Biochem grad earns MBA despite demanding work, home life

Farah Saleem cites reasonable cost, flexibility as major factors in choosing UFred

Many students who enroll in the Sandermoen School of Business don’t have traditional business backgrounds. Although their careers may differ, they are still able to apply the same business concepts and strategies effectively to their industries.

An example is Executive MBA alumna Farah Saleem, who specialized in Innovation Leadership during her studies. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and works in Quality Assurance in the pharmaceutical industry.

In addition to her career, Farah has three children with her husband, one of which has autism.

“I have been fortunate to have had many leaders who believed in me and my abilities, and allowed flexibility in managing my work/life balance,” she said.

As Farah moved up in her career, she wanted to be a better leader. She knew she would have to learn the skills and tools to lead effectively, so she sought formal education with UFred.

“I had always self-educated with books and videos, but felt the absence of different perspectives and views and how to best understand the information within certain contexts,” she said.

Over the years, Farah applied to MBA programs at other schools. However, between the cost, committing to in-class attendance on a physical campus, and the schedules of the programs, these schools were not feasible or realistic with her family situation. When she learned she could do her MBA fully online through UFred, she decided that was her best option.

“It gave me the flexibility I required – I was able to do it remotely from home or if I travelled for work. And the cost was reasonable for us as a family for me to invest in myself, as the tuition was not being covered by my work.”

Farah says she had many moments of realization throughout the MBA program when the components of the coursework were applicable to her own work and organization almost immediately.

“The course reinforced the fact that leadership is not about who holds the most power. Being a great leader means having patience, listening to others, being able to delegate effectively, having a vision, and being part of a team,” she said.

From a strategic process and systems perspective, Farah says she strengthened her understanding of finances and accounting, learned how to adapt, analyze and interpret the data, and how to apply her findings within a strategic framework.

“I also learned the importance of communication – ensuring that information is being properly received and captured, as well as analyzing feedback to ensure that the organization is working well and that potential issues are addressed within a timely manner.”

Farah has one piece of advice to current and future students:

“Go for it and hang in there if this is a goal you are trying to achieve. It will not be easy. It may be uncomfortable and overwhelming at times, but it can be done and is an absolutely worthwhile experience.”