December Industrial Engineering Grad Already Has an Investment-banking Job Lined Up in San Francisco

Siddig Siddig didn’t realize he had just met one of his University of Iowa faculty mentors when first introduced to him.

Siddig was only about 8 years old at the time.

Having just arrived with his mother from his native Sudan via Saudi Arabia, Siddig was settling into his new home in Iowa City when he met one of his first friends, Sharif Sa-Aadu, and not long after, Sharif’s father, Jarjisu (Jay). For years, Jay was just Sharif’s dad until Siddig came to realize he was also a finance and economics professor at the UI. Later, as Siddig developed an interest in finance himself, he became a business major and Jay went from being his friend’s father to his mentor in finance.

“I’m seeing this young man I’ve known since he was quite young mature into someone who is hard-working, conscientious, and aware,” says Sa-Aadu, departmental executive officer of the Department of Economics in the Henry B. Tippie College of Business. “He has a good combination of skills and personality that will serve him well.”

With help from Sa-Aadu’s mentorship, Siddig will start his career with RBC Capital Markets in San Francisco after graduating in December, analyzing technology start-ups as an investment banker.

Siddig found he really enjoyed his industrial engineering major. “I like hands-on things and problem-solving,” Siddig says. “Figuring out how things work appeals to me.”

Siddig came to UI as a biomedical engineering major with the expectation of going to medical school and becoming a doctor. But the field held little interest for him, so he switched his major to industrial engineering. He remembers taking the class Principles of Engineering and making rockets, catapults, and cars that run on water—and knowing he’d made the right choice.

“I like hands-on things and problem-solving,” Siddig says. “Figuring out how things work appeals to me.”

He’d also developed an interest in finance because his father works as a corporate banker in Qatar. He added a second major in finance, joined the Tippie’s Hawkinson Institute for Business Finance, which trains students for careers in finance, and was an analyst for the Krause Fund, Tippie’s undergraduate student-managed investment fund. Along the way, he worked on engineering projects with ALPLA in Iowa City and Schneider Electric in Cedar Rapids, and he completed finance internships at Goldman Sachs in Salt Lake City, Utah, and RBC Capital Markets in Houston, Texas.

Siddig developed a network of finance experts, met the CEOs of JP Morgan and KKR, and video-conferenced with the CEO of Goldman Sachs. The experience confirmed the field appealed to him, even when he pulled back-to-back all-nighters on his birthday during his internship last summer to finish a proposal that wound up beating a competing bid from Warren Buffet.

“And I like wearing suits,” he says.

His engineering training is a big part of his finance success. He brings to the field the engineering ethos of analyzing a problem by breaking it down to its constituent parts, which provides him with a unique perspective of the companies his firm may invest in.

But he’s also developed an understanding over time that he’s in a unique position to serve as a role model. He’s president of the UI chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers and participated in the Sponsors for Educational Opportunity EDGE program for university students from underrepresented communities. He also knows he can help other immigrants learn to adjust and thrive in their new country. He knew no English when he arrived in the U.S., and that proved a barrier early on. But over the years, he overcame language and other barriers that were placed in front of him.

“The passion Siddig exhibits leading others and practicing his own professional development is contagious and commendable,” says Kelli Delfosse, director of professional development in the UI College of Engineering. “He is an inspiration to underrepresented students and has proven how an engineering background is valuable beyond a traditional engineering career. Through his involvement in research, service, student organizations, and summer internships, Siddig exemplifies that being an engineer at Iowa stands for being an engineer and something more.”

Siddig also hopes to someday return to his native Sudan, which is impoverished and torn by civil war, to help build a functioning infrastructure to help the country’s economy develop.

“The roads are in poor shape and the electricity often cuts off without warning,” Siddig says. “I hope I can use my experience in finance and engineering to help improve the infrastructure and advise the government and companies that can help.”

Siddig found he really enjoyed his industrial engineering major. “I like hands-on things and problem-solving,” Siddig says. “Figuring out how things work appeals to me.”