Lunch with a Leader- Vahid Ownjazayeri


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On Friday, December 1st, SBS graduate students had the opportunity to chat with Vahid Ownjazayeri, Chief Growth Officer, DCS America’s AECOM. He shared his personal experiences in business; how he took every opportunity he had and made the best of it.  It was one of the best and most interesting Lunch with a Leader events to date. The company and the industry were different from what we have seen with other guests.

One of the most significant takeaways from Vahid’s discussion was to stay true to yourself, believe in yourself, and always be proud of where you come from. As for when you are looking for a job, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone in the company and take risks that will help you grow in your career.

This Lunch with a Leader was a great learning experience and I thank those who participated and hope more will in the future. Collectively the three LWL this fall have a been outstanding and can’t wait for the spring events.

-Stephany Garza, MBA ’18


Lunch with a Leader: Maria DiPietro

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On Friday, October 20, 2017 Suffolk University graduate students had the unique opportunity to chat intimately with Maria DiPietro, Vice President of Global Operations for General Electric. Maria offered students stories of her personal experiences in business, how she became a global leader at GE (and other global companies such as American Express), and blunt yet honest advice she believes is the key to success in the industry. From working at a credit card company to managing global operations at a multibillion-dollar company, Maria DiPietro is surely a role model. After giving a quick summary of her professional background, Maria opened the floor to students, allowing them the opportunity to ask questions that she promised to answer as “straight-forward” and honest as possible. Suffolk graduate students took advantage of this occasion to ask about the habits of a successful individual, the risks and rewards of working internationally, and the challenges of being one of the few women executives at General Electric.  


One of the most significant takeaways from Maria DiPietro was how she overcame the gender biases in the business world. At GE, there is a team approximately 120 executives, and only 20 are women. Maria reminded graduate students that it is not always easy to be a woman in this industry, but it is worth taking on roles that will prove your strength and abilities. She encouraged all students to seize every opportunity that could further advance their careers and build experience. Maria shared a personal story of her own opportunity to travel to London and work abroad. Although she had to relocate herself and her family, she encouraged students to be fearless when it comes to relocating for a global business because there will always be a flight back to Boston.


The room was full, the conversation was lively, and the afternoon was one to remember. Maria was honest, straight-forward, and true to herself which contributed to an authentic discussion and takeaways applicable to life post-graduation. Maria’s simple, yet powerful advice could be summarized as, “work hard, do your research, take risks, stay humble, and build connections wherever you can”.


I would strongly encourage students to take advantage of any opportunity to have face time with a global executive. I left with much-needed mid-semester motivation to focus on my studies and became inspired thinking about my future.


-Morgan Williams, MBA ’18

SBS Graduate Orientation: Anything but Ordinary

What do you think when you hear the word orientation? A not-so-exciting evening of speeches and people talking at you? In The Sawyer Business School, we think differently. The Sawyer Business School Graduate Student Orientation on Friday, September 8th was anything but boring. The students pursuing a graduate degree in the business field at Suffolk University, joined by faculty and staff set out for a night of excitement, engagement, and a preview of the interactive learning ahead of us.

Dean Benham welcomed us with an energy that set a positive tone for the rest of the night. He prompted us to discuss why we chose to come to Suffolk, and one answer was the faculty. This trend continued throughout the night. Dean Benham highlighted one aspect that makes our faculty standout–travel seminars. The faculty that leads seminars to different areas of the country and the world are all experts, have worked with that city, or are from the areas students travel to. This created a buzz of excitement among students, starting the conversation, “where are you going to go?”

True to the nature of the Sawyer Business School giving us hands-on experience—the MBA breakout session began with a group exercise. We completed a puzzle that tested our problem solving, communication, and organizational skills. The puzzle challenged us to think about perspective which led to our next activity—telling a perspective changing story to our team members. The hands-on learning didn’t end there. On the spot, each group had to compare and contrast member’s stories and put together a two-minute speech to present to another group.

