Syracuse University Magazine

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Mussadiq Akram '10

Power Traveler

Sitting in the lounge of the Bahrain airport, Muss Akram was wearing a little orange piece of home. His Syracuse University garb caught the eye of a fellow traveler who, as luck would have it, was a fellow Orange man. The two killed time before their respective flights, chatting about SU sports and reminiscing about life on the Hill. “The big distinguishing factor for the City of Syracuse is the people,” he says. “They have a very welcoming demeanor and a hands-on, ready-to-take-on challenges attitude. That combination makes Syracuse a special city, despite everything it has been through.”

That’s high praise coming from a man who has seen more than his fair share of cities. As an energy consulting manager for PowerAdvocate, a data, technology, and services provider for the energy industry, Akram was a passenger on 193 flights in 2012, flying more than 200,000 miles and spending 160 nights on the road. He’s been to places as familiar as Detroit and as exotic as...well, Bahrain. Originally from Saudi Arabia, Akram arrived at SU in 2006, having decided that the ability to earn two bachelor’s degrees—one in international relations from the College of Arts and Sciences and the Maxwell School and one in chemical engineering from the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science—outweighed the dangers of the occasional blizzard. 

For Akram, the opportunity to fully explore and integrate both disciplines has been a major advantage in his career with PowerAdvocate. “It gives me a unique perspective to see things from both angles as I can often be in a room full of engineers,” he says. “It is important to balance the technical and the business items and that is something a multidisciplinary education has really helped me with.” His day-to-day work blends human interaction with technological efficiency and data. Akram is PowerAdvocate’s in-house expert on negotiations, advising on contracting strategies and training other employees on the delicate art of give and take. He also works with clients to embed the latest strategies and technology into their business processes.

Akram has been transfixed with oil and energy since his father explained the mechanics behind horizontal drilling to him at age 7. In his eyes, the industry is a unique hub of convergence for politics, engineering, law, policy, culture, and science—and a direct line to the pulse of the forces pumping the world forward. “I think the nature of how energy is generated and delivered will continue to evolve,” he says. “This is in terms of how newer technology will enhance generation and delivery from existing sources. Technology will be a big part of the solution to help meet tomorrow’s energy challenge—that, in and of itself, is exciting and I want to be a part of it.”

Despite his devotion to energy and a hectic travel schedule, Akram has managed to keep one foot firmly grounded in Syracuse University. He performs admissions interviews, serves on the Boston Regional Council, and is on the Young Alumni Board for LCS. Akram also provided the support to establish Engineering Meets Business, a program he developed with the college to foster forward-thinking engineers prepared to face ever-evolving industry challenges. “It is simply my way of giving back to an institution that has given me so much,” he says. “SU served as a springboard for me in a lot of ways and I want to ensure the continuity of that experience.”  

It seems that no matter how far he travels, his days at SU will never be far behind, even in the lounge of the Bahrain airport. After Akram concluded his conversation with his fellow alum and was once again sitting alone, another passenger approached him. The man apologized for listening to their conversation and asked if Akram had, in fact, attended SU. “So did I!” said the man.  —Frank Ready