Zach Ullah

Zach Ullah
MBA 2018
  • Hometown: Houston, TX
  • Pre-MBA: Engineering in the Energy Industry

Zach Ullah

Post Graduation Goals:

Found or find a company that will participate in the next phase of providing energy to the world

Favorite GSB Memory So Far:

My trip to Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong as part of the China Global Study Trip (GST) was an incredible ten days that would have qualified until the GSB Show three weeks later. Spring quarter was packed with special moments!

Drove home and tried to wind down from the last night of tech week for the GSB Show, an age-old tradition in which GSB students write, produce, and perform an original musical parodying life at this place that we all love. Even with the exhaustion of the final dress rehearsal and after a week of late nights putting all the final pieces in place for opening (and closing) night it was a challenge to get to sleep.
View from skydeck of a Stanford GSB classroom
I took my seat behind my nametag with conveniently placed advertising for the show that night. I had a great view from what is often referred to as the skydeck. The skydeck is the back row of the larger classrooms at the GSB. I find the center of these rows offer a great view of the entire class. You may expect that this is a convenient place to hide out in big classes, but that expectation is quickly shattered when you see opinions flying and elicited from every corner of the room in your first participation heavy seminar.
Grabbed a quick lunch after class and joined a meeting in Bass about a potential GST (more on global study trips later) already in progress. Joining meetings midway through is a favorite pastime of most GSBers, myself included. The unfortunate symptom of wanting to be everywhere at once.
Five students in a car
This was our final drive out to Redwood City for the Show! The show is one of the relatively few times that we left campus during our time as MBA1’s (what we call first year students in the MBA Program). Cars are a luxury/liability that not everyone has at Stanford, but we are lucky to not need them very often.
The anticipation was building for when the curtain went up on the Show. It was hard to believe that this thing we had been working on for the last few months was about to happen. We went through sound check, vocal warmups, and all the other pre-show checks and rituals, but the mood was clearly different this time. Towards the end we could hear the audience rowdily making their way to their seats. Show time!
Group of Stanford GSB students on stage
Then it all began. Our one shot to present the manifestation of thousands of cumulative hours generously donated by 200+ MBA’s was here. It’s hard to describe what it felt like to hear the roar of more than 1200 people who all wanted us to hit it out of the park. The atmosphere was electric and as we shook off the nerves, the audience willed us through all the jokes, songs, and dances. The veil of secrecy that hangs over the whole process has the incredible byproduct allowing everyone to be surprised by the hidden talents of their peers.
This was my favorite of many memorable nights at the GSB and, although I recognize I am quite biased, I would highly recommend making sure you can attend. After the show, we all broke down the set and headed off to the after party. In a year filled with numerous high-quality social events, I have heard more than a few people saying that this was their favorite. Fantastic way to cap off this crazy experience!
View of Stanford GSB Escondido Village
Quick shower and then walked over from my place in Escondido Village to the GSB campus. Escondido Village is where many of the couples and all of the families live about 10 minutes walking from the GSB. I’m still trying to figure out if it’s to protect the families from those crazy single MBA students or the other way around. I enjoy starting my day with this beautiful walk through some of the residences to the business campus.
Got in a quick session with my GST team to prepare for our final presentation later in the day. The Global Study Trips are a fantastic opportunity to experience a new culture and geography. I went to China over Spring Break 2017 and was inspired to lead a trip of my own the following year.
Student looking at a whiteboard
Macroeconomics managed to pull me into the wild world of interest rate manipulation by the Fed. I am constantly surprised by how intense the discussion gets surrounding aggregate demand and supply (and that I get into the weeds with everyone else).
Lured by the opportunity to give some input on next year’s Executive Challenge and the promise of free food, I joined a brainstorming session. Me and a few other MBAs had the chance to provide our opinions on a potential new case for the 2017 Executive Challenge. Executive Challenge is the culmination a class called Leadership Lab in the first quarter for MBA1s in which squads of six are challenged to interact with alums who serve as actors in simulations of tense situations that could occur in the careers of future leaders.
We got to pitch our idea for a GST to Norway and the Netherlands to members of the approval committee. They gave us fantastic feedback about potential pitfalls and strengths of our pitch that eventually led to being selected to run our proposed GST in Spring of 2018. I guess it went pretty well!
