Leading others through her own work ethic has been a constant in Latefa Mahmoud’s life. The daughter of immigrants and the oldest of six children, she’s the first person in her family to earn a master’s degree and has just landed her dream job as a business analyst at Equitable. 

Latefa Mahmoud

Latefa Mahmoud ’16 G’20

Work ethic is what allowed Latefa to juggle 45 hours a week working at her on-campus job and her local mosques. It’s what drove her to work through her lunch, using that brief free time to instead meet with professors or finish academic work. And it’s what inspired her to volunteer in the Syracuse community, participate in extracurricular activities, and participate in the iSchool’s iConsult program, where she worked with real clients and gained critical work experience. 

Her hard work culminated last spring when she graduated from the iSchool with an impressive GPA and the resume she needed to launch her career.

“I really had to prioritize my time, but I think when you really want to do something you find the time to get it done,” said Mahmoud. “Sometimes I don’t know how I did it, but I know it took a lot of determination and motivation to make sure I was always on the right path.”

All that determination has paid off. Despite graduating in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mahmoud was recently hired as a business analyst at Equitable, an insurance company with an office here in Syracuse. As a business analyst, she serves as the “middleman” between clients and developers to ensure that client needs are met by the developers who build the company’s systems. Additionally, she does user acceptance testing, which is a software testing process that uses different scenarios to ensure that software works properly before the official release.

“My education from the iSchool has helped me a lot in this new role, especially because the projects I worked on allowed me to understand what it is like to work on a team,” said Mahmoud. “I also learned how to communicate with people who do not understand IT very well, which makes it easier for them to do their jobs.”

Mahmoud also believes that the technical skills she learned at the iSchool, such as documenting a project, writing user guides for clients, and learning database SQL have played a major role in her success at her new job.

Landing a job at Equitable is not Mahmoud’s only major accomplishment. Mahmoud is proud of the example that she set for her younger siblings. Her brother was recently accepted into the iSchool as an undergraduate student.

“I am always encouraging my siblings to get an education and a degree. I want to give them the boost they need to do what they want to do and follow in my footsteps,” said Mahmoud. “My family is very educated and doing great.”

Mahmoud credits some of her success to her peers and professors at the iSchool. She described the iSchool community as “family-like” and expressed appreciation for her adjunct professors who worked full-time jobs and came to the iSchool in the evening to teach. She mentioned that many of her professors were willing to stay late after class to provide assistance and were always available to help via email or phone when they couldn’t physically be there in person.

“Everyone at the iSchool knows each other really well. I think it’s really great that there are people from all over the world and different backgrounds, but we all share very similar values. Everyone encourages each other to succeed,” said Mahmoud of her peers and professors. “The way my peers ask questions and work together helped me become the person I am today.”

Mahmoud also expressed her appreciation for members of the iSchool community like associate dean Art Thomas, who encouraged her to push herself outside the classroom by joining clubs like iConsult. The opportunity to work with iConsult gave her hands-on experience with real employers that prepared her for her current role at Equitable.

While Mahmoud achieved one of her biggest goals by becoming a business analyst, she still has big goals and plans for the future. She hopes to eventually move up to a leadership position within the company where she can manage her own team.

“I think that having good management and a strong leader is really important,” said Mahmoud. “I would love to eventually move up to a management position where I can manage a team and be the person who provides positive insight and perspective. I want to be a leader in my company and a leader in the world.”