Maxwell alum appointed Beverly Hills city clerk
Huma Ahmed '16 EMPA/CAS (Conflict Resolution) had worked for the City of Beverly Hills for about eight years when she decided she needed a change. As community outreach manager and ombudsperson, she enjoyed helping community members resolve problems, understand municipal policies, and navigate the city’s bureaucracy. Seeking inspiration for the next step in her career, Ahmed moved to Syracuse in summer 2015 for Maxwell’s Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) and Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS) in Conflict Resolution programs.
She left with a broader perspective on communication and organizational development, relevant theories to apply to real-life situations, and a worldwide circle of professional peers for consultation and support. “I was ready for the next level, but I wasn’t sure what that was,” she said. “All the concepts and theories and ideas and people from other countries shaped me for new opportunities.”
Ahmed earned a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and had wanted to work for the United Nations. Maxwell’s international approach, then, was a key draw. Once here, she committed herself to an openness to opportunities and new perspectives.
She was energized by younger students’ energy and optimism and overwhelmed by the depth and breadth of more seasoned, international students. “I presented myself not as having all the answers, but as someone with a lot to learn,” she said. “As a public servant, it’s important to be humble and engaged with the community. To do that, you have to talk with each other.”
Upon returning to Beverly Hills, she took on an initiative to encourage businesses to adapt to changing market demands. “All the world travelers would come to go shopping and find stores closed early,” she said. “Millennials were interested in experiential shopping. We were in danger of losing our base of customers and our international tourist position.”
Ahmed worked with the chamber of commerce, business owners and other stakeholders, on a City Council initiative called BOLD — Beverly Hills Open Later Days — to welcome tourists to the glamorous community. At Maxwell, “I thought it was all theory,” she said. “When I came back, it was legit. I had to use all these skills for real analysis and organizational change.”
She’s about to take on a new challenge. The Beverly Hills City Council in May unanimously elected her city clerk, effective July 1, 2019. She expects her Maxwell skills and network once again to guide her in a new role.
Ahmed’s experience, while unique to her career, parallels that of many Exec Ed students, said Margaret Lane, assistant director of Executive Education. “The professional experience Executive Education students bring to Maxwell, combined with the evidence-based research of our faculty, can serve as a springboard for when students return to their organizations or seek new opportunities,” she said. “The benefits of this immersive, transformational experience often emerge over time.”
As city clerk, Ahmed will be “the community face of the city, working with the city manager and translating the professional language of the city to the people,” she said. “It’s another way to do public service.”