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Faheem Dar, Weekend MBA student, Senior Lead Engineer, Garrett Transportation Systems

Why did you pursue an MBA at Chicago Booth?

My bachelor’s degree is in Aerospace Engineering and right after that I also did a master’s in Engineering because I always wanted to reach the executive level at an engineering firm. Once I started working after school, I quickly realized that the type of work I’d be doing as an engineer the rest of my life did not excite me. I wanted to be in a position with decision-making power. I wanted to be able to influence the overall vision and strategy vision of a company, which is why I decided to look into MBA programs and see which schools offered flexible curriculums. It was not only important to me that I continue working while in school, but also have flexibility to design my coursework to meet my goals. Chicago Booth rose to the top of the list. 

An MBA doesn’t naturally make you a CEO the next day, but I wanted to broaden my skill set and figure out how to take the next step in my career.That led me to management consulting and I realized that is what I was looking for. I was able to take advantage of on-campus recruiting to pivot into management consulting. I’ll be starting at McKinsey this summer.

Why did you choose the Part-Time MBA program?

I did consider full-time and part-time programs, but after I looked at the Chicago Booth curriculum I quickly understood I wouldn’t be missing out on the experience by going part-time. Besides occasionally not being in Hyde Park for certain events, I never felt a difference between my experience with professors, classes, or recruiting. I was also still moving up at work and could see additional potential for growth with my current employer.

What impact did Chicago Booth have on your career?

My business acumen grew really quickly. For example, even when I finished basic classes like Accounting, I was suddenly able to understand what our CEO was talking about in our town hall meetings or in quarterly reports. Now I understand why our price to earnings ratio went down. My Marketing Strategy course helped me understand why a B2B company has to function a certain way. It immediately helped me think in a different way and suddenly I was not just the engineer in the room. I was able to help our business, see why this product sells, and understand why the customer cares.

I started getting recognized by my employer for doing my MBA at Chicago Booth and was promoted into a managerial position. I manage all our North American projects and lead a team. That wouldn’t have happened without what I learned at Chicago Booth, especially with my leadership classes. My performance reviews highlighted the way I was leading teams that weren’t my direct reports and the way I was making executive decisions — Chicago Booth definitely played a big role in that.

Chicago Booth Weekend MBA student Faheem Dar

"If you're part of the Chicago Booth family, the opportunities will come...Booth is never short of opportunities, even if they don't happen in the time slot you were hoping for."

— Faheem Dar

Name a highlight of your time at Chicago Booth

During LAUNCH (Chicago Booth’s orientation), my group did an activity where we split into two teams in separate rooms. We had to take clues from one room to another and figure out what was going on in each room, and saw how communication breaks down. The entire exercise really bonded us as a group; we all stayed in touch and are good friends. The people that I’m closest with today are those I met on day one of school. I’ve never started anything in a more exciting way than I did the whole Chicago Booth journey.

What advice do you have for prospective and current students?

Don’t be afraid to take a hard class. Those are the classes where you will learn the most. We’re not just going after grades here, we’re going after experiences. The best experiences are in the classes where you’re willing to make yourself uncomfortable. Don’t just take a class where the name or idea sounds familiar. Go after something that gets you thinking.

We get so focused on short-term: If I don’t get this job or internship, I failed in my program. Opportunities come up all the time. If you’re part of the Chicago Booth family, the opportunities will come. If I hadn’t gotten this job during on campus recruiting, I know the opportunities would have still shown up. Chicago Booth is never short of opportunities, even if they don’t happen in the time slot you were hoping for.

Once you have extra time back on your hands, you will…

Go to the gym more. I try to spend as much time on weekends as I can with my fiance, who is a teacher, but I have definitely lost out on a fitness schedule.

Anything we missed that you would like to include before we wrap up?

Aim as high as you can. For me, McKinsey was a dream company that seemed out of reach so I thought I had to aim for other companies. But McKinsey ended up showing the most interest in me and I loved the firm and the entire experience was so positive. When we look and see we are surrounded by smart people, it’s hard not to feel that imposter syndrome, the feeling that ‘perhaps I don’t belong here’. It’s not true. Everyone I know at Chicago Booth has achieved what they wanted to achieve in some shape or form. Everyone has found something for them.

Don’t be afraid to aim high and don’t be afraid to fail, because the next best option is still better than what most people could imagine. Chicago Booth has changed me a lot in the past two and a half years. The experience has really molded me into a professional and not just someone who has a degree.

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