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Zeina El Kaissi

  • Programme: Executive MBA Dubai
  • Nationality: Lebanese
  • Job Pre-programme: Project Manager, Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development
  • Job Post-programme: Senior Project Manager:General Secretariat of the Executive Council (GSEC)

Career

Zeina currently works for the General Secretariat of the Executive Council (GSEC) in Abu Dhabi. Previously, she has worked for the Department of Economic Development and as a consultant at Booz and Company.

Leadership and change management

I work in local government, in a role that involves performance reporting across key areas like health, education and infrastructure. There is also a major emphasis on planning – Abu Dhabi is at a stage of rapid expansion and aims to diversify its economy from oil. I find managing these areas challenging and exciting, but I also believe that we can boost our economic development by operating more efficiently. This was the initial challenge that led me to enrol on the Executive MBA programme; I was also very keen to leverage my existing professional experiences and to learn how to start-up and lead a business on my own.

London Business School was already familiar to me thanks to its strong rankings and global profile. I wanted to continue working while I studied and I had a number of colleagues from the consulting field who strongly recommended the EMBA programme. The EMBA helped me develop my leadership and change management skills alongside other experienced professionals – classmates who represented a wide cross-sector of nationalities and industries. It was an intensely thought-provoking environment, and one where we were all confident enough to contribute our experiences and challenge each other.

Implementing learning at work

When I think back, so many courses stand out.
Developing Effective Managers and Organisations with Professor Henry Moon explores leadership, decision making and creative problem solving. It actually changed the way I think – I have a much more structured approach to decision making, and a powerful way of mobilising individuals to act through conviction, rather than authority. I regularly use EMBA cases with my own team at work and I’ve formed crossdepartmental task forces to implement the projects I’m  leading. This has resulted in a more consistent and collective approach and has been very empowering to the teams involved.

One of the great things about the EMBA programme is that it changed my perspective again and again. I had moments in lectures when I suddenly realised I had been using the wrong approach to a situation and then immediately started thinking about how I would deal with it differently back in the office. I also got a massive motivational rush listening to guest speakers, many of whom were successful entrepreneurs and professionals.

Understanding successful businesses

Both the London and Dubai EMBA schedules are packed with lectures, guest speakers, team breakout sessions, coaching, and networking events and I loved every minute. It’s an experience that provides concrete business benefits; I’ve come out with a much stronger knowledge base across economic, finance and accounting, so I’m better equipped to manage government budgets and expenses. In the end, understanding how businesses succeed and grow has enabled me to provide better public sector policies and initiatives, and to employ more efficient methodologies.