Wednesday, February 21, 2024

On Career Advice and Giving Back

When Arash was graduating from his Master’s program at Columbia University, the Director of the school gave him some sound advice that changed the trajectory of his career. He was advised that it is always best to start your career at large corporations, since there is greater access to resources and senior mentorship, and then to move over to smaller companies where the honed skillset could have a significantly more impact in the long term. And that is exactly what Arash did, which has helped propel his career to a director role at Explora Ventures. Furthermore, at the age of 26 he was appointed as one of the youngest adjunct professors at his alma mater, Columbia University, an astonishing accomplishment for someone of his age.

After graduating from Columbia in 2016, Arash pursued a career first at the large financial conglomerate American International Group, then Drake Real Estate Partners, and now Explora Ventures. The research methods he mastered over the years became a transferable skillset that he was able to successfully utilize at Drake to help lead the firm’s operating and capital raising strategies. His work had quickly started to stand out at Drake and he was directly reporting to the firm’s owners and partners.

His success at Drake did not go unnoticed and he was soon asked whether he would be willing to teach a class at Columbia University. “That was probably one of the proudest moments of my life and one of the greatest achievements I have accomplished to date. There is something so fulfilling about sharing your knowledge and experience with a younger generation and knowing that they will be able to take that with them and have their own profound impact on the world and global economy”, says Arash with a smile as he expresses his satisfaction for giving back to the community.

It took a lot of hard work and perseverance to manage the long hours working for Drake and also teaching the class in the evenings. Given the immense responsibility that was placed on him as an adjunct professor at an internationally recognized Ivy League institution, Arash took the class very seriously, fully rebuilding the curriculum and teaching structure. “What the program lacked was an emphasis on using real world cases to teach”, recalls Arash. This would make complex and sometimes abstract quantitative and economic concepts more comprehensible for the students. As such, he used real world case studies from his work to devise the teaching curriculum and cover the required concepts. The teaching method proved to be extremely effective, with the class becoming an instant hit among the students and achieving outsized participation in the program. He even singlehandedly evaluates the final case study work of every participant in his classes of 140+ students, demonstrating the dedication to his work at Columbia.



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