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Nora Jabbour is an MBA student at the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School in the US and a former assistant coach of women’s basketball for the US Military Academy, Emory University and Appalachian State University.
After five years working in sport, Ms Jabbour wants to work in private wealth management and will join Goldman Sachs as a private wealth adviser after graduation, advising high-net-worth individuals, families, endowments and foundations on wealth management, investment advice and financial planning. In her spare time, she enjoys country music concerts and hiking.
1. What is an average day at business school like?
I wake up each morning a couple of hours before my classes to respond to emails and read the newspaper. Once I arrive at school, my days are quite busy. In addition to an average course load of five classes per module (four modules in a school year), I work as a teaching assistant for several MBA classes, participate as a career mentor for first-year MBA students and serve as a student representative for my cohort of about 40 students. In the evenings, in addition to schoolwork, I like to attend a varsity sports event, compete in intramural sports, or connect with friends over dinner. Finally, as UNC Kenan-Flagler is a proud sponsor of our local Habitat for Humanity chapter, I actively participate in building houses for local selected families. At the weekend, these activities connect the student body with the greater town of Chapel Hill.
2. What would you do if you were dean for the day?
I would add a requirement that all students must participate in a global programme. I have participated in two – a global immersion to India and UAE and an exchange programme with Esade Business School in Barcelona, Spain. These experiences have been the most amazing and eye-opening of my two years at business school. The international nature of business necessitates an understanding of various cultures and places. My time in these countries has enhanced my classroom learning.
3. What is the best piece of advice given to you by a teacher?
Failure doesn’t define you – how you react to failure defines you.
4. What is your biggest lesson learnt?
Don’t be self-deprecating about your past experiences. When I arrived in business school, I was worried that my extraordinarily “non-traditional” background would hinder my success. After I participated in class and group meetings for several weeks, I realised that my career path as a college basketball coach prepared me to have other tangible skills, such as the ability to work on and lead teams, influence and motivate others and have an unending drive to win. These skills have proved crucial in school and in business.
5. Why did you decide to move into private wealth management?
I am excited to help individuals, families and groups achieve their long-term financial goals. I am passionate about people, advising and investing and this job connects those three passions.
6. What do you hope women in business will achieve?
I hope that the discrepancy between the number of men to women in business will dissipate as more women stay in the workforce longer and work with their partners to manage the work-family balance more evenly. This begins with attracting more females to pursue a business education at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and then providing the resources and support for women to be their own champions when they enter business settings.
7. How do you deal with male-dominated environments?
No different than I do than other environments – I stay true to myself. I am equally as vocal in those situations and leave my emotions at the door.
8. What is the last book you read?
Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In. This is a hallmark book for any woman in any industry. Personally, the most profound aspect of the book encompassed the propensity of women to forego promotions as they make future plans for their families, without giving the opportunity a chance and working through some of the family hardships with their partners.
9. What is your favourite business book?
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey is my favourite business book, given its combination of business and professional insight.
10. Who is your business hero?
Susan O’Malley, the former president of Washington Sports & Entertainment, the ownership group for the National Basketball Association’s Washington Wizards. To date, Ms O’Malley is the NBA’s only female team president. She was 30 years old when she was named president of the organisation. Her diligence, enthusiasm and sheer hustle enabled her to be a trailblazer.