Osama (Sam) Salah Abdelrahman, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School MBA Class of 2025
Hometown: Cairo, Egypt
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Cairo University Faculty of Engineering – Major: Construction Engineering Management
Pre-MBA Work Experience (role, company, years): Following my undergraduate, I enlisted in the Egyptian Army’s Airforces division. The military brought its unique set of challenges and learnings, offering a fresh perspective on discipline and teamwork.
After my military service, I joined a boutique consultancy headquartered in Florida; initially, starting in project management, I worked diligently, and my dedication eventually paid off. I was promoted to a partner within a couple of years. This elevation in my career allowed me to contribute even more significantly to the firm’s projects, which spanned diverse regions such as New York, Florida, Texas, and California.
However, my aspiration was to tackle even larger projects. Therefore, I made the decision to join one of the leading international contractors in the Middle East, where I had the opportunity to contribute to billion-dollar projects spanning Saudi Arabia, Dubai, and Africa.
Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
Pre-MBA, I accumulated over six years of experience in construction management, working across more than six countries and 15 nationalities. However, my journey took a pivotal turn after completing my Master of Science, where I developed a model to evaluate Contractors’ financial performance using machine learning. I wanted to transition from the micro-level focus on individual projects to a macro-level perspective where I could make a meaningful impact on an enterprise-wide scale.
Why did you choose UNC Kenan-Flagler? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
The institution’s reputation for academic excellence, strong emphasis on real-world application of business concepts, and commitment to experiential learning perfectly align with my desire to acquire practical skills. Moreover, the diverse and collaborative community, extensive alumni network, and strategic location in North Carolina offer exceptional opportunities for networking and exposure to real-world business challenges. These factors played a pivotal role in my decision to attend, aligning seamlessly with my aspirations to drive strategic change and create a lasting impact in the business world.
What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2025?
My significant contributions to the Class of 2025 can be summarized in three key aspects. Firstly, my Middle Eastern background enriches our cohort with diverse cultural insights, promoting a more inclusive learning environment. Secondly, I bring valuable international experience, contributing to our class’s broader global perspective. Lastly, my engineering background equips me with analytical and problem-solving skills that will add a unique dimension to our approach when tackling business challenges.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself that didn’t get included on your application:
I used to be really scared of heights, a condition called acrophobia. So, to face my fear, I decided to do something daring – I jumped out of an airplane from a whopping 13,000 feet above the ground. This incredible adventure took me skydiving over Dubai’s famous Palm Islands. While soaring in the sky, I made an unexpected discovery: Dubai actually has not one, but two amazing Palm Islands. Conquering my fear and enjoying the incredible view made me appreciate Dubai’s beauty even more, reminding me that we often find amazing things when we overcome our fears.
Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
One thing I’d definitely do again in my application process is the honest reflection that I put into writing my personal statement and essays. It helped me understand my goals better and express my passion for the program. This self-discovery process was essential, and I’d do it again without a doubt.
–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
One thing I’m determined to change in my future application processes is my approach to stress. Looking back, I realize that I put an immense amount of pressure on myself during the application period, and it affected my overall experience.
–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
One part I wish I could skip is the uncertainty of waiting for acceptance letters. It was a nerve-wracking time, as I couldn’t help but wonder if I would be accepted into the programs I applied for. To cope with this challenging phase, I kept myself busy with various activities and hobbies I enjoyed. Whether it was immersing myself in a new project, volunteering at a local organization, or pursuing a new fitness routine, staying occupied helped to divert my thoughts away from the anxiety of waiting.
What is your initial impression of the UNC Kenan-Flagler students/culture/community?
At UNC Kenan-Flagler, the four values of integrity, inclusion, innovation, and impact are not merely words. They are ingrained in our community from the very first day of orientation. Whether you are a student, a teacher, or a member of our broader community, there is a genuine commitment to implementing these values.
What is one thing you have learned about UNC Kenan-Flagler that has surprised you?
I was surprised to discover that UNC Kenan-Flagler holds the distinction of being the first public university in the United States. It’s an honor to be part of such a prestigious institution with a rich legacy.
What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
One of my primary concerns in my first year is the fear of missing out on the many aspects of university life. With the academic rigor, networking opportunities, and the recruitment process all happening simultaneously, it can be overwhelming. However, this anxiety also reflects my eagerness to make the most of this valuable time.
What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I’m truly excited about my first year because it offers a unique chance to expand my network and nurture my leadership and communication skills. Building meaningful connections with fellow students, faculty, and professionals is something I look forward to, as these relationships can lead to lifelong friendships and valuable collaborations.