“If I can’t change the world, I am going to try and change my world” –Idris Gettani
Before the sun rises, Idris Gettani is up and ready to start the day. After performing the Muslim dawn prayer, he heads straight to the RSF for his daily 6 A.M. workouts. Then he spends the rest of the day studying at Wurster Library and concentrating on his business classes. This has been the regimented routine of Gettani, a senior at the Haas School of Business and former summer analyst at J.P. Morgan. Standing amongst the most disciplined and inspiring people in the Haas community, I was eager to learn from this man and see what he was all about. Fortunately, I got the pleasure of interviewing this close friend and mentor of mine in which he shared his passion for self-development, his love for his Muslim identity, and his future goals of becoming a life coach. I truly appreciated the time that Idris gave me out of his busy schedule, and I hope that reading this interview is beneficial for you just as it was for me.
Thank you very much for your time, Idris.
My pleasure, Arhum.
Can you start off by telling me about yourself? Who is Idris Gettani?
Well I was born and raised locally in Fremont, CA to North African immigrant parents. Throughout my adolescence, I began to develop three core elements of my life that still stick with me today: body, mind and faith. I transferred to Haas last year in the fall of 2015 from De Anza Community College to further enrich all three of those categories. I am currently in my last year at Berkeley-Haas and much of my life is structured around fitness, because I believe it is an essential part of developing my body, mind, and faith. I try to put a lot of emphasis on fitness and health, because fitness facilitates a way for my lifestyle to be regimented and disciplined. Fitness has even been a big part of my habits academically, and I have found it to have made a significant positive impact on my Berkeley journey.
Now has fitness been an interest of yours before coming to Berkeley or did it recently develop through-out your time here?
It’s something that I’ve always had a fervor for ever since high school, but I’ve come to appreciate it much more since I came to Haas because it helps me take my mind off of all of the academics, recruiting, and daily stresses of being a Haas student.
Tell us something you would want the Haas community to know about yourself that most people don’t know about you.
I would want the Haas community to know that I am constantly trying to improve myself, first and foremost, so that I can be a positive member of society. I am a firm believer that even if I can’t change the world, I am going to try and change my world. So I really want to improve every aspect of my life whether it’s my body, mind, or faith. I try to excel in every aspect of these three categories in hopes that by doing that, I can spread positivity in the world.
The Haas School of Business features an extremely diverse student body. Every student has a unique background and set of experiences that contributes to the richness of the Haas culture. I want to ask you about what aspect you believe you offer to this profound culture. What element of yourself do you value the most?
My faith. My Muslim faith is the first priority to me because it defines who I am. I think it is especially important to me in these times when the president elect is Donald Trump. He is spewing some hateful rhetoric towards Muslims and other minority groups. I think now is the time more than ever for me to manifest that faith aspect boldly and confidently. I’ve always looked at faith as something that’s been between me and God, but now I really take it as a personal obligation to show the world that I am a proud Muslim while also trying to be a positive member of society by the good that I do. I am very grateful to be able to say that I am Muslim and I am a Haas student.
You have also founded a Muslim Business Club on the Haas campus. What’s that all about?
Well, when I transferred in, I noticed that there was a huge Muslim representation amongst the Haas student population. Just amongst transfers alone, there were 10 Muslims (as far as I know) that transferred with me out of about 90 people that transferred in total. That was only amongst transfers. This motivated me to assemble this unofficial network for Muslim students not only at Haas, but for anyone who is interested in business and wants to connect with Haas students. It provides students with great resources and information. Although it’s in its early stages, we currently have 40 members. We have utilized the Facebook group to stay well-connected throughout the year. I have come to learn that there are a lot of Muslims interested in business and I can see that growth potential. Muslims will be amongst the business leaders in America in the future, and some of them already are; so it’s important to harness that growth and to recognize that Muslims are making immense contributions to the world in business and in society at large.
Muslim Haas Seniors
Tell us about when you found out that you got into Haas. What was that experience like, and what has your journey been like since then?
