2023 MBA To Watch: Shahriar (Sha) Asadi, McGill University (Desautels)

Shahriar (Sha) Asadi

McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management

“An engineer who went rogue and became a consultant.”

Hometown: Born and raised in Mashhad, Iran, I am currently living in Toronto, Canada.

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve been stung by multiple jellyfish, attacked by a pack of coyotes, surrounded by a pack of wolves, and have also experienced a crash landing when the hydraulics of the aircraft failed. Extreme fortune has allowed me to be writing this at this moment.

Undergraduate School and Degree: BSc in Civil Engineering, Shahrood University of Technology (2017)

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Cambridge Academy Language School, Istanbul, Turkey – Coordinator

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? Ernst & Young, Toronto

Where will you be working after graduation? Ernst & Young, Toronto – Senior Consultant, Finance Transformation team

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

* Professional Development Lab at the Desautels Graduates Student Society (DDGSS) – Cofounder and President: Providing coaching on career crucial skills such as public speaking, effective networking, storytelling, and more through events and workshops.

* The Negotiation Challenge 2022 (Athens) – Team Captain – Best Value Creation Award

* The Master Negotiators Lab – Event Coordinator and Host

* Consultancy project for a non-profit organization aimed at improving education for youth

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? My role in The Master Negotiators Lab was one the highlights of my experience at the McGill Desautels MBA. I have always believed in the value of negotiation and its impact on assuring everyone gets what they deserve. Encouraging others to negotiate for what they deserve and empowering them to do so is one of high points of my business school experience.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? During my Civil Engineering career, I worked on a subway network construction project as a supply chain manager. Through multiple rounds of negotiation, I managed to strike various contracts that either reduced or recycled our waste in tens of tons per months and generated revenue in doing so as well. It was a tangible contribution to the environment and my community. It feels good to know less waste is being carried to landfills and that we have supported local businesses and jobs.

Why did you choose this business school? Building close relationships with my professors and being able to learn from them one-on-one through discussions was a priority to me. McGill Desautels’ small cohort was an indication that I would have that opportunity and I’m happy to have discovered that I was right.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? This is NOT an easy question, not at all. If I must choose one, I choose Professor Juan Camilo Serpa. His phenomenal ability and dedication to simplifying data analysis with AI is difficult to match. He has developed a course that presents this rather intimidating topic in the most intuitive and engaging manner imaginable. Despite working at the office for nine hours, I would show up to each evening class excited, knowing he would exude that energy and passion as soon as the session began.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? That would be Cross-Cultural Management taught by Tatiana Lamoureux Gauvin. Although all courses have their specific value for each career path, I believe CCM is a must for anyone planning to work in a country as diverse as Canada. As a candidate from a rather isolated country, I found this course incredibly insightful in understanding different cultures and communication styles and how diversity can make the workplace more resilient and creative.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Canada Meet McGill was one of the most impressive events at our program. This event brings together an extensive array of firms, banks, and companies for one-on-one coffee chats with MBA candidates. It is a unique opportunity to connect with experts at any type of organization one might look for and form strong relations. Canada Meet McGill showcases McGill’s incredible reputation amongst Canada’s top employers.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why?

Starting an MBA in a top school will undoubtedly be stressful. One source of the stress is usually the fear of missing out. Like many others, this concern had a grip on me during the first half of my MBA, which caused me to dilute my attention on too many things. Although stepping out of your comfort zone is a must during the MBA, I think being more cautious about where I spent my time and not stressing about doing everything there is to do would have given me more balance and a more pleasant experience early in my MBA.

What is the biggest myth about your school? You might hear or think that the competition amongst classmates will be theme, at least that’s what I expected. But to my pleasant surprise, although everyone is thriving to perform the best they can, you will get help and support on anything if only you ask. You can expect to form some strong relations with your classmates, and you will have a feeling that you can depend on one another. For most international students who arrive in Montreal on their own, that is an invaluable asset.

What did you love most about your business school’s town? As a foody, I have to say that in Montreal, you can have French food in North American portions! If that is not the best, I don’t know what is.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I conducted detailed research on the alumni network. I think this insight into what types of jobs and positions alumni tend to end up at gave me the ability to not only choose a school that fits my goals better, but also map out my ambitions and goals more accurately during my interviews.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Just like the favorite MBA professor question, this one is not an easy one either. I must go with Delphine Leconte-Demarsy. As a mother of two, she had a full-time job and studied in a full-time program, in addition to her regular jugging and exercises. She did all of that with a big smile on her face, making all of it look easy. To this day, I believe she either has 40 hours in each day or is superhuman.

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

* To have worked in all seven continents. I’ve worked in three so far, four left to go – Antarctica will be the tough one to make happen.

* To have a podcast on career skills and experiences with over a million subscribers.

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

Shahriar is a caring person who genuinely pays attention, not only to his peers’ well-being, but also to staff and collaborators around him. When he asks how you are, it is apparent that he truly cares, listens, and remembers.

Despite the political turmoil and humanitarian crisis in his home country, he is always thinking of others and is supportive of friends in difficulty.

Shahriar is also about fun, positivity and finding the silver linings. He enters every room with energy and owes his charisma and humility as a team leader in the program to his pastime as stand-up comedian. Perseverance, hard work, generosity, and intellectual curiosity define him.

Throughout his MBA, I witnessed a change agent, and ambassador for freedom, inclusion, and diversity who is not afraid to pursue new opportunities. Shahriar is interested and informed on a number of topics including global supply chain challenges, sustainability in mining, women’s rights, workplaces of the future, photography, food, AI, idioms, etc.

Shahriar is committed to always learning new things, including taking part in Montreal festivities and immersing in the Canadian way of life, which he fully embraces. Some of his noticeable contributions to the MBA program include: hosting and coordinating the Master Negotiators Lab events with Jean-Nicolas Reyt; participating in the Deloitte Impact Case Competition 2021; organizing skill-building workshops as DevLab President; and leading the first negotiation team from McGill to compete in the 2022 International Negotiation Challenge in Athens, where they ranked 5th among 50 participating teams from renowned universities across the world, and winning the Best Value Engineers award.

Shahriar builds bridges – figuratively and literally (he has a background as a vivil engineer). After starting his career as Quality Control specialist then Procurement Manager for major construction projects in Iran, Shahriar continues to tap into his strong negotiation skills, excelling at putting people at ease to develop new business opportunities and sincere relationships.

Combined with his strategic mindset and ability to create connections across teams or projects, I am confident Shahriar will be very successful and valued as he pursues his consulting career in Finance Transformation at Ernst & Young. I feel privileged to have crossed his path. For these reasons and many more, Shahriar was an invaluable and positive influence on the MBA Class of 2023.”

Anne-Jennifer Challard, CHRP
McGill Desautels MBA Career Coach, Soutar Career Centre


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