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StayConnected i
























From the President’s Desk







Congratulations to the UOWD Alumni on the launch of this very first issue of ‘Stay Connected’ May this be the start of a long-lived and effective venture that will help you, our graduates, to maintain their connections with each other, and with all parts of the University – both current students and staff. One of my first rewarding experiences as the new President of UOWD, soon after I was appointed in September 2008, was meeting the Heads of a number of government departments in Dubai. Without exception, at each visit I was greeted by at least one member of staff of the organization who said: “Hello, I’m one of yours.” I soon came to realize that our graduates are everywhere! However, in the past we have not been very good at keeping track of our alumni – nor very good at helping you to keep in touch with each other and with the University. UOWD, which is the longest established private University in the UAE, has a very large alumni body – over 4,500 graduates over the years since we started with 8 students in 1993. You have a high quality degree from a well established, nationally accredited University in the UAE, which has strong links with the University of Wollongong – one of Australia’s top universities. Many of you now hold senior, responsible positions in commerce, industry and government in the UAE and in other countries. The alumni can and should play a very important role in any University. As UOWD alumni, you can help your University by giving us the benefit of your good ideas and opinions, by providing us with contacts to help with new initiatives, by giving current students opportunities for voluntary and paid work experience, by telling us what we might do to help you further – in your current career. To make it easy for you to do any of these things, we need you to stay connected. I am therefore very pleased indeed to see a number of initiatives aimed at helping us to ‘stay connected’ with our alumni. There’s a Facebook site, there is a series of monthly ‘Alumni Network’ seminars, and we are building our alumni database. I would like to pay tribute to Ms Sherri Van Over for devoting her time, energy and care to these activities.




Volume 1 / Issue 1 / January 2010

Contents Check out the latest news on campus, plus events and other accomplishments Pages 5, 6, 7, 8 Dr. Mohammed Watfa talks about his new book, now available at the Faculty Research Corner, and winning the Research Excellence Award 2009

Page 10

Get to know our Alumni Officer, Sherri Van Over the lady who makes things happen for us. Page 14

Meet Zeeshan Gaya and check out his latest This ‘Stay Connected’ newsletter is a great initiative, which will complement the other activities for our alumni. I hope you will all make the most of it as a way to find out about UOWD’s plans initiative - the launch of and aspirations, about recent and upcoming events at the University, about recent achievefashion brand ‘Dhaani’ ments of our staff and students – and, above all, about what other alumni are doing in their lives. Page 18 I finish by giving you a brief summary of the new initiatives the University is currently working on. As you may have seen in the media, we have developed a Doctor of Business Administration program and a PhD program, which we hope will be accredited in time to take our first doctoral students in September 2010. This will be another first for UOWD! We will soon finalize the accreditation of a Bachelor of Engineering program, with specializations in Electrical, Computer and Telecommunication Engineering –again, we hope this will start in 2010. We have been reviewing and revising the curriculum for our highly successful MQM program, and will soon introduce a number of specializations to address particular needs in the UAE – including such areas as health, education, security. As we have so many research-active staff in the various business management fields, we are also working to develop UOWD as a centre for developing and publishing business cases – especially cases that are relevant to the GCC region. Our staff are also strong players in several recently established research grant schemes, such as the Emirates Foundation and the National Research Foundation. Perhaps these few comments will give you a taste for what is to come! All the best with the newsletter… and please ‘Stay Connected’!

Rob Whelan

Shawqi Sajwani shares his inspiring success story with us Page 15

Professor Michael Willemyns talks about finding the right career in the NY 2010 Page 29

UOWD President

UOWD Alumni Newsletter

University of Wollongong in Dubai


Editor’s Letter Dear Friends, Happy New Year 2010! Taking off right where our President ended, it gives us great pleasure to present a brand new UOWD Alumni Newsletter aptly titled ‘Stay Connected’. From now on, at the beginning of every quarter Stay Connected will aim to bring you in contact with fellow alumni members, while targeting your interests and exposing your achievements. Staying true to our new title and theme ‘Inspire. Innovate. Communicate. Connect’, we tried our best to compile an interesting newsletter with numerous sections that bear just about enough information to keep you connected to your alma mater. Many of us do not usually have the time to browse through the university’s website or find lost friends who we once shared a class or a few notes with, and precisely with that in mind this newsletter has been reintroduced with the sole aim of creating a stronger network, where you not only get a chance to know what’s happening at university, but you also get to know what fellow alumni are doing - wherever they are in the world! Putting together this first edition of Stay Connected was, indeed, a painstaking and time consuming effort, ringing up friends and chasing behind them for contributions, but as I write this I am sure you will all share the joy of seeing and knowing what your fellow ‘gongs’ are up to. With new sections that focus on the esteemed faculty at UOWD, it was an honorable pleasure to interview professors and fellow alumni whom are a compelling source of inspiration. In maintaining the bond we once shared with our professors, we went about asking them to share their opinions with us and taking the lead in this first issue is Professor Michael Willemyns giving us ‘The Last Word page 28’. Hopefully, we will have many other professors coming forward to share a bit of their ‘mind’ with us. On the same note, we’ve put two very important people in the ‘Spotlight’ - our President & our Alumni Officer (pages 12 and 14) – who are instrumental in shaping our future and fuelling us along the way. Over the coming issues, this section will be dedicated to showing you the wonderful staff and faculty members we are associated with. As you sift through you will find a variety of ways where you will fit in, and we’d love for you to come forward and tell us about yourself. However, that is only possible if you put fingers to keyboard and write back to us with your comments, contributions, ideas or criticism. For sections such as ‘Up & Coming (page 18) Life Abroad (page 26) and Who, Where, When (pages 21 to 25) we will be on the constant lookout to find, contact and interview fellow alumni friends, so do keep the mails rolling in and don’t hesitate to recommend yourself or classmates who fit the mentioned sections. Just as every fraternity has its own individual needs and requirements, the process of creating a strong alumni network presents its own challenges. Renewing alumni relationships, requesting for volunteers and motivating alumni to get involved and give back is not an easy task, and especially not so when we are dealing with ‘Wollies’ or ‘Gongs’ as you’d like it. Creating Stay Connected, is just a small part of the big picture and in a bid to break the ice and bring you forward, we’ve gone to extreme lengths of enticement (page 4). And yet, when it’s all said and done, we still require more team work on this project and on page 30, we’ve given you an idea of what we are looking for. Finally, whether you love or loathe what you see, we’re waiting to hear from you so that together we can build a community that can stand at par with other established Alumni communities within the region and beyond. After all, it is your achievements and contributions that will make us a fraternity that thrives on active minds and hard-working hands. Happy reading and feel free to email me on .

The Lucky Draw

Starting from the next issue onwards, which will be out on April 1st 2010, we will include all Alumni members who’ve been featured in both issues into a lucky draw where one person will get the gift package as detailed on Pg 4. Whatever you do, ‘Stay Connected’ to keep winning



UOWD Alumni Newsletter

Odelia Mathews-Xavier

MIB (2005)

Dine with the President

Don’t miss the opportunity to meet Professor Rob Whelan on the 24th of February 2010 @ 6:30pm. A first-of-its-kind Alumni Network Dinner will be hosted at Block 15, 3rd floor and the President is looking forward to acquainting himself with all Alumni members. Be there to be a part of the nearfuture programs that he is looking forward to discussing with us. Email Sherri Van Over on to confirm your attendance and see you there!

University of Wollongong in Dubai

Meet the Team BahjatKhan (MEM 2009) News Editor


At 23 years, Aly as he is commonly known by friends is very much the ‘Ranchos’ from the latest Indian movie 3 Idiots. Smart and quirky with a sense of humor that could brighten your bluest moments, he works as a Planning Engineer but is far from the nerd you’d probably expect. In fact he enjoys standup comedy by the likes of Chris Rock, Russell Peters and more. Having lived most of his early life between Saudi Arabia, India and now Dubai, he says his dream is to own a flowers store one day. He says “I love architecture and design of buildings and if I ever have the chance, I just might pursue something in that field”.

AmmaraRounaq (B Com. Finance) Design Director

( Living in Dubai since the last 22 years, Ammara came to our rescue at the nick of the moment to work on the design template for the newsletter. Creative and confused, she is much an all-rounder with interest in economics, science, design and media. Currently participating in the coveted Microsoft Imagine Cup 2010, she says “I still carry an issue of The Economist wherever I go, and yet I don’t know what I really want to pursue in life”. Apart from studying during the day, she keeps herself busy playing her guitar, learning computer programs and catching up with pals.

