Zahir Rahman (2010, BA in Political Science)
Vice President, Deputy General Counsel, Las Vegas Raiders in Henderson, NV
Tell us about your current job role/employer and what you’re currently working on.
I am the Vice President, Deputy General Counsel of the Las Vegas Raiders. In my role, I oversee day-to-day legal and business affairs of the club.
What personal and/or career experiences did you have prior to landing your current job and leading to where you are now?
After I graduated from Wake Forest, I served as a Fulbright research grantee in Morocco where I studied youth political involvement in the Arab Spring. When I returned to the US, I attended the University of Pennsylvania Law School with a focus on corporate law. After graduating, I was a project finance associate at Skadden Arps then a corporate sports associate at Covington & Burling before moving to Las Vegas to work for the Raiders.
All of these experiences helped me develop into a good fit for my current role. My Fulbright taught me to grow in unfamiliar and challenging circumstances. My work in big law taught me how to work on a team, manage time/priorities, create perfect (or at least close to perfect) work product, negotiate and generally “how to lawyer”.
What was the most challenging aspect of your first “real world job” and what did you learn from it?
The hardest part of being a first-year associate is knowing the difference between minor problems and deal-breaking issues. Everything is so new, and law school doesn’t really teach students how to do day-to-day legal work. The challenge is figuring out how to prioritize issues and what to bring to the attention of more senior lawyers and dealing with the anxiety and stress of that. But it requires judgment and experience, which takes time to develop, so young lawyers need to be patient with themselves as they sort it out.
What advice would you give to new Wake Forest graduates about developing their personal life habits after college (finances, health, values, work/life balance)?
When it comes to a demanding career, work/life balance should be measured by you and your priorities, not other people and their priorities. Use your own barometer in figuring out what you need to be happy and make sure you communicate those things to the people you work for and work with. Communicating your needs is the best way to make sure you are able to stay happy in your work and to prevent from burning out. This is usually easier said than done, but I have seen that the people most successful in the early stages of their careers are able to do this consistently.
How have you made personal and professional relationships in your city, company, or community?
Working for a football team is like being part of a family. We work together a lot and share common goals (winning!), and that really brings us together. It is also important for our team to be close to and support the local community in every way that we can. It has been great to meet professionals around the city in different industries to see how we can collaborate and bring value to Las Vegas and the State of Nevada. Personally, my wife Maggie (WFU Class of 2011) and our three children are the bedrock of my life and becoming a football family has been really fun and rewarding.
Have you been mentored by anyone at Wake Forest or in your professional life? If so, what impact has that relationship had on you?
So many people it would be hard to name them all. Most notable for me to highlight would be Paul Gauthier (Admissions), Dr. Katy Harriger (Political Science), Dr. Darlene May (former Arabic), Dr. Martha Allman (former Admissions) and Dr. Tom Phillips (former WF Scholars). All of these mentors believed in me when I was a potential student, through my Wake career and beyond. Their confidence in me is what kept me motivated as a student and young professional. Having their support has meant the world to me.
What advice would you give to current Wake Forest students and/or young alumni who are about to start their first professional job?
Reach out to others more senior in your field (and other fields, to be honest). You can learn so much from people that have already created careers in what you want to do. They won’t always be able to give you a roadmap for what will work for you, but in learning about their path and how they have navigated challenges, you can forge your own career based on their advice.
Oh, and try new things and help everyone you can. Just say yes and figure it out. If you are a Wake Forest student/alum, you can do it, you’re built for it.
What are your future career goals or plans? How are you being intentional about working towards them?
No definite career plan other than to keep finding opportunities to grow and be a leader. And to win a Super Bowl ring with the Raiders!
Story published in December 2022. For current updates on Zahir’s career path, visit his LinkedIn profile.