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Humayun Arif
Space Initiatives Manager for Global Government Solutions Group, Cisco Systems

ArifHumayun Arif
Age: 53
Job Title: Space Initiatives Manager, Global Government Solutions Group
Employer: Cisco Systems, Inc.
Program: MBA, Executive Program, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University.

Humayun Arif has been instrumental in reshaping NASA’s architecture for the next 30 years of space communication. He has played a key role in positioning Cisco Systems Inc. as NASA’s recognized industry collaborator in its $104 billion constellation program to return humans to the moon and to Mars.

Last January, Arif embarked on yet another challenging mission: earn an executive MBA degree from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Never mind that he’s a recognized subject matter expert in his field. Never mind that he’s 54 years old and more than 20 years into his career. Arif says he’s in need of some education.

“Over the last few years, it has been readily obvious to me while interacting with Cisco’s business units that there is strong interdependence of technical decision-making with business economics. One cannot be performed without the other,” says Arif, who is a space initiatives manager for Cisco Systems’ Global Government Solutions Group. “The value of an MBA, and actually the lack thereof, has clearly become evident.”

Arif also admits that he is pursuing an executive MBA degree because his leadership skills could use some reinforcement — particularly in formulating suitable strategies, solving problems and making correct decisions in a team environment.