RumanaRahim (MITM 2009) News Coordinator (

Rumana is one of our top graduates who works as a Webmaster at the university. A self-confessed addict to ‘all tech things’, she gets amused by the odd things she discovers online. Talking about how much she loves her job, she says, “I am absolutely thrilled at the fact that I get to meet, interact and learn from so many amazing people and do what I love most and get paid for it”. She enjoys reading, watching movies, documentaries and listening to music. “I take life as it comes and place greater emphasis on the journey rather than on the destination” – Now that’s what you call typical Aquarian talk!


Head of Photography (

A strong-minded Capricorn, Cecilia works as a Finance Officer at the University and finds time to pursue her hobbies – Photography and Arts, on a voluntary basis. She loves photography because she believes that it is a ‘true expression of what one feels about life’. A graduate of Bachelors Science in Nursing, she is a woman with diversified interests and enjoys globetrotting. “I love to explore and capture beautiful places, interesting people and their culture,” she says.


Asst. News Coordinator (

24-year old Asma works as a Web Developer at the university and is currently pursuing her Masters in Information Technology. This Taurean is a go-getter in life who aspires to achieve a PhD soon. She enjoys working with Photoshop, swimming, travelling, painting and listening to music. When asked about her fitness mantra she smiles and says, “Take it easy; GOD will make it easy!”. We love the attitude!

ArwaEl Baitam (MQM 2005)


Deputy Editor (

A freelance Consultant and Trainer, Arwa possesses over ten years of diversified hands-on experience in the fields of quality management, human resources, event management, and business development. She lives in Abu Dhabi and enjoys reading, writing, and stitching. Believing in the individual’s social responsibility, she works on a volunteer basis with Takatuf and Dubai Cares. When asked about her dreams, she said, “I’d like to be a book author and a TV/Radio Presenter one day”. During her free time, she likes to watch movies and documentaries.

UOWD Alumni Newsletter

University of Wollongong in Dubai


Notes from the Editor

The Art of Enticement

While conceiving the idea of creating an Alumni Newsletter, I was extremely enthusiastic about shedding light on fellow Alumni accomplishments. However, I never imagined it would be an uphill struggle getting feedback and establishing contact with friends, acquaintances, fresh graduates and old Alumni. I hate to say that we have a rather slow and inactive Alumni network, but in the hopes to bring you all out of your shells and get you involved in the success of this newsletter, we came up with an enticing offer (that will hopefully be irresistible). After a bit of negotiation, we were able to create an attractive gift hamper for contributors who come forward to be part of this effort. So here is the carrot to keep you walking: Starting from the next issue onwards, we will pick out one lucky contributor who will walk away with a lovely package that includes; a gift voucher from the Pink Salon for a 60-minute full body massage and a free manicure (thank you Nina), a fine piece of art to decorate your home or office (thanks to Sanaa Merchant); a fashion savvy offering from Dhaani with a 10% discount on their latest collection of men and women’s apparel (thanks Zeeshan); some UOWD branded merchandise including a laptop carry case and a mug to enjoy that hot cuppa’ latte and reminisce the good old ‘gong’ days (thanks Sherri).

Let’s Do a Poll:

What do you think of Speed Networking Meetings?

Similar to speed dating, these two-minute one-on-one sessions will be a way to get you in contact with fellow alumni members and faculty members, on selected days where you meet, greet, mingle and mix. You get to exchange a few details with each other and interact over various topics. For an idea on how beneficial this can be, check out this article from Dr. Ivan Misner, better known as the father of modern networking on ( rticle180954.html). In his article ‘Speed Networking & Beyond’, he tells you how to build lasting relationships and more. Send in your votes to Aly at

A Joint Effort The UOWD Preferred Business List offers a range of services on discounted terms to Alumni Members. For a few years now, we’ve had generous alumni members who’ve come forward to help build it but it’s about time we come forward to help expand it. If you own a company or are offering your services as a consultant, why not add to the PBL and boost your income? How about giving every customer, referred through a UOWD Alumnus, a percentage discount? In this way, you get us to help you and together we can create a stronger network with fellow graduates who would be proud to pass you on as a contact to their contacts. If you feel up for it e-mail Sherri on

An Unforgettable Impact

Do you remember a professor who had an unforgettable impact on you during your years at UOWD? If yes, write to us with details on why you admired them and how they helped you to become what you are today. We would be honored to pay our respects in the forthcoming issues to those Professors who’ve played an instrumental role in shaping our present. Don’t wait too long, hit us back on

Bring Back the Lost Sheep

UOWD Editorial


UOWD Alumni Newsletter

While working on this newsletter, it was surprising to know that many graduates who I conversed with had lost contact with their friends after graduation. If you get in touch with anyone who has left the country to settle elsewhere, please ask them to get in touch with us so that we can continue to highlight their achievements wherever they are. Whether they’ve become homemakers or freelance consultants, we want them to be part of a family that never breaks the bond, no matter how far the distance. We’re waiting to hear from you at

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Alumni Scene In Alumni Scene we bring you a round up of the best events and seminars that took place during the last quarter of 2009. Within Chapter Accomplishments you will find reasons to take pride in the efforts put together by the University and finally you can look up the Alumni News section to catch the latest happenings relevant to your interest.

It’s All About Change The first of the UOWD Alumni Network Seminars was presented in October 2009 by Professor Marwan Stambuli on the topic ‘Dealing with Change in the 21st Century’. Professor Marwan, who is a leading global leadership and management educator, spoke about how an employee or a business can grow coping with the changes in the 21st century. Those who were present were enlightened about new business and personal planning techniques, an amazing methodology to achieve their goals in life, as well as having their questions answered by Professor Stambuli himself. The seminar ended with light refreshments being served giving everyone an opportunity for networking.

Building a Premium Brand Who doesn’t like London Dairy Ice Crème?! Well almost everyone does and that’s perhaps one reason why so many guests turned up on this evening. Mr. Omar Adedin, the Marketing Director of Ice crèmes at Unipex Dairy Products, was in UOWD talking about the secrets behind building London Dairy Ice crème as a premium brand. Mr. Omar took the audience on an amazing journey to the world of retail, market development, brand building, etc. He spoke about the strategies he used for London Dairy’s brand building which have doubled its sales and quadrupled its profits in the past 2 years. It is worth mentioning that Mr. Omar, who works as an UOWD adjunct faculty member, is also a talented author in the young adult category.

Bringing the Best out of ‘YOU’ Mr. Susheel Balakrishnan was once again back in UOWD educating us on yet another brilliant topic ‘Building YOU as a Brand’. Mr. Susheel, who is the Chief Peoples Officer in Yum! Restaurants International, spoke to a packed auditorium of current students, staff, and general public emphasizing the importance of building oneself as a brand. Drawing from his own experience of 18 years in managing complex human resource teams all over the world, he stressed that in order for a person to build his/her brand, they have to make sure that they convey potential, they are a star performer, and they should make their own luck. The highlight of Editorial the event was when he explained how the star performers are not necessarily the most intelligent or the most hardworking.

UOWD Alumni Newsletter

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Alumni Scene

Climbing the Corporate Ladder This seminar, held in November, was by far one of the best seminars held during the last quarter of 2009. Presented by Mr. Al Rajwani, VP of Procter & Gamble Arabian Peninsula and Pakistan, the evening was power packed with tips on self-improvement and career enhancement. A few of the best moments included a talk on how an individual’s perception of an employee can see him through to success. Each point he made was grounded in reality and addressed some of the ‘real’ issues that most people face in a large organization. Everyone walked away with useful handouts, a Hugo boss perfume and a brochure of P&G. As the company is hiring interns and fresh graduates, you can always recommend friends to check out their website and try their luck.

Learning the Local Culture Presented by Khulood Al Atiyat, this event was an excellent evening where Khulood introduced the UAE culture to a room packed with different nationalities. The audience picked up a few ethical points which probably will serve to help them in the long-run as this is often viewed a sensitive topic when conducting business in a foreign place. Her presentation was informative, humorous, creative, and designed to give expats a wonderful journey through the Emirati culture.

