Leaving a Footprint at Eller: Izhar Sajid ’21 MS (MIS)

Jan. 5, 2022

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In 2015, Izhar Sajid ’21 MS (MIS) arrived at the University of Arizona as a freshman ready to learn about management information systems. Six years later, he’s finishing up his master’s degree and reflecting on his time at the Eller College of Management.

Born in New York, Sajid moved to his family’s native Bahrain when he was a kid. While there, he shadowed his father, an entrepreneur, and got his first taste of life in the business world.

“That inspired me in a way to pursue my own goals of starting my own business,” he says.

He seized the opportunity to do so during his senior year of high school, when Sajid and his friends started an events management company. The organization hosted soccer events and concerts for various local schools.

After finishing high school, he elected to pursue a more dynamic path and combine his passions for business and IT. That’s when he came across MIS and applied to the top 10 universities in the field. Sajid was ultimately drawn to Eller, in part due to his desire to eventually pursue a master’s at a top-ranked institution.

As an undergraduate MIS student, he was involved in various clubs, such as Zipperman Scholars, and obtained a part-time job as an IT specialist at Arizona Campus Health. Additionally, Sajid honed his skills by double majoring in entrepreneurship. In fact, he and three cofounders launched ZAP Parking, a startup that seeks to streamline the parking process through a geolocation app. In May 2019, the team won the Perkins Coie Innovative Minds Challenge award for $10,000. The University of Arizona also piloted ZAP’s technology.

Sajid’s work experience wasn’t limited to the university. After developing an interest in cybersecurity, he obtained an internship with Deloitte in the summer of 2018. The next summer, he went back to Bahrain and interned with a cybersecurity startup.

“That gave me a different perspective in terms of how two different regions work,” he says, noting that there’s a large cyber knowledge gap between the Middle Eastern region and the United States.

Upon completing his bachelor's degree, Sajid was accepted into the competitive AZSecure Cybersecurity Program as a Scholar for Industry recipient, which gave him the chance to work alongside accomplished faculty and doctoral students in the Artificial Intelligence Lab.

Today, he’s furthering his work in the field by studying cyber surveillance and unencrypted cameras in homes, industry facilities and government facilities. “You only start to take security seriously if you’ve been affected by it,” he says. “The idea is to try to shift that mentality.”

Despite hardships, including having to take a semester off last spring due to personal reasons, Sajid graduated last month and intends to accept one of the job offers he has on the table. However, his long-term aspiration is to return to Bahrain, educate young people about cyber issues and open his own cybersecurity firm.

He’ll look back fondly on his time at Eller and is grateful to his parents, friends, peers and the faculty members who have guided and supported him every step of the way. “I have interacted with a lot of students from different colleges on campus,” he says. “Eller always stands out to me. It’s a very hands-on experience, no matter what your major is.”

For current and future students, Sajid’s advice is to go the extra mile—reach out to professors, engage in extracurricular activities and find ways to stand out in the crowd. After all, his goal was to do meaningful work and “leave a footprint at Eller.”