2023 MBA To Watch: Raafeh Shahid, Yale School of Management

Raafeh Shahid

Yale School of Management

“With professional experiences in Pakistan, China and the US, Raafeh is an avid hiker and tech enthusiast.”

Hometown: Islamabad, Pakistan

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve ascended the base camp of five ultra-high peaks in Pakistan, including the world’s ninth-highest. Next up, hopefully, is K2, the world’s second-highest mountain!

Undergraduate School and Degree: Vanderbilt University, Mechanical Engineering

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Venture for Pakistan, Fellow

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? Electronic Arts, FIFA. Redwood City, CA

Where will you be working after graduation? Electronic Arts, FIFA. Senior Product Manager

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

SOM Technology Club: Co-chair, 2022-2023 and 1Y Leader 2021-2022

SOM Women in Management: Allyship Committee Chair, 2021-2022

SOM Career Development Office: Career Advisor, 2022-2023

Project Sarzameen (volunteer at an initiative to help more underrepresented Paksitani students attend US MBA programs): Mentor, 2022-present

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? My role as leader of the Tech Club over the two years I’ve been at Yale has been both educational and transformative. In particular, leading the club and its members through a very tough recruiting cycle for tech during the industry downturn taught me so much from the perseverance and camaraderie of my classmates.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? During the COVID pandemic, I worked as a hardware product manager for a solar company that was electrifying off-grid schools in rural Pakistan, in a part of the country impacted by the war on terror. Playing a small part in seeing a project go from my crude two-dimensional CAD schematics to working computers, with lights and fans for the students in remote parts of my country was extremely satisfying. This was also a big part of why I wanted to be a part of an MBA program with a focus on business beyond shareholder returns and capital growth.

Why did you choose this business school? The Yale School of Management uniquely offers MBA students the opportunity to take classes at all of (greater) Yale, including the undergraduate Yale College. I didn’t know whether I wanted to continue in energy post-MBA, branch out into consumer-facing tech, or work in venture capital. I knew that a program that allowed me to both take classes at other graduate schools and learn from classmates in academic settings that I wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to would be a smart way to explore my career path. That, coupled with a flexible elective policy and a second year that was purely electives, convinced me that SOM was the perfect academic fit. Since being here, I’ve taken classes on product management, energy policy in developing countries, the role of law in tech and media, and behavior change for social good. It’s experience that I’m extremely grateful for, and hopefully it will make me a more well-rounded manager and leader too.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor A.J. Wasserstein, who focuses on entrepreneurship, leadership and small businesses. His classes are some of the most sought-after in the class bidding process — and for good reason. I loved how invested he was in each student’s background and future professional and personal aspirations, using it all to draw insights during class for pertinent topics. Perhaps his most outstanding quality is his role as informal mentor to those in his class, regularly offering advice on balancing family, health, and career ambitions based on his own lived experience. I highly recommend taking any of his courses, even if you have to bid a lot of points!

What was your favorite course as an MBA? The State and Society course, part of the SOM core curriculum for first-year MBAs, stood out as a thoughtful and unique part of my business school experience. The course dives into how organizations interact with the societies around them, and the role of public officials and NGOs in the market. Discussing topics such as the gender wage gap and climate change in a formal, economics and research-driven setting was a refreshing change from the material in traditional MBA classrooms.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I regret not getting to know my professors and instructors better in settings outside the classroom! SOM has such a wealth of diverse and talented faculty, but because of the quarter system, classes often fly by before you have the chance to develop a meaningful relationship with professors. While I’ve tried to meet and get to know as many of my classmates as possible, the staff and faculty are an essential part of the business school experience. I would recommend that future MBA students lean into them more as a source of guidance and experience.

What is the biggest myth about your school? That SOM is not a “tech” school! I was hesitant to commit to Yale because of its reputation as not being a tech “target program.” However, I realized after talking to current students and alumni that it was decidedly not the case. There are countless resources, classes, faculty, and alumni that are committed to roles in technology for SOM graduates. They may focus on the entrepreneurial angle through the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale (Tsai CITY); startups and venture capital through numerous SOM classes and alumni in the field; or on big tech, through on-campus recruiting and the Yale alumni network (including Yale College).

What did you love most about your business school’s town? New Haven is the perfect size for a business school town, where over two years you can get to know the city well enough to feel at home. I was very intentional when applying to schools, looking for both smaller class sizes and smaller cities, in an effort to build deep and meaningful relationships with my classmates. While the pizza gets all the praise, New Haven is a place where you have access to Boston and New York very easily via train, but a city where you are much likelier to hang out with your classmates because of its smaller size.

What surprised you the most about business school? How many other professional backgrounds people came from than I thought possible! I naively thought that I’d be surrounded by a group of former consultants trying to move to a different consulting firm, but there are so many classmates who have both backgrounds in and aspirations in fields that I hadn’t even heard of. If the MBA was longer, I would have even loved to explore some of these fields professionally through internships.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? While I’m not sure it gave me an edge over others per se, talking to as many people as possible (alumni, current students, students at other MBA schools who had decided not to come to SOM, faculty, staff etc.) was critical in making sure I was making an informed choice for programs to not apply to but attend. Information online tends to focus on admission statistics or quantified career outcomes that might be very similar to other schools, but stems from very different cultures. By getting a wide variety of opinions, I came into SOM with a level set of expectations for what business school and Yale would be like, and felt it afforded me more buffers when adjusting to life back in school.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Archit Bagaria, SOM ’23. Archit is the archetype of an SOM student—impressively accomplished at a young age (having closed deals worth billions of dollars throughout the MENA region before b-school) but so humble that you’d never know, and balancing career ambitions with societal impact. He’s also extremely intentional with the relationships and community he fosters in school, welcoming everyone and getting to know people from all different walks of life and enabling their success. His approach to learning, friendships, and professional development have been inspirational to me and numerous others, and I am lucky to count him as a close friend and classmate.

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

1. To find the intersection between my immediate post-MBA career in consumer-facing technology, my past work in energy and my desire to make an impact in Pakistan!

2. To mentor and encourage other non-traditional candidates to apply to business school and make the switch to working in tech.

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

“I have had the chance to work with Raafeh for the last two years in his role as a first-year Admissions Guide and now as a Student Ambassador. He always jumps at the chance to work with prospective students, whether giving a tour or hosting an event for prospective students in Pakistan. He is also there for the current student community, as evidenced by his roles in the Tech Club, Women in Management, and as a second-year Career Advisor with the Career Development Office. It has been a pleasure working with Raafeh!”

Kate Botelho
Senior Associate Director Of Admissions


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