education

Beyond the comfort zone

Studying while working is a life changing experience, say working students

— Compiled by Binsal Abdul Kader/Senior Reporter, Sami Zaatar, Anwar Ahmad/staff reporters
19:00 February 3, 2018

Abrar Ahmed, 42, Indian 

Abrar AhmedHe began his career as a part-time data entry operator with a Dubai-based firm 18 years ago, and rose to become an operations manager with the same company.

“The constant growth I have experienced is a result of not only on-the-job development and experience, but the chance to expand my knowledge academically through the Tuition Assistance Programme that FedEx offers,” said Abrar Ahmed, FedEx Operations Manager in Dubai.

Through this programme, Abrar has successfully completed his MBA from Atlanta University, US, and is in the process of becoming a Certified Internal Auditor. The 42-year old Indian embarked on his career with a Bachelor’s Degree in Hotel Management from Bangalore University, India. He joined as a part-time data entry operator and went on to become an operations manager. 

But his latest educational qualifications have helped him take a higher career leap.

ALSO READ: 

■  Employed and studying: a rising UAE trend
■  Up to 15% annual growth in enrolment
■  Working and studying while pregnant
■  How employers help employees
■  Most postgraduate students are working people

“As part of the management team, I now have the opportunity to share my thoughts and ideas for how to best manage and grow the people and operations under my care.”

He is also planning to continue his education through the company’s same programme to further enhance his management skills, and to become Six Sigma certified. Six Sigma is a method that provides organisations tools to improve the capability of their business processes.

Nagham Hadi, 27, Syrian 

Nagham HadiShe has been working as a sales executive for past six years. She just completed a global MBA from Manchester Business School in Dubai, which is a part of her bigger dream. “I wanted to improve my business acumen to start my own business with the help of an NGO that helps youngsters’ start-ups.”

Her father, a businessman in Norway, is her role model as he has always encouraged her to seek her hidden potential. “I want to a leave a mark in this world. This is a part of that self-actualisation,” Hadi said.

She had earned a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from Syria. But the MBA seemed to her an organic ambition. Attending classes three days apart from participating in a weekly workshop, Hadi found that her pursuit of her dream was at the cost of her social life. “I missed my friends. It was very tough. I would sleep just three hours during the exams but all the hard work paid off.”

The multitasking, she said, made her more resilient and confident.

Her reason for wanting to take up the challenges is linked to her entrepreneurial dream of making it big. “I started a one-year long horse-riding course four months ago, which persuaded me to take risks. There is nothing called a calculated risk. I should be ready for any kind of risk,” Hadi said.

Ruqaya Al Blooshi, 25, Emirati 

Ruqaya Al BlooshiShe started working as a shooting trainer at Abu Dhabi Police at a young age before completing her studies. However, her dreams and determination were always alive.

“I have been working since I was 17, so it was always my dream to continue and finish my bachelor studies, and that’s why I decided to pursue higher education. I want to complete and get my bachelors which, I believe will open up more opportunities for me,” said Al Blooshi, who just completed bachelors in IT Business at the Higher Colleges of Technology in Abu Dhabi.

“It was a real struggle at first, especially because I had a baby son at the time.” Although she was frustrated initially, she handled the situation with the help of her family.

“I feel that I have improved a lot during these four years, especially in multitasking and self-development.”

She completed the course in December. “I am very proud and happy that I have reached this far, and I am starting to think about pursuing a masters degree because I want to extend all my possible options.”

Hessa Al Hebsi, 29, Emirati 

Hessa Al HebsiHessa working in Revenue Management Department of Etihad Airways, started her masters programme in marketing, media, and communication at Paris Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi in February last year.

She feels that doing higher education studies while working is the right step. “Because you get to learn so much that you can then apply at your work.

“I am graduating in July 2018 and I feel that I have already grown a lot personally!

“Yes, it was challenging at times, but I took them as opportunities!”

She said everybody finds excuse in not having enough time. “That is just an excuse only. “Even I feel why I didn’t do it earlier!” she said.

Matthew Theodore, 32, from US 

Matthew TheodoreHe has been working as proposal manager for the past nine years. He is doing his MSc Commercial Management from Heriot Watt University.

“I’ve made my mind up that it is something I want to accomplish, so come what may, I’ll make it happen. It’s easy to get comfortable in your job and situation. When you get comfortable, you get lazy and put your future at risk. I wanted to take a Masters in a more technical field than my bachelors to get out of my comfort zone.”

He said that his challenge is staying focused on his studies. He feels he would have done his masters a few years ago when he had all the time in the world.

“However, when I do dive into my studies, I enjoy learning and applying the knowledge to my job,” Theodore said.