UOWD Annual Stair Race It was time for fun once again with the Student Services Department organizing the annual UOWD Stair Race. 80 students and 25 staff members participated in the event. The three categories of the Stair Race were: Men students, women students and Staff. In the Student Men's section, Streltsov Artem won the race with the timing of 12.20 seconds, Ali Asghar came second with 12.44 seconds, and Loy Pinheiro came third with 12.86 seconds. In the Student Women's category, it was Neha Khan who came in first with a timing of 16.36 seconds, followed by Falha Khan with 16.42 seconds, and Rhea Karanjia third with 16.48 seconds. In Editorial the Staff category, the joint winners were Joshi Thomas and Ebinto at the first place running in 14.36 seconds and the third place was secured by Prasun P. with 14.89 seconds. Prof. Rob Whelan, President UOWD, gave away the prizes. The timed race is held annually with the competitors running the three floors in block 15 individually.


UOWD Alumni Newsletter

University of Wollongong in Dubai

Chapter Accomplishments

Lending a Helping Hand There is always something special about helping the under privileged within the community. When the SRC department at UOWD held the charity ‘Book & Bake’ sale, there was a lot of enthusiasm on the campus grounds. The two day-event held in October 2009 saw students and staff participating in the event by donating used books and cooking up delicious cakes and cookies. Generating approximately AED 6,800/- by the end of the two-day sale, UOWD managed to make a considerable contribution to the ‘Centre of Special Needs’, a non-profit organization providing specialized services. The joy seen on the children’s faces was enough to raise hopes for such events in the near future. In case any of our Alumni friends hold the capacity to sponsor such events, please make an effort to get in touch with Bridget Clifford, Manager of Student Services, at

Inter-University Sports Festival Held among 11 participating universities, the 6th Annual UOWD Sports Festival was perhaps one of the best sporting achievements by the UOWD in 2009. For those of you who missed out on the fun, our graduates battled it out with AUS and eventually bagged the trophy by winning the basketball men’s finals by only 2 points and the women’s table tennis finals by 2-1. UOWD also retained its throw ball “CHAMPIONS” tag by beating Bits – Pilani in two straight sets. The Most Valuable Player trophy was won by UOWD’s Rehkha Makihijia in the women’s table tennis finals and by Ali Alsalihiy in the men’s basketball. Those of you who would like to be part of this spectacular yearly event may check the university’s website or contact the Sports Coordinator at .


UOWD Alumni Newsletter

University of Wollongong in Dubai


Alumni News An Easier Way to Commute UOWD has signed a MoU with the RTA which looks into the possibility of creating an easier transportation system suited to staff and students. Focused on carrying out surveys to identify difficulties faced by students & staff of the university, the RTA will look into options which would help minimize car usage by students & encourage usage of car pooling. If you intend to enroll for further studies at the university, this could be of great help considering that there will be a number of buses operating between the campus and the Dubai Media City metro station.

Looking for a PhD degree? Look no further!

At the recent winter graduation ceremony held in Jumeirah Beach Hotel, the Vice Chancellor, Professor Gerard Sutton announced the launch of Doctoral programmes in the beginning of 2010. The university’s proposal for doctoral degrees is currently under consideration by the UAE Ministry of Higher Education & Scientific Research. Students are expected to start enrolling for the programmes in Autumn 2010. The doctoral programmes will be offered in the fields of Philosophy and Business Administration. Following this proud announcement, UOWD commissioned an independent survey, the results of which show that over 90% of master degree holders in the UAE have keen interest in pursuing doctoral programmes. If you would like to find out more about UOWD’s Doctoral Programmes, feel free to contact the UOWD admissions office.

A New UG Engineering Degree on Its Way Do you have a younger sibling who wants to pursue a degree in engineering? UOWD is currently considering the possibility of introducing UG courses in Engineering before the first quarter of 2010. Members of the Commission of Academic Accreditations (CAA) visited the university in November last year to consider the proposal, and should it be approved, students will benefit from the opportunity where they can study UG & PG in the same stream. To find out more contact the Registrar’s office.

The New Faculty Research Corner (FRC)

Conveniently located within the library, this new initiative is focused on providing exclusive access to research material and books prepared and published by the faculty of UOWD for students and Alumni. Much anticipated by many, the FRC is a powerhouse with excellent research material in various disciplines. With UOWD now putting more emphasis on research, this new Faculty Research Corner would provide its students with an incentive to engage in research while promoting UOWD as a research-centered institution.

Don’t miss the Benefit!

Have you picked up your UOWD Alumni Benefits Card yet? If you haven’t, then you’re missing out on many benefits you could avail such as library membership, the use of computer labs, alumni study grants, career development and lots more. All you need to do is contact our Alumni Officer, fill out an ‘Update Information Form’, and pick up your Alumni Benefits Card. The university strives to keep updated information about its valuable alumni members to get in touch with them regarding relevant initiatives. Our Alumni Officer, Sherri Van Over explains, ‘The Stay Connected Card (black, pictured on the side) is indeed the official Alumni Network Card and guarantees you access to all Alumni services. You will however need to keep your student ID card to check-out books from the library; they use the bar code on the student ID card to keep a record of the books on loan’. Sherri is glad to help you get your card and has a special gift for all Alumni Members. So what are you waiting for? Contact Sherri at or at 04-3672486 and get your benefits today.

A little less conversation, a little more action please!

The UOWD Alumni Facebook Group has been specially created for all alumni to network and share updates with their friends. Currently functioning with 86 members, it has just few posts (most of which are from Sherri) and is relatively inactive. So the question to all is: How about a little more action please? It’s time we used the page it to its full potential. You can start by posting your messages and updating it with ‘basic’ current information (no life history, street address, shoe size please!) whether you’ve moved to a new city, or joined a new job. Alternatively, you can just start by a small introduction stating your year of graduation and discipline and in that way probably get Editorial in touch with your old classmates, lost friends, or fellow students who studied with you in the same batch! Incase you’ve settled abroad and would like to volunteer your time with the UOWD Alumni Newsletter team or would like to be featured in it, just post your details and we will surely get back to you. Also, spread the word and invite other graduates to join since we sure aren’t just 86 ‘Gongs’ out there! To join, you’ll need to send a request first and once it is approved you will become part of the family. See you there friends! For more information, email


UOWD Alumni Newsletter

University of Wollongong in Dubai

Current Student

Making Strides From just another face in the crowd to a name everyone has on speed dial, Gladwin Menezes, the President of the Student Representative Council (S.R.C.) has come a long way since his days of being an average student. We take a look at the strides he made since joining UOWD. Born and brought up in Dubai, Gladwin Menezes has spent 20 years in the UAE where he studied in the Indian High School, Dubai. Currently in his third year pursuing a BBA Degree from UOWD, he seems pretty positive about the idea of establishing good contacts. “From my experience here, and this probably holds true in most places around the globe, it’s not only about ‘What you know’ but it also has a lot to do with ‘Who you know’ especially when it comes to job hunting,” he says. “This is why I believe it is essential to always broaden your network, whether it’s connecting to fellow students or executives of companies”. For a person who puts so much emphasis on networking per se, Gladwin is a far cry from the born extrovert as you would take him to be. Not shy to admit he confesses, “Throughout school, and at least the first year of university, I was your average student and would show up at classes and get decent grades, but would never go that extra mile and do different things. In short I was just another face in the crowd”. Evident as it sounds, apart from participating in a few sporting activities organized by the university, he wasn’t much into throwing himself out there to take up new challenges in any of the extra-curricular activities. But as he puts it, ‘it struck me that I needed to do more, experience more, meet new people, take on challenges and push the envelope”. When he realized that he wanted to earn more than just a degree from the university, he took the plunge to run for President of the Student Representative Council (SRC) and apparently shocked most of his friends when he finally secured the position. Speaking about his experience he says, “Being the president of the SRC has given me a lot of exposure and experience. With the SRC I have grown and developed as an individual and can step into that 'real world' without any fear now. Leadership is always a challenging affair and I have learned through this experience how to manage and lead different people and keep them motivated. More importantly, I have learned that for any team to achieve success, a lot has to do with getting everyone to work towards the same goal and believe in the same vision”. Refusing to take credit for the many activities organized by the SRC and the numerous accomplishments, Gladwin points out the team effort put in by each member of the Council. In retrospect, he says ‘I think it was (joining the SRC) one of the best decisions I had ever taken. I felt it was very important to set myself apart and do something that could develop and turn my weaknesses into strengths and at the same time gain exposure and challenge myself.”

