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Tops in Atlantic Canada

Business student wins $20,000 Sobey Award for Excellence

Campus and Community

By Susan White

A resumé full of community involvement, volunteer activities and helping others has earned a Memorial business student a scholarship valued at $20,000.

Muhammad Munir, 24, has won one of eight Frank H. Sobey Awards for Excellence in Business. The scholarship program has recognized top business students and supported the development of future business leaders in Atlantic Canada since 1989.

Muhammad Munir speaks with attendees at a photo exhibition he organized recently featuring newly arrived Syrian refugee families in St. John’s.
Muhammad Munir speaks with attendees at a photo exhibition he organized recently featuring newly arrived Syrian refugee families in St. John’s.
Photo: Elbonita Kozhani

Mr. Munir says he’s happy to have won the scholarship, even if he was notified at a somewhat inconvenient time.

“I was sitting in the doctor’s clinic. I was having my wisdom tooth removed when my phone buzzed. I was expecting an answer [about whether I got the scholarship] in that time period,” he said. “Literally, he was about to operate on me … I just got off the chair and was like, ‘Wait, I have to call my mom.’ I just called her and I told her and then I came back and said, ‘Yes, you can go ahead.’ And it was such a bad time and I wanted to tell my family and everyone and I couldn’t speak for a few hours.”

Early entrepreneur

Mr. Munir, who was recently featured in the media for organizing a photo exhibition featuring Syrian refugees who have newly arrived in St. John’s, is originally from Faisalabad, Pakistan. His entrepreneurial leanings began at a young age when he realized he could use his artistic talents for financial gain.

“When your father says, ‘Oh, I don’t have your pocket money this month,’ you’re going to do something. And because I was so creative, I started making greeting cards and I gave them on consignment. I didn’t even know this term back then when I was doing it.”

Mr. Munir’s family still resides in Pakistan, where his brother runs a business that sells products made from eco-friendly fabric and his father co-owns a textile business with his uncle. Mr. Munir is currently in his final year of the bachelor of commerce (co-operative) program.

Community involvement

His experience of arriving in a country where he didn’t know anyone helped shape many of his community efforts throughout his time at Memorial. He began volunteering as a way to meet people and make friends and soon got involved with the Off-campus Housing Office to help other international students settle more easily into the capital city.

He joined student groups like AIESEC Memorial, Enactus Memorial and the Muslim Student Association. He also put his creative talents to work for organizations like the Heart and Stroke Foundation and Kids Eat Smart, for which he created videos and took photos at various events and projects.

Making an impression

At ExxonMobil, where he completed his three mandatory work terms and was the first international student to be re-hired for subsequent work terms, he developed a safety video that aired across Canada and helped the local unit become a nationwide leader in safety awareness.

He’s also won several academic scholarships and been on the Dean’s List for the past three years.

“It’s not a closure, it’s a beginning of something new.” — Muhammad Munir

Mr. Munir says winning the Sobey award drives him to do even more for his community.

“The scholarship did put this in perspective where I just felt I had to do more,” he said. “Even the past winners would tell you that this gives you a sense of power in a sense that you’ve been doing so much throughout your business degree, and you come to this point and you’ve been awarded this thing and you just feel that, oh, I gotta do more. So it’s not a closure, it’s a beginning of something new.”

Career plans

Mr. Munir will graduate from Memorial this spring and begin working at PricewaterhouseCoopers in St. John’s as a junior accountant. He also plans to work towards the designation of chartered professional accountant.

Eventually, he’d like to work with small businesses.

“It’s just more satisfying and more fulfilling rather than working for a big, big corporation,” he said. “If you’re working on a small business, you might be it. You’re the one who’s dealing with the entire business, and I like that. I want to get into consultancy work and probably in the future get into something of my own.”

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