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Why This Neurologist Is Pursuing The HEC Paris MBA

Find out how a HEC Paris MBA student is proving that MBA programs aren’t reserved just for those with business experience


By  Shannon Cook

Tue May 23 2023

Unlike a typical MBA student, Nasheed I. Jamal doesn’t have formal experience in business.

In fact, Nasheed is a neurologist and health sciences professor at UCLA. A profession that doesn’t always spring to mind when you think about a typical business school student.

Yet Nasheed is on the MBA path with a clear vision in mind about what she wants to gain from the program, and breaking free from the mold of a scientist is just one of her many ambitions. 

BusinessBecause caught up with Nasheed to find out how she’s using HEC Paris MBA to transform her career.

Pursuing a life-long dream to study in France via the HEC Paris MBA

Nasheed’s journey to an MBA has been far from easy.

Prior to joining business school, she was unfortunately involved in an accident where she was hit by a vehicle.

As she was recovering from the accident, she realized something felt different.

“The accident made me realize that a career in administration was the right direction to take," she says.

As an esteemed health sciences professor in the UCLA Department of Neurology, she knew she had more to give as a medical professional.

“I knew I’d hit a ceiling and that it was time to pursue my international interests,” she says.

This led to her research into MBA programs. She had heard about the HEC Paris MBA and the Grande Ecole system in French class during her undergraduate degree at MIT, and knew that the renowned school in the French capital was an ideal choice.

“I’m a lifelong Francophone and Francophile,” she laughs, “so the decision to join an MBA in France was natural.”

It was also beneficial to her that MBA programs in Europe are typically one-year, compared to the standard two-year MBA in the US. 

Taking advantage of everything an MBA in France has to offer

Armed with an urge to blend her science background with the business world, Nasheed has joined the HEC Paris MBA ready for a challenge.

As a neuroscientist, she says she brings transferrable skills into the program such as a deep understanding of human cognition. Meanwhile, from her experience as a physician, she knows how to develop a rapport with those from different socioeconomic backgrounds.

However, she admits she entered the MBA in France lacking knowledge in business areas such as economics and finance.

“Courses such as corporate finance and financial marketing have been really helpful for developing fundamental business skills—even if I have to work a lot harder than others with a business background!” she says.  

So far, she’s been leveraging her health sciences background when working on a practical project that involved working with a biotech consultancy. 

Other MBA projects have included helping NGOs with their marketing potential.

“Both these projects have enabled me to develop close ties with students from across the world.”

MBA programs in Europe are often vastly diverse. In the HEC Paris MBA Class of 2022, for example, the cohort was comprised of 92% international students.

Building a network in the HEC Paris MBA

If you assumed that business school was all about studying, you’d be mistaken.

MBA programs are just as much about socializing and getting to know new people as they are about gaining business knowledge.

Nasheed says one of her stand-out experiences on the HEC Paris MBA program has been joining The Executive Committee on Campus (TEC). 

TEC is a development program that helps a select group of MBA students grow their leadership capabilities. Through the business school network, Nasheed has had access to a mentor and connected with high-level CEOs and executives, who are on hand to speak to the MBAs about their professional experiences.

MBA students also can visit the HEC alumni house, which hosts alumni events or simply offers students a place to hang out together.  

Looking to the future after an MBA in France

Nasheed isn’t looking to drop her passion for academia any time soon. She is, however, excited to use her MBA to pivot into working in strategy for an NGO or designing system level solutions for global health problems within a social impact consulting role.

Nasheed’s future is yet to be firmly decided, and this is something she relishes.

“One of the most valuable things the MBA has taught me is to stay open to new possibilities and new directions,” she says.

Nasheed proves that the path to a successful MBA career does not have to be linear. Whatever your career experiences, there’s always space in the business world to make your mark and utilize your unique skills.

“Be confident that things will work out,” she advises future business school students, “joining an MBA has been one of the best decisions I’ve made so far.”

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