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Bioengineering student switches gears on co-op, ‘diving in’ with business consulting in Saudi Arabia

Yousif Elaidi working with another person.
Yousif Elaidi is on co-op at a management consulting company in Saudi Arabia, the country where his mother is from and where many of her family live. Courtesy Photo

As a third-year bioengineering student at Northeastern University, Yousif Elaidi has plenty of experience working in a lab. 

So for his current co-op, he decided to take on something completely different: management consulting. 

“I like how in consulting there is a lot of traveling and there’s a lot of talking to people and it’s very social,” Elaidi says. “It’s really team based — you’re bouncing off ideas, and you always have to think of new ideas.”

Elaidi is on co-op with Wisdom Management Consultancy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The co-op is somewhat of a homecoming for Elaidi; his mother is Saudi, and he grew up traveling from his home in New Hampshire to spend summers in the kingdom.

But Elaidi says that he is experiencing a different Saudi Arabia than the “closed off” place he remembers as a child. 

“Saudi is totally flipped upside down,” Elaidi says. “The country is totally changed — it’s people coming from outside, there’s a lot of foreigners, there’s a lot of stuff to do, there’s a lot of activities — in terms of the new Saudi Arabia I’m still getting used to it.”

Getting into the business community at such an international crossroads has taught Elaidi a lot about how different cultures interact.

“It’s increasing my bandwidth to work with different types of people because, at the end of the day, people in different regions of the world do business differently,” Elaidi says. “In the U.S., people do business differently than people doing business in the Middle East and then in Europe and in Asia and so on. So I feel like I’m adding that to my skill set of being able to work with people here and do business with them.”

It’s a skill set that will likely come in handy. 

In addition to his studies and being a resident assistant at Northeastern, Elaidi founded a clothing brand called Pharoah Collections that produces tracksuits, hooded sweatshirts and other athletic wear. He has been running the company, which is based in the U.S., from Saudi Arabia while on co-op — an experience he described as “kind of weird.”

“It’s been a big learning curve, but I would definitely love to continue, if I can scale it,” Elaidi says. “Running the books of the company, getting good at creating designs, running the social media, running advertisements, the logistics of shipping and handling and all of that — everything is a learning curve.

“It’s a great way to learn, just diving in,” Elaidi continues.

He is applying that lesson to consulting. 

“When you go in, they just throw you in and they teach you, they teach you everything,” Elaidi says of consulting. “So, it’s just being able to think on your feet and have those technical skills that I believe I get from my engineering classes — that’s what you’ve got to have.”