Hassan Faraj hopes to help revitalize large cities devastated by the new economy. It’s a lofty goal. But considering the background and passion of the first-year Krannert MBA student, it seems plausible.
Faraj was born in Beirut, Lebanon, but the civil war in that country drove his family to the United States when he was 5. The family of seven lived in a one-bedroom apartment in Detroit.
With his father unable to work because of a disability, Faraj started working at age 12 to help his siblings support the family. He graduated from high school and had a full-time job when his life took a detour.
"A friend of mine was on his way to register at a local community college, and he asked if I wanted to go along. I had no plans to go to college, and didn’t even know how to get started," Faraj says.
He enrolled at Henry Ford Community College and quickly realized that if he applied himself, he could succeed at the collegiate level. That success continued as he transferred to the University of Michigan to major in business.
Faraj, who was the first in his family to earn a college degree, never received less than an A-minus. He was part of the honors program at Michigan, and was runner-up for the prestigious Chancellor’s Medallion. He also landed a coveted internship at General Motors, where his career path took its next turn.
"I met a lot of MBA interns from Purdue when I was at General Motors. I realized that if I was going to move up the corporate ladder, I would need an MBA. And Purdue was a great fit for what I was looking for in a school," he says.
Faraj, who calls his Purdue experience "everything I expected and more," has been active at the Krannert School. He is a graduate assistant, working directly on the Leadership and Ethics Series. He also is involved in the Consulting Club and will serve as president of the Finance Club.
Faraj was a manager at a real estate company during his senior year at Michigan, and he is using that interest in a real estate finance independent study project with Professor John McConnell. This summer, Faraj will intern as a financial analyst with Procter & Gamble.
He visited his home country in 2008 for the first time in 15 years, and he hopes to retire there some day. In the meantime, he stays close to his roots by following the career of his uncle, Ayman Zbib, one of the most famous singers in Lebanon.
Faraj isn’t sure what turns he’ll take after graduation, but he knows his ultimate wish.
"I have a passion for trying to help rebuild cities that have fallen on tough times," he says. "When I worked at GM headquarters in Detroit and saw that environment empty, it hurt."
"I want to see those urban areas come back, and I want to be part of the process. Whether I’m in a business leadership or volunteer role, I want to make an impact."