2019 Best & Brightest: Neha Husein, Southern Methodist University (Cox)

Neha Husein

Southern Methodist University, Cox School of Business

“The best way I would describe myself: efficient and concise.”

Fun fact about yourself: I performed in a musical in South Africa!

Hometown: Carrollton, Texas

High School: Hebron High School

Major: Marketing and Human Rights

Minor: Advertising and Sociology with a Nonprofit Emphasis

Favorite Business Course: My favorite business course was Consumer Behavior taught by Dr. Dan Howard. Each lecture was so captivating and challenged me to understand the many layers of marketing and why people buy what they buy. 

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

On campus, I am an RA in Kathy Crow Commons, the Marketing and Social Media Coordinator of the Embrey Human Rights Program, and a food blogger for SMU’s Her Campus chapter. As a Caswell Leadership Fellow, I led efforts to create crisis kits and educational events to support victims of domestic and intimate partner violence. As an Engaged Learning Fellow, I conducted research on diversity and inclusion at the University of Kwazulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa through photos and interviews with over twenty students. I also served at the Circle K International President and Vice-President of Investigations of the Academic Honor Council from 2016-2017.

Awards: Her Campus’s 22 Under 22 Most Inspiring College Women, Dallas Entrepreneurship Center’s Top Women in Tech Award, GSEA National Finalist

Honors: SMU Hyer Society, Phi Beta Kappa, Hilltop Honors Scholar

Where have you interned during your college career? Business Systems Analyst Intern at Epsilon in Irving, TX & Marketing Intern at Whitley Penn in Dallas, TX

Where will you be working after graduation? I will continue working to end distracted driving with Just Drive.

Who is your favorite professor? SMU has given me the privilege of working with absolutely phenomenal professors. Each professor has helped me in different facets of my academic career, and I am so fortunate to have built relationships with many of them. In particular, Dr. Brad Klein has truly challenged me to shift my world view. He encourages students to enjoy learning through a growth orientation mindset rather than a performance-oriented one which allows students to succeed in the long-term. Dr. Klein pushes me to apply lessons to the real-world and has made me enjoy learning again.

What did you enjoy most about your business school? Cox has provided me so many opportunities to work with companies in the Dallas area. The real-world experience has been an invaluable asset to my academic experience.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? After studying marketing, I look at companies differently. I often catch myself examining their brand strategy and techniques instead of being a passive consumer.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? My best advice: get to know your professors! They are so experienced and have many amazing stories to share if you’re willing to listen.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? I didn’t realize how much I would learn about the varying aspects of business and how applicable they would be to my life beyond the classroom. I think every student should take a personal finance class because of how necessary it is, regardless of the career trajectory.

“If I didn’t major in business or human rights, I would be majoring in or studying… psychology. The way the mind works is so intriguing, and I love trying to understand human behavior, habits, personalities, etc. It’s all extremely interesting to me.”

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My parents have always instilled a hard-working, business mindset in me. I vividly remember mimicking my dad using a toy cash register at his convenience store. I also remember being very confused about the concept of sales tax at the age of six.

I didn’t know I wanted to study business at SMU until I spoke to Sohail and Sana Hamirani, two extremely influential mentors in my life who graduated with accounting and marketing degrees respectively from SMU Cox. Hearing about their experiences and seeing myself in their shoes pushed me to pursue business in college.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? In February of 2014, I was rear-ended by a driver that was texting. She apologized profusely, but ever since, I have been paranoid and fearful when I get on the road. I became one of about 400,000 people who was injured due to distracted driving that year. I decided something needed to be done about this issue, which impacts an increasing number of people each year.  That’s where Just Drive comes in. Just Drive is an app that rewards undistracted driving. Just Drive allows drivers to accumulate points if they let the app run in the background when they start their drive. These points can be redeemed for coupons to restaurants, shops, and retailers. I did not know the first thing about app development and there was a steep learning curve. I started doing research, wrote my business plan, and entered my first pitch competition. I quickly learned what failure looked like and what support looked like. I realized where my gaps were and turned to advisors and mentors to guide me through the process until I reached the point where I am today, with over 500 active users since October. Knowing that people have actively made an effort to not use their phones when they drive because of Just Drive is an achievement about which I am incredibly proud.

Which classmate do you most admire? I most admire Naomi Samuel, a fellow marketing student, who inspires me in every way. She is such a hard-working, driven, and intelligent woman and that pushes me to have expectations for myself. She exudes confidence and makes a positive impact on every life she touches.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My family members have always been my biggest cheerleaders and support system. Living in a multigenerational household has taught me so many valuable lessons and has shaped me into the person I am today. I could never thank my parents, grandparents, and brother enough for everything they have done for me.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? I really enjoy studying languages and would love to master tonal languages like Mandarin and Vietnamese. I also would love to open an affordable vegan bakery one day!

What are your hobbies? I absolutely love baking. It’s so relaxing and fun to experiment and make new desserts. I also enjoy face masks, listening to early 00’s R&B, and playing with my dog, Teddy.

What made Neha such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?  

“I wish that every single person I know could meet Neha Husein. She is brilliant, hardworking, innovative, charming, and did I mention brilliant? Lots of business majors want to make the world a better place. What sets Neha apart is that she is a rare business student who wants to use her business knowledge to impact the world in specific places. Case in point:  Neha has first-hand knowledge of the dangers of texting and driving. With those experiences as motivation and her business background as a resource, she created an app to address this common roadway danger. Not only is she making the world a better place, but she is also literally saving lives. When she’s not making the road safer for all of us, Neha is making the world safer for the less fortunate through her double major in Human Rights. Her out-of-class work with helping victims of domestic abuse and her research on diversity and inclusion in South Africa show us all how special and motivated she really is. We’re going to miss Neha greatly next year as she is one of the more unique students we have at the Cox School. But while we’ll miss her, we’re proud to call her an alumnae, and pleased to know that she’s going to continue to use her Cox School of Business education to make the world (and the roads!) a better place for all of us.

Jim Bryan
Associate Dean, SMU Cox BBA Program