Joe Ahmed

Financial Services

Financial Institutions Supervisor at Federal Reserve Bank of New York


Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?

Prior to my current job, I was in Washington, D.C., working for the risk group of a large mortgage institution. I had reached a level where I felt that that the opportunities to move ahead were really limited, and I felt that earning an MBA would change that. I wanted an MBA that would give me the skills to lead at a higher level and provide me with the opportunity to network; to meet dedicated people that I could talk to who could give me solid guidance on my career.

Why did you choose MBA@UNC?

I chose MBA@UNC for a few reasons: First, I was living in D.C., and the two best local programs didn't really excite me. I knew that if you were going to go to school in the area, those were the two most competitive MBA programs, but I had always liked UNC. I had no real affiliation with it, but ever since I was young, it seemed like such a great school. Not to mention, all of my favorite basketball players went there, including the best basketball player who ever walked the earth!

So when I heard they had an online program, I didn't even think twice about the fact that it was online. What excited me more is that I could be part of a really cool school with a very good reputation, so that's what lured me into first start thinking about MBA@UNC.

For me, as someone who works full time, who has a lot going on and a lot of things on my mind, just cutting out the transportation aspect was a huge. It was a big timesaver. I didn't know how much time that I was going to have to study and prepare, so the fact that the recordings are available 24/7 also seemed like a huge convenience—and it certainly has been.

What have you discovered about the program while attending?

One thing I didn't think about, which I discovered as I started to take classes, is that there are no geographical boundaries for the program. It ended up benefiting me in the future and is such a value. The reason that I say that is if I were to go to school in one of the D.C.-based programs for example, the majority of my classmates would have a similar type of background. In D.C., the big industries are the public sector, not-for-profit, consulting, which are all great professions, but they're not fields I wanted to go into.

With MBA@UNC, because of the lack of geographic boundaries, I was able to meet people from across the globe with very different backgrounds and professions. In fact, that is how I connected with people in New York and eventually was able to land a job there.

How did you leverage your MBA to switch careers?

At first, I knew that I wanted to pursue a degree in finance, because that was my background. As I got further in the MBA program, I realized that if I wanted to get a better sense of finance, I needed to move up to New York. So when I started applying for jobs, I got in touch with the Career & Leadership staff.

When I met with the team, my plan was to simply use their resources to find a job in a similar field. I quickly realized I had to check my ego at the door since I hadn't interviewed for a job in 10 years. They helped me develop basic interviewing skills, put me through mock interviews, and worked with me to revamp my resume.

When it came time to actually start applying, I reached out to one of my classmates up in New York who had successfully transitioned his career into the financial services industry. I spoke to him about my goals and he was able to get me an interview. His reference, along with my training with the Career & Leadership team, helped me land the job and pivot my career.

How did UNC Kenan-Flagler's reputation help you in your career?

Along with networking and my access to professors and their contacts, I think the reputation really went a long way. It was basically the genesis of putting me in touch with people that I never would have had interaction with if it had not been for that. And, just having the name on the resume I think is very prestigious. I think it stands out when people see that you went to Kenan-Flagler, a very well-regarded school. It draws a lot of attention and for me, I found that there's a pretty big network up here in New York of Kenan-Flagler alumni.

What has been your experience with the Kenan-Flagler alumni network?

It's like a brotherhood. You go through the MBA together, know each other's pains, and when you reach out to someone it's always a warm welcome. Likewise, when someone reaches out to me, it's a warm welcome as well.

I've also had the opportunity to go to some of the Kenan-Flagler events in New York that featured people outside of MBA@UNC—people that go to the on-campus program at Kenan-Flagler—and after meeting them, a few of them have reached out to me on LinkedIn. I feel like I'm a part of something important, and that really makes me feel that much more proud.


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