University of Texas, Finance, 2010
British Petroleum (BP); Grameen Bank
Leadership & Values Rep; VP of Mentorship, Women's Student Association
Going outside of her comfort zone, Farah Ahmed, MBA 2015, put nine hours of distance between herself and her family, her friends, and the corporate networking opportunities she would otherwise have in her company's Houston office, to gain direct oil field experience in Amarillo, Texas. "I was a financial analyst,” says Farah, "so why did I do it? I wanted to gain an understanding of the industry I couldn't get in corporate headquarters."
Farah acquired deeper knowledge of the oil industry—and of herself, as well. "This experience, while uncomfortable and unfamiliar at first, gave me the confidence and courage to always want to take on challenges, regardless of the environment, and have a resilient attitude towards them," she says.
Because she loved learning and always dreamed of going to Harvard, Farah wanted to expand her ambitions by going to HBS. "Many people said that it's better to stay at a current job than invest $200,000 in an MBA,” she says. "But I didn't want to give up my dream. I knew there was more out there for me to explore, and I had to strive for it."
While HBS may be her dream school, it also pushes Farah beyond her expectations. "The amount of work HBS throws at you in the first year is so intense," she notes. "Balancing school work, recruiting, activities, and friendships is really tough. You may think you're good at time management, but you get so much better here. You really feel that HBS is training you for future high-level positions."
As part of her informal training, Farah serves as her section’s Leadership and Values representative, and as vice president of the Women Students Association’s mentorship program, which currently includes approximately 160 first-year and 130 second-year students. "Almost half of the women at HBS are involved," Farah says. "We’re always thinking about how we can contribute things not covered by academic courses or Career & Professional Development."
Now in her EC year, Farah still expresses amazement at the diversity of learning opportunities available to her. "In the last year,” she says, "I’ve learned so much from classmates, cases, and international school projects. My experience at HBS goes way beyond expectations and I’m so grateful. I look forward to applying my knowledge to various industries as part of my next career step into strategy consulting."