CMU-Q alumna Sara Abbas urges students to pursue well-rounded education

October 18, 2016

Class of 2012 graduate Sara Abbas spoke at CMU-Q last week, encouraging students to pursue a variety of experiences both in and out of the classroom. Abbas is the trade marketing manager at Brazilian food giant BRF in Doha, leading a 70-person team and developing the company’s marketing platform for Qatar. She previously worked in marketing roles at Nestlé and Microsoft.

During the discussion, which was led by Starling Hunter, visiting associate teaching professor of business administration, Abbas emphasized the importance of working effectively with other people. “The real world is all about collaboration. It’s not, ‘I’m in marketing, so I work only in marketing,’” she said. “It’s about building a team and engaging with people and empowering people. You embrace peoples’ differences and you eventually achieve much better things.”

Abbas graduated with a degree in business administration, interned at General Electric and Microsoft during her time at CMU-Q, the latter of which paved the way for her first job. After a year at Microsoft, she became a trade marketing executive in the confectionery section at Nestlé, where she developed marketing strategies around brands such as Kit-Kat and Smarties. In August 2016 she moved to BRF.

Reflecting on her time at CMU-Q, Abbas said: “What makes CMU-Q so different than other universities is that they don’t just feed your brain with information that you need to memorize. CMU-Q is not developing brains; they are developing people. Yes, we grow intellectually, but we also grow as people in learning leadership, problem-solving, collaboration, how we build teams, how we empower each other, and how we engage. All of these skills and experiences that you gain during your CMU-Q journey helps you become a much better professional for the real world.”

A former student-body president, Abbas noted the importance of gaining experience outside of the classroom. “My advice would be, gain a well-rounded education. Students should stretch themselves beyond the classroom to get new and different experiences, ranging from student clubs and organizations to doing internships or community service projects. All of these different experiences helped me become a better person in the job, and helped me get my first job.”