QATAR - Finance
President, Qatar Finance and Business Academy (QFBA)
Khalifa al Yafei is the acting President of QFBA. He is a certified career counselor from the National Career Development Association with a demonstrated history of working in the higher education industry. Has an extensive experience working with Qatari students in the areas of career counseling, student recruitment, and coaching. Before his current role, he worked as the director of student affairs and is a lecturer at the Qatar Finance and Business Academy in collaboration with Northumbria University in Qatar, where he is responsible for the development of the student affairs department and responsible for lecturing on the employability and career planning module for third-year students. Previously, he worked as the manager of national scholarships at Sidra Medicine, where he managed the scholarship administration and talent pipeline. He also worked at Hamad Bin Khalifa University, where he developed bespoke programs to attract Qatari students to study at Qatar Foundation Education City. He is a PhD candidate at Lancaster University specializing in higher education, and he also published various intriguing journals and white papers during the past years and participated in several local and regional conferences and forums. He is a board member and country representative of the MENASA NASPA conference, which focuses on the student affairs field in the MENA region. He was also a board member of the Qatar-UK Alumni Network. He undertook his master’s degree at Penn State University (USA) in career counseling, where he also worked as a career counselor at one of the biggest career centers in the US. Furthermore, he holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Leeds.
Khalifa al Yafei, President of the Qatar Finance and Business Academy (QFBA), talks to TBY about the firm’s contribution to the financial sector.
How has QFBA contributed to the advancement of the financial sector in Qatar through specialized training and education since its establishment 13 years ago?
In the last 13 years, QFBA was able to establish its name not only in the financial sector, but also within wider society as well. When it was first established, the aim was to upskill human capital and raise standards within the financial sector. A few years after its inception, the scope widened, and QFBA started offering services to the wider economy, the government sector, and other private sectors like real estate and services. QFBA became a partner for government entities when offering national programs. For example, the Ministry of Interior designed a national program to train every single employee in the public sector and raise awareness of cybersecurity. QFBA also trained every cybersecurity specialist in the government sector, which included three levels of training along five different tracks. That is a huge program targeting 52,000 employees in the government sector with QFBA as the program partner. Then, the Central Bank Anti-Money Laundering and Counterterrorism Committee decided to design a national program to train every employee in the financial sector in anti-money laundering and counterterrorism financing, and QFBA was chosen as the partner in developing that national program. It is not only B2B or B2C training or setting the standard; a key part of it is partnering with the government to develop national programs. We are now a multidisciplinary organization for global training for customers, training for businesses, training on behalf of governments, and higher education in undergraduate and postgraduate programs.
How does QFBA work with Qatar’s main financial institutions to be the go-to partner in finance and business education in Qatar?
We have a strong relationship with all the financial institutions in Qatar, because financial institutions compete on the quality of services. Services are delivered by people, so these institutions are always investing in their people. We provide them with international certifications, and we prepare their staff to pass exams like CPA, CFA, CMA, and ISI. We have an exam preparation course for any financial-related certification, and this is one of the areas that financial institutions are interested in. We are also extremely flexible when it comes to designing custom programs. An institution will approach us to design a specific topic or training program, and it can sometimes be a lengthy program that could take months or just a workshop or seminar. We take the client’s needs into consideration and tailor-make a program to suit it exactly. In addition, we offer undergraduate and graduate degrees that are all related to the financial sector. We are a one-stop shop where financial institutions can find all of their needs, be they internationally recognized certifications, university degrees, customized trainings, or others.
QFBA in collaboration with Northumbria University launched a new master’s program in finance. What was the rationale behind the establishment of this program, and how is it expected to evolve?
It is a partnership that is expanding every year. We started it in 2018, and the aim is to grow the capacity of QFBA from a training academy into a higher education institution. Through that partnership, we offered our first bachelor’s program, which has since grown to become four bachelor programs. We also offered our first master’s program, and we aspire to offer more. The rationale behind it is the gap in the market. Before we go into any program, whether it is training or education, we do a thorough feasibility study wherein we identify three key areas. The first is supply: Are there any other institutions supplying such a service in Qatar? We look at the needs of the labor market and the economy to determine if it requires such a program. We identify demand and if there are people in Qatar who are interested in taking that kind of program. We only offer programs when the supply is low, and the need and demand are high. In 2017, we conducted a feasibility study and found a low supply, high demand, and great need for financial-related bachelor programs. In 2019, we did another feasibility study whereby we found the same situation for a master’s in finance program. In 2022, we are conducting a third study to see where we can expand in those programs. When we talk about low supply, it is because others do not offer those programs or we can offer it in a different way. For example, our master’s program are evening classes and weekend classes, so people can take their MSc in finance without leaving their jobs. The programs currently offered in the market are mostly MBAs or management, but not finance. We were the first to offer it in 2020, and now there are other universities offering MSc in finance. Our international banking program is a top-up program, where people with a three-year diploma can do a one-year program in order to get a bachelor’s degree. It is unique, and no one was offering it when we started in 2018.
What will QFBA’s main priorities be for 2022, and how will it capitalize on the international visibility thanks to the FIFA World Cup?
One element of our teaching is the practicality of the program. We offer hands-on teaching, simulation, and project-related modules. We are taking the opportunity of 2022 to expand our outreach within the internship. We have partnered with some of the organizations serving the World Cup, like Coca-Cola, for example. We are discussing internship opportunities for our students to work there. Coca-Cola gave us a similar opportunity during the Arab Cup, and everyone benefitted from that arrangement. We are taking this opportunity of the international event in Qatar to engage our students in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
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