Personality Profile:

Life is all about believing in yourself and not letting opportunities slip away


Age: 20 Nationality: Indian Zodiac Sign: Sagittarius Hobbies: Cricket, volleyball, listening to music, reading,


swimming,working out

Aamir Waris ,Sasha Saadat, Rinki Singhvi , Gladwin , Sasha Kannan, Robert Watts

Student Representative Council 2009-2010

UOWD Alumni Newsletter

University of Wollongong in Dubai


Faculty News

Reaching for the Stars He graduated at the age of 23 with a PhD, has conducted pioneering research work and published two successful books. He is currently collaborating with the RTA on a technology that will reduce road accident fatalities, has just won the Research Excellence Award 2009 last December and he welcomed the birth of his first child Walid. Here Dr. Mohamed Watfa, Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Computer Science and Engineering opens up about his life and work. What streaked your interest in the field of research and science?

Since my high school days and the early days of personal computers, I was very interested in playing a part in the fast growing field of information technology. I witnessed the evolution of the desktop computers from the introduction of a powerful 32-bit computer capable of running advanced multi-user operating systems at high speeds in the early 90’s to the release of the Pentium microprocessor in the mid 90’s and the dawn of the Internet and telecommunications. As soon as I started my Bachelors degree in Computer Science, I knew I was destined to do my doctorate degree in Computer Engineering where I would be able to utilize my research skills. Not only that, I also set my mind to do that as soon as possible while I had the energy which resulted in taking up to 20 credits in some semesters. I was also motivated by my elder brothers Walid and Ali who both work in software engineering companies in the States and were guiding me through every step. What was the secret to your success in terms of concentration, discipline and self-set goals, despite being at a ripe age, where life for many is all about fun and frolic? My young age was never a setback for me. On the contrary, my young age was one of the reasons I was able to focus on my studies and graduate with distinction both at my undergraduate and graduate studies. That did not prevent me of still having fun when possible. I was (and by the way still I am) very well- disciplined and self-motivated especially when I work under pressure. I always end up finding these magical wings that will give me the ability to fly to my goals. For example, one of the main reasons I was able to finish my Masters and PhD so quickly was that I was prepared and I had in mind what my research dissertation would be about and have already thought of possible solutions to the proposed problems while I was even doing my undergraduate studies. All undergraduate students should start researching any ideas they might have at very early stages should they plan to continue their graduate studies in their respective areas.

High School

Your new book ‘Coverage Strategies in Wireless Sensor Networks’ focuses on intelligent transportation systems and as per the details you are in talks with the RTA to apply the technology. How will this help the community at large? My recent book which is a result of five years of research and a direct result of my PhD dissertation deals with three dimensional coverage and connectivity in sensor networks. Sensor networks are a new class of distributed systems composed of distributed sensors, actuators, computation, and wireless communication. One of several applications of the results of this book is intelligent transportation systems and an important goal in transportation systems is to reduce the dramatically high number of accidents and their most of the time fatal consequences especially in Dubai. To reach this goal, a good approach in modeling the communications in the highway would be considering it as an ad-hoc wireless network with the mobile cars as mobile nodes that are dynamically connected to static wireless sensor networks deployed on the roads. The information gathered by such sensors can be used to prevent accidents using a wireless sensor network deployed on the highways or deterEditorial mine the severity of accidents after they happen. According to the World Health Organization, about 3000 people die in crashes each day worldwide and the financial cost of these crashes is more than 230 Billion dollars. These accidents could be due to the fault of the driver, the other driver, or due to careless driving. The main causes for car accidents are irresponsible continued on page 11


UOWD Alumni Newsletter



of the main reasons I was “ One able to finish my Masters and

PhD so quickly was that I was prepared and I had in mind what my research dissertation would be about and had already thought of possible solutions to the proposed problems while I was doing my undergraduate studies


University of Wollongong in Dubai

behavior and a lack of respect for the traffic regulations. Using some of my proposed algorithms, some of these fatal accidents can be minimized. Pollution problems are rife in this day and age, and your book also focuses on a way to detect undersea pollution? Did you have such an idea in mind before you started your research? As mentioned before, the book is more tailored towards theoretical approaches to analyze three dimensional coverage and connectivity of sensor networks. An application would be three dimensional undersea monitoring and pollution detection. This is one of my current research projects where sensor nodes are deployed under water to monitor the water pollution levels and send them to an external web server for analysis. When I started my research, underwater sensors with wireless communications were not available then and they have evolved as my research progressed.

Dr Hamming (one of the pioneers in communication theory) once said: “If you are to do important work then you must work on the right problem at the right time in the right way.” I would like to add a phrase to his saying which is: “in the right place”. UOWD has really been extremely helpful since I have joined them in August 2008. I consider myself also a bit fortunate as 2008 was the year that Prof. Rob Whelan was appointed as our new president. Prof. Rob has bigger dreams for UOWD than those set for it before he joined it. He has a research mentality which would set UOWD as one of the top research universities in the region. I have approached Prof. Rob more than once with regards to his support in some research requests and he has yet to decline any request of mine. The university has an excellent infrastructure for research which is still in its infancy. One of the only drawbacks I would see in my current research position in UOWD is the lack of graduate students in computer science, a fact that has led us to involve some less qualified and overloaded undergraduate students in our current research projects.

The most valuable lesson I have “learnt so far is to take advantage

of every moment that passes by. Every moment is a picture that we have never seen and will probably never see in the near future


Dr. Watfa with his wife Diana

UOWD is encouraging research and the recent launch of the FRC is a way to boost the profile of faculty members. How has the university helped you realize your dreams in the field of research and invention?

You have a passion for teaching and are known to have a unique approach. Could you tell us more? I have never seen teaching as a burden. Quite the contrary, it's something I found both challenging and enormously gratifying, which is why I've sought out so many opportunities to teach over the past years. For me, one aspect of joining a university faculty that I found most interesting is the teaching opportunity. I believe teaching is not just conveying knowledge, but conveying enthusiasm. I think teaching is an opportunity to make a real difference with students, awaking their curiosity and sparking their interest. My approach in teaching involves befriending my students and treating each and every student equally. I deliver my messages using humor and visually appealing graphics. Also, technology has always played a big part in my teaching where online tools and forums have been utilized to have discussion groups in my classes. Winning the Research Excellence Award in 2009 and launching your new book have both been the most recent feathers in your cap. What would you say to inspire others? As you said 2009 was a remarkable year for me where I have won the research excellence award and also launched my new book. On a separate note, I was also blessed with my first baby boy Walid. With God’s blessings and hard work, I am sure 2010 would hopefully be even better. It is said that: "Opportunity dances with those who are ready on the dance floor." Let us be ready to take every chance we can to cultivate our ideas and transform them into useful applications and projects. Let us motivate each other and work together to achieve Editorial bigger goals. I would like to also say that we all should be willing to share our failures as well as our successes. Others will relate to us. They’ll understand that they’re not the only ones with challenges and problems. If you’d like to know more about Dr. Watfa, visit his website: or contact him at

Dr. Watfa

UOWD Alumni Newsletter


his little

genius, W alid

Prof. Rob has bigger dreams for UOWD than those set for it before he joined it. He has a research mentality which would set UOWD as one of the top research universities in the region. I have approached Prof Rob more than once with regards to his support in some research requests and he has yet to decline any request of mine

University of Wollongong in Dubai



Spotlight On

Professor Rob Whelan President, UOWD Charismatic, with a sense of humour that instantly puts you at ease, Professor Rob Whelan is perhaps one of the most admired academics at the university. His vision to propell UOWD to remarkable new heights is what makes him unique and outstanding. Meeting him briefly before the print of this newsletter showed us just how supportive he is towards the development of the Alumni community. Not only is he approachable but also accessible in the fact that he will soon be hosting the very first Alumni dinner. Before you get a chance to meet him in person we thought of giving you an insight into his career & accomplishments. Professor Rob Whelan took up the position of President at the University of Wollongong in Dubai in August 2008. He was previously the Dean of Science at the University of Wollongong in Australia (2002-08), and Head of the School of Biological Sciences (19932002), in which he had been a member of the academic staff from 1982. During his career at the University of Wollongong, Professor Whelan established the University as an international centre for research in fire ecology and in the ecology and genetics of threatened plant and animal species. He is the author of a major research monograph, The Ecology of Fire, published by Cambridge University Press in 1995. He has published over 100 scientific papers and attracted over A$2.8 million in competitive research grant funding. He has supervised over 40 Masters and PhD research students. He has been Vice President of the Ecological Society of Australia and editor of its professional journal, The Australian Journal of Ecology (now called Austral Ecology).As a result of the impact of his research work, Professor Whelan served on a range of Australian State and Federal Government committees:- chair of the New South Wales National Parks Advisory Council, chair of a panel conducting a statutory review of the Nature Conservation Trust Act for the NSW State Government; panel-member of the National Inquiry into Bushfire Mitigation and Management (Council of Australian Governments); member of the Biological Sciences and Biotechnology Expert Advisory Committee and of the Research, Training and Careers Committee of the Australian Research Council (ARC); and member of a Working Group on Climate Change Adaptation for the Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council. Professor Whelan lived in Northern Ireland until his family migrated to Adelaide, Australia in 1957. He completed his Bachelor of Science with Honours from Flinders University in 1974 and moved to the University of Western Australia to complete his PhD in 1978. He worked in North Wales and in Florida before returning to Australia in 1982 to take up a lectureship at the University of Wollongong. Since then, he has worked in California (Fulbright Senior Award in 1989), Brazil, and Vietnam, as well as southeastern and southwestern Australia. The University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD) is a private University accredited by the UAE Ministry for Higher Education and Scientific Research. Founded in 1993, it is the oldest foreign Editorial University to establish in the UAE. It now has over 3,400 students from more than 100 nationalities and over 4,000 graduates, including nearly 800 UAE Nationals. It is closely connected with the University of Wollongong in Australia, with program development and quality assurance. Through this connection, UOWD is also audited by the Australian Universities Quality Audit (AUQA).


