Asmar Atif
Global Online MBA 2019

Your time at Imperial College Business School 

Why did you choose to study your programme and why specifically at Imperial College Business School?  
Having worked in establishing international business units and teams across the Middle East, USA and Pakistan from 2005-2016, I had always wanted to upgrade my education to better myself while conducting international business. Hence, I applied for the Global Online MBA programme, a decision that I now rate as one of the wisest investments I have done so far. I chose Imperial College Business School for two reasons, firstly, it is one of the top-10 global universities that is very international with its Global Online MBA programme. Secondly, and more personally, my grandfather did his PhD in Botany in the early 1950s at Imperial College London and was one of the first PhDs in Pakistan after independence - hence a fair bit of family history there.  

What was the most important learning point you took with you from the Business School?
The most difficult and important thing in learning was to ‘unlearn’. Our cohort was brilliant; we came from 30 different countries, many different backgrounds and cultures, of course, some of us came with some ego, including myself, but we all learned to throw away that ego-baggage of the past. 

What was the most surprising thing about the programme?
The 'self-discovery' element - I had initially thought it would just be an educational programme but I know myself a lot better now. I have become more self-aware than I used to be. And that’s the biggest takeaway in my case.

What advice would you give to a prospective student considering studying the same programme as you?
The programme is a great opportunity to learn and network with people of incredibly high calibre. So should make the most of every interaction as it has the ability to uplift us intellectually. 

Tell us about your current job

How has your programme contributed to your career success? / How was your career transformed following your programme?
I landed two great jobs right as I finished the programme. Firstly, I got promoted to head a new business entity called Octopus Digital as Chief Digitalisation Officer, which is a subsidiary company (startup) of the parent company I have worked for. This is an outstanding career opportunity to establish a next-generation digitalisation company from the ground-up that provides AI and IoT (Internet of Things) centric services to manufacturing industries in Middle East and Pakistan. Secondly and in addition to Octopus Digital, I have also invested private equity in a French consulting startup called Battle Tested Consultant based in Saint-Etienne France that provides internationalisation services to innovative French SMEs. 

Both Octopus Digital and Battle Tested Consultant provide me with the opportunity to apply the knowledge I learned on my MBA right where it is needed the most; establishing two new companies.

How do you plan to use the skills and knowledge you gained during the programme within your career going forward?
There are two aspects of my career when it comes to the application; one is technical around AI and IoT, and the other is business. All in all, I planned to build my own brand identity as an ‘AI Technology Solutions Strategist’, where my expertise around advanced and breakout strategy, programmes that I particularly chose to learn, will help me on both the aspects. 

What do you enjoy most about your current work and what are the main challenges that you face?
Octopus Digital is extremely exciting and challenging and that’s why it thrives me. Because it requires strategic leadership in terms of setting up a new company, establishing cross-functional teams across different geographies and cultures, co-mingling process automation knowledge with data science, developing new IPs (intellectual properties) and products with distinctive go-to-market strategies. The most exciting part is that all the effort will lead to an IPO of Octopus within a realistically aggressive time span. For Battle Tested Consultant, it’s about helping SMEs develop their intrinsic and extrinsic resources and capabilities necessary to be able to internationalise and get out of their comfort zone while improving the quality of profits. 

What is your proudest achievement in the job so far?
It is when we helped the world’s largest district cooling company called Empower, Emirates Central Cooling Systems Corporation in Dubai; and supplied them the world’s biggest district cooling SCCDC (Supervisory Command, Control and Data Center) and IoT system. The system connected all buildings all over Dubai via IoT to a central control room for autonomous management via AI (Artificial Intelligence). It was a team effort that led to the birth of Octopus Digital to replicate that success across countries and industries. 

Alumni community

In what way is remaining connected to your alumni network important to you? 
Remaining connected to the alumni network is very very important because I consider it absolutely vital not only to maintain connections among alumni but to nurture them by continuous learning. ‘Strength of Weak Ties’, as we know, can go a long way in terms of career growth too. I continuously look forward to opportunities to connect, interact, meet with and learn from the alumni community across the globe with an intention to mind-share and help each other in their journeys. 

Global Online MBA 2019
Undergraduate education :

Bachelor of Computer Science , The Institute of Management Sciences (IMS Lahore)

Job prior to studying at the Business School :

Country Manager Sales, Dubai, UAE, Avanceon

Job after studying at the Business School :

Chief Digitalisation Officer and Head of Octopus Digital, Middle East & Pakistan, and Director General and Head of Advisory Board, Battle Tested Consultant, Saint-Etienne, France