Kariem Adab: A World-Class Education in Construction

Originally from Egypt, Kariem Adab is a full-time, international student enrolled in the M.S. program in Construction Administration. He has worked in Dubai and elsewhere as an engineer. However, after the 2008 financial crisis upended the construction industry, he realized that he needed to go back to school to better position himself for future roles – whether in Egypt or abroad. Now based in New York, he’s expanding his skill set and his network at Columbia. We spoke with him about his graduate program, his aspirations, and the new opportunities that he has discovered.

What were you doing before the program, and what made you interested in the program?

I’ve always wanted to focus my career on project management. I wanted to have a more academic background in project management and diversify and enhance my knowledge.

I’ve been working in the construction industry for the past 11 years. I had worked in Egypt for a British consultancy, Gleeds, one of the top construction consultancies there.

Reading about this graduate program online, I thought that it was the right program for me. It would give me a very solid background in project management and best position me to get a better job in the industry as a senior project manager in the U.S. or elsewhere.

Why did you choose to come to Columbia?

Columbia’s reputation precedes it. It’s one of the most prestigious universities and will best position me when I look for a job abroad. At the end of the day, graduate school is an investment, you have to make sure that it is the best investment for you.

What do you think will be the most valuable part of the program for you?

I’m going to study Sustainability and Green Building. It’s something I’ve always wanted to learn about because this is a new trend. That’s where the construction world is going. I hope to gain more insight into modern techniques in construction.

Have you been able to network in the program?

Yes, from day one. The whole department is very proactive in getting the students connected to the industry, getting a feel for what the industry is like. I’ve been to a couple of [networking] events, and I had the chance to meet people in the industry. People always welcome you when you say that you’re studying at Columbia! They’re eager to give you internships, summer jobs. We even have a networking event tomorrow.

Any other thoughts about the program and how it fits into your career goals?

I just want to say that the program is a very good program. It’s very challenging, it’s a lot of hard work, but I think it will pay off. I really love and I enjoy what I’m studying, and I feel I’m getting so much out of it. It’s not just about the Columbia name; Columbia actually graduates the best students in the world. Now I’m getting to experience that firsthand.