UOWD Alumni Newsletter

Prof Whelan during the signing of MoU with RTA

Prof Whelan addressing the audience at a seminar in UOWD

University of Wollongong in Dubai

Know Your President Education

Primary 1957-64 Christ Church Day School, Adelaide. Secondary 1965-69 St Peter's College, Adelaide. Tertiary 1970-74 Flinders University of South Australia; BSc (Hons). 1974-78 University of Western Australia; PhD. Post-doctoral 1978-79 School of Plant Biol., University College of North Wales, UK. 1980-81 Dept of Zoology, University of Florida, Gainesville, USA.

Society Memberships

Ecological Society of Australia Ecological Society of America Society for Conservation Biology

Positions Held Professional Activities

1990-2000 Editorial Board, Ecological Abstracts, Elsevier. 1995-97 ARC Panel Member – Research Training & Careers Committee. 1997 Steering committee, DEETYA discipline review of Biological Sciences. 2001-02 ARC Expert Advisory Committee – Biological Sciences and Biotechnology.

1974 Research Officer, Elder Smith-Goldsbrough Mort Pty. Ltd., W.A. 1975-1976 Graduate Teaching Assistant, Zoology Dept, University of W.A. 1978-1979 Lecturer, MSc Ecology, Plant Biology, Uni. College of North Wales. 1980-1982 Research Fellow, University of Florida, USA. 1982-1986 Lecturer, Biology Department, University of Wollongong. 1986-1990 Senior Lecturer, University of Wollongong. 1990-1993 Associate Professor, University of Wollongong. 1992-2000 Head of Department of Biological Sciences, Uni. of Wollongong. 2001-2002 Director; Institute for Conservation Biology & Law, Uni. of Wollongong. 2002-2008 Dean of Science, University of Wollongong. 2008-present President, University of Wollongong in Dubai

Responsibilities in Professional Societies

1984-89 Editor, Australian Journal of Ecology Council Member, Ecological Society of Australia 1989; 2001 Organizer, Ecological Society of Australia National Conference 1989-95 Editorial Board, Australian Journal of Ecology 1993-99 Vice-President, Ecological Society of Australia

Scholarships and Awards

1971-73 Commonwealth Tertiary Award 1974, 77 University of Western Australia Postgraduate Studentship 1989 Fulbright Senior Award – research in Florida and California 1993 Vice-Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching 2007 Carrick Institute Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning

Publications, Reports and Research Funding

Professor Whelan is the author of a major research monograph (The Ecology of Fire; 1995, Cambridge University Press), three major Government Reports (on bushfires, conservation management, and climate change), 16 peer-reviewed chapters in edited books, 86 peerreviewed journal articles – and his research students and post-doctoral fellows have published 52 independently authored papers based on research done under his supervision. This work has been funded principally by the Australian Research Council and a number of other agencies, with total research income of about A$2.8 million. Professor Whelan established the Centre for Environmental Risk Management of Bushfires in 2007 at the University of Wollongong, with annual funding of over A$240,000 from the NSW Department of Environment & Climate Change and the NSW Rural Fire Service.

UOWD Alumni Newsletter

University of Wollongong in Dubai


Spotlight On

Sherri Van Over, Alumni Officer, UOWD. Very much the driving force behind this newsletter and many of the other activities aimed towards the Alumni Community, we thought it best to put a spotlight on Sherri - the lady who makes things possible for us. Armed with a charming smile and a twinkle in her eye, she goes about her official tasks with our best interests in mind and her undeniable support all throughout the planning of this newsletter, made her the ideal candidate for this section. Here she opens up about her life, experience, passions and more.

When did you come to Dubai and when did you join UOWD? My family moved from Texas, USA to Dubai in August 2007. I joined UOWD in October 2007 as a graduation assistant; I was hired as the Executive Assistant to the Vice President, Administration in February 2008. In the spring of 2009, I was given the opportunity to expand my current position to include Alumni Officer. I enjoy both positions very much. Would you share some of your previous work experience with us? While my children were young, I was fortunate to be at home with them. Like a lot of full time moms, I did various jobs from my home; I was President of the Faculty Wives Club at the University of Georgia and University of Idaho. Once my children were older, I worked as a member of the administration team at my children’s schools. I guess you can see that educational institutions have always been a large part of my family’s life and in it a career I have enjoyed immensely. Tell us about your family and your home life. I have been married to a wonderful man for 21 years, I have 2 sons, one 18 and one 16; completing our family is a rescued German Shepherd Sergeant and our Standard Poodle - Duncan. I often say I live in a fraternity house as I am the only female; it can be very funny at times.

Sherri behind the lens, capturing her boys in action on a family day out

What is your work profile like and what do you enjoy doing the most about your job? My work day is about managing the Vice President’s day. When the Vice President has a good, productive day, I have had a good, productive day. I am fortunate to have a fantastic boss and great co-workers; that is what I enjoy most about my job.

Life to me would be incomplete without my family and friends

What is a typical day at work like for you? Managing the Vice President’s diary, meetings, e-mails, visitors and dealing with the extensive information he receives daily are large parts of my day. In between, I get to work with the Alumni Network by planning events, talking to prospective speakers, answering e-mails and meeting the Alumni Network Members that come to my office.

If given the chance to relive my life I would learn to lighten up.

What do you love about the University? I love everything about this University; we never have the same day twice. Working with the students gives me a great deal of pleasure, working with our amazing faculty and staff is gratifying. What I love most in our faculty and staff is their devotion to the students; everything we do every day is for the benefit of our students. I love working with an Alumni Network Editorial that is so open to communication, ideas and events.

If I could change one thing in the world it would be to give everyone a chance to live in a different culture; it truly changes your view of the world for the better.

My work philosophy is not to leave things undone. Complete your assignments and do not procrastinate. My pet peeve is people that wait until the last minute and then run around like crazy trying to complete the task. The other thing is lateness. Once piece of advice that I’d like to share is to find a career you love and it will never be just a job

How about your hobbies and weekends? We are avid sailors and enjoy going out on the boat most weekends. We are so fortunate to live so close to the ocean and be able to enjoy its beauty regularly. The sea in the UAE is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen.


