WEF-HU SCHOLAR BRINGS NEW IDEAS TO THE CAMPUS

Zafar plans to establish the very first HU-Atlanta Business Club

Starting classes in Atlanta, Herzing University was exciting and fulfilling from the day one. Very friendly and very supportive staff received us in the beginning of September, 2017 and orientation made our settlement in the US much easier. The first module of the fall term – Leadership foundation opened up a whole new horizon for me, improving my understanding of business ethics, leadership, global dimensions of leadership, human resource management, strategic management and legal environment of business. The module challenged our existing beliefs and made everyone in my class, including me to rethink the concept of business and business processes. I have to give credit for that to Dr. Gordon, who taught us the above course. It was a pleasure to start Herzing MBA program with such an intelligent, supportive and humble professor like Dr. Gordon.

Under the leadership of Dr. Gordon, who is also our Business Department Academic Chair, myself and another fellow student came up with the idea of establishing the very first Herzing University-Atlanta Business Club. There has never been such an association in our campus, therefore the idea was welcomed by our department chair and other members of campus administration, as well as by our fellow students. The entire class worked together on the concept, structure, policies and activities of the club and it is now we are at the stage of finalizing them. The club is planned to be launched before 2018, and will provide MBA students with opportunities to meet and interact with prominent jamaati entrepreneurs, have study visits to the biggest companies in the US such as Coca-Cola, UPS, and other transnational companies based in Atlanta.  I am excited about the project and believe it will be a good addition to the current MBA program at Herzing.

Now, when are in the second term, we are taking two other interesting classes; Managerial Foundations and Organizational Behavior. Subjects like Accounting, Business Finance, Marketing, Microeconomics, Quantitative Analysis, and Operational Management have always been my area of interest, and through these modules I now have an opportunity to study them in depth. The lessons involve extensive discussions, and this allows me to learn a lot from my class, which is a very dynamic and diverse group of people from around the world. With Dr. Kyei who is a businessperson himself, we are able to acquire practical knowledge about what makes one a real leader in an organization, understand current and emerging leadership strategies, and what skills are required to drive an organization into a great success. Through discussions and weekly written assignments we work on real life cases in order to build leadership capacity in employees, to increase individual and team performance and lead positive changes in culture and organizational performance. Both courses have been extremely helpful in developing leadership knowledge and skills, including identification of critical business challenges in an era of global competition, and taking actions to turn those challenges into opportunities.

In addition to courses, at Herzing University students were also offered to participate in competitions. I was amazed to be accepted to be part of a unique competitive project “Special Course of Entrepreneurship Mentoring” led by prominent entrepreneur and founder of Herzing University, Mr. Henry Herzing himself. The announcement was based on draft business proposals, a small group of students from different campuses of Herzing University was selected. And now we are coached and mentored by Mr. Herzing, Dr. Jon Outland (Herzing University System Division Chair of Business) and supported by the fellow entrepreneurs to refine and revise our business proposals and seek for ways to bring them into life. In this small group, we are intensively learning and covering subjects such as market research, product/service development, market differentiation, organizational considerations, business plan development and possible financing strategies. It is another exciting journey I am looking forward to.

 

Social life also been very exciting. I knew Atlanta has plenty of thrilling social activities to offer even before coming here from the stories of one of my friends back from London student life who lives here, but when I arrived I discovered that it has much more to offer than I have expected. Starting from epic night life, delicious and diverse restaurants, outdoor music festivals to meeting hard-working, ambitious, and intelligent young professionals in social events has been a very rewarding experience.

I would like to share some of the most memorable events I have been able to attend until now. On September 17, 2017 all the jamaat was united in Atlanta Stone Mountain Park to support National Walk and Run, a heartwarming event organized by the Aga Khan Foundation.  Despite my adequate knowledge of AKDN system, this was the first time  I have experienced such fundraising activities; to be as a source of funding for AKDN activities around the world. I was pleased to see the commitment people had in supporting the cause of improving the life of millions. Contributing to such cause gave me a sense of satisfaction and belonging, therefore, me and WEF friends joined the Jamaat and participated in the event. It felt great to be part of AKDN in a different way, see so many excited faces committed to the cause of the event and further followed by a live concert of Mika Singh.
Another event which has had a tremendous impact on my experience in the US, was Ismaili Professional Network (IPN) meeting called Tour of Atlanta/Halloween edition. Few days before the event, after learning baffling traffic rules and regulation, I finally received my American driving license and on the day of the event, I was already behind the wheel. My very first drive in America was from Decatur to InterContinental hotel, located in the heart of Buckhead. Before departure, I warned my friends and classmates Salima, Munira, Fazila and Wasim of the risk as it was my first drive in America, but they kindly supported me and agreed to drive with me to the party.  On the way, we joked about getting lost in Atlanta, but everyone burst into laugh when the two other friends Asad and Israr who could not fit into my car and took an Uber taxi, reached 10 minutes after we arrived. 

This event was inspirational for me. The area where the hotel was located, the hall full of successful businesspeople, like Rahim Charania, Adil Devshi, Faizan Moosa and others filled the air with success stories and opportunities for further growth. A couple of days later I was invited by Faizan Moosa to his office in Merrill Lynch, where he holds Financial Advisor and Portfolio Advisor position. It was a great tour and excellent experience to see from inside one of the leading wealth management companies which provide investment, financing, and other related services to individuals and institutions in the United States and internationally.

Recently, I have also been invited to become a member of the largest social group in Atlanta, called Young Professionals Meetup, which has over 1,600 members, and with a weekly event, where I hope I will be able to contribute.

But as I learn from different sources about business and America, I am also able to share some insights into the lives of Jamaat in Tajikistan and what opportunities are available there. In addition to numerous informal conversations I have had with people around me about my country, I also assisted in organizing a presentation and made a contextual speech in the event organized by one of the Jamaati charity organization “The foundation for Better Life” prepared for donor community.

Last but not the least, the impressions from my trip during Thanksgiving break are among the moments I would like to share as well. I decided to take advantage of one week break and planned a trip across America. Now a week after I can certainly can say that mission is complete: I have covered the entire East cost of America. It was a great drive from Atlanta to Durham, North Carolina – to Richmond, Virginia – to Washington DC, to Baltimore, Maryland – to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and eventually to New York City. It was amazing to see the diversity of America, how it changes as I was driving from one state to another. Although out of the seven days, drive alone took 14 hours one way and my car added 1752 mileage, every moment of this trip was worth it. My final destination was New York and I should admit, everything I have ever heard about it turned out to be true.  It is indeed “The Big Apple”, “Gotham City”, “Empire City”, “Fun City”, “The Naked City” and the “City That Never Sleeps”. My next resolution is to take a trip on the West cost of America. The journey continues…