I was definitely euphoric to find out I got into this school. It felt great to know that all the hard work paid off. Those long nights and early mornings and the 20-unit quarters paid off, and I finally reached a long term goal that I had set for myself. It really pushed me to start setting more goals for myself and start working towards achieving them. So that was the start of it. Then I took pre-core the summer before, and it really helped me relax and make amazing friends that I am still close to today. So that really eased the Haas pressure for me. That lead me into my junior year relaxed, although it was stressful to catch up to those kids that had done internships in their freshman and sophomore years. It really took a toll on me that I didn’t get any internships in my first semester at Haas. My second semester at Haas, I was able to get an internship at JP Morgan in corporate finance. I did that over the summer. Now I fast forward to my senior year now, and I am sort of in that similar position where I haven’t found the right job yet, but I feel like my experience of not getting any internships in my junior year has helped me realize that it all ends up working out. So it’s really helped me not get stressed because I know it will work out. All I need to do is focus on my part by working hard. So that’s where I am at right now.
What’s been your favorite class at Haas, and what made it so special?
My favorite class has definitely been UGBA 191P with Cort Worthington. It’s a leadership and development class. I think that class is very thought-provoking and it really makes you introspective about your own life and journey. It forced me to think about my life as a story with me as the narrator. The energy that you input into the story is the output that you will get. Before, I used to look at myself as this inferior transfer that needed to keep up, but now I can reshape that story as me being a transfer with a lot of diverse and unique experiences. This class taught me that I need to relish every moment of this journey called life.
What challenges have you faced at Haas, and how have you worked to overcome them?
My biggest challenge has been feeling different from everybody. I don’t see myself as the person who wants to compete really hard for grades or exhaust myself to get a better internship or position than someone else. I avoid judging myself based on what other people have or achieved, and I really try to just focus on my own journey. To overcome that feeling I have of being different, I really make an effort to branch out to other parts of campuses and meet all types of people outside of Haas. I’ve realized that being part of the Haas experience is also being part of the Berkeley experience. When you’re at Haas, you’re around a bunch of like-minded folks that are business-minded that are driven to get internships and jobs. That’s great, but I have also come to value the importance of meeting people in other walks of life that are pursuing disciplines other than business and learn from their experiences. Also, I think it’s equally important to get that Berkeley experience by taking classes outside of Haas and becoming well-rounded.
What are some of your goals and aspirations for the future?
15 years from now, I want to have invested in myself and equipped myself with valuable skills that will allow me to invest in other people. I’ve always dreamt of being a life coach who leads people in living successful lives. I want to help people with all types of backgrounds and give them my take and experiences to help try and guide them in their
Santiago from The Alchemist
own journey. I love the book, the Alchemist, and always use the reference from it that I want to “help people pursue their personal legend”. That is my long-term goal, and right now I want to be able to invest in myself and really improve in every facet of my life in order to be that positive inspiration and mentor for others in the future.
That leads perfectly into my next question! Since you want to be a coach and advisor for people in the future. As a senior, what advice would you give to the juniors that are still adjusting to life at Haas?
My first advice is to really dwell on your “why” in everything you do. Like why do you get up in the morning and do what you do? To really think about what your purpose, and think about whether you are doing it for the right reasons. Then think, is that really what you want? I would encourage people to think about their intentions. Another important thing is to place your life in the context of others. In other words, to really pull yourself out of that selfish mindset. To just pop out of that mentality which just focuses on me, me, and me, and really start thinking about others and how you can benefit them. And then really think about what you want to accomplish in these two years. They really fly by, so it is crucial to take advantage of the plethora of resources on the Haas campus. I wouldn’t even say all, but take advantage of the resources that you are most intrigued by. This is by far the most important aspect. If you feel like you have an interest in something, but don’t think you have enough time or are capable, at least give it a shot. If you’re interested in something, I think you should recklessly pursue it because you don’t know where it can lead you. You will be surprised, and if it is different from everyone else don’t feel deterred because the biggest regret that anyone can have is to say that they “ignorantly followed the herd without thinking for themselves about their own why.”
“Hot Seat” questions:
“Not all those who wander are lost.”
Which celebrity do you get mistaken for?
Dream job as a child?
Favorite childhood TV show?
SpongeBob Square Pants
A Change Is Gonna Come by Sam Cooke
Role model and why?
Malcolm X. He is special to me because he was an emphatic speaker and he fought for what he believed in. Even though a lot of people didn’t agree with what he believed in, they couldn’t help but respect him. He had three key qualities about him that really made him great: logic, rhetoric, and grammar. Those three things are great leadership qualities and I hope to hone in and improve on them myself. He has really inspired me to try my best to emulate his qualities in my own journey to leadership.
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