Asmar Atif

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At Imperial College Business School, we pride ourselves in the innovative use of technology to create a bespoke online teaching and community experience on the Global Online MBA. I caught up with Asmar Atif, Student Leader, to discuss the culture of community and collaboration on the online programme.

Asmar, tell me about your job role.

I am Country Head UAE at Avanceon, an automation solution company in the manufacturing and industrial sector. For example, if a multinational company wants to set up a plant in the UAE, they bring the engineering equipment and we automate putting it together. I have worked at the company for 12 years. Based in Dubai, I manage the profit and loss, marketing, sales and financing divisions.

What has been your experience on the Global Online MBA so far?

I’ve learnt more about myself on the programme than I have in my 12 years of work experience. The Personal Leadership Journey has been the highlight for me – it has been incredible and it’s helping me to develop self-awareness. My coach is called Ayo and he’s delivered amazing and inspirational sessions.

I understand more now that I’m a people person and I tend to make decisions using intuition rather than data. I am learning to focus more on data in projects and make more data informed decisions. It’s been amazing – Ayo and I meet using Skype and I don’t feel physically apart.

Why did you decide to study an MBA?

After 12 years at Avanceon and working across five continents, I decided it was the right time for a more structured education.

What’s the student community like on the Global Online MBA?

We want to be the best online cohort ever. There is a tremendous network of students from 26-62-years old in the cohort. As Student Leader, it’s my job to put students first and build a community on the Global Online MBA programme. We have a WhatsApp group for all 80 students and then sub-groups split into topic areas, for example for accountants, senior managers and women. We interact daily: if one person has a question, then lots of others drop in to help.

We don’t feel geographically apart because of technology. We use digital and social technologies to foster a culture of community and collaboration, such as Facebook, Slack and GoToMeeting. Another of our initiatives is that we take it in turns every month to present how we apply our learning to what we’re doing in our companies. It means that we all learn more about how different companies work and the community can also offer a fresh take on a work problem. The selflessness of the cohort is one of the core strengths of our community.

What would you say to someone who is unsure about studying an MBA online?

The first thing I would say is that studying online is the future. Time is precious and the flexibility of the Global Online MBA means you can listen to a lecture as many times as you need to. Everything is documented in The Hub. In face-to-face teaching, a comment, question or discussion can get lost but with The Hub you can replay the class. There are no other MBAs out there that offer this level of expert technology.

Secondly, Imperial is a top 5 UK and top 10 global university, and the Business School is triple-accredited. There’s no better option than studying online at Imperial. The fact the course is online shouldn’t be a concern: go for it!

Which tools on The Hub are useful?

The best feature is being able to control video speed. When I’m revising, I can watch a six-minute video in three minutes. Everything is documented so I can see the comments from others. Another useful feature is that I can listen while I’m driving and on the move. The Hub is an easy-to-access, usable, functional website.

How do you balance work and study?

I work 9-5 and I don’t have international travel in my job so I can work from 6-10 in the evening and 30 minutes in my lunch break if I need to. The work-life balance is significant and you should achieve it when studying the Global Online MBA. It’s about what works for you. The programmes team at the Business School is helpful and adapt to students’ busy working schedules.

Why did you choose Imperial to study your MBA?

I had a personal reason to choose Imperial. When I was 8 years old, my grandad used to tell me stories about studying his PhD at Imperial in the 1950s. I had a very strong bond with my grandfather and since my childhood I’ve wanted to visit Imperial, so being a student here is amazing.

In Dubai, I met alumni who are in senior positions and whose careers accelerated during the Global Online MBA. Their good feedback confirmed my decision to apply for the programme.

Is there anything else you want to say?

This is one of the best online MBA programmes. Choosing to study the Global Online MBA programme at Imperial will turn out to be one of the best decisions of your life. If you have the resources and time, don’t waste any more time: join now!

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