"The courses at Stanford have given me a different perspective into the management of projects."

Ahmad Sharif has traveled to 45 countries in his relatively short lifetime. Born in Pakistan, he attended schools in Pakistan, Finland, Ukraine, and most recently, the United States. A physician with a passion for helping the underserved, he worked to establish emergency hospitals in the foothills of the Himalayas after a deadly earthquake. He learned organizational skills while leading a team to foster social mobilization and community involvement for a women's health project in Pakistan. And he taught gross anatomy to first year students at the Texas College for Osteopathic Medicine.

With the world as his school and armed with an M.D. earned in 2005, Sharif decided to focus on health management and public policy. He came to the U.S. to enroll in a Masters in Public Health program at the University of North Texas. During this time, and while attending a summer program in health and culture at Harvard, he was approached by Eclipsys Corporation (now Allscripts), who hired Sharif as a consultant. Allscripts is a provider of practice management and electronic health record technology for the health care industry. Sharif, who is based in Dallas, travels to hospitals across the country to help them implement electronic medical record programs and become compliant with national and international standards of care.

Working on complex implementations, Sharif often works with staff resistant to change. He discovered Stanford's Advanced Project Management program and determined he would benefit from the teachings. "I wanted to understand the working of complex organizations, aspects of decision making, leadership, and deeper insights into the logistics and cultures of projects," says Sharif. "I browsed through the program's website and liked the courses being offered."

Stanford's courses have provided tools and learning directly applicable to his job. "My favorite class was Managing Without Authority," Sharif says. "As a consultant it is vital for me to understand the dynamics of management when you don't have direct authority over people." The course helped Sharif develop short and long term strategies to influence people, tackle performance issues, and deal with dissatisfied customers, partners, managers and employees. He also learned how to build his own credibility among team members and client teams.

Sharif has extensive experience studying and working with diverse populations around the world, and he lauds Stanford for their global approach to project management. "I cannot stress enough the importance of diversity in my personal learning," he says. "The classes at Stanford resonate the importance of culture in the moving of an organization, how pivotal it is in the working of a company, and the far reaching impact culture has on the way a company operates and is identified in the marketplace, and society."

He was especially impressed with Professors Tom Kosnik and Gideon Kunda. Professor Kunda teaches a class called Converting Strategy into Action and Sharif says that he did "a phenomenal job of analogizing the organizational culture into simple day to day examples, and the value of culture and diversity in frame of individuals and organizations." Professor Kosnik was a favorite of Sharif's, who admires his "great depth of knowledge" and "the clarity in his lectures." He particularly enjoyed the course Leveraging Customer Relationships, where he learned the tools to diagnose different causes of customer behaviors and manage diverse customer relationships.

A mountain climber and a volunteer for the Millennium Candle Campaign, Sharif has seen firsthand the needs of underdeveloped countries and hopes to ultimately use his skills to help reform health care abroad. His Stanford education has helped him become more effective at his current job and has opened the door to a vast network of Stanford Advanced Project Management alumni throughout the world.

"Stanford is beyond any doubt one of the most prestigious institutions of the world," Sharif says. "At Stanford one gets the chance to network with some of the best professionals in their respective areas, and it helps tremendously in advancing your career."