Growing up in the footsteps of the Karakorum Range, I have witnessed basic rights, such as the access to quality education, being branded as privileges. My life journey, starting from a valley in northern Pakistan to one of the largest conglomerates in the country, has been an effort at accomplishing the obligation which comes with being amongst the ‘privileged’ ones.
Being eldest among the three children in a Burushaski-speaking family, I completed my early education from my hometown, Hunza Valley. Realizing the importance of quality education, my parents made sure that I attended the best school available in the nearby city of Gilgit. The boarding school I attended was a breeding ground for a diversified and talented lot of young boys from all over Gilgit-Baltistan.
After completing my Secondary School Certification (Grade 10), I was selected for U.S. Department of State-funded high school student exchange program namely Youth Exchange & Study (YES) Program. My time as a junior at a high school in Ann Arbor, Michigan while living with an American host family was genuinely a life-changing experience. This one year entirely shifted my perspective about different people sharing the planet Earth and their opinions; not everything is always in black and white, there still exists a vast shade of grey which we are yet to explore in order to make the distances and cultural boundaries insignificant.
Following my return to Pakistan, I finished my Intermediate Certification (Grade 12) with the best grades. Judging from my own skills with numbers and reasoning, and my appreciation for technology, it wasn’t a big leap for me to conclude that I had the aptitude to be a decent engineer. I joined NUST for my degree in Mechanical Engineering.
From my graduation from NUST in July 2014, I worked briefly for the world’s largest FMCG, Procter & Gamble. Dubbed as the best company for producing leaders, my interims as a Process Engineer and as an intern, the year before at P&G, proved to be vital in my career path and in helping me adapt the concept of making a positive impact using your core strengths. I, subsequently, found another exciting opportunity at Engro Corporation, a Pakistani company striving to make its mark globally.
It was during my time at Engro, around the first week of May 2017, I received an email regarding the Worldwide Educational Fund (WEF) and their MBA scholarship at Herzing University. I was excited by this opportunity at that very moment. My career plan had always been to pursue an MBA degree after getting 3 to 4 years of work experience, and at that time I had been working full-time for just about 3 years. That evening, I explored the opportunity further and felt like it would be a great fit with my career goals. Within the following week, I completed the application form and was shortly invited for an interview by WEF. On the day of the Skype interview, a minor glitch occurred as an unexpected power failure happened in Karachi and my internet went down. I rushed to an alternative location about 20 kilometers just in time to be able to connect on Skype. The interview went well and lasted for about 30 minutes. It was a discussion about my upbringing, education, work experience and aspirations to pursue an MBA. Around a week further down the road, the long-awaited congratulatory email from WEF arrived! It was a formal confirmation of my acceptance to the MBA Scholarship.
I started the visa application process as soon as the document from Herzing University arrived by post. Fortunately enough, I was able to quickly book a slot for the visa interview at Karachi consulate following the completion of all the formalities. The visa interview lasted for about 10 minutes. Possibly the most interesting question I was asked was that why would I leave such a decent job and a settled career for an MBA degree? I responded with an equally interesting reply! My visa application was accepted and I received it within 3 days.
Following my visa acceptance, I resigned from my position at Engro. It was not an easy decision to make and there is only so much one can pursue sitting in his comfort zone! What felt like almost immediately, I found myself on a Turkish Airlines flight from Karachi to Atlanta (via Istanbul). I enjoyed a good 8 – 10 hours sleep on the 18 hours flight. Istanbul did catch my attention during the 4-hour transit though, and needless to say, I added it to my must-visit bucket-list.
I was picked up at the World’s busiest airport (Atlanta Airport) by one of the WEF volunteers and his first phrase was ‘Welcome to America, Wasim!’. He drove me to the apartment in Decatur which would be my home for next 12 – 14 months. The apartment itself, provided and arranged by WEF, was a neat and comfortable place with a gym and swimming pool facilities attached. I met my new mates at the apartment, two Pakistanis, and a Tajiki, and got along with them instantly.
Herzing University is located at about 30 minutes’ drive from our apartment, we either car-pool or use MARTA (which is the Atlanta public transport service). I attended the Orientation at Herzing two days after my arrival and the classes begin the next week. The city of Atlanta is very different from other metropolises like New York City and Chicago; despite being the ninth-largest metropolitan area in the United States, it is calm and also spread-out. It is also home to twenty-six of the Fortune 1000 companies notable of which is Coca-cola.
For the first term, the courses we were studying were basic MBA courses such as Leadership, Managerial Foundation, and Organizational Behavior. These are to set the tone and prepare us for the upcoming core MBA courses.
My goals for the MBA program are to be able to understand complete acumen of financial management of projects as it would be a fundamental element in grasping the thorough picture of various business prospects. Being a staunch believer of the idea of adding value to the business at every level, I believe, Herzing’s MBA program will not only provide me with the opportunity to develop appreciation for ideas and concepts related to Project Management and Finance but would also allow me to refine my skill set before I can come across a game-changer.