2018 Best EMBAs: Hind bin Khirbash, London Business School

Hind bin Khirbash

London Business School

“An ambitious, achievement-driven business leader; an open-minded, creative forward-thinker; a family-oriented, loving wife and mother.”

Age: 37

Hometown: Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Family Members: Wife of Majed Al Shamsi, mother of two girls Alya (13) and Haya (10)

Fun fact about yourself: Back in high school, on nights leading up to Math exams, I would solve equations in my sleep. If I got stuck I’d wake up and do the problem on a piece of paper then fall asleep again.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

  • Higher Colleges of Technology: Higher Diploma, Computer Software Engineering
  • Higher Colleges of Technology: Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.Sc.), Business Information Technology

Where are you currently working? I currently run Emirates National Investment – our family business – as Chief Executive Officer.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles:

  • (B.A.Sc.), Business Information Technology, Honors
  • Co. Chair, Parents and Friends Association at Jumeira Baccalaureate School
  • Member, Parents Forum Committee at Swiss International Scientific School in Dubai

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Flying the LBS flag on the World Government Summit stage and receiving the award from Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of UAE, for winning 1st place at the summit’s Universities Challenge. The challenge demanded an ambitious deliverable within forty-eight hours in the form of a six-minute pitch before a judging panel. I am so proud of how our team worked together in alignment and cohesion and how we were all so driven to present a standard that would make us and our school proud.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Starting up my fashion retail business is one of the achievements that I am most proud of. That’s because  while I didn’t have any previous experience in retail or fashion business, I took the risk of venturing into the unknown and developed a sought-after fashion retail brand.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Associate Professor Niro Sivanathan delivered above and beyond expectations. He structured his elective course – Negotiation & Bargaining – such that students were engaged to the maximum level.

Niro tactfully struck the right balance between dominating the classroom and engaging his audience. His attention to detail demonstrated in his preparation and setup of the classes was impeccable and enabled dynamic interaction. His passion for the subject was prevailing and his friendly demeanor allowed students to approach him and enjoy his company.

What was your favorite MBA course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? I find it difficult to specify one favourite course, as I was able to find value and lots of business insight from most courses I took. However, in terms of great experience, my choice is Negotiation and Bargaining. I enjoyed N&B for the relevance of the invaluable skills learned from this course that can be applied to day-to-day operations while negotiating with suppliers, employees, business partners, government officials, even husband and kids. 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.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? I was looking to enroll in an EMBA program at a world-class renowned school that would offer a variety of finance electives, so London Business School was the obvious choice. Additionally, LBS Dubai campus is a ten-minute drive away from where I live, that was a convenience that I decided to capitalize on.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? There were many parts about business school that I enjoyed, but for the most part I appreciated the amount of knowledge I was able to attain during my courses, whether from theories delivered by professors, insights from classmates or living through and learning from business cases.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? If I would choose one lesson that I have learned, it would be that we are limited to what we think we can or cannot do. Taking the EMBA program enabled me to realize that the possibilities to our achievements are endless. I remind myself while at work that we set our own restrictions and limits. This reflection drives me to push the boundaries and aim for the sky.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? Three months into the EMBA program, during the winter holidays, I accompanied my husband and daughters on an ambitious trip on the US West Coast. Our itinerary stared in San Francisco and ended in San Diego; we were to travel by car, making multiple stops along the way. During the two weeks, I had to deliver assignments for two different courses and prepare for an exam. In order not to mess up our plans and outings, I used the jet lag to my advantage and followed an unusual sleeping pattern, going to bed around sunset to wake up at night when everyone was asleep and get 4/5 hours of quiet time to work then fall asleep again for a few hours until the morning. Around the same time, the Dubai Financial Market was performing in a way which compelled me to be trading; I was trading on the flight out of Dubai and continued to do so every week night, during the hours between 10 pm and 2 am. This nocturnal period was dedicated to transacting on the stock market, responding to work emails, studying for my exam, and completing assignments.

Bizarrely, this eccentric arrangement proved successful on all aspects. I delivered decent assignments, made great gains on equity transactions, and maybe due to the adrenaline rush I was experiencing, I was able to enjoy my days of travel. To this day, I cannot fathom how I pulled this off but it goes to prove to me how I can stretch myself when the necessity arises.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program?

I’ll follow the rule of three:

  1. Build your support network: Ensure having the support of people involved in your daily life – such as your family and superiors at work. They need to be prepared and supportive during your time away as the last thing you want, is to add to your stress during tough times.
  2. Be audacious: Make the best out of the program, challenge yourself when choosing electives, enjoy the network and events, take advantage of opportunities, and do not confine yourself to familiar territory.
  3. Eyes on the prize: Perseverance and resilience are the name of the game. When times get tough and things start to give, regain focus, prioritize and aim for your goal.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? One of the myths is that all what will be taught in school can be acquired from work experience. Far from true in my experience, as sharing this journey with a diverse cohort from different backgrounds, nationalities and industries is an enrichment beyond what any work experience can provide.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I regret not getting the chance to participate in an exchange block week with Columbia Business School.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I found Omar Rhiman as one of the most thoughtful, trustworthy and genuine classmates. In a competitive environment, these attributes of selflessness and generosity are valuable and appreciated. Omar is smart, hardworking and strikes the most interesting conversations. I feel privileged to have made his acquaintance and consider myself to have gained a lifetime friend. 

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I used to eagerly wait for my husband Majed, who started his MBA program one year before I did, to come home and tell me about his classes – learnings and encounters. I was fascinated by the business theories he shared and enjoyed linking them to day to day operations. Few months later, Majed came home with a London Business School MBA brochure in his hand telling me that he thought it was time for me to pursue my Graduate degree.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…stuck with a lot of questions, slower in executing our company’s business plans and hesitating more than ever when taking decisions.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I strive to grow our family business, not only for profile and profitability, but also to deliver a product that would change lives for the better and where the business success would enable supporting communities and giving back through meaningful initiatives.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? As a thoughtful, supportive and ambitious intellectual.

Favorite book: I’ll share a favourite fiction and non-fiction:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Eyre

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Favorite movie or television show: As a child I loved musicals – still do to this day! I’m fond of The Sound of Music, which brings back nostalgic memories.

My favourite television show is The Good Wife. I loved watching Alicia Florrick get over her humiliation, gain her independence, and take charge of her destiny.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? I have a long list to check from giving a Ted talk to writing a book, but taking into account the intense EMBA journey. Here are the two items that top my list:

  1. Spend a week at a detox retreat
  2. Enjoy a vacation sailing a boat in the Mediterranean with my family.

What made Khirbash such an invaluable addition to the class of 2018?

“Hind Bin Khirbash is the CEO of Emirates National Investment, and has recently been awarded first place in Shaping Future Government Global University’s challenge at the 2018 World Government Summit. She is an active student ambassador and has had a significant impact on increasing the number of females partaking in the Executive MBA programme at London Business School.”

Arnold Longboy
Executive Director, Leadership Programmes

DON’T MISS: THE ENTIRE LIST OF 100 BEST & BRIGHTEST EXECUTIVE MBA GRADS OF 2018