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A Perfect Pairing: Alumnus Omar Harouny Details How Graziadio Helped Him Start His Own Business With a Fellow Alumni


As mentioned in some of our former blogs, there are many meritorious parts of earning a formal education. However, one facet, in particular, tends to sit higher than the rest. What is it? You may ask. Simple, the endless, vast ocean of talented professionals sharing one common theme—their academic institution.

Part-Time MBA alumnus, Omar Harouny (MBA ‘15), is an incredible exhibition of the benefit of forming and utilizing alumni connections. Following his passions versus cultural norms, Omar found his calling on the business side of things, deciding to follow a nontraditional path from his predecessors. After earning his undergraduate degree and spending some time in the working world, Omar decided to earn his MBA to hone his craft further and gain valuable business skills and expertise. After thorough research, he found Pepperdine Graziadio’s rankings highly influential in his decision to attend, along with some helpful insight from his wife, a fellow Pepperdine alumna. His time spent in the Part-Time MBA program allowed him to learn substantial business competencies that he found could be directly applied to his career, significantly contributing to his organization’s performance.  

Fast-forwarding to today, Omar credits part of his success to Graziadio for putting him in the appropriate environment to foster lasting relationships—eventually forming a “side-hustle” business that’s blossomed into a fruitful endeavor. Co-owner of Kite Vision Vet,  a medical device company focused on preventing blindness in dogs, Omar has brought his business ideas to life with the help of another Graziadio alum, Jedi de las Llagas (MBA ‘15). He states that it may have been a lot more challenging to hit the ground running when starting his business without these essential connections. 

Omar’s advice for those looking to start their own business—whatever it may be—is simple: just start doing it. Never be afraid to fail. See every failure as a learning opportunity and move on. “Throw yourself into the fire” and learn from there. 

While it’s easy to tout your alumni status on your vehicle’s license plate or wear a school-spirited t-shirt, how many can say they utilize their alumni network frequently, if at all? Many of us are proud to be an alumnus of our school. Even more, consider it to be a large part of their identities. There are immense amounts of human capital and brainpower consistently found within the higher-education atmosphere, just waiting to be cultivated. Surprisingly some fail to recognize the tremendous potential tapping into your alumni network can offer, both in the long and short terms. We are thankful for Omar and his insight into exactly why we should tap into this endless ocean of opportunities. 

Interview with Omar

1. Provide some insight into your academic and professional backgrounds.

I went to the University of California, Riverside, and earned my bachelor of science in biology (pre-med) and their post-baccalaureate program. I worked in the ER for three years as a scribe. I then earned my Pepperdine Graziadio MBA while working at a medical device company. I have worked in med devices for the past 11 years, specifically in ophthalmology. I started my own “side-hustle” business with a fellow Graziadio alum. 

2. What attracted you to attending Graziadio? Why did you choose the Part-Time MBA specifically?

I liked the Pepperdine name recognition; it is well known and respected. The entrepreneurship recognition from the U.S. News & World Report. It was also beneficial. It is Southern California-based, so it’s close to home. I chose the Part-Time MBA because of the flexible scheduling; I was fully employed and did not want to leave work. I believe part-time is the best way to go so you can apply what you learned immediately into your work.

3. How did your business come to fruition? Did having those Graziadio connections help when developing your business?

My current business partner and I knew that one day we wanted to start a business together. We just didn’t have the business idea to move forward. We took every entrepreneurship class together too. Years after graduating, we still kept in contact, and eventually, an opportunity presented itself, and we both decided to act on it. We pressure tested the idea with other pepperdine MBA alumni, and all of them were very supportive of us, which was validating.

4. What is one of your favorite things about running a business with a fellow alum? What is something that is challenging?

One of the best things about running a business with a fellow alum is that we were taught the same business principles, so we understand each other when discussing strategies and tactics. What’s challenging, and this is not necessarily specific to working with a fellow alum, is getting consensus at times with only two people leading the business.

5. Do you have any advice for students looking to join the Part-Time MBA program? Do you have any advice for those looking to start their own business?

If you are even considering the Part-Time MBA program, just apply! Don’t overthink it, only apply. Once you get a response from Pepperdine and hopefully is an acceptance letter, your mentality completely changes because you view it as more of an opportunity. Also, think of it as an investment, not a sunk cost. The return on that investment is huge!

For future business owners, I have the same advice. Don’t overthink; just go at it if you think you have a good idea. Don’t worry about failing because if you do, you can always start another business. And guess what, you will have the experience of one business already under your belt!