It was a long road for Haroon Malak to get to the Master of Business Administration in Management online program at Fitchburg State University, and it is not even his final destination.
Malak began his journey in higher education in medical school, but he decided to earn a master’s in chemistry instead. “It was vital for me to start working sooner to gain the business understanding that would complement my education,” he said.
He worked his way up to mid-level manager over the course of 10 years at a Fortune 500 manufacturing company. He then decided that a medical setting would suit him better because that’s where his heart was from the beginning.
The only question: How was he going to get back into it?
“Getting an MBA was part of the strategy to gain the best of multiple worlds — science and business,” Malak said. “An MBA would give me the theory and knowledge to manage any organization in the healthcare arena. Additionally, my son Haaris had recently arrived, and I wanted to set an example for him of the power and importance of higher education.”
The Next Leg of the Journey
Once Malak had made the decision to earn his MBA, he quickly landed on Fitchburg State University’s online program.
“There were several factors that were attractive: the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE) accreditation, the robust MBA ranking in the Massachusetts area, and the straightforward curriculum,” he said. “It was clear that the advisors, professors and the dean took the time to craft a curriculum that provides excellent future outcomes and opportunities for students.”
Prior to enrolling, Malak even spoke with a number of faculty members who confirmed that he was on the right track with his strategy and provided guidance. “One of the professors said, ‘An MBA will help you achieve your career aspirations. It will provide you great, in-depth insights on business and management, which will be beneficial for you no matter what, and you can use it wherever you choose to go,'” Malak recalled.
Moving Right Along
Malak’s decision to choose Fitchburg State was validated throughout the program. “The MBA was valuable in developing leadership skills,” he said. “The program offered endless opportunities to step up and lead in and outside the classroom.”
Given Malak’s interest in returning to healthcare, it may seem intriguing that he chose the Management concentration over Healthcare Management for his online MBA. He took the opportunity to learn as much as he could about management in general, which allowed him to avoid classes that didn’t mesh with his future educational plans and take those he could put to use in his current position.
The coursework for the Management concentration in Fitchburg State’s online MBA program is necessarily broad in order to develop the skills needed for a variety of roles, and Malak has appreciated every moment of it.
“Every single class that I’ve taken has been my favorite,” he said. “I’m not being cliché. I enjoy learning, and every class I have taken has challenged me to learn something new and useful.”
MGMT 9500: Strategic Management, taught by Dr. Marian Simion, helped Malak build the managerial and leadership skills of thinking enterprise-wide.
“Strategic Management was the most thought-provoking class because you’re bringing the entire story together,” he said. “I now know how to measure work, plan financial budgets, and manage resources while keeping the marketing at the forefront. There were also a lot of management, leadership and human resources theories on how to manage people, recognize them, work with them and develop future leaders. Completing this class was the culmination of validating my business skills.”
Variety of Opportunities
Malak believes that the real key to making it through an accelerated online MBA program comes down to managing time and being disciplined.
“You have to outline the schedule as well as the MBA program,” he said. “The professors are very up front in what they want, sharing the class curriculum schedule, what they expect and when they expect it. I was able to plan things accordingly because I knew what was expected of me.”
Prospective students should also expect more of themselves. Malak says that those who put the most into their work will maximize their results from the program.
“Take full participation in the learning process,” he said. “Focus on all the assignments, as you can learn something from every assignment. Also, learning to work effectively with people from different cultural, educational and professional backgrounds can be challenging at first, but the lessons learned are beneficial for future team interactions.”
Students should see their MBA coursework as more than a means to an end. For Malak, it is a means to endless possibilities.
“Having the MBA opens up different doors,” he said. “You don’t know where the opportunities are going to come from, but they do come. Whether I want to pursue those options or not, I know they’re there.”
The Next Step in the Path
After completing the MBA program in May 2020, Malak lost no time in starting a new phase in his educational journey — pursuit of a doctorate in health science (DHSc).
“I would like to give back to the community while utilizing my experience whether it is a master’s in chemistry or an MBA in management,” he said. “I firmly believe that if you chase excellence, success will follow you. Hence, I am continuing to chase higher education with the eventual goal of working for an organization where I’ll make a difference and have a positive impact on people’s lives. This would be a great way to set an example for my son in the future and hope someday he may make an even bigger difference.”
Even though Malak is still working toward his eventual goal, he saw his strategy pay off with employers reaching out to him in the months before his graduation from the online MBA program.
“I have had conversations with a few companies that saw my master’s in chemistry and my MBA in management and said, ‘This is the best of both the scientific and business worlds. What else do you want to do?’
“They don’t even know about the doctorate piece yet.”
Learn more about the Fitchburg State online MBA in Management program.