Child standing in front of digital artwork on Stanford campus
I was lucky enough to come to Stanford with a built-in support system. My wife and 2-year-old son came to visit me on campus to run around for a little while. I have been amazed at how accommodating my classmates and the GSB in general have been in helping my family settle into the community. Whenever my son is being a terror on campus, I can’t count the number of people who come up and want to hang out too. Whenever I can I get my son on campus to soak up some of the incredible energy given off by all the people making up this institution.
I was lucky enough to be selected as an Arbuckle Fellow in the middle of my MBA1 year. The Arbuckle program gives MBA2s a chance to serve as guides for squads of MBA1s in their first quarter. One of key courses required as a Fellow and also a cornerstone at the GSB is called Interpersonal Dynamics or more affectionately as Touchy-Feely. I had T-group from 7-10pm and got a chance to learn a lot about myself and my interactions with others.
Group of Stanford GSB students in the Colab
My last event of the day was called Pitches and Pajamas, hosted by the Entrepreneurship club in the Colab. This event was designed to help budding entrepreneurs form teams and test out early ideas in a safe place. We took turns making one minute pitches to the group and getting instant encouragement. Another long, exciting day and I was ready to head home.
Stanford GSB Band FOAM members musical performance on stage
We started our set at about midnight. The Band FOAM after the GSB Show traditionally includes singers from the Show doing a reprise of some of the songs from the Show. FOAM is a GSB institution in which the Friends Of Arjay Miller (a famous dean of the GSB) have social gatherings every Tuesday evening. Band FOAM lets the musically inclined members of the class share with their classmates. Our set was a lot of fun and a great way say goodbye to the material that we had lived with for so long.
I drove a couple of my classmates home from FOAM and we weren’t quite ready to accept that the morning was nearing so we headed up to the roof of Highland Hall to chat. On the numerous clear nights we are gifted with in Palo Alto, the roof of Highland Hall is a wonderful place to connect with friends, especially in anticipation of GSB classless Wednesdays.
I tried to make as many of the talks in the View From The Top (VFTT) series as possible. Mary Barra, CEO of GM, came to speak to us about her career and view of the future. This entry is cheating a little bit because it technically occurred on Thursday, but please Barra with me. VFTT is a great opportunity to learn from the incredible experience of leaders of various industries and Mary Barra was no exception.
Woman and child standing in front of Stanford fountain
Took a little Wednesday break by participating in a Stanford tradition; swimming in the fountains with my wife and son. They are colder than you would think, but it’s quite refreshing on a hot day.
Even though we are supposed to have no class on Wednesdays, some of the more masochistic members of the class decide to buck that trend. I had a class called Introduction to Environmental Science on Wednesdays that was a requirement for the E-IPER program. E-IPER is one of the many joint degree programs offered in conjunction with the MBA. It is an additional Master’s degree in engineering and I am focusing it on energy. This course in particular gave us a window into the variety of work going on in Environmental Science at Stanford.
My next stop was to join some veterans in the program for Whiskey and War Stories. These events are new this year and give us civilians a chance to learn a bit about life in the military through first hand accounts from our classmates. I found myself in awe of the vastly different and harrowing experiences of some of my new friends.
I then became a patron of the pop-up restaurant in Highland Hall run by another classmate. Nimit’s Window started as a generous individual who shared his grilled cheeses with his hungry compatriots and has blossomed into a Yelp-reviewed (look it up!) hidden gourmet gem. I had the gruyere on sourdough.
MBA student delivers Stanford GSB TALK speech to a room full of students
Every Wednesday night I am in exactly the same spot to learn about the unbelievable pasts of my classmates through TALK. TALK has been around at the GSB for at least a decade and gives MBAs a chance to delve deep into their personal histories and psyches to connect on a whole different level. I have sat next to a person in class or casually chatted with someone on ten different occasions and then am blown away by the trials they have overcome or by their milestone achievements. I left with the oddly common feeling here of inspiration.
View of full RAIL computer lab at Stanford GSB
I entered the RAIL computer lab on the third floor of the Bass library to a sight I had come to expect on the night before our models were due. The infamous DeMarzo Financial Modeling course had struck again and we were all trying to finish up another week’s model. It was time to settle in for a long night of camaraderie and financial debugging and still felt lucky to be surrounded by these people. We get a lot closer in the trenches.