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Leila Alanani

  • Programme: Executive MBA Dubai
  • Nationality: British
  • Job Pre-programme: Director of Strategy, OSN

“The network has been great, not just from a professional point of view, but from a personal one too.” 


Before Leila Alanani (EMBA2018) came to LBS, going into social enterprise had never crossed her mind. With a background in strategy consulting for media and telecommunications companies, her career had taken a linear progression to the top of her industry; her most recent role was Director of Strategy and Planning at OSN.

“Since I’ve learned about the importance of sustainability in business, it has become a really big part of my life. I have started taking on consulting projects with social enterprises and I’m now considering a full-time transition. At LBS, you’re exposed to so many different people that it really widens your horizons. The faculty have also been very inspiring and helped me to start envisioning new possibilities for my career. It’s really fascinating to meet people who are at the top of their game across so many different industries, it makes you think about all the new possible paths you could take.”

Brought up in London but now living in Dubai, Leila wanted to study and grow her network in both cities. The EMBA Dubai has allowed her to do just that: “My network has grown exponentially in both places since starting the course”, she says. “I know it will only continue to grow. I have a mentor in London who works for Virgin Media, who is a great sounding board, not just for industry advice, but also for my long-term career path. Most of my network is in Dubai but he’s introduced me to people in London who have given me great ideas.”

Describing her classmates as “some of the smartest and warmest students I’ve met in my life”, the Oxford University graduate says that the diversity and accomplishments of the student population at LBS means that there is always someone on hand to help with any topic you can imagine. “People are not protective of their knowledge”, she says. “Everyone is helping everyone else to get ahead.”

At first, Leila thought that the EMBA Dubai would be a “sideshow” to her life. That was before student life at LBS drew her in to a community beyond anything she had expected from a business school. “When I first started the EMBA, I really wanted to reach outside my comfort zone,” she says. “I was ready for a new experience and wanted to look at my work from a different perspective, but the reality has been even more impactful than I expected. LBS has exceeded my expectations and my classmates have been so warm and supportive. The network has been great, not just from a professional point of view, but from a personal one too.”

Leila says that she’s made some of her strongest connections on the programme through her Global Business Assignment (GBA) in Argentina. “We were 70 students from around the world meeting key politicians and business leaders. We were able to get under the skin of the economy and find out what really makes the country tick. A few of us also decided to go travelling down to Patagonia afterwards and crossed over into Chile. It really made the whole experience come to life!”

The global focus and opportunity to learn through international immersion at LBS stood out for Leila when she was choosing where to do her EMBA. But the executive level of the students, the global standing of an LBS MBA and the quality of the faculty all played a part too. “LBS was the most practical choice because I grew up in London and I live in Dubai,” she says, “but it also has one of the best reputations for an MBA in the world. Now I’m there I can see why! The student body is incredibly diverse and because Dubai is a regional business hub in a prime geographic location, we have people flying in from everywhere. One girl even commutes from Singapore!”

As a professional based in the Middle East, as well as a devoted mother, Leila is passionate about helping working mothers and women in the region. “We’re under-represented here”, she says. “I want to change that and promote the School among different circles to working women. We need to make the world a fairer place.” LBS recognised Leila’s ambitions with a scholarship, which she says has “made a big difference to my peace of mind. It’s so rewarding to know that the school recognises my experience and ambitions.”