UOWD Alumni Newsletter

University of Wollongong in Dubai

Alumni: High Achievers

Quality: A Journey...Not a Destination.. Shawqi Sajwani (MQM 1999/2000) is a man of great achievements. A true pioneer in the field of Quality Management within the region, he has a number of awards and accolades to his credit and has been instrumental in introducing some of the best practices within the field of Quality Management & Health, Safety & Environment . We caught up with him for a tête-à-tête where he opened up about his career, his family and his llatest endeavour - the launch of his consultancy services. Warm and inspiring, Shawqi is an individual who has spent his life making the best out of every situation, most often learning and teaching. Visiting him at his family home was a wonderful experience, in that it felt proud to be associated with a fellow graduate who had done so much, and was yet so very grounded and modest. More than his words, it was the many awards lined up around the house that spoke of his achievements. Despite being a man with so many responsibilities, he says “my favorite thing is doing homework with my children on a daily basis”. The proud father of Hamad (24), Noura (21), Hamdan (15), and Meera (13). He is very much a person who has made great strides, even while he was a student at UOW. “The toughest part about studying was from a work point of view, when at one stage I was working and doing my Masters and I was the Chairman of the Dubai Quality Group,” he says. It so happened that when the PG Program in Quality Management was introduced, he did not want to delay his studies further, as he had a desire to be a leader in the field. Hence, he took up the opportunity immediately, but as fate had it planned out already, he could not turn down the position in his professional career either. In spite of having to juggle responsibilities at work and assignments at university, he graduated as top student bagging the Deans Award. “I must give credit to my wife, because she was very supportive and I could not have done this without her. Because of her understanding, I was able to do what I did,” he candidly confesses to me. Excerpts from the interview. Take us to the beginning of your career. How did your journey in QM begin? I started my career with General Motors in the USA (I was with them for about 6 months only) and that was a very good experience for me as they had a special program for industrial engineers. At the time, the company’s Lakewood plant in Atlanta, Georgia was into manufacturing the Chevy Chevets. They had hired me initially but because of immigration problems they could not keep me further and so I worked with them as a consultant. The good thing about the job was that I received good industrial engineering training with them. After that, I came back to Dubai and worked with DUBAL for 20 years. It was during that time that we developed the quality management systems and witnessed how they made a difference to the organization. How was the experience like working at DUBAL? How did that help you to further chart your progress and career? I joined DUBAL in 1985 and I was very fortunate because the management understood the role of quality and allowed us to do things; hence, they saw the benefits. I spent 20 years there where I started as an industrial engineer and developed myself in the field of Quality. Then we decided to export the ‘Quality’ concept out into the city of Dubai and that’s when the idea of the Dubai Quality Group came about, soon followed by the Dubai Quality Award and then the Dubai Government Excellence Program. Today you see that the Government departments in Dubai are better than many private companies because they applied the principles of quality. In your capacity as Group Director of Business Excellence at Dubai Holding, tell us how you introduced Quality Concepts in one of the biggest conglomerates in the region? I joined Dubai Holding (DH) in July 2005 and I worked with them until November 2009. In DH, the chairman, HE Mohammed Gergawi, previously Director General of the Department of Economic Development, really understood the concept of quality and asked me to join them at the DH corporate office. At that time DH was newly formed and we wanted to make sure that we introduced the concept of quality right from the very beginning. When I joined, they had about 50 to 60 companies and they grew quite fast. The biggest challenge was that DUBAL was just one company, but here there were so many companies to deal with. So the question that arose at DH was how to go about the task in a company where you had no control over each business. Here, the strategy we developed was to set achievable standards for the companies and assist and guide them to reach the standards. We also introduced Benchmarking to help our companies learn from others. To begin with, we first introduced simple guidelines, that were not mandatory but easy to follow, and then assessed companies against the EFQM (European Foundation of Quality Management) model that was well-tested and well-tried. This holistic model suited us very well so it was introduced to DH and every year the company was assessed against it. Over three years we saw the difference and it really made a big impact. So in the end, it was fantastic! According to you, 20 years back where did Dubai or the UAE as a whole stand in the field of Quality? 20 years back there wasn’t much in the filed of quality in Dubai. It was zero. Maybe very few organizations actually understood the concept, but they did not know how to go about it. Even today people look at my business card and they do not understand what I do. When I tell them that I can make their businesses better, they do not believe me because they say I do not know their business. That’s when I tell them, that I do not need to know their business, I utilize their capability to make their business better. Then there are those organizations that know about quality and understand that quality is not the end product. In fact it is something that has to run from the very beginning to the end, to make sure you give a good product/service consistently. You have assisted a few major organizations in the field of Quality Management. In light of these projects, could you share a few of the major challenges you had to overcome? Editorial I’ve worked with a lot of companies (on a voluntary basis providing them with consultancy serivces) and a few of the prominent ones include the Department of Economic Development, Emirates Abela, Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce, JAFZA, Emirates Bank which is now Emirates NBD, KHDA, etc. From my experience, I can say that the challenge that people usually face in the field of quality is that they think about quality being a short-term project, whereas quality is a long-term project.

UOWD Alumni Newsletter

The main reason that busi“ nesses fail is because they

don’t think long term, they don’t make adjustments to market changes, they don’t pay sufficient attention to customers, they don’t pay sufficient attention to their own people, they don’t look into their strategies and in the end, all this has to do with quality University of Wollongong in Dubai



Alumni: High Achievers Most companies tend to think about profits for this year and the next, but they don’t think about profits 10 years down the line. One classic example in this case is that of DUBAL which was formed in 1979 and now they are celebrating their 30th anniversary; they are now reaping the benefits of hard work done years ago. You have played an instrumental role in pioneering Quality Awareness in the Middle East. How did you make the breakthrough? I believe that if you want to bring change anywhere you have to be the change that you want to be. I’d like to quote Gandhi on that with his words, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”. In light of that the first thing one needs to do is to make oneself a model that others want to follow. This is precisely how we created that perfect model of quality in DUBAL. Later, when people would tell me that it was all only nice talk, I was in a position to say ‘It’s not only nice talk. I’ll show you that it’s nice work too’. Basically, at DUBAL we had a good base to stand on because we could prove the work to them. Moreover, DUBAL was a company that did not have local competition or local customers. It was international, so it was competing in Europe, US, Japan and if DUBAL was good, it meant that it was really world class. Once we had successes in DUBAL, we spread the message in two ways. One way was through participating in conferences; giving lectures and sharing the experience. (I spent a lot of personal time talking to senior management upon the request of companies). The second big thing was creating the Dubai Quality Group and that was how the message on quality really spread big, even outside the UAE. Tell us about the establishment of the Dubai Quality Group. How did it all begin? I was a founding member of the DQG and there were five companies who supported it as we did not have any funds or an office. At that time, HE Mohammed Ali Al Abbar understood the role of Quality well; therefore, with his support and the patronage of HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum we established the Group. When we started we had no money and we were fortunate that at that time McDermott International, EPPCO, DUBAL, DUCAB, and JAFZA supported us. McDermott gave us an office, while the others gave us cash. When we started working on DQG we were all working as volunteers after finishing our day job. I would finish my work at 5 p.m. at DUBAL and then come in to work at DQG. The other instrumental people apart from myself, included Glen Ashley (my boss at DUBAL), Hussein Sultan, Colin Reanny, Fareed Ahmed and others. Initially when we began operation, we kept corporate membership only, so that if the company had a corporate membership then everyone in that company could be a member. DUBAL was very generous towards us and paid us AED 250,000 every year for 3 or 4 years until we were eventually able to survive by ourselves. During those times we all worked hard to spread the word on the importance of Quality and to that end we hosted evening seminars, conferences and presentations for other companies. However, to date, I still do not feel that the word has spread as much as I would like it to. There’s still a lot of work to be done in this field. During your 20 year tenure at DUBAL, you led the development of a world class Employee Suggestion Scheme at the company. Could you shed light on its benefits? The suggestion scheme at DUBAL is indeed a world class scheme. It has received awards in the UK and the US and it has been running since the time we started it. Today it is over 25 years old and the benefit it yields are better every year. If you look at the graphs, you’ll notice that DUBAL has saved millions in money out of this and currently they are saving around AED 15 to 20 million a year. These are audited savings - this does not mean that someone comes and audits them, but it means that if you say you are saving this money they take the money out of your budget. The major benefit of this scheme is that it has made people think, because they know that if they improve their work scheme, they will be recognized. Another advantage is that it has created a relationship between employees due to the way this scheme is designed. The supervisor and employees always cooperate with each other and the more they corporate, the more they get recognized. So ultimately it developed people too as they don’t just work for money only any more. They have made up to AED 20 to 30,000 a year out of this scheme and DUBAL was more than happy to give it out because they saved 20 times as much.

Shawqi Sajwani receiving the Lifetime Award from HH Sheikh. Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum for services rendered to local community

The Award Winning DUBAL Employee Suggestion Scheme If people are the most important asset of an organization then this asset needs to be utilized in an effective manner. For organizations to survive and sustain their competitive edge, it is vital that they provide a formal venue and a systematic approach to tap and develop the collective genius of their people. This was the fundamental philosophy when DUBAL was established. While availability of energy and capital was a blessing, the challenges outweigh these benefits. DUBAL realized successes will depend on: • Effective utilization of its people – development of employee involvement programs • Achieving customer satisfaction and acceptance – development of quality management systems The suggestion scheme was part of this strategy. The senior management’s support and involvement is high. The scheme was launched to enable shop floor workers to submit ideas and gain recognition; supervisors, to be recognized for supporting their subordinates. Suggestions are reviewed every month and cash rewards, though small, are presented immediately after review. The scheme is operated by a team of pivotal employees called the “Review Team”. Annual presentation ceremonies are the icing on the cake where external guests are invited to attend.

