“As well as academic knowledge, I gained a wide network of brilliant individuals around the world, and most importantly, lifelong friendships.”
Omar graduated from IE Business School in the top 5% as a member of the Dean’s List and was inducted into the Beta Gamma Sigma Society. In addition to the Master in Management, he holds a bachelor’s degree in petroleum and energy engineering from The American University in Cairo. He is passionate about animal welfare, the environment and human rights.
Omar Salah, Egypt
Co-Founder at Khazna
How would you summarize your time as an IE Business School student?
Nothing short of the best year of my life. The experience was enriching academically, socially and culturally—there were over 30 nationalities in my class. The diversity of the student body gave me a multinational outlook. As well as academic knowledge, I gained a wide network of brilliant individuals around the world, and most importantly, lifelong friendships.
How did you find your first role after graduation?
It was through a referral from a very good friend of mine who was already working for Uber. Although the opportunity did not come through the Talent & Careers team, they helped me a lot to prepare and polish my CV, get ready for interviews, and learn best practices when it comes to salary negotiations.
How was the recruitment process?
The recruitment process was one of the things that motivated me to work for Uber. At the beginning, I had little understanding of the core activities of an Uber operation. After an intense two-hour online analytics test and four technical interviews involving company-specific situational cases, I knew that these were the kind of problems I wanted to solve every day.
What motivated you to work at this company?
First and foremost is the impact of Uber, both globally and in Egypt. Egypt has a brittle transportation infrastructure, so Uber was able to solve an incredibly important problem for the country. The platform has allowed millions of riders, and you can get a reliable ride at all times. Hundreds of thousands of drivers make a solid living in very difficult economic times. It was exciting to contribute to this positive change.
Can you tell us about your own company, Khazna?
We’ve assembled a great team, and we’re still attracting top talent and growing. It was a great move for me following three and a half amazing years at Uber.
The company was founded with a mission to improve the financial well-being of over 20 million underbanked Egyptians by providing access to convenient, customer-centric and transparent smartphone-based financial services. Our vision is to improve lives, in Egypt and the region, by extending world-class financial services for everyone.
What challenges have you faced?
The biggest challenge was moving from a multibillion-dollar company with incredible financial and technical influence, to a startup aspiring to be just that. Moving from a fancy top office to a one-bedroom apartment was not easy. However, the vision that we set for the team at Khazna made it worthwhile. Also, going into a new industry such as fintech was challenging, but after a couple of months we started to get a grip on both the industry and the business.
How did your experience during the Master in Management help you create this company?
Coming from a background in petroleum engineering, the Master in Management was critical for me to be able to make that transition into the tech world with Uber, and then on to Khazna. I would probably not have landed a job at Uber if it was not for IE Business School and my experience during the Master in Management.
What would you like to say to potential candidates who might look up to you?
Never settle for a slow-paced job. Slow work pace means slow personal growth. Find a rocket ship and hop on it.
Any advice for current students?
I was rejected by multiple consulting and private equity firms in the months leading up to my interviews with Uber. These rejections were hard at the time, but they were my blessing in disguise as they helped me prepare for my process with Uber. Now I’m glad I was rejected. Never give up.
And advice for people thinking of applying to IE Business School?
Be ready for the ride of a lifetime.