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“I Have Always Wanted to Solve Business Problems”

SPS Program: ’15SPS, M.S. in Information & Knowledge Strategy | Full-Time, Hybrid

Information & Knowledge Strategy (IKNS) alum Shahzad Khokhar is an entrepreneur and the global head of Salesforce. He was also founder of KloudSign, a digital signage business based in New Jersey for which he received a Columbia University Innovation Scholarship Award, and went on to create araZach, a Salesforce consultancy that he recently sold to OpenBots. 

In our interview, Khokhar discusses his career journey and his advice for prospective IKNS students. Excerpts:

What led you to pursue an M.S. in Information & Knowledge Strategy—and why from Columbia?

Because it was a new and cutting-edge program, which appealed to my desire for both research and practical applications to entrepreneurship in particular. And I chose Columbia because it’s such a distinguished university.

How did the IKNS program impact your career progression?

I have always wanted to solve business problems, and the IKNS curriculum covers such a depth of subjects and brings the top faculty and field executives together to help synthesize and push our thinking forward. The program taught me to appreciate cognitive diversity.

Can you tell us a bit about your start-up araZach and how you sold it to OpenBots?

I created araZach, a certified Salesforce consulting partner with a specialization in the health-care and life-science space. Prior to starting araZach, I was the global practice director of Salesforce at UiPath, where I worked on robotic process automation solutions and saw an opportunity to solve the challenge of connecting patient data using this concept. Eighteen months ago, I was approached by OpenBots, who wanted to acquire my company araZach, and the rest is history—it was a great experience creating a company and then successfully selling it. 

Any advice for current or prospective SPS IKNS program students?

The IKNS program is great for students who want a combination of management and research skills (e.g., information science, organizational psychology, and change management) with practical skills (e.g., project management and executive leadership). The faculty is top-notch, and the student body is rich with diverse experiences. You can expect to learn as much from your peers as you will from the faculty. 

 

About the Program

The Columbia University M.S. in Information & Knowledge Strategy (IKNS) program provides students with foundations in information science, organizational psychology, and change management as well as practical skills in project management and executive leadership.

The fall 2023 application deadline for the M.S. in Information & Knowledge Strategy program is June 15. Applications are reviewed and admission decisions released on a rolling basis. Learn more here.