Maha Malik
Home Region

Islamabad, Pakistan

Undergrad Education

Dartmouth College, BA Economics, 2013

Previous Experience

World Bank Group, Bain & Company, Cambridge Associates LLC

“HBS is a great place to learn how to operationalize decisions, how to manage incentives that can push people and operations into action.”

View Video

Born and raised in Islamabad by two parents actively involved in the public sphere—her mother worked at the Ministry of Labor and Manpower, her father at the World Bank—Maha Malik (MPP/MBA 2019) appreciated politics at the most fundamental level possible: in the home.

"As the youngest of nine children," Maha says, "I learned to speak truth to power at the dinner table. My parents emphasized the development of perspectives, to listen and learn from other points of view. They wanted us to be opinionated, yet open. I grew up surrounded by issues I cared about, and there were many opportunities for contributing to the conversation."

As Maha's parents' careers took new turns, her perspective took on new dimensions. Her father's new enterprise, a citrus farm, led to discussions about "intermediaries and inefficiencies; how could we help farmers be more successful?" When her mother became a Member of the National Assembly in 2007, Maha, "saw her navigate a complex political environment, which made me interested in the fate of women in Pakistani politics."

Pursuing the joint degree to learn both the "what" and the "how"

Maha took both interests, business and politics, to Dartmouth where she studied economics and government. Subsequent management consulting work at Bain & Co. opened her eyes to the intersections among the two. "It made me realize that you can't look at a business in isolation. You have to look beyond the business case to the political environment behind the venture, the ecosystems in which my clients operated."

This dual perspective led her to the joint MPP/MBA program at the Harvard Kennedy School and HBS. "I went to the Kennedy School to learn what changes I was most passionate about making," Maha says. "I came to HBS to learn how to make the changes I want to see in the world. HBS is a great place to learn how to operationalize decisions, how to manage incentives that can push people and operations into action."

After Maha’s initial year at HKS, her first year at HBS has been "a year-long training in how to navigate difference. Through the case method, you learn to form opinions based on imperfect information—it forces you to put yourself out there while learning to remain open. I often go into class thinking I know where I stand. But then a classmate will say something that makes me question how I've thought about something for years!"

Her internship experiences reflect her twin interests. Last summer, she interned with the World Bank in Washington D.C. This summer, Maha is turning to entrepreneurship in large companies, helping a "small, ten-person team in one of Pakistan's largest telecommunication companies develop the IoT ecosystem in the country. I'll work on a technology roadmap, sourcing of the hardware and software for a product, determining the market size, and educating customers."

After graduation, Maha plans on returning to Bain in Boston, and expects that her subsequent career will pivot back and forth between the private and public sectors. "One of my ambitions is to run for office," she says. "Women bring important and interesting perspectives, but there aren't enough of us in the political realm. I want to contribute to that conversation."