Alumni Series Talk Features Project Director of Tesla Omead Afshar

By: Zinnia Ramirez

Photo by: Zinnia Ramirez

The “What Matters to Me and Why” Alumni Series started Fall Quarter with a talk featuring alumnus Omead Afshar on Oct. 17. Since graduating from UCI as a biomedical engineer, Afshar has had many roles including being the current project director for the Office of the CEO at Tesla Motors. 

The event hosted family, friends, alumni and the Irvine community at the Newkirk Alumni Center. Director of Alumni Relations Leslie Anzo thanked the crowd for their attendance and introduced Executive Director of the UCI Alumni Association Jeff Minhas. 

Minhas explained that his passion behind the program resides in helping students find alumni mentors they can connect with.

 “We exist to engage and mobilize the alumni body in our network,” Minhas said. 

The night was divided into three parts: a Q&A between the Afshar brothers, Naveed and Omead, a short round of questions from the crowd and a networking dinner catered by UCI Catering. 

Naveed asked Omead questions he thought the crowd and others may have been curious about in regards to his journey to becoming a direct support across Tesla Motors. As project director, Omead takes on a lot of responsibilities, however, he admitted his experience at UCI taught him to manage a lot of responsibilities. 

UCI was his first choice because it was one of the only schools that offered biomedical engineering, which sparked his interest. 

“Everyone wants to live longer, so it’s a good field to be in,” Omead said. 

According to Omead, when he was a first-year at UCI, he was overconfident in his academics and found himself dabbling in too many things at once so college was harder than he anticipated. 

He encouraged students in attendance to hone skills that promote time management. 

“In college, and again I blame my sister for this, she’s like ‘Oh take early classes then you can get off early.’ It’s an 8:00 a.m., that’s easy,” Omead said. 

However, he found that it wasn’t easy balancing 20 units, friends and parties. Omead admitted being a student at Irvine taught him “life balance.” 

Omead was involved in the Irvine community in his four years at UCI, from club soccer to being a clinical care extender at Hoag Hospital in Irvine to participating in things that were beyond his occupational interests. 

“I was an engineering major. But I always took a class in the social sciences. I took a ton of Art History, Psych, or Anthro. Again, I think it’s important to force yourself to do that. Forcing function is important,” he said. 

Outside of UCI, Omead worked for St. Jude’s Medical corporation. It was acquired by Abbott Laboratories in 2017, an American medical devices and health care company, from that point on his experience was similar to that of a six month internship. 

“I treated it as a six month interview. Don’t go on Facebook at work. Don’t do anything. Do work, stay focused, do the right thing. Because you’re trying to get that job. You want to show that you are focused. Because if you can’t do it at that age with basic minimal distractions in your personal life, then why would they want you to do more,” he said. 

Something Omead has taken with him on his business ventures at Tesla Motors is the mentality to do more. He recalled a statement from his boss, Elon Musk, who always says, “[w]e should never go into something going for the gold-medal. Go for the world-record. The bar needs to be higher.”  

Omead told students that stagnancy and obsolescence is what keeps people comfortable and that he likes to push himself further. 

Omead didn’t anticipate where he’d end up after college. 

“I didn’t envision it because I think it’s incredibly unique. Looking forward, I don’t know where I’d go from here. I haven’t thought of that one as much … I get to that point when I’m comfortable, when I’m not challenged, and right now I still think there’s a lot more I can do. That drives me. Titles to me are silly, that doesn’t motivate me. It’s about learning things.”

The night concluded with catering by UCI and networking that would feed into the mentorship development provided by the Student Alumni Association (SAA).