The following is my translation of a recent Arabic interview published by Birzeit University’s Alumni unit under Success stories for BZU alumni. It was an interesting experience and I’m hoping it will inspire others to work hard and follow their dreams. The original post in Arabic is located at the BZU Alumni site.
Feras Nasr – A rich experience between professionalism and innovation
Feras Nasr’s beginnings with Birzeit University was in 1995 when he enrolled to study electrical engineering with a minor in Computer Science. His dreams were big from the start and he knew that the path to success would require a lot of hard work. During his last year at Birzeit, he worked full-time with Palnet Communications to be more aware of the labor market and how to apply what he learnt at university and how to apply it to his professional work life. He remained with Palnet until he graduated from Birzeit. Feras says “the work experience gained while a student is studying is extremely important as it helps build their character, prepares them for the labor market and gives them the opportunity to apply what they learned“.
He then left Birzeit University to the USA to achieve his Master in Computer Engineering from Wayne State University, and he preferred to return to Palestine after graduation despite the extremely difficult circumstances with the start of the second Intifada. He started working with the Palestinian Development Gateway, a World Bank group project, where he remained for a year and a half and he says “the first job after returning is really one where I learned a lot“. He then moved to the Palestinian Central Elections Commission as an IT Manager where he worked for 8 months and then in 2004 to become a Technical Manager at ASAL Technologies.
Feras then moved to Canada and lived there for five years. During that time he received a second Master degree, an MBA from Ryerson University. He also worked at Q9 Networks, first as a Network Operations Center (NOC) Analyst and later to lead the operations of the NOC, which is responsible for monitoring all the company’s and customers’ networks 24 hours a day, every day of the year. He then decided to return to Palestine. “The decision to return was a for my love of the country, family and friends. I also felt a general improvement in Palestine. Returning to Palestine should always be in people’s mind, the country needs people with skills and experience“.
Today, Feras works as President of iConnect Tech and says that “every position I’ve worked in has played a big role in my life and has given me enormous experience, and I feel that my current position as President of a company is the most important and most challenging. More challenging given the amount of responsibilities and more important in terms of the amount of experience and knowledge I’m gaining. When a person works as part of a team, you always have people to go back to when there are problems. Whereas being the President, the responsibility is on your shoulders, which poses a great challenge for me“.
About Feras’ most memorable moments in the university, Feras told us that “after 13 years, I really do miss the university life and the very close social connections and relationships I had with my fellow students. When we used to walk through campus, we knew everyone and everyone knew us. The student volunteering hours were also very special. We would often give tours to visitors of the unversity and of course picking olives in villages was also a great time“.
Feras talked to us about Birzeit University today and what changes he has seen. “Of course, the university has gotten much larger in the past few years and the number of students and buildings has increased greatly. I’m seeing a lot of advancement throughout the unversity, but the university curriculum also needs to evolve, especially from how it is delivered to student. It shouldn’t be based on memorization, especially given that the current business environment needs people who can think, innovate and produce new ideas and projects“.
Feras added, “I visited universities in the US including (MIT and Harvard). The students there are intelligent, innovative and productive. That’s how I would like to see Birzeit University students. I hope Birzeit University becomes a source of innovation that doesn’t only graduate students who work in companies. I hope the university graduates students who create their own companies and excel. I hope to see the university continue to grow and become a source of innovation and excellence and a source of new and successful ventures“.
Asked about the university’s connection with its alumni, Feras comments “There is a lot of positive interaction and interest in Birzeit univeristy towards its alumni, but we still need to see more interaction. The university should continue to follow up with its alumni to help create job opportunities for its new graduates, and the new university should also develop methods of continous communication with the alumni body. There should be a strong bond between the university students and alumni, where they can both share their experiences and concerns“.
In conclusion, Feras confirmed his stance in helping any student who is interested inn bringing an innovative idea to life and advises students to not fear failure, learning and fixes our failures is how we can all be on the path to success.