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Firas Arab (MSc Business Information Management 2012)

Biography

Firas during a business trip in KenyaI was born and raised in Germany, went to an international school and completed my Bachelor’s degree in the Netherlands. I’m originally from Syria and lived in Egypt for short while… so when you ask me “where are you from” it could get a bit complicated.

I’ve always had a keen interest in business, technology and telecommunications. At 16, I started my own business selling smartphones and mobile phone accessories online. Running my business was a great experience and helped top up my pocket money a little… so I could spend it on stuff teenagers spend their money on.

Why did you choose to study at the University of Reading?

With the amount of great universities in the UK, and with University College London having already made me an offer, it certainly wasn’t an easy choice. I knew about Henley Business School’s excellent reputation, modern facilities, international student base and proximity to London. I had also found out that some of the most significant companies in tech are just a stone throw away, including Microsoft, Cisco, Symantec and Oracle to name a few. But the real reason why I chose this place to study was because the University offered a degree which genuinely interested me, is highly relevant in the industry and meaningfully combines my passion for business and technology.

What was the best bit about living and studying in Reading?

I made some of the best memories of my life in Reading and made friends who are now more like family to me. Reading is not too big and not too small, it has a bit of everything. And the best thing is that nothing is ever too far away, so spontaneously meeting with friends and going out is never a logistical challenge (compared to London at least).

What top tips would you give to students who are beginning their studies?

Don’t leave your assignments to the last minute and keep up with the course reading – but never forget to go out and enjoy yourself! Do internships. Apply for jobs before you graduate, it’s never too early. Spend more time doing and less time worrying – this quote from Corrie ten Boom says it all “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength”.

What are you up to now? How did you get there?

Firas during a business trip in SingaporeToday I work as a Consultant for the Vodafone-owned Business & Technology Consultancy, Bluefish Communications, in London. The projects I work on mostly involve solving complex problems for large multinationals and international travel. I got there through applying for the Vodafone Global Enterprise Graduate Scheme and was lucky enough to be placed in the consultancy part of the business. Graduate schemes are very competitive, so make sure you apply early and differentiate yourself from the masses – a degree alone is not enough anymore.

What top tips to you have for students wanting to work in this sector?

As a Consultant in business & technology you have to be at the cutting edge of the latest developments in the industry you are working in. It means always staying informed, researching topics you want to find out more about and getting professional qualifications which are relevant to your field of work. With all this said, at the end of the day what counts the most in consulting is your professional experience! So be patient and keep learning from the people around you. Remember: if you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room!

How has your degree at the University of Reading helped you with your career?

There’s real chance the person interviewing you will have hired a Henley Business School alumni in the past or attended its MBA programme. So HBS’ excellent reputation and alumni network clearly helps with getting a foot in the door of the most respectable international organizations. But more importantly, my degree has helped me by equipping me with industry-relevant and practically applicable knowledge which provided me with a solid foundation to build on.

What does the University mean to you and what is your favourite memory?

Firas and friendsThe University means many things to me. It’s the beginning of my life in the UK. It’s where I made friends for life. It’s hard to pick a favourite memory because there are so many. The countless nights going out with friends, doing sports or just goofing around the library. But maybe one of my favourite memories is from a weekend road trip to Cardiff with some of my best friends.

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