Salam is studying for a dual degree in Business Administration and Data & Business Analytics. Originally from Pakistan, he has lived in the Netherlands and the United States.
Abdul is a former IE University Student Government president and aspiring entrepreneur—and has plenty to say about how to make the most of student life.
Why did you choose IE University, and why this particular program?
I found out about IE University from a friend of mine from my boarding school in the Netherlands. He was studying here already and loved it. I would describe IE University as multidimensional in terms of perspective, culture, traditions and people. What I enjoy most is the campus life, as there are so many activities and things to do.
I’m studying Business Administration and Data & Business Analytics. I always wanted to do one or the other, and this gave me the opportunity of having both at the same time. I want to start my own business in finance, so having the business side as well as data analytics fits perfectly with what I want to achieve.
What did you want to be when you were a child, and what do you want to be now?
I originally wanted to be an airplane engineer, and then I wanted to be a pilot—but I realized that it’s mostly automated flying, which is no fun. I want to be an entrepreneur, hopefully a sustainable billionaire. I don’t know if that’s possible, but we’ll try to keep it ethical!
What was your biggest shock when coming to IE University?
I started in Segovia and when you get off the train, you feel like you’re in the middle of a village somewhere. But that’s the biggest shock you’ll probably get; the welcome in the countryside from the cows, the heat and the smell! That changed when I got more integrated within the community. I was living with five others in Segovia, and we were all first-year students. We didn’t have any prior connections, and I think that helped us bond and start from scratch.
Finding an apartment in Segovia was much easier than in Madrid. After being rejected for five or six apartments in Madrid, I just took this one, but I’m still fixing a few things.
Are you involved with any student clubs, or have you started any?
Yes, I was involved with the IE Think podcast, which I started in my first year. Originally it was going to be a conference, but then COVID-19 happened and things had to pivot. So we thought of a podcast, as everyone can access it remotely. I was involved in the academic committee and then became the President of Student Government. I started a field hockey club in Segovia, and I was active in that, as well as podcasts and helping the arts club.
What are your best memories of IE University so far, both in Segovia and Madrid?
The best memories I have are of Segovia, because that was before the COVID-19 pandemic, so things were different. Being able to go to the hills, or to Casa de la Moneda, or just hanging out on campus and playing football. Casa de la Moneda is a creativity center, which is about ten minutes’ walk from the campus in Segovia.
My favorite place in Madrid is Parque del Oeste, because it’s very relaxing. It’s very green and you can watch the sunset from the high point, or you could go running there in the morning if you want to be healthy! My favorite restaurant in Madrid is Benares—it’s an Indian restaurant, but the food is very similar to Pakistani. It’s not as spicy as the food back home, but it’s pretty close.
Where do you see yourself after graduation?
I think I would be working in New York, Los Angeles or Stockholm, because those are the ideal places to have a startup—they’re known as startup hubs in their respective countries. I’d like to work for two or three years and then do my master’s. In ten years’ time, I would ideally have my own startup going—by that time, I’ll be 32, so before then I would like to be in Forbes’ “30 under 30.” High goals!
What is your favorite quote?
My favorite quote is by Rumi. It translates as “Why do you crawl like ants on the ground, when God has given you wings and you can fly?” It relates to realizing your own potential, thinking of yourself as someone who can achieve big things and not being limited by your own thoughts and your own mind.
You can hear our full interview with Abdul in this episode of the Going to IEU podcast.