MBAs Doing Great Things: Meet The Stanford Grad Who Founded A Global Talent Firm

Muamer Cisija recently celebrated his 10-year reunion at Stanford Graduate School of Business. Since graduating with the MBA Class of 2013, the founder of global talent firm says he’s noticed a shift in his peers’ definitions of success.

Many Stanford graduates from a decade ago remain committed to evolving their identities, Cisija says. Some have found fulfillment, while others continue their search.

“That is something GSB has always been good at — making us think constantly about who we are and what we want to be,” he tells Poets&Quants in a recent interview.


Cisija was born in Bosnia, which was Yugoslavia at the time. War broke out in 1992 when he was just 10 years old, and he and his family relocated to Denmark.

In 2005, fresh out of Copenhagen Business School, Cisija joined Morgan Stanley. At the time, Skype was considered cutting-edge peer-to-peer technology, sparking his curiosity. He wanted to live in a place where tech was booming, so he sought to relocate to the tech capital of the world, San Francisco.

“I was really into tech, but Europe at the time and still to some degree today wasn’t a major tech hub, and true innovation wasn’t happening there,” Cisija says. “I asked if I could relocate to the San Francisco office because that’s where the tech headquarters were. I came here expecting to be here for a year, and ended up staying, and now I’ve been here for 15 years.

“When I came to San Francisco, I realized I wanted to do something more entrepreneurial. I was close in proximity — only a mile from the Stanford campus — and a lot of colleagues attended GSB at the time, so it felt natural that I should attend too.”


Muamer Cisija, co-founder of “I didn’t need to invent something to be passionate about — there was a problem that meant a lot to me”

While living in San Francisco, Cisija found the Stanford GSB community somewhat enigmatic, but that didn’t dampen his interest in joining them. His peers encouraged him to apply to the M7 school’s MBA program, and in 2011, he was admitted.

“Something I learned that surprised me was that at Stanford, you learn a lot about yourself,” he says of the school that has traditionally been the launching point for more impressive startups than any other B-school — hugely successful companies like Divvy Homes, Guild Education, Branch, Sofi, and Skybox Imaging.

“Once you understand yourself and the impact you have on other people, you become more comfortable with yourself. In your 20’s, you can have a lot of insecurities, especially when you’re in an environment with many smart people – it’s a lot of pressure. Discovering yourself is the most important thing,” says Cisija.

For those contemplating pursing an MBA, Cisija urges them to embrace the opportunity without being discouraged or intimidated by the achievements of others.

“Everyone, even the most accomplished people are also humans with their own insecurities, fears, struggles and definitely successes,” says Cisija.


Cisija and his co-founder Haris Memic established their startup during their time at GSB.

“Symphony is a software development company that finds the best talent globally, and then enables others to fulfill themselves by working with some of the best companies,” Cisija says. “It is a global talent firm that is solving some of the toughest technological problems in the world.

“I met my current partner and cofounder back in 2006 in London. He is also a refugee from Bosnia who grew up in London with a computer science background. We said ‘hey, we really believe in access to talent and opportunities, but it has to be done in a Western way.’ I understood the talent in the emerging markets, but we also wanted the Northern European vision and business processes. In 2012 and 2013, the technology really wasn’t there, the tools weren’t there, and there was less transparency – so there needed to be a middleman. We wanted to do something at the intersection of that,” says Cisija.

“I had a great opportunity to democratize access to jobs. So that’s how I started this software outsourcing company – I was excited to unlock human capital and potential.”


“We all look for some kind of purpose in life,” Cisija says. “The side effect of growing up in a war torn country and having to emigrate is that there are a lot of problems that you want to solve. That’s what I channeled my energy towards. I didn’t need to invent something to be passionate about – there was already a problem that meant a lot to me.”

GSB classmates served as the company’s initial customer base.

“We’ve worked with more than 30 GSB founders. Having your classmates and your community as clients makes for a great market, and gives us a commonality to unite us. We felt privileged to be a part of the GSB network when we began working with larger companies and consulting firms where GSB graduates were working – many as decision makers for those companies.

As for the company’s progress, and how significant is their impact is, many would say they are doing quite well.

“We are the largest company in Bosnia doing this, and top three in the region. I think we have been a part of the movement that has enabled a good amount of the economy to be affected by this directly or indirectly. This is a relatively democratic industry, there is little nepotism – it allows minorities opportunities, and it has been great to see female leaders rise through our organizations,” says Cisija.

Cisija commends GSB for its collaborative supportive community.

“I think the class sizes make the program feel very intimate, and students help each other out. There is a good support system. All of this makes business school feel less competitive, and much more collaborative. The school is setting up a great foundation for personal growth, and for anyone that wants to start up a company.”


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