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Changing a nation on day 1 (almost)

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I was born and raised in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. I earned my finance degree in Dhahran, then moved to Dubai to pursue a career in commercial banking which was the hot industry in 2010.

Five years into banking, I seemed to hit a dead end. Work was routine, and I was barely learning anything. After time spent reflecting and much deliberation, I opted for an MBA to meet like-minded individuals who also wanted a professional refresh.

Starting at Booth

In September 2015, I walked into my first class at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business thinking I had two years figure out my future. But life hit fast and in just two weeks, I found myself in the middle of conversations with potential employers regarding my summer internship. So many questions raced through my mind: who should I talk to? What industry should I explore? What should I write in my resume? I had to take a step back to think about what I really wanted: to work with brilliant people on meaningful projects in an energetic environment that would push me and help me excel. The choice seemed clear after that.

Why McKinsey, why the Middle East?

Aziz inline

I interned with McKinsey and, after a lot of studying and caffeine, got the offer to join the Middle East office full-time after graduation. Why McKinsey and why did I go back the Middle East? Let me share a story that will shed some light.

Three weeks after joining the firm full-time, I got staffed on a team that was helping a country create its national crisis and disaster management centre. Honestly, as amazing as that opportunity seemed, I was a little intimidated by the sheer scale of such a task. I mean, where else in the world would I find such an opportunity with the potential to change an entire government eco-system as a new hire. Pushing my reservations aside, I accepted the project and started preparing for the week ahead.

I met the team the following Sunday (the first day of our work-week in the Middle East). I had read as many knowledge documents as I could, because that’s what I do when I’m nervous. We kicked-off our project by discussing our team dynamics and needs, it felt refreshing to lay all our goals, habits and preferences out there and agree on a working style that fit us all.

An hour later, we started our first problem solving session. My manager turned to me and said, “Do you want to have a crack at leading it?” That’s how it is at McKinsey. You are an active team member from day one. Your ideas and views are respected, heard, and challenged, so that collectively you reach the best possible answer with your clients. You are given the opportunity to experiment, be creative and push your limits. Most importantly, you work on projects that matter – even more so in the Middle East.

Search for roles like Aziz’s

More about Aziz

I’m passionate about learning and development. During my undergrad at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, I ran a classroom on Khanacademy.com teaching early-level mathematics to first my nephews then a broader group.

In 2015, I returned to the US to pursue an MBA at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business. I was involved in the Consulting Club, co-chaired MENA and was a career advisor.

I enjoy working out, sipping wine and sun, sand & beach living.

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