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Muhammad Omer Farooq

Muhammad FarooqSales Producer, Allstate Insurance

BA Business and Marketing, 2010

Tell us about your work with Allstate as a Sales Producer.

I moved to the US towards the fall of 2012 and almost immediately started applying for work. I never wanted to look for a 'job' and was always focussed on working my way towards a career. Allstate opened its doors after a few months and the rest is history. My role is to target and acquire new clients who could benefit from the products and services offered by Allstate Insurance. It is a mix of corporate B2B sales and personal lines insurance – B2C sales. Simply put I am a salesman but the details itself are far more intricate. From client retention, to working audits enforced by our compliance team. Enforcing the rules and rates pertaining to each policy and making sure they are administered accordingly. I never thought I would be a salesman but the feeling you get from closing an account and landing those items is definitely nothing short of my own version of an adrenaline rush. I love working with them and I cannot help but reflect back to my educational pursuits at Middlesex and Wharton Business School for making sure my educational pursuits merit the work I do today.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your career?

Insurance is truly not just about selling someone a service and hoping they don't need to use it. It is not about selling something which is required by law for someone to be in business. I truly believe it is about helping people. The best sales are when we provide someone with a service which helps them save money and allows them to work towards purchasing or planning differently for their family. It is warmth which can spread over you when you realize someone had a claim and they thought they had lost it all, but they haven't because of what you provided them with. Or in the case of life insurance, when inevitably someone does lose it all, people are relatively at ease because they know they have insurance. They feel confident that whatever damages there are, at least from a monetary perspective, their suffering could be minimal. In many instances they thank Allstate or even us, the staff, for that.

What were the main reasons that you chose to study at Middlesex University?

When I visited the campus and read the reviews I read, it was a no-brainer. In the hundreds of thousands of business schools SSRN ranks Middlesex in the top two or three hundred. The flexibility of being offered world class education in my own backyard, thanks to the international campus in Dubai, is truly amazing. So I would say the reputation which Middlesex holds, the flexibility that they offer and lastly the diverse environment they provide is a great reason to choose to study there and more so, the best reason to finish your education there.

What aspects of your course did you enjoy most?

The diverse courses we studied which were still looped within our field. A lot of colleges out there have someone who is an Engineering major but for some reason is taking French as a college course. The Business & Marketing program offered me courses in international marketing, supply chain, logistics, accounting and so many other courses. All these courses were directly relevant to my field. Out of all the courses there was one which truly stands out. Mkt 3110 which was about marketing strategy and brand placement techniques! This course was probably the best learning experience of my life. Though it's been 5 years now I still remember Professor Meeraj, our lecturer in the Dubai campus and those brilliant display planning techniques he showed us. It was a true insight on how the big guns work when launching an ad campaign.

What are your fondest memories of your time at Middlesex?

College is truly a bonding experience and I met some friends who are now a part of my life. One name which I have to mention as he is one of the most interesting people I know – Syed Qasim Ahmed. He unfortunately lives about 12,500 KM away from Atlanta but we still speak almost every day and I am extremely grateful for having gone to Middlesex and having taken the bus so I could end up sitting on the opposite row to him and becoming friends.

What one piece of advice would you give to prospective students looking to study at Middlesex?

College is 4 years of your life which shape the rest of your career and so many of your personal endeavours. Make sure you have the right background to get in to Middlesex University by ensuring you have a strong academic background. Be prepared to work hard and have fun while doing it. Always try and balance everything life throws at you. Know there will never be perfect symmetry but a strong resolve and dedication to your goal is all you need to get in and succeed.

Since leaving Middlesex you have had a range of roles in sales, marketing and HR and you have quickly risen up to senior positions within these companies. Do you have any tips for working your way to the top?

I always tried to perform in many different fields. I was student body representative in Middlesex whilst participating in sports; I was an avid amateur bodybuilder and was working while studying to pay for tuition so the burden could rest on my shoulders as opposed to my family's. I have always been a hard worker and I do not mean to sound arrogant, I did it because of necessity and personal ambition and it pays off because working that way your whole life shapes you. I have worked in three different fields and four different industries in the last six years but I never jumped ship for the sake of it. I saw the industry and monitored market trends before saying 'adios'.

Always look at things from three different angles – finance, resource and attainment. How much money do you stand to make? What benefits will be at your disposable? What will you come out with in terms of adding to your skill set and vice versa? What do you have to invest, what will be the benefit for the organization in adding you to the team and how will you improve the company? Whether it is an asset to the net profits, enhancing efficiency or simply increasing morale – know your role and embrace it!

What skills have been most important to your career in marketing and how have you cultivated these?

Identifying market behaviour has helped me always forecast what to expect. Living in two different continents and in so many different parts of the world I have been blessed with looking at things in a unique way. I kept up my educational pursuits by acquiring a degree in project management, doing my MBA from an Ivy League university and keeping up with current times. That is all there is to it in making sure you are never considered dispensable and always have the same thing to offer that a graduate will five years from now.

What have you found to be the most effective ways of enhancing your professional profile?

Networking! Branch out and meet people who are working professionals who know the right people. You have to mingle and make yourself known to every one you can. Your name and profile should be as worthy as someone running for Mayor. Keep yourself out there and listen and learn. At the same time make sure wherever you are, you can at least add one item of value.

What has been your proudest achievement to date?

A personal one; getting married to my wonderful, wonderful wife! I never thought I would get married at the age that I did. I was barely 22, with no job, living in a new country and now three and a half years later I live in a very respectable community, we have everything we could ask for and our faith is pure and intact. God has been merciful to us and especially me by giving me a family, a roof over my head and the ability to make ends meet and then some.

What three pieces of advice would you give to current students and recent graduates looking to follow a similar path to you?

1 – Life's successes do not revolve around a singular path. Working hard is the key to everything. Be ambitious and never settle, always strive for more but be happy and content with what you have.
2 – Respect others. Those below you are human and those above you are also only human. Treat everyone with equality and the universe will work for you.
3 – Give. Charity is not something you have to be 'rich' to provide. Whether it's a dollar or a million, money or your time, everything we do makes a difference. Together, as a society we make differences every day and we should commit to never stopping that.

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