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Talib Mahmood Sheikh: Driving 50,000 Miles For a Master’s

At the School of Professional Studies, Talib:

  • Balanced full-time employment at a power plant in Rising Sun, Maryland, and study in parallel with discipline, planning, and motivation

  • Mastered strategies to maximize performance and sustainability of construction projects

  • Studied construction disciplines in diverse topics, from estimating project costs to risk management and legal disputes

“The aim was to learn how to develop a solid business plan that masters all project execution strategies in construction, and the M.S. program at Columbia provides a solid platform to develop such a skill-set. The fundamental goal is to educate myself as an up-and-coming leader in the industry”

Why did you want to work towards an M.S.?

To learn how to formulate sound strategies that encompass my vision for growth and operational excellence that would pivot my expertise to create comprehensive solutions tailored to construction. Aligning with this philosophy will streamline my concepts by giving me a chance to experience industry best practices in terms of construction techniques, procedures, and lessons learned from the pioneers of the industry at Columbia University.

What has the process of learning at Columbia been like, and what class has been particularly helpful?

The opportunity of learning from industry-leading professionals at Columbia has provided me with exposure to complex managerial and operational challenges. The adjunct faculty provide a foundation that allows students to learn and gain hands-on experience through real-life construction projects. Prevention & Resolution of Contract Disputes by Professor Phil White (partner at Dentons LLP) was an instrumental course that allowed the class to experience a live construction litigation case on a power plant.

I met mentors through Columbia’s community, including Jahan Zaib, a Columbia Alumni currently working as an investment banker at J.P. Morgan who had helped me to further develop an understanding of capital projects and their translation into capital markets. Ameer Talha further evolved these concepts from a prospective of hedge funds that specialize in the construction sector.

How has your employer supported your pursuit of education?

I would like to use this platform to express my deep gratitude and recognize the efforts put in by my employer, PCL Construction, who diligently worked with me to support my career goals and provide opportunities pertaining to professional development. A special thanks to all those who were involved in the process including Chris Pullen, John Moreno, Andrew Wallace, Scott Camplin, Jarrod Dubord, Roger Molloy, Doug Pickering, John Brown, David Watts, John Kavitz, and Nick Filamini. They consistently supported this educational initiative in conjunction with challenging schedules on mega-projects in both Canada and the United States in terms of logistics, and work requirements to ensure this objective transitioned into a reality.