By Omar Sofradzija
With commencement just completed, it’s fair to give members of the Eli Broad College of Business Class of 2018 a bit of time to start staking their claims to fame. But Mohamed Hrezi and Travis Martin just couldn’t wait.
Hrezi and Martin, both of whom earned their MBAs just this month, were among 100 recent MBA grads nationwide honored as the “Best & Brightest MBAs: Class of 2018” by Poets & Quants, a leading graduate business education news Web site.
Now in its fourth year, P&Q’s Best & Brightest “celebrates MBAs whose academic prowess, extracurricular achievements, innate potential, and inspirational life journeys make them standouts in their graduate business schools. They are the leaders who rally; the mentors who champion; the visionaries who awaken; and the volunteers who shoulder the heaviest burdens,” wrote Jeff Schmitt, a P&Q senior writer. “Twenty years from now, there’s a strong chance this class will be transforming the way we work, live, and think.”
Hrezi, 26, of Naugatuck, Connecticut — also known as Mo — completed his MBA while participating in the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games as a marathon runner for Libya, and set two Libyan national records in the event. He also served as that nation’s Olympic flag-bearer.
“I first met him as an incoming student, before classes had even started,” recalled Wayne Hutchison, Broad’s director of the Full-Time MBA Program and academic services. “The conversation revolved around him asking for the opportunity to report to MBA orientation later than the rest of his classmates. Being that this request was a bit unusual, I asked for justification. His response was along the lines of, ‘I’m running the Olympic Marathon in Rio.’”
“In our conversation that day, I became sure of two things very quickly: Mohamed was a tremendously humble … wise individual that would be a success in any endeavor, and that those traits were balanced by a work ethic that is second to none,” Hutchison wrote. “In Mohamed’s time in the program since his entry, he has proven to be an academic superstar, as well as the best communicator and briefer in his class, a notable accomplishment given how seriously we take this discipline at Broad.”
Hrezi said he wants to be remembered “as a classmate who did all he could to improve the image of Broad and make a lasting cultural change.”
“Broad offered a close-knit community that was unmatched by other programs. Having a small class size means that I have built a very strong network that includes nearly every one of my classmates and the classes before and after ours,” Hrezi said. “I discovered that Broad has a lot to offer, with great faculty in all departments and a tremendous amount of support from current students, alumni, and career services.”
Now, Hrezi will go to work as an associate brand manager for Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, where he interned in 2017.
Martin, 28, is from Hudsonville, Michigan. “Of all the students in my six years with the Broad MBA program, Travis is the best example of leadership I have seen. It is not a close comparison,” Hutchison wrote. “From his first day on the campus, he was an eager teammate and colleague, continually finding ways to support his second year leadership team by being enthusiastic, hard-working, collaborative, and supportive of the agenda the board set for the year.”
“This is one of Travis’s best qualities; while he has all the skills and abilities an exceptional leader possesses, he can immediately pivot to being a great teammate, putting his heart towards a cause, even if he is not in a leadership role,” Hutchison wrote.
Martin said he is most proud of “being selected by my peers as the winner of the Spartan Spirit Award at our Community Honors Gala. The award is designed to go to the student who best embodies the culture of hard work, collaboration, and enthusiasm that Broad prides itself on. It was really humbling to feel that my classmates appreciated the effort I put in daily to make a positive impact on the program.”
Martin said he chose Broad “because of the value they place on collaboration and the gritty, blue-collared demeanor of the students. Whether it was on my visit or talking to alumni, everyone demonstrated, through words or actions, a desire to make themselves and their classmates better. This constant striving for self-improvement and new challenges within a collaborative environment was a perfect culture fit.”
Martin also believes the college is seen too narrowly by some outsiders. “The notion exists that MSU is just a regional, supply chain school. We have talented marketers, human resource strategists and consultants that that join and contribute to Fortune 500 firms across the country every year in a variety of sectors,” he said.
Martin will now go on to work for The Wendy’s Company in Dublin Ohio, where he interned in 2017.