2015 Muppies Annual Conference: Ideas in Action



The inaugural Muppies “Ideas in Action” Annual Conference was a resounding success. Muppies members from around the world congregated in New York City’s Manhattan Penthouse for a packed day of engaging speakers, panels, and networking, overlooking the New York City skyline.

Tariq Mahmoud (Muppies Director of Online Engagement) emceed the all-day event. Naiel Iqbal (Muppies Director of Membership and Technology) commenced the event with a presentation on Muppies. Iqbal provided key updates and the organization’s upcoming goals to the attendees.

Imam Zaid Shakir of Zaytuna College was the first guest speaker of the day. Imam Shakir applauded the efforts of professionals working to make positive economic and social impacts in their community, and shared his perspective of how great character can emerge in times of adversity.

Mohammed Badi, Partner and Managing Director at BCG, delivered the keynote for the first Muppies conference. Badi shared his journey of hard work, priority management, vision, and opportunity that helped shape his career. He discussed how career, work content, and compensation are professional driving factors. Badi encouraged the attendees to consider what keeps them engaged and to reflect on balancing life priorities.

Umber Ahmad of Mah Ze Dahr Bakery in New York City spoke on career transitions. Ahmad, an investment banker turned entrepreneur, shared how targeting an exit strategy early on allowed her to formulate a business plan. She leveraged her finance background in launching and growing the venture. Ahmad also discussed the value of inter-industry experiences in keeping work plans grounded.

During the “Essentials of a Pitch” session, Samir Malik of 1DocWay and Aniq Rahman of Moat shared tips and advice for the audience on entrepreneurship. Rahman shared his industry experience while Malik walked through a case study of with an audience attendee who shared his entrepreneurial ideas. Malik elaborated on how comprehensive assumption testing before launching a venture crystalizes an organizational vision, and that market validation is inherently hard. He emphasized the necessity of becoming comfortable with mistakes in identifying proof-of-concept.

The “Ideas in Action” luncheon invited current Muppies members to present their professional contributions. Ziad Ahmed, sixteen-year social entrepreneur, talked about his faith and upbringing. Ahmed discussed how these two factors motivated him to launch Redefy, a platform to share narratives of uplifting stories in the face of injustice. Layla Shaikley, co-founder of TEDxBaghdad and Wise Systems, discussed her efforts utilizing data to protect and rebuild post-conflict communities, highlighting how business ventures are instrumental in filling in the gap. Nzinga Knight, award-winning American fashion designer, shared her journey on Project Runway and the rollercoaster of building a career.

The “Rising in the Ranks” panel featured professionals with careers in politics and government, presenting: Reema Dodin, Floor Director to the Assistant Democratic Leader, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), Haroon Ullah, Senior Advisor at the US State Department, Nadeem Mazen, City Councillor in Cambridge, MA, and Umair Khan, Deputy Counsel at the Office of New York City Public Advocate Letitia Hames.

The “Corporate Climb” panel featured Saema Somalya Kaukab, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of Warren Resources, and Aamir Rehman, Managing Director of Fajr Capital, with moderator Sameer Shamsi, Managing Director of Evercore’s Private Capital Advisory Group. Kaukab and Rehman discussed lessons in leadership and risk-taking. Kaukab stated that the barriers to achieving goals are often procedural, and there is an obligation to be proactive, while Shamsi emphasized updating one’s resume when details are fresh and sustaining professional networks.

The afternoon networking activity, led by Sana Mohammed (Muppies Director of Local Engagement) and Mishaal Khan (Muppies Director of Marketing), proved to be one of the most popular. Participants were segmented by industry to talk about trends, change impacts, and opportunities in their respective fields.

The final panel of the conference, “Changing the Conversation – Muslims in the Media,” emphasized the incumbent responsibility for members of the community to proactively take ownership of their story. Anam Siddiq of CBS News elaborated how tragic events can have distorted narratives that lead to further ignorance, and stressed the importance of diversity in the media for a more comprehensive range of narratives. Storyteller Aman Ali shared the example of how the Google image search results for “Muslim women” are unrepresentative of the Muslim community, and how common terminologies have been hijacked by extremism and ignorance. The moderator, Sharaf Mowjood of NBC News, echoed the panelists’ sentiments, calling on members of Muppies to pitch their industry perspectives, venture initiatives, and stories.

Mehreen Iqbal (Muppies Director of Operations) spearheaded the symposium. Iqbal delivered closing remarks for the “Ideas in Action” Muppies Annual Conference and thanked the volunteers, speakers, and participants for the event’s enthusiastic reception.


We’d like to acknowledge the conference planning committee that organized the event. Without their hard work, the 2015 Muppies Annual Conference would not have been possible.

Saeb Ahsan, Umar Bakhsh, Imran Qureshi, Sairah Anwar, Marzan Khan, Mehreen Iqbal, Azhar Mithaiwala, Tariq Mahmoud, Naiel Iqbal, Sana Mohamed, Mishaal Khan and Faisal Ghori

We look forward to preparing for the 2016 Muppies Annual Conference. Stay tuned for updates.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]