Just like when a new business opportunity arises with no time to prepare, two groups nominated by their peers and had to present in front of the entire room. Every MBA student in the room was impressed by the confidence and poise the two groups held while speaking in front of a room of 200 strangers and the MBA program faculty and staff.

Armed with our new “Suffolk University MBA Programs” branded backpacks (that now can be spotted EVERYWHERE around the Suffolk campus), we headed to the 5th Floor of Sargent Hall for a networking reception. This was by far one of the favorite parts of the night (and no it wasn’t because of the refreshments). The reception portion of orientation gave students a chance to mingle with peers that we recognized from our first week of classes but did not have a chance to talk to in the classroom. The majority of people left with new contacts to collaborate on homework and class assignments with, as well as new members of their professional network.

We’re all here at the Sawyer Business School to learn new skills, gain new opportunities, and leave with a competitive edge that puts us a level above the rest in the workforce. These objectives were demonstrated from the beginning at orientation and prove that our careers at Suffolk will be filled with life-long skills and opportunity that will change our lives.

-Danielle Heath, MBA ’19

Lunch with a Leader: Anna Greener

Last Friday, Suffolk University Graduate Business Association (SUGBA), held their first Lunch with a Leader for the 2017-18 academic year. The guest speaker, Anna Greener, MA Market Senior Growth Director – SVP of People’s United Bank, N.A. shared her perspectives on business careers in banking and finance.

Thank you, Anna, for taking the time to share your journey. You have given us the guidance to embark on our own journey by setting the right goals to be a STAR!


If you missed this Lunch with a Leader and want to attend the next one, join us on Friday, October 20th, 2017 for a special Lunch with a Leader, co-sponsored by SBS Graduate Programs and SUGBA. Come have lunch and a candid conversation about “What to Expect After Graduate School” with Maria DiPietro, Sr. VP Global Operations at GE, and Suffolk alumna (BSBA, MBA).

This event will take place at Sargent Hall, 5th Floor (The Commons), from 12:00 pm – 2:00pm.

Summer internship at Santander Bank

Many of you have asked me how I found my Santander internship during the summer, I’d have to say it was a mix of luck and determination. Early February, I found the opening on Ram Recruiter and applied. I reached out to a friend that was working at Santander at the time and asked her to put in a good word for me. That was all it took for me to get my coveted internship! This internship was the result of reaching out to my connections and I have to emphasize the importance of a solid network.

My experience at Santander has been truly rewarding, I’ve learned a lot through my internship from strategic planning, business reporting to risk analysis. Additionally, I had a great supervisor, which to this day I consider to be an inspiring mentor. Looking back, my MBA courses at Suffolk definitely prepared me for my internship. During my first year, I was able to gain confidence, gather constructive feedback from peers and professors and lose my fear of public speaking. My internship was extended through the fall where I could continue enhancing my skills and expanding my network.

Saloni picIf I had to give a piece of advice to any incoming MBA students it would be to: “Use your MBA courses as practice, ask for feedback whenever you can and continue to develop all your connections”.

– Saloni Shah, MBA ’17

Suffolk University and Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA) collaboration

ALPFA partnership

“The first session was very engaging, not only was I able to connect with my mentor but also with other professionals in the Boston area. Everyone is so eager to listen and help out. I am excited for this opportunity and the 6 months ahead” – Nathalie Sanchez, MBA ‘17

Coaching & Mentoring Program

On April 12th 2017, ALPFA launched its 6-month mentoring program. The program is designed to facilitate relationships among the “rising stars” of Boston professionals’ community and the established ALPFA Boston leaders. The group includes 30 mentors and mentees. Among the mentees, we have 2 Suffolk University graduate students: Rafael Sanchez MHA ’17 and Nathalie Sanchez MBA ’17.

The primary goals include:

  • To connect young professionals with established ones in multiple industries: law, finance, accounting, higher education, healthcare, etc.
  • To provide career and developmental feedback.
  • To promote a diversity mindset in a collaborative environment.
  • To foster relationship building

The 6 month program consists in monthly meetings with professional development workshops, mentoring sessions and networking events. Both mentors and mentees will expand their network, improve their adaptive leadership, negotiation, and communication skills; develop their personal brand; practice interviewing and further develop business etiquette.