Now that you are no longer working with Dubai Holding, what are you currently doing? I am currently offering consultancy services in the field of business excellence. I launched my website on the 2nd December, 09, just after leaving Dubai Holding as I was not going to sit at home and do nothing. I felt that I still have some knowledge to share with others and to learn from them. As the best way to learn is to teach, I took the Consultant’s role to go out and teach people so that at the same time I share my knowledge and teach myself to stay updated with new developments. Now there are probably over 1000 different consultancy firms in Dubai but my differentiation is “I”. The Editorial question that I put to myself here is: How can I use my excellence in my business? To answer that, first I had to make a differentiation from others and that differentiation comes in the fact that my consultancy house goes by my own name . It is a boutique consultancy and it is not a shop where you can go and find everything. When I take a job I work on it. I do not have a team of consultants. Every service I offer bears a guarantee. I tell my clients that I will do a job


UOWD Alumni Newsletter

Shawqi with his family walking on glaciers

University of Wollongong in Dubai

for them and I will not charge them by time or days, but by project. Whether I finish it in one day or one month, I guarantee the result at the end. If for whatever reason they are not satisfied, then they do not pay. Since the time I launched it I have worked with the KHDA over a number of projects that are continuing until the middle of January. Apart from that, I am in negotiation with a few other companies. Also, I have now been appointed as a chief assessor for the Emirates Women’s Award which is one of Dubai Quality Group’s initiatives. According to one of the benchmarking visits you made, along with a team of directors to the UK, to monitor the performance excellence of three award-winning British companies, could you list a few of the most significant differences in their way of practice? I have visited many places for benchmarking purposes in the fields of Quality and Excellence. One of the best companies was Philips in Netherlands. When you want to benchmark yourself, you have to know who to do it against. When we took a team to the UK, we visited two companies; United Utilities, an electric power company, and Bradford & Bingley, a finance mortgage loan company. The idea was to show everyone what ‘World Class’ looks like. When they went there, the delegation recognized that they were the winners of the BQA and they noticed that it takes time to develop mature systems, even if you hire the best people in the world. These companies were 20 and 30 years old and the thing they understood very well was how much time it took them to achieve success and quality. The second thing to note was that Bradford & Bingley was making huge losses and eventually it made a massive turnaround. But even in those challenging times, one major factor was that they always paid attention to their employees. It is important to realize that you don’t need to go out and spend money to get people, if you have a lot of skills within your organization. DH did quite a lot of changes in terms of looking after its people when we got back from the benchmarking trip. It was a company that wanted to move – not fast, but very fast, and this perspective was very difficult to change. However, now I feel that they understand that it takes a lot of ups and downs before you become a world class company.

Benchmarking at DUBAI HOLDING Dubai Holding (DH) has a vision to be a world class company. This is not a simple task, but the management is serious and highly committed. The benchmarking program involves visits to world class companies by senior management. It involves working through a model developed by DH Business Excellence team. This model requires that participants study their own companies well and then score them against a pre-set scale. Then a detailed questionnaire is prepared to understand the company being benchmarked. A 2-day visit to the benchmarked company enables thorough understanding as to how this company is able to achieve outstanding results. The benchmarked company is then scored and a gap analysis is prepared to identify areas of improvement. The task then is to set objectives and targets to improve the current status of own company.

How did your degree from UOWD assist you during your career? The degree helped me quite a lot in two ways. First, the syllabus was very good because it involved a lot of project work. Second, it made us aware of many Quality concepts which we were not aware of. What in your opinion is the way to achieve individual excellence in any field? We put a lot of emphasis on learning, which is great, but unfortunately very little on implementing what we have learned. I believe individual excellence is achieved when we implement what we have learned.

always tell people don’t “I implement suggestions

Dubai Holding delegation on Benchmarking trip in UK

schemes because you will save money or improve quality and safety but implement schemes because they will help you develop your people. Ultimately the difference between a good company Editorial and a bad company is nothing but people


UOWD Alumni Newsletter

Shawqi making a point in an international conference

University of Wollongong in Dubai


Alumni: Up & Coming

Fashion with Passion

All it took was three friends with a passion for fashion to come up with the new fashion brand ‘Dhaani’. Merging the rich culture of Pakistan with fresh new concepts, designs and colors, Zeeshan Gaya (MIB, 2004) talks to us about realizing his dream. Launched in August 2009, “Dhaani” is a fashion brand which, despite its infancy, has created a frenzy among fashion savvy individuals looking for something ethnic, stylish and trendy. Zeeshan Gaya (MIB 2004), a Regional Senior Research Analyst in the field of I.T. who lived all his life in Dubai with his family, says, “Dhaani was founded by me and two of my friends; Saad and Hani. We always wanted to work on a project of our own and this was an ideal opportunity so we sat together and laid out the plans to begin”. The Beginnings For many expats who’ve been born in the UAE and have lived here all their life, this place is very much a home away from home, where people from different communities struggle to find a sense of connection to their roots. Such was the case (a year or two ago) for many Pakistanis when it came to finding the right Pakistani fashion wear. Zeeshan confirms the fact through his experience. “We have seen people struggling to find designs that match the Pakistani taste and that are at the same time cost-effective. Usually people end up flying back home trying to find more variety in fashion at an affordable price. When we saw this, we realized the potential in the market and decided to give people what they wanted.” Testing the Waters Initially, Zeeshan and his friends, Hani & Saad, designed clothes for themselves and their families when any weddings or occasions arose. Gradually, they noticed that the feedback was excellent as they received tremendous appreciation from everyone. “We experimented with different colors and styles, not being very typical but adding a unique touch of innovation,” he says. From then on, they knew that people liked what they saw and that was perhaps the green signal to take it to the next level. Developing the Brand “Dhaani picks up inspirations from many corners of our life and cultural influences. In the true sense ‘Dhaani’ means light green and is derived from a word called 'Dhaan' which is actually the outer covering of a grain of raw rice. The green colour showcases Pakistan and our mission to fill the void of Pakistani wear in Dubai. Dhaani also means fresh which aligns with our concept of offering fresh new designs for our customers,” he says. Progress in the field of fashion has certainly put Dubai on the international fashion map, bringing in top names from all over the globe, yet Zeeshan and his partners are very clear that they are not in the market to compete with other fashion brands. He says, “Our target is to cater to those people living abroad, who understand and want ethnic Pakistani attire. We plan to reach beyond the local market and offer fashion hungry people opportunities at an international level. We have already started accepting orders, not only from Dubai, but also from the UK and the US.”

Sherri behind the lens, capturing her boys in action on a family day out

Dhaani - for me is the dawn of my creative desire. It is passion, it is love. It is hard work, it is team work. It’s our dream! If 'Dhaani' took a human form for me, it would exude the true essence of the East. Beauty with grace. Dancing in colors, yet sober as well. Bold, yet soft enough to fit everyone's desire. Truly, a desire for all Editorial seasons, Zeeshan Gaya



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Inspirations, Designs & Collections: Talking about the collection and the inspirations, Zeeshan explains, “Our collection caters to both men and women as we offer Ethnic, Casuals and Couture. Inspiration for the new collection is “winter wear” and the line is primarily focused on winter colors such a purple, sea blue, fuchsia and black incorporating velvet, motives and thick borders. Our collection is diverse catering to women from all walks of life and age who understand the true sense of fashion”. Working on such rich collections, the work that goes in behind the scenes comes from Dhaani’s specialized design team, that comprises of fresh new talents in the industry who work alongside experienced fashion consultants, based out of Karachi, Pakistan. Together, the team overlooks the whole spectrum of products that go out, ensuring everything is produced with the best quality. With a workshop unit in Pakistan, stitching and embroidery is all taken care of at the hands of experts. The Offerings & Plans for 2010: Currently displayed at top exhibitions across the city, the collections are also available at Explaining the strategy and expansion plans in mind for the brand, Zeeshan says, “Our strategy is very different as we plan to move beyond just offering clothes to become a one stop shop for, not only clothes, but also shoes, bags and home accessories. We offer a whole portfolio of customized clothes and are currently facilitating few more customized options to include bridal trousseaus, etc. 2010 is going to be an exciting year for us, as we plan to capitalize on the tremendous response we have received. What started out as an idea is now headed towards the opening of our outlet towards the end of this year but in the meantime, we plan to hold exhibitions every 2-3 months” For bookings, orders and enquiries visit or contact Zeeshan on

Zeeshan Gaya

Age: 30 Zodiac: Virgo Nationality: Pakistani Day Job: Regional Senior Research Analyst

Saad Ansari Editorial

UOWD Alumni Newsletter

Age: 31 Zodiac: Taurus Nationality: Pakistani Day Job: Corp. Account Manager


Age: 30 Zodiac: Sagittarius Nationality: Pakistani Day Job: Planning Manager

University of Wollongong in Dubai



Are We Guilty of Wanting Too Much? I don’t know about any of you, but I must admit, I might have been a tad bit tempted to join the ‘I want it all’ bandwagon at some point or another. Allow me to explain.

range convertible automobile, a sizeable shopping allowance expendable only at MoE, a fancy schmancy gym membership……I’m sure you get the picture!

