Student Spotlight: Omar Najeed

Omar Najeed, a BHP/MIS senior, came to McCombs as a Science & Technology Management major because he was torn between business and engineering. However, after taking MIS 301H with Professor Konana, he decided to switch to MIS. “I love how relaxed and quirky the MIS department is. From the professors, to the students and companies, I think it has its own feel,” he said.

When he was applying to UT, he originally applied to the engineering school, because of his love of quantitative work, but he ended up changing his major to business so he could work on his communication skills, an area of struggle for him. Omar was diagnosed with a stutter and clutter in elementary school, and struggled with communications from elementary through high school. He went to speech therapy most of his childhood, which never seemed to help.

Omar graduates this month, and says he will take away from McCombs lifelong friends, a stellar education, a better worldview, but also the ability to communicate clearly. “Ever since coming to McCombs, I was forced to speak up and work on communicating much more, and for longer durations of time,” he said. “It started back in BA324 freshman year, but the constant requirement of speaking in both large and small group settings has been immensely helpful, including the multiple presentations I’ve had to give.”

He credits some specific BHP classes, BA 324H, MAN 336H, MAN 374H, and LEB 323H, with being the most helpful, but he also says his involvement in the Business Honors Program Steering really helped him. As chairman, Omar was put in a position to speak on behalf of others in the program, and that responsibility made him willing to be less self-conscious. “Being on the McCombs Career Expo Board also helped since I was forced to speak to recruiters on a regular basis and had to learn how to systematically approach important conversations,” he said.

Last year, Omar learned about UT’s Stuttering Institute in the Communications School, and started going to weekly speech therapy sessions again. This time it was easier for him to learn and take lessons away from those sessions. He had finally overcome the speech impediments he had struggled with his whole life.

In addition to his involvement on campus, Omar was able to find opportunities for growth around the world. In the summer of 2014, he studied supply chain management at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. In the program, he was able to witness the production and distribution of different consumer goods and gain first-hand knowledge of worldwide logistics. The following summer, he interned abroad at a startup in Barcelona and learned to work in a culture completely different from the one back home.

Omar will be working as a consultant at Oliver Wyman starting in January, where he hopes to be staffed on non-profit projects. In the interim, he will be spending his summer solo backpacking through South America, and next fall on a service trip in Asia. He is so grateful for all BHP and McCombs have given him.

Professor Spotlight: Sekou Bermiss (MAN 336H)

Written by Audra Fields, BHP junior

Every Monday morning in MAN 336H, Professor Bermiss asks us what we did during the weekend. Some of us share our humorous or exciting weekend adventures, from hiking a mountain or going to parties, to studying all weekend long, but we never hear about his. We all know Dr. Y. Sekou Bermiss as the professor in the Management department who consistently dons business professional in every class he teaches. This week, however, I got the chance to sit down with him, sans the formal attire, and get to know him more, from classes, to career path, to love of Jay Z and his own weekend adventures.


What courses do you teach?

I teach Organizational Behavior for Honors (MAN 336H) and an Organizational Theory and Design seminar for PhD students.

But which class is your favorite?

This is tough, because I like them both for very different reasons. It’s like having to choose which child is my favorite! I get to do more fun stuff with MAN 336H because of the exercises and cases, and it’s more interactive. The PhD seminar is more about research, which is my passion. It is highly aligned with stuff I research and think about all the time.

What do you enjoy the most about teaching BHP students?

They have interesting experiences through their work and extracurricular activities and travels. It is really interesting to see how BHP kids see the world and organizations. While you guys are just now entering your professional lives, you have a lot of knowledge and intellect. I learn a lot from y’all. BHP kids can also be very insightful and creative if pushed, so we push y’all.

Rumor has it that you started out as a chemical engineering student before you went into management consulting. Tell me more about your career path and how you got into teaching.

Somewhere in junior or senior year of college, I liked chemical engineering, but thought the work was monotonous. I did a fluid catalytic cracking unit internship and was working on modeling design reactions with my 50-year-old manager, and realized I didn’t want to be doing that for 30 more years. Senior year, I applied for both consulting and engineering jobs. As a consultant, I pretty much learned everything on the job- the way organizations work, accounting, everything. Then, I took a leap of faith to spend my early twenties as a poor graduate student for five years. I’m glad I did it. Now, I’m a young-ish professor, and I love my job. I want to be at my desk until I die, and when I’m too old to walk, if I can still teach from a stool, I will. I love meeting young people and doing exciting things and researching what I want.

What are some fun facts about you?

  • I’m a huge hip hop music fan. My all-time favorite is Jay Z, but right now A Tribe Called Quest is my favorite, and on occasion I listen to Future. I love Kendrick’s old album, and I like his new album. I’ll need to listen to it for a few more days to decide.
  • I have two kids, aged 6 and 3, who are in bilingual schools. I think everyone should know at least two languages, maybe three or four. I have very elementary Spanish skills, and even less elementary French skills.
  • I’m originally from New York. I will always talk about New York sports! I’m a big Texas sports fan, too, and I always try to help any intramural groups on campus. I played basketball in college, so I understand trying to maintain the school-athletics balance.

What did YOU did this weekend?

Most Saturdays are packed with kid activities. My son does basketball and golf, my daughter does ballet. This past weekend my kids and wife were away most of Saturday at a conference so I came in to school to get some work done and meet with students that I’ll be teaching in Buenos Aires this summer.

Sunday’s are church in the morning and non-scheduled family time (read: trying to convince my kids to watch sports with me).

When and where are your office hours?

Mondays 1-4 in the spring. Afternoons, generally. I’m always available through email and anyone can stop by! I always welcome former and potential students, and just anybody. That’s why I’m here! And I have candy.