Ask Pamon Forouhar for restaurant recommendations in Palo Alto. The Stanford MBA has two prior degrees from Stanford University and knows the town well.
“I feel so lucky to have had this experience three times,” he says. “[Stanford] feels like home.”
Forouhar, MBA ’18, MS ’12, and BS ’11, grew up in Los Angeles as the son of Iranian immigrants who both worked for NASA. He earned his first degree in biomechanical engineering, then got his master’s degree a year later. He went to work in the health care industry, first at a startup and then as a consultant. A few friends had talked about going to business school. “That planted the seed,” Forouhar says.
Four years after he got his second degree from Stanford, he was back to get his third. Before, he’d learned how to succeed in the workplace. But Stanford Graduate School of Business would take him deeper. “This round is more about developing the life skills,” Forouhar says. “They teach you to be a whole person.”
For example: Priorities. “I built a world where work is king,” he says. “I thought I’d be lucky to find a job that didn’t feel like work.” But he found friends and family could be just as meaningful.
His classmates helped him define his experience. “Having 400 classmates is like having 400 data points,” he says. Feedback, like the kind provided in generous helpings during the Interpersonal Dynamics course (more popularly known as “Touchy Feely”), has always been something Forouhar has taken well. But he’s often had a hard time taking positive feedback. Criticism motivates. But being dismissive of praise can have a negative effect on both him and those around him, he now realizes.
In the short term, Forouhar will return to consulting work to help repay the people who helped put him through school. But long term, he wants to work to make health care more affordable to people. Happiness, he says, is tied to it. For him, and for the people he wants to serve.
It’s a good time to disrupt the industry, he says. New digital solutions might help drive down health care costs for big companies while making interactions between patients and providers more meaningful. As an industry, Forouhar says, “Health care is deeply personal.”
At Stanford GSB, Forouhar explored what it means to be a leader. As a second-year MBA student he helped organize and lead more than two dozen first-years on a study trip to Sri Lanka, which is emerging from a decades-long civil war. The country is seeking investment again as it starts to rebuild its economy, and while there, Forouhar and others met with leaders in business, politics, and media. Over ten days, they also experienced and learned about the culture.
Culture is important to Forouhar, who tries to keep things light. He’d like to get better at delegating and having harder conversations with people. But still, “I think it’s important to have fun,” he says. “Why not choose to be happy and positive?”
Photos by Kiefer Hickman