“It is just so rewarding to be able to collaborate and to improve people’s lives without having to be a clinician. I love it” Rafael Sanchez, MHA ’17 during the powerful introductions.

About the partnership

Suffolk University’s Sawyer Business School and ALPFA Boston chapter have been collaborative partners for over two years. In addition to sharing information about professional development opportunities for their students and members, Suffolk has also hosted the ALPFA coaching and mentoring program (CMP). The CMP matches professionals with students for a 6 month mentoring program and open to ALPFA student members.

For more information, visit ALPFA website


Networking tips

Networking is a word in which most people despise; yet it doesn’t have to be that way. I used to be an extremely shy individual, but forced myself to attend networking events as an undergrad and now as a professional and full-time MBA student at Suffolk University. I’ve been to a few networking events, and actually really enjoy them now! I’ve learned some effective tips over the years, and want to share some with you to make it less nerve-wracking and possibly even enjoyable!

Do your research

Most networking and career events will, at a minimum, publish a list of the companies and schools attending ahead of time. Some even publish a paragraph or two describing the positions open and what the company does. Go a step further, and research the companies you are interested in by visiting their website, social media channels, and researching the jobs available. I always make a list of the top companies I want to visit, and if there is a map available mark out my strategy for the career fair. Most only last a couple of hours, so be conscious of the time limit.

Know your end goal

People attend career fairs and networking events for different reasons. As a student, it is probably to obtain an internship or entry-level job after graduation. As someone with five or ten years of experience, it might be to expand your client base or referral base. It doesn’t hurt to write out what you hope to gain from the networking event, and then apply this list to potential companies, which will help you achieve this goal. You can even put it into quantifiable goals. For example, your goal might be to obtain ten new referrals, which would include business cards and reaching out for a meeting afterwards.

Practice your pitch and introduction

This is probably the most important tip I can give you! As stated above, your goals will be different for different stages of your networking career. During my undergraduate career, I would go up to most companies and introduce myself and state I was looking for a summer internship in accounting. After spending a couple of years in the public accounting profession, my pitch changed to my introduction and offering my accounting services to those companies I sought out. Even if you are in between careers or jobs, like I am, you can still have a successful pitch! Nowadays, my pitch is “Hello, my name is Jessica. I’m a full time MBA student at Suffolk University, and after spending four years in public accounting am interested in transitioning to a global supply chain management career.” It can be as easy and straightforward as that!

Engage in small talk

This largely depends on the time constraint and number of employers and companies at the networking event. I’ve attended career fairs at colleges, which were limited to a strict two hours, included over seventy companies, and always had lines for each company. At these, it was hard to engage in small talk, but I always made sure to have a smile and say please and thank you. If the networking events are more lax and more informally set up, definitely engage in small talk! I attended a networking event for Jewish lawyers and accountants last spring, and introduced myself to people as Cynthia’s granddaughter. I would always ask them their name, and if something they said sounded interesting I would ask open-ended questions. People love to talk about themselves, and it puts you in a better light as well!

Business cards and following-up

Oh business cards- some people love them, some people despise them. I personally think they are outdated, but at the same time are lifesavers at networking events! I always ask for someone’s business card, whether they offer one or not. I also picked up a very useful trick a couple of years back: whenever you can spare a couple of moments, go to a quiet area or corner and write a note on the back of the business cards. For example, if you had a good conversation about your trip to Hong Kong with an employer, write it down! This will not only help you remember your conversations, but will also help with those follow up emails and help you stand out from the others.

I always follow up with employers and contacts I made at networking events via e-mail, especially if I am interested in carrying on the connection. When writing the e-mail, keep it short and simple. In the subject line I put “networking event at (location) on (date)”. In the body of the e-mail I usually just say “Hello Mr./Mrs., it was great meeting you the other day at the networking event. I enjoyed speaking with you regarding (etc) and especially about our shared interest in (something unique). I look forward to staying in touch with you!” I also recommend connecting with that person on LinkedIn. If you want, also add in the e-mail you’d like to meet up for coffee in the next couple of weeks. The worst they can say is no!

