Hind bin Khirbash is a natural achiever. CEO of Emirates National Investment, a regional development group that covers real estate, construction and fast moving consumer goods, she is also a keen academic and picked up first place in the Shaping Future Government Global University’s Challenge at the 2018 World Government Summit.
Her decision to pursue an Executive MBA (EMBA) at London Business School (LBS) stems, she says, from an innate desire to keep on learning and developing her skills. That, and the fact that husband, Majed, had opted to take an MBA at the school a year prior to her joining the EMBA programme.
“I wanted to accelerate my decision-making and my ability to execute our company’s business plans. When Majed came home he would tell me about his learning and encounters and I was fascinated by the business theories he shared and how they applied to day-to-day operations. I realised the time had come for me to pursue my graduate degree too.”
LBS was an “obvious choice,” as a “world-renowned” school offering an EMBA with a broad range of finance electives. And with the Dubai campus a 10-mintue drive from home, the decision to enrol was straightforward.
Less straightforward, at first, was the challenge of juggling work, family and studies. Three months into her MBA, Hind accompanied her family on a road trip across the US West Coast, capitalising on jet lag to work at night, trading on the Dubai stock markets, responding to work emails, preparing for exams and completing academic assignments.
“It may be down to the sheer adrenalin of juggling so many things, but I managed to deliver decent assignments, made solid gains on equity transactions and I was even able to enjoy our travelling. It shows how much you can stretch yourself when the need arises.”
The opportunity to learn alongside peers from a broad diversity of business, industry cultural and geographical backgrounds enriched the EMBA exponentially, says Hind. Putting theory delivered by faculty to the test in the context of shared insights and business cases creates a dynamic where knowledge, ideas, new attitudes and approaches embed quickly and can be accessed directly.
“There’s a myth that working can teach you just as much as you will learn at school. But it’s just that – a myth. Sharing this journey with a cohort of different backgrounds and nationalities is more enriching than work experience.”
Among the principal insights Hind has taken away from her EMBA is the relevance of negotiating and bargaining; skills, she say, that can be applied to day-to-day operations, dealing with suppliers, employees, business partners, government officials and even family.
“The biggest insight I gained was that negotiation is a process rather than a personality attribute and that once steps are followed correctly, a lot of position power can be gained.”
Another key realisation, she says, is that we are not as limited in what we can or can’t do as we tend to think we are.
“The EMBA opened my eyes to the fact that at work we set our own restrictions and limits. This realisation has carried me forward in my professional life and inspired me to push the boundaries and really aim for the sky.”
Pushing the boundaries is part of Hind’s commitment to growing her business in the future – not only in terms of its profile and profitability, but also in delivering a product that she hopes will produce positive impact across the region. Success metrics, she says, transcend the bottom line: “Success is something that should also be measured in how your business supports communities. And its capacity to give back through meaningful initiatives that help drive economic development in the places you operate.”
Pushing the limits and achieving this kind of impact for Hind means following a “rule of three.” And it’s advice she would share with anyone considering undertaking an Executive MBA.
“First you need to build your support network and ensure the key people around you are supportive. Secondly you need to be audacious in all that you do. If you’re doing an EMBA, make the very most of it by challenging yourself when it comes to electives, getting out of your comfort zone, throwing yourself into the network and events and seizing every opportunity.”
The third rule is to keep your eyes firmly on the prize.
“When times get tough and things start to give, learn to prioritise and keep your focus on what it is you set out to achieve. Perseverance and resilience are always the name of the game.”