By Quentin Stewart
After completing my MBA at Utah State University in 1974, I headed to my native California to begin a career and to leverage my newly acquired academic skills and experiences.
The next year, I joined Solar Turbines in San Diego, which at the time was a subsidiary of International Harvester. While the position at Solar was for a marketing business analyst, in just a few short weeks of employment, I found myself out on the shop floor assembling gas turbine packages because of a machinists’ strike. In retrospect, the strike was a great opportunity to work on the shop floor and gain a better technical understanding of the product. Due to the increased technical and product background that came with this hands-on experience, I was then given field assignments primarily with oil and gas applications in the United States, Oman, the North Sea, Netherlands, Belgium, Algeria, Hungary, Venezuela and Mexico.
In 1979, Solar moved me to Lafayette, La., where I worked with oil and gas customers in the Gulf of Mexico and managed a small staff of technical personnel. In 1981, I moved to New Orleans to assume responsibility for one of Solar’s repair shops and its technical staff. Also in 1981, Solar Turbines was acquired by Caterpillar and has remained a Caterpillar company since then.
My first overseas move was in 1983 when I was assigned by Solar to be the regional service manager for Europe, Africa and the Middle East. This was a great opportunity to work with customers from a variety of cultures, and it was a wonderful experience for my growing family to live in Belgium. Like many large companies, the majority of Solar’s business is overseas.
In 1986, we returned to Houston, Texas, where I became the regional service manager for the southern and eastern United States. Then, in 1995, we moved to Dallas, Texas, to assume the management of an overhaul facility with 200-plus employees. It was very different working with, and managing, a manufacturing operation, and re-manufacturing (or overhauling) is probably the most challenging manufacturing assignment from a supply chain and technical specification viewpoint.
Another dramatic career shift came in 1999 when Solar moved me back to Houston as a sales engineer for electrical power generation projects. During the energy crisis from 1999–2003, there was a huge demand for several new gas turbine power generation projects in the United States, including the Solar 5 megawatt cogeneration project at USU and the 15 megawatt peaking plant with Logan City Light & Power.
With a wide variety of job experiences at Solar, in 2004, we moved across the Pacific to Melbourne, Australia, where I am currently the managing director with responsibility for all of Solar’s growing business operations in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. With a staff of about 80 employees, business has been excellent in gas-rich Australia and Papua New Guinea.
Thirty-six years after being a freshly minted MBA from USU, after several calculated career risks and moves, I can say the experience has been richly rewarding and personally fulfilling.
To today’s students, I would say, keep a long-term perspective as you think about life after Utah State. Don’t get caught up with appearances or the glitter of fancy titles. Hold to your personal values, take initiative and get out there. The world needs more Aggies out and about.
An interview with Dr. Tayseer Al-Smadi
By Ann Norman
Q: Who was your favorite professor?
There is more than one indeed. Basudeb Biswas was my PhD committee chairman. I had several courses from him, like econometrics and international trade. He had a significant impact on me through his unique way of teaching, advising and providing comfort. Nothing was difficult or ambiguous when he taught me. Also, Christopher Fawson was one of my favorite professors. Whenever I would visit him asking for help, his answer was always, “you bet,” and I always felt close to him. He made me feel like his friend, not just a student. James Shaver, the dean of graduate studies at that time, was also one of the professors I liked very much, even though I never had a course from him. I came to know him through my activities in the Associated Students of Utah State University (ASUSU) and the Graduate Student Senate (GSS). I served as a vice president for the GSS, and I became the first international student to win the election for the president of GSS. Little did I know that working in that student government was a very good preparation for my career to come.
Q: What is your favorite memory at the business school?
Well, when you live in a place for four years and deal with professors and students, you have many memories. However, one of the memories, which I will never forget, is passing the preliminary examination before finishing my first year of study. I began my first year at USU in January 1994 and passed the examination in June 1994! That was a great challenge, and I had to study day and night to pass. Of course, my previous knowledge and my love of economics were of great help in this endeavor as well.
Q: What advice would you give for current students?