Like anything new, networking can be tough and nerve-wracking. I also treat networkingjessica-a as a chance to meet some cool new friends and acquaintances. The worst that can happen is you don’t meet anyone and don’t get any contacts. The best? You walk away with a job, a new referral, and even some great friends. I also recommend practicing your networking skills in all forms of life! For me, it’s practicing when I go to a bar, am on a train, or at a mutual friend’s birthday party. You never know who you might meet and when, so it’s always good to network and to practice!

– Jessica Abramson, MBA ’17 

Marketing in a developing nation

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What I loved most about the Suffolk GMBA was my unparalleled internship experience; the opportunity truly propelled my career to the next level. The unique endeavor armed me with a competitive advantage that is unmatched. The differentiation positioned me to shine brighter amongst my peers and best of all – above others in a highly competitive Boston job market.

My GMBA program required me to complete work abroad; I fulfilled this requirement through working for a pioneering mobile payment processing start-up based out of Lagos, Nigeria. As a Marketing Intern my mission was to analyze the groundbreaking African mobile money landscape and create integrative marketing strategies for local markets based on my research findings.

I merited a management-level of responsibility and worked alongside executives. Startups need individuals that are self-motivated, have a dedicated work ethic, a high level of productivity, and entrepreneurial spirit; despite all the demanding characteristic requirements I was determined to gain a full time position. Within this opportunity I entered completely unfamiliar territory – a fresh company, an industry in its infancy, and a consumer base in fast paced emerging markets that are among the most difficult in the world for conducting business. Fortunately, Suffolk prepared me for challenging environments. I needed to acquire knowledge expeditiously to make the sizable impact I wanted to in a short period of time. My first major project was to research and select the company’s next Sub-Saharan market-entry destination and present my recommendation to the executive team. This assignment proved to be an enormous undertaking, considering there are over 40 contending countries to select from. From this monumental delegation, I gained an advanced intellect and comprehension for a region that was in the beginning completely unknown to me.

During this internship I traveled to the Africa for the first time journeying to both East and West Sub-Saharan regions. During my internship I was thrown into the deep end and emerged as a global leader. I was put to the test in Nigeria and led some meetings with prestigious banking partners after observing only a few in an executive supporting role. Ultimately I was put in charge, heading the final rounds of meetings in both Lagos and Nairobi. Management was impressed with my performance and communication skills; executives were shocked that I learned the basics of Yorùbá and Swahili languages for a heightened engagement experience with international partners.rebecca

As I learned from the GMBA program, learning cultural components are just as important as gaining business and economic insights into global markets. When you have at least some basic knowledge of cultural artifacts such as the language, customs, traditions, and core values within a foreign society it is easier to make connections and minimize culture shock. As a result, I am always looking for ways to boost my cultural intelligence.

– Rebecca Barnett, GMBA in International Marketing ‘14

Balancing my MBA and a full-time job

As a full-time Department Coordinator at Suffolk, I have a unique perspective with my position because I am also an MBA student. I get to see both sides of the school. Being in the program and working here has made me better both in school and at my job. rachaeldI have been involved with everything from recruiting new students, orientation, working with the student groups, problem solving day to day with students, helping to roll out the new curriculum and I even got to plan commencement last year. In the spring, I received an award from GSA for outstanding service to Graduate Students. It was an honor to know that what I do here has a positive impact on the student body.

Rachael Draper, MBA ‘16

Global Internship

I was part of the Global MBA program and as a result was extremely lucky to engage in an internship at BMC Software in Singapore. Chip Salyards, fellow Suffolk alum, and then GMkanishka of BMC was very helpful in the process. I interned as a Financial Analyst, and was able to leverage a lot of what I learned in the classroom at Suffolk to be successful and provide value for BMC.

– Kanishka Sharma, Global MBA in International Business ‘12