2018 Best & Brightest: David Shirzad, Southern Methodist University (Cox)

David Shirzad

Southern Methodist University (Cox)

“A finance major and Student Body President who loves running his Pony across the football field.”

Fun fact about yourself: I am a handler for SMU’s mascot Peruna. He is a Shetland pony who runs across the field in celebration of every SMU touchdown. I am one of two handlers who accompany Peruna when he makes his cross-field runs. Peruna has the dubious distinction of being the only university mascot ever to have killed another mascot, when he kicked the Fordham Ram in the head many years ago.

Hometown: Arlington, Virginia

High School: Washington-Lee High School

Major: Finance

Minor: Public Policy and International Affairs

Favorite Business Course: Business Law

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College: SMU Student Body President, SMU Board of Trustees Student Representative, SMU Ambassador, Philanthropy Chair of Beta Theta Pi, Peruna Handler, AARO (Orientation) Leader, Vice President of SMU Interfraternity Council, Board Member of the SMU Student Conduct Board, Best Buddies Club member/volunteer

Where have you interned during your college career?

Hanover Communications, London, Advocacy and Communication Intern

Goldman Sachs & Co., New York City, Summer Analyst

Where will you be working after graduation? Goldman Sachs & Co., New York City, Analyst

Who is your favorite professor? Accounting Professor of Practice Barry Bryan is my favorite professor. He was my sophomore year accounting professor and my first professor in the Cox School of Business. He genuinely cares about seeing every student succeed, but also expects his students to be fully engaged and prepared every day. I learned a lot about accounting from him, but even more importantly, I learned how to be the best student I could possibly be from Professor Bryan.

What did you enjoy most about your business school? I have most enjoyed the people at SMU Cox. Whether it is the professors who are at the top of their field and have vast business connections, or the other students who all work extremely hard every day in class or in top internships, I have been surrounded by people who have pushed and challenged me to be better. It is a strong community of smart people who all strive for success.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? My advice is to find the value in everything you learn in business school. You may not start out as a manager in your very first job, but one day you will be, and that management class will come in handy. You can be the best finance student out there, but if you can’t market yourself or don’t understand accounting, you won’t get anywhere. Everything you learn in business school is important to your career and its growth.

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be majoring in or studying…Public Policy. Coming from just outside of Washington, D.C., I find that stuff fascinating. Plus, I’m getting a minor in Public Policy and International Affairs.”

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My dad most influenced my decision to pursue business in college. He is my role model and mentor. He majored in finance as well. He has been a lawyer, worked in government, and now works at a bank. I wanted a major that allowed me to pursue whatever I wanted to do after college, and I can now apply the lessons I learned in the Cox School of Business to any career path I want.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? Personally, I am most proud of the work I have done with the club Best Buddies. It is an organization that promotes inclusions for people with disabilities. I have now been a part of it for seven years and the people I have gotten to hang out with because of Best Buddies are some of my favorite people ever. These are all genuine individuals that I view as models for how I hope to treat others.

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the business school? I would allow non-business school majors to take a class in the business school. We have many really cool classes that a lot of smart people who are not majoring in business never have the opportunity to take. I think it would help to add that diversity of majors to certain classes in the business school.

Which classmate do you most admire? I most admire classmate Colton Gier. I know him well because he is my fraternity pledge brother, but Colton is also one of the most humble and caring guys I have ever met. He never complains and works as hard, if not harder, than anybody out there. A secret that he also never tells people is that he is also putting himself through college. He is a really special guy who I am proud to be friends with.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My mom and my grandparents. My mom taught me about unconditional love and to enjoy life. My grandparents were always there for me growing up and I can’t thank them enough for that.

What would your theme song be? My theme song would beMr. Brightside” by The Killers. An all-time classic. I have had so many awesome moments with friends as this song is being played.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? 1. Completing the Cape Epic mountain bike race in South Africa.  2. I don’t have a #2 item for now.

Favorite book: All the “Harry Potter” books.

Favorite movie: The Arrival

Favorite vacation spot: Park City, Utah

What are your hobbies? Mountain biking and following SMU sports.

What made David such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2018?

“Where do I start with David? What else could a university possibly want out of a student?  He is our student body president, he’s a rock-star in the classroom, and he’s going to work for Goldman in NYC after graduation. Oh, he’s also the biggest Mustang Sports fan I know and generally a caring and lovely person. Even if you were to just read though the answers he gives to this questionnaire, without ever having met him, you’d realize that he is driven by helping others. Truly, SMU and the Cox School are better because he spent four years with us and was an invaluable addition to the Class of 2018.  We are going to miss him tremendously next year.”

Jim Bryan
Associate Dean
SMU Cox BBA Program



Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.