be an Ambassador for the program, and I wish I didn’t. I know I would have had a harder time balancing my schedule if I had been chosen, but I also know that the experience would have been enriching and that I would have been able to find a way to make everything else work.

What is the biggest myth about your school? I think that for many students applying, they see the ranking of UCI and assume that it won’t easily offer them as many opportunities to get where they want in their careers as some of the other top programs. This assumption is certainly somewhat correct if you’re planning to aim for consulting jobs on the East Coast, However, it is also very untrue if you’re aiming for jobs in my preferred field of healthcare. Merage and the alumni network have a lot to offer students, but every applicant should do their research on where the network is stronger and what companies have strong connections to the school.

What did you love most about your business school’s town? I love Orange County and Southern California. The weather here is great year round, and that means you can live an active life outside of the house and air conditioned gyms. I play soccer twice a week, and we’ve been getting together for Tennis and Pickleball somewhat frequently too.

What surprised you the most about business school? The doors it opens are so much broader than I thought they would be. It’s such a great opportunity to learn and explore. I was focused on Healthcare and Medical Devices when I arrived, but I let the program and the conversations I had shape where I thought I could go with my degree. If you come in with little direction and just this intention to discover, you might seem behind relative to your classmates – but you’re not. You’ll be able to land a great internship, and you’ll hopefully be able to find that next best step for yourself.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? Talking to the ambassadors for sure. I had a much better idea about what the school was looking for in its class. I also was able to make a positive impression on the ambassadors, who helped build my case for getting accepted.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Sean Wood – Sean was such a kind and respectful classmate. He was always so curious and had no problem sharing what he knew and what he would like to learn. I also always appreciated the perspective Sean had regarding any topic at hand. Even if he didn’t know too much about a topic, he communicated clearly and made sure to ask strong questions. Lastly, Sean always made sure our class group chat remained energetic and entertaining!

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

1. I’d like to manage an international team. I love the challenge of learning about different cultures and approaches to work, and I would cherish the opportunity to apply myself in this context one day.

2. I’d love to be a part of a team that successfully introduces a new technology that changes the standard of care for a disease.

What made Ashraf such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“Ashraf is an exemplary MBA student at the University of California at Irvine. He was a student in my core strategy class and, over the last year, I have continued my dialogue with him about the field, his career, and his involvement at the school.

First, he was one of my top students. He demonstrated superior problem -solving and analytical skills in his class discussions, as well as the ability to lead his team in collective course work and case assignments. His team’s final consulting report on AbbVie was nothing short of fantastic – worthy of a top tier consulting firm. I was not surprised to find out that he received one of the coveted internships and job offers at Edwards Lifesciences.

He was one of the few students that all the other students wanted to hear from. He has a rare ability to offer insightful yet concise assessment of the case at hand. He was always positive and enthusiastic, and he was a pleasure to have in class.

In addition to being an excellent student academically, Ashraf has demonstrated a strong commitment to the school. He has become deeply involved in school student activities. In particular, he has served as President of the Merage Healthcare Association and Co-President of the Merage Marketing Association. He was also VP for C4C last year and was elected is classroom rep. He brought the same energy to these efforts as he did to his work in the classroom.

In these roles he has worked hard in the professional development of his peers. For example, as President of the Merage Healthcare Association, he has worked to foster events and discussions with leading managers and executives from the area’s top healthcare companies. Further, he has been working hard on organizing a major Merage Healthcare event, which will bring together managers and students to network in-person.

He shows a genuine interest in helping others. He did so in class, and he continues to do so in his roles with the student body. He has gone above and beyond to accommodate and help guide students in their career interests. For example, he also took up the charge as an unofficial spokesperson for med device and biotech connecting with many prospective students seeking a career in the industry, serving as a mentor, and volunteering for a variety of panels where he shared his summer internship experiences at Edwards with other MBAs and prospective students.”

John Joseph
Associate Professor of Strategy
Senior Editor, Organization Science
The Paul Merage School of Business
University of California, Irvine

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