Aziza Zakhidova

Class Year: 

2006
Hometown: McKinney, Texas, USA

School: 

Randolph HS

Language: 

Japanese

Originally from Uzbekistan, Aziza also grew up in Japan, Italy and the United States.  Aziza came into the Huntsman Program with a Russian proficiency, although later opted to target in Japanese, a language she once spoke as a child.  Mastering Japanese was a challenge:  Aziza took intensive language courses both at Penn and through a Huntsman-sponsored grant, at a language program in Japan the summer after her freshman year.  By junior year, Aziza became proficient enough to study-abroad at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo; she won several scholarships, including the Bridging Scholarship and the Morgan Stanley Dean Witter essay competition, to support her year in Japan. She also spent two summers participating in the Japan America Student Conference - first as a delegate, and then as part of the conference's leadership team—"one of the greatest classrooms of cultural exchange and human psychology that I ever experienced."

At Penn, Aziza enjoyed challenging coursework through the Joseph Wharton Scholars Program, and created a customized curriculum for a concentration in International Economic Development at Wharton. She had a particular interest in studying the link between finance and development in emerging markets, and the Huntsman Program encouraged her to pursue that topic through various means. Aziza became a research assistant to professors in the Management and Real Estate departments, conducted independent research on Japan's official development assistance to Uzbekistan through the University Scholars Program, and worked at Wharton's Small Business Development Center. To gain practical experience, Aziza completed three internships with JP Morgan in New York and Tokyo, and after writing her Huntsman senior thesis on Kazakhstan's oil pipeline developments and with an interest in the energy sector, interned at an oil and gas firm in Dallas.

As a recipient of the Marshall Scholarship in 2006, Aziza spent two years in the UK pursuing graduate studies. She earned an MSc in Development Management from the London School of Economics and an MSc in Financial Economics from Oxford University's Said Business School. She also had the opportunity to travel quite a bit throughout the rest of Europe.  After completing her two Masters degrees, Aziza joined UBS' Energy Investment Banking team in London, where she says her combined skills in finance, languages, and analytical research from the Huntsman Program, left her well-prepared for the job.

Recently, Aziza chose to return back to Central Asia and join her husband in Kazakhstan.   "As a Huntsman student, you develop that special intuition of adapting easily in new environments", Aziza said, and she is now putting her skills to work as a senior analyst in Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi's office in Almaty, Kazakhstan. She advises Japanese companies operating in Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries.