I grew up in the Middle East, getting a first-hand view of human adaptability in the face of adversity and the influence of key decision-makers on the efficiency of a system. More than anything, I realized the value of actionable hope, or conversely, the destructive power of hopelessness.
After high school, I spent a gap year interning at non-profits in East and South Africa. I learned about the ingenuity of those with limited resources, realized that I could actually get things done, and internalized the power of relationships as wiser people poured into me. This is when I made permanent the idea that people matter above all else.
At Stanford, I settled on the MS&E major (engineering core + some finance classes). I added on a CS minor as I fell in love with the immediate feedback loop of programming and the brilliant ideas of legendary computer scientists. My favorite classes were about real estate finance, the mathematical foundations of CS, and the history of financial crises.
I spent time working in South Africa (last-mile grocery delivery startup) and Kenya (designing internal supply chain software for an agribusiness with a blockchain grant). I eventually met and starting working and learning under Alex Oppenheimer, an ex-NEA investor who gets in the weeds of financial modeling, teaches a SaaS biz-model masterclass, and runs his life out of Airtable.
My two biggest takeaways so far: I have tremendous respect for founders, who voluntarily take one of the hardest jobs in the world, and making good decisions is very difficult. I consider myself very fortunate to have a job that I genuinely love, and my favorite parts are meeting interesting people who love what they do, and learning about how the world actually works.