On behalf of nearly 30,000 Williams alumni around the world, congratulations on your acceptance! I'll never forget the day when my own acceptance letter arrived, but I could never have imagined back then just how much Williams would transform my life for decades to come.
As a child, I fled Iran with my family just after the revolution. I was fortunate to find my way to Williams, where I majored in Political Economy and found myself supported, nurtured, and intellectually challenged every day. After Williams, I joined Goldman Sachs as an analyst, then attended the Stanford Graduate School of Business and launched my career as a serial entrepreneur. Today, I am the founder and CEO of Minted, an online design marketplace. If you know anything about Minted, you know that our remarkably talented and diverse community of artists and designers is at the center of all we do; in many ways, it emulates the caring and intimacy of the community I experienced at Williams. In fact, when I think about what is really important to me today—the building of relationships, the pursuit of intellectual growth, and the ability to creatively combine multiple disciplines to innovate (and my husband, Michael Mader ’90!)—I realize all of it began during my time in the Purple Valley.
Of course, a community, no matter how strong, can only take you so far (though I’d argue ours will take you farther than most). It’s what you learn, who you live alongside, and how you grow within that community that matters most. Over the course of my career, I’ve had the pleasure of hosting countless Williams students as interns and interviewing many (both Williams and other) graduates for jobs. What’s become clear to me through those experiences is that Williams alumni know how to think. They are able to think critically, to ask questions and form hypotheses at a more strategic level than most. They understand frameworks for breaking down problems. They move seamlessly from the theoretical to the practical. They build relationships successfully. They have the ability to use analysis and data, but also to write and speak clearly and persuasively. As a manager—no matter the industry, sector, or field—it’s a combination you always look for but almost never find.
While I’ve shared a bit about my own journey to and since Williams, my story is just one of many in the oldest and most devoted alumni society in the world (since 1821!). We’re as diverse as the 150 countries we inhabit, but united in our love for Williams, respect for each other, and dedication to Williams students. We know what you can be and we believe in what you can achieve in the world.
Joining the Williams family was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made; I was so happy at Williams that I never wanted to leave. I hope you, too, will join the family of people who have had this very special experience.
Mariam Naficy ‘91
Founder and CEO, Minted