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Countdown to Commencement: Amir Bouhafs

As part of our Countdown to Commencement series, we spent some time with a few soon-to-be graduates from our undergraduate and MBA programs to learn about their backgrounds, why they chose Scheller College, and what they plan to do with their degrees after Spring 2018 Commencement.

Meet Amir Bouhafs from Marietta, Georgia. Amir is studying Finance with a minor in Engineering & Business through the Denning Technology & Management Program (T&M) at Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business. He is a Student Ambassador for Scheller College and a volunteer with St. Baldrick’s Foundation in support of children’s cancer research, and he has served on numerous committees and boards at Georgia Tech throughout his college career. Amir has received many awards and recognition for his work in and out of the classroom, including 2016 Team Leader of the Year, Deloitte’s NextGen Leaders National Conference, Beta Gamma Sigma Honors Society, The National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Southern Excellence Award, Dean’s List, and Global Leadership Certification (Shenzhen University, China). Amir was recently named to Poets & Quants for Undergrads Best and Brightest Business Majors for 2018.

Professor Bob Burgess, Administrative Director of the Denning Technology & Management (T&M) Program, praised Amir for being a part of the T&M program, which only accepts 25% of its applicants: “The T&M Program provides interdisciplinary coursework including three courses in mechanical engineering at Georgia Tech. Taking the time to get a minor in Engineering & Business—in addition to his BSBA—reflects strongly on Amir’s commitment and capabilities. He has strong consultant skills, is a team player, and has analytical skills that will serve him well in his career endeavors.”

The T&M program has given me the knowledge to bridge the gap between business and technology, as both complement each other in today's world.

Where have you interned and where will you be working after graduation?
I interned with Southern Company in Atlanta, as both a Corporate Analysis Intern and a Strategy and Business Development Intern. In summer 2016, I interned at Deloitte Consulting LLP as the Business Technology Summer Analyst, Finance Transformation. The following summer, I returned to Deloitte Consulting LLP, in their Boston office as Business Technology Summer Analyst, Tech M&A and Strategy.  Upon graduation, I will join Deloitte Consulting LLP in Boston as a Business Technology Analyst within Technology Strategy & Transformation, a highly-coveted practice specialized in technology strategy.

Who is your favorite professor?
It isn’t a coincidence that my favorite business course, Financial Modeling, was taught by my favorite professor, Jacqueline Garner. The amount of energy, passion, and kindness exhibited by Prof. Garner transformed a sometimes-monotonous subject matter into one that provided students with tangible skills to directly apply to future careers. The crazy thing is, I first met Professor Garner two years prior to taking her course, while participating in her interview for a new finance faculty position at Scheller College.

What did you enjoy most about your business school?
Scheller College’s trajectory to becoming a top-tier business school is supported by the development of a tightly-knit network of ambitious and smart students and faculty. As a student at Scheller College, I felt at the forefront of the business world, empowered to make an impact in this world. I’ve enjoyed being a part of the T&M Program, which is a highly competitive, two-year minor program open to all undergraduate students at Georgia Tech. Having the opportunity to obtain a minor in engineering from a high-ranking engineering school has been an incredible learning experience. The T&M program has given me the knowledge to bridge the gap between business and technology, as both complement each other in today's world. On top of this, the engineering courses have provided me with valuable skills and the ability to learn how to think, work, and communicate as an engineer.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business?
Oftentimes, there are no right answers in business. It’s important to develop an appetite for risk and ambiguity that allows you to proceed through the problem-solving process with less fear of making mistakes. It is through this iterative process that is populated with mistakes and obstacles that leads one to learn, experience, and discover the next best thing to the “right” answer.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field?
Be open-minded to the possibilities. The versatility of a business degree provides you with many career paths. Leverage that opportunity to explore various fields of business until you discover the one that fills you with the most passion.

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be majoring in or studying…”
Psychology. I find the complexity and workings of the human mind fascinating.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business?
I was most surprised by the focus on people. Prior to business school, I expected constant number-crunching and analysis while sitting alone in a cube. Therefore, I underestimated the level of interaction and teamwork that was required in both business classes and the workplace. I’ve come to realize that one of the most valuable assets in business success is people and how to work together.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college?
My sister was my biggest influencer—not only in pursuing a degree in business, but, more specifically, pursuing it at Scheller College of Business. She graduated in 2014 and has nothing but glowing recommendations for the College. Seeing her successes and the opportunities she had while studying business at Scheller College made it an easy choice for me to follow in her footsteps.

Who would you most want to thank for your success?
Without a doubt my parents. As a first-generation American, I can only imagine the sacrifices my parents made to provide me the opportunity to grow up in this country. They’ve instilled in me the value of an education, the importance of family, and the necessity of giving back. My life would be drastically different if they hadn’t decided to leave behind everything familiar to them in Algeria and start a life together here in the United States.  

What are the top two items on your bucket list?
1.     Visit all new seven wonders of the world (I currently have only visited one)
2.     Develop a non-profit in Algeria that helps high school graduates attend college abroad (my father attended university in the U.S. through a similar program; however, it no longer exists)

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