MIT, Sloan School of Management
“Husband. Father. Son. Passionate problem solver. Creative thinker who balances strategic foresight with operational realism.”
Hometown: Yorktown Heights, NY
Family Members: Amanda Elhosseiny (wife), Sofia Elhosseiny (4 yr old daughter), Rhonda Elhosseiny (sister)
Fun fact about yourself: I’ve worked and lived in six states and four countries; at one point we moved five times in five years.
Undergraduate School and Degree: B.A in Economics and Philosophy, Amherst College (2010)
Where are you currently working?
CFO, Stanley Security North America
Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles:
INROADS intern mentor
Accounting & Finance peer tutor
Mentoring young diverse talent through ERG/Affinity networks
Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Academically, I’m most proud of taking the technical track of John Sterman’s System Dynamics and Advanced System Dynamics. This quantitative modeling of systems has been hyped to be “MIT hard”. I bonded with my classmates as we grinded through ever more challenging assignments during the summer term. We all had a sense of accomplishment and nerd victory after submitting a model and problem set.
What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In my first senior leadership role, I successfully advocated for and achieved better diversity within the organization. The Corporate Audit Staff was GE’s prominent executive leadership program and a key pipeline for operations and financial talent. As GE expanded globally, there was a recognition of the need to recruit more diverse non-U.S. talent to the program. However, the promotion rates for diverse talent waned at the manager and senior manager levels. I realized that much of this talent simply lacked the right senior leadership support that came more readily to their U.S. peers. I advocated for, sponsored, and mentored key talent from the Middle East, China and Sub-Saharan Africa. I’m most proud of seeing them prosper into manager and senior manager roles, and ultimately, key executive roles in their respective regions.
I’m also proud of the Stanley Security team and the transformation we’ve undertaken over the last four years. Together with an incredibly talented leadership team, we’ve improved the growth trajectory of the business, differentiated our offerings, and remained resilient through COVID-19. Ultimately, these efforts led to the announced sale of Stanley Security for $3.2B to Securitas.
Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite professor was Nelson Repenning who taught Organizations Lab. The O-Lab course challenges executives to view work design, particularly knowledge work, through a different lens, and equips us with tools and skills to simplify the world around us. Prof. Repenning grounds his dynamic work design framework with cognitive psychology, which ultimately increases the practicality and effectiveness of the tools. He pushes his students to clearly define the problem we are trying to solve and scope it down to identify the intervention.
Prof. Repenning taught us to ask “What’s the one thing getting in the way of doing your job?” in our organization. I love asking the question with our sales team, technicians, field operations teams, billers, collectors, and order entry specialists. It’s a simple and disarming phrase and ultimately signals to the organization your role is to help solve problems where the work is being done. Practically, it yields enormous insight into how work is being done and what I can do to help. Whether its issues in hiring and ramping up team members, challenges sharing branch office space, or a burdensome customer billing process, I’m equipped with finding ways to solve problems with our team.
Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? I chose MIT Sloan for the academic rigor, uniqueness of the curriculum, and the quality of the cohort. The seniority and experience of the MIT EMBA cohort stood out relative to its peers. The emphasis on technology, sustainability, and most importantly on Action Learning stood out from a curriculum standpoint.
What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? The biggest lesson I learned was the value in clearly defining a problem with a clear target design. Never blame problems on people as structure drives behavior. Thinking through the system allows one to find the best interventions to yield a positive outcome.
During the Organization Lab course, I went through the process of “go-see-and-assess” work being done. We discovered a group of customers who hadn’t received a contractual price increase over a multi-year period. I pivoted the scope of the project and, as a team, we focused on escalating prices. The project led to millions in price realization and tens of millions in total value capture.
I had significant support from the executive leadership to experiment and apply tools and mental models to Stanley Security. Below are some other examples:
- Applied Economics and Scenario Planning: We developed an imagined future of the security industry to understand the consolidation and enormous investment from PE/VC moving into the space. We built partnerships with technology companies. This ultimately formed a key piece to our strategic plan we presented to the board of directors.
- Competitive Strategy and Organizational Processes: As we embarked on our security as a service strategy, understanding and addressing the strategic, cultural and political lens became critical to sustaining the change.
- Data, Models, and Decisions: Using decision trees and calculating the value of an option became a key part of decision-making when we made pricing and real estate decisions.
- Marketing Management: Understanding the true total cost of customer acquisition and calculating lifetime value of customer is challenging in a service environment. We’re building new capabilities to analyze and improve customer retention.
Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? As we engaged in the sale process of Stanley Security, I remember a particularly challenging November devoted to balancing class, family, and work. I spent 3 weeks on the East Coast between our management presentation with bankers in New York, classes in Cambridge and visiting my parents during Thanksgiving. There were late nights and early mornings in MIT’s E62 building as I worked with our deal team over Zoom and finishing up problem sets for class. We announced Securitas had reached an agreement to acquire Stanley Security for $3.2B in early December.
During the final semester, I made a conscious decision to scope down the number of electives I was taking. This allowed me to spend more time with my family as well as focus on preparing for the close of the transaction.
What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Carefully consider the program curriculum and type of students the executive MBA program attracts. I learned as much from my cohort as I did from the classes and professors. Many of my classmates have become family.
To make the most of the program, make sure you are in role and organization that supports your endeavor. The organization can be a laboratory to experiment with new ideas and techniques to create value.
What is the biggest myth about going back to school? The biggest myth about going back to school was it would be like riding a bike and easy to adapt to all the demands. There were more tradeoffs than I initially expected and took time and patience to adapt.
What was your biggest regret in business school? MIT can be an intimidating place at first, and I’ve had my fair share of imposter syndrome moments. I regret not realizing many of my peers felt the same way and learning to embrace this feeling earlier.
Ultimately, the Executive MBA experience helped me gain a calmness and confidence in myself along with having a clear understanding of the impact I can deliver and how to take control of my own career.
What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? I considered several part-time & online programs and it ultimately came down to wanting to foster deeper and stronger relationships with classmates. Looking back, the discussions and debates I had after class were as rich and robust as the class content itself.
What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My ultimate professional goal is to lead businesses that drive a positive and innovative impact for its stakeholders.
What made Rhamey such an invaluable addition to the class of 2022?
“Rhamey was the kind of student that every professor hopes to have in class. He had already made it to a senior role and was confident in his abilities to make change, but was also open to adjusting his approach as a leader based on learning new tools and perspectives. As an example, in my project course, he set out to solve what he thought was a significant problem, only to discover a far bigger issue lurking right under his nose. The problem he found had existed for a long time and, to be candid, was a little embarrassing for his organization. Many managers would have swept it under the rug or otherwise justified its existence. Rhamey tackled it directly and ended up generating billions in additional value. He also built new operational skill to match is financial acumen. In short, he took a big step from being a functional expert to a general manager. Though we are a general management program, students often struggle to step out of their comfort zones to build new skills and capabilities. Rhamey embraced this challenge and is a far strong leader for it.”
Nelson P. Repenning
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