When you go to school, your first goal is to learn and gain knowledge that you will use in the years to come. Therefore, it is very important to question everything and understand what you read in the classes you attend. Yes, it is important to get high grades so you have better chances at securing a job, but what is equally important is to gain quality knowledge. To get this, you have to love what you read and enjoy the time you spend in reading, researching and preparing reports. To sum up, the successful student is the student who loves his or her field from deep within his or her heart. In addition, I advise them to pay some attention to non-curriculum activities, because such activities are important in building more networks and your own character and personality.
Q: What has most contributed to your success? What got you to where you are?
Everything starts with a dream! These dreams develop over time to become your ultimate goals in life. However, to get there you have to work hard and utilize all of your capacities. On the road, you will face difficulties, challenges and upsets. Nevertheless, such difficulties make you stronger and give you more power. To be specific, I dreamt of becoming a Minister of State when I was in high school; I wished to become the Minister of Labor. Therefore, I decided to study economics, because I found that the majority of labor ministers were economists. Of course, I came to realize later on that this was not necessarily the case but I am most thankful for my education in economics nonetheless.
While doing my undergraduate degree, I had to visit the Central Bank of Jordan to gather some papers for a report I was doing. I loved that place, and so, on the spot, I decided I wanted to work there after graduating. This meant that I had to get excellent grades and gain the required knowledge to pass the interviews, and I did. I worked at the Central Bank and found that a graduate degree would increase my opportunities in making my dream of becoming a minister come true. So, I got my master’s and PhD. After that, I moved to the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation as a director of research and studies. There I had to work sometimes seven days a week and very long hours. To succeed, you also must sacrifice. I got promoted to undersecretary, then to minister. I have served in three ministerial positions since 2005, however, not one of which was labor.
Q: Who is the person that has most shaped your life?
My mother, of course! My father passed away when I was less than two years old. She had to work hard and sacrifice to raise a family of six. I learned from her that things don’t come easy, and life should be challenged! Further, I was the only male in the family and in my culture this meant that I was the center of attention and the hope of the family. Part of my success is thanks to my mom, and I wish to express my deep gratitude to her. Your hard work was fruitful and paid off.
I also must give credit to Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, as well as some books about time management that were given to me when I joined ASUSU.
By Jenna Jardine
People do not usually expect Astou NDiaye, a 6-foot, 3-inch former professional basketball player from Senegal in Africa to start speaking Italian.
After playing professional basketball all over the world for seven and a half years in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), Ms. NDiaye came to Logan to be an assistant coach for the USU women’s basketball team.
She worked in that capacity from 2008 to 2010, and she is now finishing her education as a graduate student at the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business. She expects to complete her Master of Science in Human Resources degree this spring.
“Being at the Huntsman School of Business at USU gave me the chance to meet some very smart and interesting people,” Ms. NDiaye said. “I have been able to acquire some great knowledge going through the curriculum in the management department with professors who have been great and inspiring.”
Ms. NDiaye received a bachelor’s degree in Business from Southern Nazarene University in Bethany, Okla. where she graduated, cum laude in 1997. Her international education, however, was just beginning.
Ms. NDiaye played for a team in Italy for two years. Now, finding herself in Logan, she said she is experiencing a different kind of culture shock.
“To be effective in a new culture requires a lot of patience and a lot of learning and adopting some of other people’s ways,” she said. “It’s not easy when you have to learn a new language just to communicate daily, as was the case in Europe.”
It is important to take every opportunity to broaden that vision, even if it can be a little difficult at times, according to Ms. NDiaye.
“Just be open-minded,” Ms. NDiaye said. “Don’t be afraid to go outside of your own sphere of comfort. Be willing to integrate yourself into other peoples’ way of doing things. Have a genuine focus of immersing yourself in other’s cultures. Ms. NDiaye and her husband, Ousmane Diatta, are parents to their seven-year-old triplets, Boubacar, Bineta and Ndiasse.
Ms. NDiaye ranks third all-time on the career scoring list, after scoring 2,126 points for Southern Nazarene University. She was named Women’s Basketball Coaches Association NAIA All-American her senior year and was a two-time NAIA First-team All-American.