The Business Year

Randa Bessiso

SAUDI ARABIA - Health & Education

Wise Ones

Director, Middle East of Manchester Business School (MBS)

Bio

Randa Bessiso was instrumental in planning and establishing the Middle East Centre, which opened in Dubai Knowledge Village in 2006. She has spent much of her career working on market entry strategies, company start ups, and channel development programs, building profitable regional businesses and brands. Prior to joining MBS in 2005, she was International Business Manager for UK eUniversities Worldwide, a British government-backed online education initiative.

Education is a major goal for Saudi Arabia, and recent labor reforms have fueled increasing demand for skilled Saudi workers. How do the business school’s programs address the needs of […]

Education is a major goal for Saudi Arabia, and recent labor reforms have fueled increasing demand for skilled Saudi workers. How do the business school’s programs address the needs of the labor market in Saudi Arabia?

Manchester Business School (MBS) Middle East Centre already supports more than 250 part-time MBA students based in Saudi Arabia and the blended learning model of the Manchester Global MBA, which combines self-study with a high degree of face-to-face contact with faculty and peers at regular workshops in Dubai, is a perfect fit for experienced working professionals in Saudi Arabia. These students are highly motivated and are already well qualified and experienced; they are looking to accelerate and enhance their careers by developing their skills and applying this new knowledge immediately in the workplace in response to the demands of a vibrant and growing economy in Saudi Arabia, which will present many attractive career opportunities.

Many universities around the world are struggling to balance general liberal arts education with qualification-focused curriculum. How do you provide a well-rounded education to students, while also preparing them for a competitive job market?

All our part-time Global MBA students are experienced working professionals and many are already highly qualified (around 10% already hold a Master’s degree) and in senior roles (around 30% are in C-level positions), and so these are serious businesspeople in their early to mid careers, who have already achieved career success. The MBA is a general management qualification that covers all the major functions of business and this rounded and balanced program content provides students with a broader perspective of business and the tools and understanding— and confidence—to move into management and leadership positions. The Global MBA program also supports the personal development aims of students and offers a careers service, as well as networking opportunities with other like-minded professionals through a network of 2,000 alumni in the region and 50,000 worldwide.

How do partnerships with major international corporations fit into your educational strategy?

Partnerships and collaborations have been central to the success of the MBS Middle East Centre, which today is the largest and fastest growing center in the MBS international network. These collaborations range from professional bodies such as the ACCA and IMA, partnerships with our hosts in Dubai—Dubai Knowledge Village and Dubai International Academic City—and working relationships with some of the region’s major companies on management development programs.

Which career qualifications do you expect will be in the highest demand over the next decade, and how will you meet that demand?

There is no doubt that the MBA is still the benchmark business qualification and a prerequisite for many companies and business people looking to build serious international careers. Since MBS opened the Middle East Centre in Dubai in 2006, the demand for a world-class business qualification has been very apparent, with more than 1,600 MBA students currently supported across the region. In addition, there is growing interest in a more personalized MBA experience, which includes greater emphasis on personal development alongside a rigorous academic program. In response, MBS has recently launched the more personalized Global Executive MBA (GEMBA) program for senior managers looking to take the next step into leadership and board-level positions.

What role do you envision for the university over the next five years? How do you hope to see education evolve in Saudi Arabia in the medium term?

Since launching the Middle East Centre in Dubai in 2006, MBS has successfully established its Global MBA program amongst highly qualified and experienced working professionals in the region. This is a reflection of the growing recognition of the value of business education in the region and many of the world’s top schools, such as MBS, are now present here and offering choice and quality. Attracting and retaining talent in the region is a major challenge, and access to world class business education helps in this process; developing local talent is equally important and we hope to see more schools actively engaging with Saudi Arabia and supporting individuals and companies in developing their talent, through an increasing range of high quality business education options.

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