Sam Walker

Dubai Executive MBA 2019
Commercial Manager, Inchcape Shipping Services

I started my chapter in the Middle East five years ago when I left the UK in search for a new experience. I was born in Surrey, grew up in Switzerland and lived in France for a while, but to be perfectly honest, I felt like it was time to move on to bigger and better things. I became a Senior Chartering Manager at an oil and gas trading company overseeing the Commercial Shipping and Operations Department, and since then, I have found my way to Cass.

Throughout my career I’ve gained knowledge and it hasn’t always been through formal training, learning on the job has had its benefits but it has also left me aware of my own knowledge gaps and what I would need to learn in order to excel. I wanted to push further and aim for those senior management roles, I wanted to be able to influence the key strategy and direction of an organisation. And this is where I started researching MBAs and more importantly leading me to study at Cass on the Executive MBA programme in Dubai.

Keen to study at a prestigious business school and impressed by the first-class reputation, studying the Executive MBA (EMBA) as Cass’s Dubai campus called to me. I was excited by the core modules and the breadth and locations of the elective modules. The opportunity to pull on the alumnus network not only in Dubai, but also London, was the final pull for me. Now I have finally started the MBA I am impressed my experiences have far exceeded my expectations.

The faculty on the programme are simply amazing. My modules have been delivered by world-class Professors with good humour and in a thought provoking manner – lending a deeper understanding of the subject at hand, all the while being mindful of catering to the varying levels of experience in the audience. I found Dr. Danielle Lyssimachou particularly thought provoking and Dr. Cliff Oswick good humoured and engaging with his class. Each and every module is delivered effectively and concisely.

However intensive the content is, I admire how the staff remain energetic and passionate throughout, making sure not to dismiss questions which they may consider ‘simple’. They have been wonderful at breaking complex subjects down and repackaging them in understandable chunks – brilliantly facilitating conversation and debate within the class. The theory taught has always remained relevant and case studies have been used successfully to support theories. That said, where theories are challenged in class, the academic staff are always willing to challenge their own beliefs and points of view.

All the learning is complimented by the Professional Development workshops and what an eye opener they have been. They have provided the perfect opportunity for self-reflection and allowed me to examine my own leadership style and values, encouraging me to examine areas for self-improvement, in a safe and trusting environment. To be honest, I thought that this side of the EMBA was going to be the weakest and I initially had a ‘just get it done’ attitude towards it, however, once the workshops started my attitude changed dramatically and I now see it as one of the most valuable aspects of the programme.

I feel the diversity of the cohort is a valuable asset to the programme. My peers represent a broad span of professional and cultural backgrounds and in this global economy the value this adds is huge. My cohort is inspiring and competitive, but also incredibly supportive and social. Getting to know them socially as well as professionally has been by far the best experience. There is a wealth of knowledge and experience in the classroom which comes not only from the professor but also fellow students; a kind, good humoured and supportive group. When one of us struggles there is always a fellow student who will offer a lending hand, much like being part of a family. Without the cohort, the programme would be a whole different playing field.

So far, my learning experience has been wonderful, challenging, thought provoking, and rewarding. I feel it has deepened my business acumen and proven to be relatable and practical. One certainly feels the benefits of the modules immediately after class. The learning experience has been far more collaborative than I anticipated and the debate and discussion which is encouraged in class has been lively and informative. They say the more you put in, the more you get out and this phrase certainly rings true.

I have come a long way since starting my EMBA. The programme has deepened my knowledge in various business concepts and I have now discovered how much more aware, curious and inquisitive I am of the wider activities taking place at my work place. Before, I would have quickly read financial summaries delivered to me a mere 10 minutes before finance meetings, but now I find myself reading financial documents well in advance and asking the right questions to my finance colleagues.

I think that in many circumstances the programme sparks an intrigue. It rarely delivers explicitly right or wrong answers but encourages one to stop and think and challenge. This has no doubt allowed me to master my own fate and independently draw critical views of certain financial aspects, all the while providing a framework of best practice and an environment in which I can safely challenge that framework.

This exciting roller coaster called the Executive MBA, can be a long, challenging and relentless journey, and the challenge certainly doesn’t stop after the course content has been taught. Be prepared to put the hours in; the programme and modules are intensive and requires varying amounts of pre-reading and preparation, depending on prior experience. However challenging, this exciting roller coaster has consolidated strong bonds with my peers.