He’s the head of a thriving global IT company that does better than $1.2 billion in annual revenue and has sat on the Board of Visitors for four years, and George Mason University alum Mahfuz Ahmed says his alma mater is to thank for it all.
Pretty heady stuff for a guy who first arrived at Mason many years ago by way of an F-1 visa as an unsure foreign student making his first foray beyond his home in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
“Mason’s inclusive environment enabled me to not only get a great education, but assimilate in the new society,” said Ahmed, BS Electrical Engineering ’93, the CEO of DISYS, a McLean, Virginia-based global managed services and staffing firm.
“I had never worked prior to coming to the U.S.,” he said, and his first job was in the computer lab at Mason. That gave him the foundation for his future career path.
“Without the nurturing of my professors at the engineering department, I don’t think I would have been able to come to the job market with all the skills that were necessary to thrive.”
Now a corporate giant, Ahmed is able to pay it forward with a recent combined $250,000 commitment through his company that will be used to create the College of Engineering and Computing’s Dean’s Technology Innovation Fund.
The commitment is part of the CEC’s upcoming Day of Giving Campaign on December 8, in which alumni donations to the Dean’s Technology Innovation Fund will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $250,000 by Ahmed so as to double the impact that gift makes to the education of CEC students.
“We are very excited and grateful to have this challenge gift,” said Ken Ball, dean of the CEC. “It will help us to raise money to support our strategic plan for the School of Computing and its promise of impact on innovation.
“Mahfuz Ahmed knows how to innovate,” Ball continued. “As a hard-working entrepreneur, he founded and grew a highly successful company. I hope that others will be inspired by Mahfuz’s generous example and contribute to the College of Engineering and Computing Dean’s Technology Innovation Fund. This new fund will allow us to grow our programs and facilities, and encourage future generations to seek solutions through innovation.”
Ahmed’s gift embodies the kind of collective community effort the Mason-led President’s Innovation Advisory Council (PIAC) envisions as it focuses on transforming Northern Virginia into a more inclusive innovation economy complete with a diverse and job-ready talent pipeline.
Mason has led the way in the transformation, beginning with the renaming of its Arlington Campus to Mason Square this spring with plans for it to become an urban destination of learning, collaboration and economic development. Fuse at Mason Square is the technology-forward building that will be the heart of that community.
The PIAC includes community leaders and executives like Ahmed from an array of local organizations, all of whom share a common vision with Mason of transforming Northern Virginia into a vibrant tech hub.
Donations to the CEC Dean’s Technology Innovation Fund will provide financial resources necessary to meet the tech-talent workforce needs of the region and support the commonwealth’s Tech Talent Investment Program, a 20-year initiative aimed at increasing the number of master's degrees in the fields of computer science, computer engineering, and software engineering.
“Mason instilled the entrepreneurial spirit in me,” Ahmed said. “I started my company a year after I graduated. Mason was instrumental in my development and success. I am hoping our small donation will help encourage others to follow their dream.”