by Jeremy Craig
Coming from Egypt to Atlanta, you might think that Mariam Desouky would experience severe culture shock and would be a proverbial wallflower.
You’d be wrong.
Being an “outsider” to another environment has helped propel her drive and ambition as a recent Honors Program graduate of the J. Mack Robinson College of Business and Georgia State’s Honors College.
“It’s almost cool to stand out, because you will be the only person in the room who can only be you,” she said, “and having that mentality, you always feel like you can be the game-changer.”
Her mother originally wanted her to study medicine. But the start of the Great Recession was a personal game-changer for Desouky while in high school, pushing her down the road toward a degree in accounting.
“Accounting is about finding the financial truth revealed in a number,” she said.
And she watched with growing fascination as news reports revealed the truth of how the global economy had tottered on a rotting foundation of fraud, misdeeds and scheming. Every tidbit of scandal added up to the greater truth.
“Just hearing the jargon, and specifically learning about Ponzi schemes like Bernie Madoff — I was just so fascinated with all of the things that had a huge effect,” Desouky said.
She’s a constant learner. During a study abroad program in Egypt, she got an up-close look at the difficulties of facilitating complex international trade because of communications problems.
Back home in the U.S., she’s teaching herself how to program databases, hoping to be part of the solution to the problems of financial technology.
Through her involvement with the Women Lead program, Desouky has learned the need for women to assert their rightful place in business.
“If there happens to be a situation where you feel like you’re undermined, you develop skills from other business leaders in Atlanta,” she said. “They share stories and say, ‘no, you have to be firm.’”
For her degree, she didn’t have to take up programming. She didn’t have to join Women Lead. It’s a desire to push forward to new things — like preparing for her first 5K this past Thanksgiving.
“I think it’s one of the better things I’ve decided to pursue in getting out of my comfort zone,” Desouky said.