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Meet Farzona Yusupova, MBA Candidate
Meet Farzona Yusupova, MBA Candidate

Hometown: Chkalovsk, Tajikistan.

Farzona came to Portland one month before starting the Portland State University (PSU) MBA in August 2015. Born and raised in Tajikistan, a young country that gained independence 24 years ago from the Soviet Union—but with the heritage of more than 3,000 years—she lived in a Chkalovsk, a city that lies on a Silk Road.

Previous Education Institutions:

  • Specialists Degree (equivalent to Master’s), International Economic Relations at Tajik State University of Law, Business & Politics

Work Experience:

  • House Support Services Manager, Habitat for Humanity, Tajikistan
  • Fulbright Scholar in Residence and Instructor, School of Business, Owens Community College, Toledo, OH
  • Khujand Branch Manager, Habitat for Humanity, Tajikistan
  • Business Trainer, National Association of Business Women in Tajikistan
  • Lecturer, Tajik State University of Commerce
  • National Program Development Manager, Junior Achievement Tajikistan
  • Master Trainer, Manager of Internet Learning Center, Relief International Schools Online

What's your favorite thing about Portland so far? 

I love the bridges, the Willamette River, and the Columbia River. The weather is so beautiful. Everything is in walking distance and the transportation system is excellent compared to other places in the US—even better than other places I’ve visited like Chicago and New York.

Why did you choose to pursue an MBA?

I travelled to most countries like Uganda, Russia, Netherlands, France, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, USA, OAE, and learned a lot during my job related trips. I was a Fulbright scholar in residence in 2012-13 in Toledo, OH, and also learned a lot from my teaching experience. But studying at an American school was my dream since I got my first Master Degree in International Business in 1999 in Tajikistan. I had family responsibility because I had my baby when I was 19. I considered pursuing a PhD, but chose the MBA because it is a more practical degree with more practical knowledge. I’m a lifelong learner so I can always apply for a PhD later.

Why did you choose PSU for your MBA?

I thought Portland was beautiful, and when I Googled MBA programs in the US with AACSB accreditation and focus in sustainability and leadership, PSU was the first school on the list. The website was very resourceful and my questions about coming here were all answered on the website. I was also accepted to two other programs but I liked PSU because of the communication style and professionalism of the admissions team, showing me that I can learn so much about customer service in the US.

Tell me about your most meaningful work experience.

When I applied to Habitat for Humanity for the branch manager position, I was not confident that I would be hired because they wanted a civil engineer. I interviewed and after a while, without having any expectations, I was hired. I led a team of 17 engineers, an accountant and an assistant fundraiser. Naturally, I’m very mild-mannered, so I learned to communicate more directly and firmly, and developed leadership skills. I also led partnerships with Financial Institutions, serving more than 5,000 families a year. It made me more business-minded.

What are your career goals?

I’ve mostly worked for nonprofit organizations. Learning business can help nonprofits and in turn businesses can learn to be more socially responsible. More consumers are choosing socially responsible businesses over corporations that don’t have a social responsibility focus, so one day, if you’re not socially responsible, your business might fail. I wanted to provide my input from a socially responsibility perspective to businesses because I know where the gaps are and where the demand is. I’d like to be a globally recognized consultant and provide business and corporate social responsibility advice to financial intuitions, connecting nonprofits with businesses.

What are your aspirations for the MBA?

There is a lot to learn at PSU. I started reading the textbooks and it feels like I don’t know anything. The more you learn the more you feel you know less. My weakness is accounting so I want to learn more about that. I’d like shadow some businesses to see how businesses work. I come from a country where business has a planned economic history, so I want to learn how the market-driven economy really works and what it’s like being client oriented. I love how when you ask for anything in the US, someone will help you—it’s very customer service oriented, and also you can return things you purchased if don’t like them anymore. I want to learn it all. I also want to learn more about sustainability—not just environmental but financial—because nonprofit projects are not always sustainable. One project gets piloted and benefits only a few targeted groups. There is so much to learn!

What is something that other people might be surprised to know about you?

Mostly about the languages I speak. I am fluent/bilingual in Russian, Tajik - Persian is my native language, and third English. In my country most professionals are fluent in those three languages.