Muhammad Agha (IIPES 01) received a bachelor’s degree in economic sciences from the University of Beirut in 1999. In 2003, he graduated with honors from an MBA program with a focus in strategic management from Davenport University.
Last year, Agha worked as an independent researcher for The World Bank Group conducting a study on Arab economic integration. He has also held many prestigious positions in firms and civil society organizations in the U.S., Syria and Lebanon. In addition, he has facilitated international business agreements and proposed new strategic plans for firms in Europe and Asia.
Agha feels that the International Institute for Political and Economic Studies (IIPES) in Greece was a turning point in his life: academically, professionally and socially. In his words:
“IIPES 2001 was a turning point! The experience I had with IIPES is one of a life time. Education, diversity, multicultural exchange, one-on-one dialogues, heated global discussions, networking opportunities and much more…
“I was one of two Syrian representatives in IIPES 2001. The gesture we had from arrival to departure was outstanding. We were hosted in a wonderful facility over a hill in Crete Island. The facility was fully prepared to host students with an excellent room & board program, which facilitated our interaction. We got to share rooms with students of other nationalities, and most important [was] the interaction between us and the chances we had to chat with professors and make friends with everybody.
“The educational experience was outstanding. We captured broad issues and had to engage in dialogues and discussions within the group and with faculty and guest speakers who, by the way, can only be described as the best of the best.
“We studied Conflict Resolution using unique techniques and hands on experience. We got to learn the concepts and apply them to resolve current conflicts in our own countries; it was a blast to get to negotiate with the Lebanese over Syria-Lebanon issues. These dialogues enabled us to create a broader understanding of our countries, which we could not have acquired by tracking media channels or textbook reading. We talked to people who were there! We also learned about world economy, philosophy and politics.
“The program also included some top tier events: The chairperson of the Greek Association for Atlantic and European Cooperation hosted a traditional Greek dinner and spoke to us about the United Nations role and other global hot topics. The dinner itself was an example of the diversity of IIPES, with the education, information, music, dance and international spirit.
“IIPES ended without us noticing it. We spent months to study, prepare and wonder about this program that looked so good in the brochure, but none of us knew that the brochure’s description was a pebble in a pond!
“When I look back at IIPES, I only think of how lucky I was to start my graduate studies with such a program. Throughout, and after, IIPES my view of higher education was shifted to a more mature level. IIPES has been decisive in my life, imbuing me with an enthusiasm for learning, which had not been awakened by my previous education in Syria. The program contributed significantly to my MBA studies, academically and professionally. Moreover, I made invaluable friendships with professionals and professors around the world. As an IIPES alumnus, I came to the U.S. with a pre-established foundation of friends, including IIPES alumni and professors and TFAS staff members, and we are still in touch till this day.
“Just like each of the IIPES alumni, I thrive for excellence and accomplishing my goals in life to be able to contribute and give back to my country and the world community. I graduated with an MBA in strategic management, with honors and am currently working for a Global Trade Organization in the United States. I also started my own consulting business. Yet, IIPES always stands out in my portfolio as an honor, a unique experience and a cornerstone for understanding the world and a motivation to make it a peaceful haven for all nations.
“Lastly, I would like to thank Mr. Fouad Horani for his contribution to my scholarship with TFAS. I hope that one day I will be able to give back to TFAS and IIPES as an alumnus and donor.”