Building a Stronger Network: MBA Student Creates a Platform to Connect Classmates

Photo of Sherif Shabana in front of a white wall for HQHQ story.

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Building a community during your MBA program can give you lifelong benefits: after all, these are your peers and future coworkers. It is our human instinct to come together socially, but MBAs had to overcome even more obstacles during the global pandemic — finding themselves physically apart. Sherif Shabana (MBA’21) created HQHQ.ai, a student networking platform where MBAs can routinely be paired up and interact.

“The pandemic stole so much for the MBA experience and as amazing as the efforts were to overcome these obstacles, we saw the urgency to amplify the networking and mentorship experiences for students,” said Shabana. 

This platform allows current students to be “on the market” for connections and professional relationships so they can pair up with colleagues for developing our networks at Georgetown McDonough.

Virtual work is not a new concept for more MBAs, as most post-graduate employment demands it. COVID has made effective networking and mentorship extremely difficult this year, with fewer opportunities to engage with colleagues outside study groups or cohorts. HQHQ.ai offers a quick and easy way to remedy this. By signing up students have easier access to McDonough colleagues relevant to their career search, as well as to outgoing graduates joining the workforce.

“We didn’t want people to feel like they were missing out on vital MBA experiences or making their core friend groups, so when I first heard about Sherif’s platform, I knew it would be a success,” said Sam Speed (MBA’22), vice president of social, Georgetown McDonough’s MBA Student Government Association.

How It Works

1. Log on to HQHQ.ai, to input your name, cohort, career interests, and meeting preferences. 

2. You will then be matched with McDonough colleagues directly via your Gmail inbox, which you can accept or reject on a weekly basis.

3. An automated calendar invite will be sent and you’ll be free to meet.

The feedback from the platform has been positive, with over 100 unique sign ups, 250 matches, and more than 33 meetings. Although HQHQ.ai was originally intended to be a networking product that targets human resources departments for companies, he sees an opportunity for the larger Georgetown McDonough community. 

Shabana is working to expand the networking platform to fit the Georgetown McDonough Undergraduate Program with the hope to build it out even further to connect with other business schools.