You see, when your wants become more than your needs, to such an extent that you have no control over your desires, then before you can realize it, you may have just become a prisoner bound by the invisible cuffs of greed. We are very much a product of our own thoughts and actions, influenced by the surrounding environment, friends, social circles, status and more. Just before the global recession became the talk of town, and international news headlines bombarded us with the gloomy tale left, right and center, everyone who was anyone seemed to be lost in the web of wanting more than they had. Employers wanted bigger market share and employees wanted more zeros on their pay cheques, luxury brands dominated the market and signature pads became the rage amongst the ‘TYPS’ (Tough, Young, Pretty, Smart) generation.

Eventually the dreadful happened. The axe fell, and it fell mighty hard by the mid to the end of 2008. Those who bled with losses (and still are bleeding) were perhaps those who had become prisoners to lavish lifestyles. Living in this part of the world, I can certainly say that we were probably the most exposed to that temptation where, many a times, more just wasn’t enough. As Dubai made mammoth strides, so did its vast expat population. High rise towers gave way to high rise pays, needs vanished and wants took over the subconscious mind. Women wanted nothing less than diamonds and pearls and men made sure they had enough to fetch the biggest carat for that engagement/wedding ring, whilst ensuring that they had their share of spend saved for their own high-tech lifestyle demands. With every Guinness Book world record that the city made, its residents felt more pride calling themselves ‘Dubaians’ giving them all the more reason to live it up to the standard that was created. However, it was only when someone said that ‘Dubai was certainly insulated, but definitely not isolated’ that residents saw the consequences of their uninhibited desires.

Looking at it from a local perspective, the real estate industry made world news when they unleashed the desire for luxurious living, developing branded towers, many of which were the first in the world. Classic examples of what was in the pipeline included the Ferragamo Tower, Karl Largerfeld Island on the The World, the Versace Palazzo, Tigers Woods Golf Course, Michael Schumacher’s tower at the Sports City and many others. Fashion heavy weights including the likes of Roberto Cavalli and Armani were hot on the heels of development and soon made way to have their own standing on desert sand (Cavalli Club, Armani Residences) but that was not but the least of it. Many companies announced massive expansion plans, with the hospitality industry taking the lead when names such as the Rotana Group of Hotels announced doubling the size of its portfolio with 53 new properties to open by 2010. At one point, every hotel in town was packed to full occupancy and room rates soared to meet with peak season flight rates and real estate rates. As if that wasn’t enough, banks began to lend excessively, not only to developers and business owners, but also to entrepreneurs who believed they could make it big overnight in Dubai. From corporate to individual lending, obscene amounts of cash in the form of loans and credit cards were handed out like bargain deals in the local vegetable market. ‘Get AED 10,000 to 90,000 personal loans without salary transfer, bank hassles, or salary limit’. That’s how flyers from banks went about offices and credit card salesmen chased behind you to take a card. If you battled them (like me, sometimes rude and crude), you’d probably escape by giving them your friends’ numbers so that they could meet their ‘sales targets’. But with liquidity levels of individuals and organizations decreasing, credit deficiencies in banks soon began to pop its head, creating ripples across the entire spectrum of the industry. This contagion effect created havoc in more ways than one, many of which we are all aware of. By the time the collapse of Wall Street names such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Lehman Brothers awoke the world from its slumber in September 2008, people had already been bitten by the bug in this part of the world. Even though we felt the pinch much later, many were still intoxicated beyond sense, lost to the glittering lights of the big city life, reeling in the money (most of it from their Editorial credit cards and humongous loans) living the luxurious life with all the works; an apartment with a ‘prestigious waterfront’ address, the latest Vertu in hand, Jimmy Choo heels to dance in, a top of the range convertible automobile, a sizeable shopping allowance


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In retrospect, 2009 was probably the time of great realization. A time when people were all brought down to a point where they were forced to realize what they had become: Monsters of greed and slaves to luxury. When the businesses started to downsize and 1000’s were made redundant overnight, that’s when it hit everyone because there came a time when we knew a friend, a family member, a relative, a colleague or an acquaintance who was effected in some way or another. Either they were laid off, or ran into legal issues with banks over unpaid credit card bills, bounced cheques, or more. A case in point that I’d like to share is from a friend of a friend, who had just landed a great job with a better pay package, a great office and lots of promises. Hardly three months into the job, this young man (in his mid 20’s) moved into a fabulous new apartment, brought himself a brand new car and furnished his new crib with everything branded. Yes, I’m talking fur trimmings and crystal chandeliers! Of course, he had taken ample help with a personal loan and a couple of credit cards, but to his dismay lost his job due to company downsizing. He did get another job, but by the time that happened, negotiating with banks wasn’t a toss in a bed of roses anymore, instead he ran into legal issues and spent ‘time’ – if you know what I mean! By the time sense dawned for many, 2010 showed up and with that began the era of the survival of the fittest. From leading decadent lives and embracing the ‘all things bling’ cult, people now have no choice but to put their feet back on the ground and get their heads out of the cloud. “Whether or not it can be done” is a question of survival but with that I’ll leave you with a question to ponder over: How fit are you to face 2010 in its face? Will you be found guilty of wanting too much, yet again? – Odelia M ----------------------------------------------If you’d like to get back to me with comments, I’d be glad to hear from you at If you have an interesting perspective to share with us, do send us your viewpoint and we’d be glad to feature it here.

University of Wollongong in Dubai

Alumni: Who, Where, When We take pride in bringing you the latest updates from fellow Alumnus. Check out who’s doing what right here!

Raja Ibrahim Faraj (MEM, 2009) Head of Biomedical Engineering Dubai Health Authority (DHA) Dubai, UAE

Raja is the eldest daughter in a family of seven. She has four younger brothers and three sisters and resides in Sharjah, UAE. She graduated from the UAE University with a Bachelor in Electronic Engineering and passed out with distinction from UOWD with a Masters in Engineering Management. She says, “I started my career in Dubai National Bank for few months only, but have been working for the last 15 years”. With a job such as hers, every day presents its own challenges as she is responsible for the entire Biomedical Engineering Services at all sites of the DHA. “Some of the responsibilities I handle include scheduling, assigning and supervising the Head of BMU’s, as well as overseeing all major works of the section that are both in-house and outsourced. That requires taking into consideration proper manpower and material management”. One of the best aspects of her job is to “exercise proper control of Biomedical Engineering Section’s expenses by optimizing the purchase of all stock and non-stock items, including the use of the petty cash facility” she says. A few of her latest roles include writing policies, procedures and job descriptions for the Biomedical Engineering Section as part of the accreditation process of the ISO 9000. When it comes to studying, she, like many others, admits that the most difficult part was to keep a balance between work and study. Recalling the years of hard work she says, “Studying at UOWD helped me in understanding engineering economics, managing people at the work place, and logistics. I remember four professors who made a huge impact on my life while I was studying and these include “my favorite – Professor Ajit Karnik, Dr. Sumit Mitra, Dr. Albert Tan, and Professor Nabil Baydoun”. Talking about awards and accolades, she is the proud recipient of an ISO 9000 Accreditation in Biomedical Engineering and a Certificate of Excellence from the Government of Dubai by H.H Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum for the DHA PACS Project. When asked what in the world she would like to change, she replies “That is a very good question. It is very hard to answer because honestly there are so many things I would like to see changed in this world. Personally, I think that racism should be eliminated”. Dubbed as a ‘very good friend a real motivator’ by our news editor Aly, Raja is a lady who leaves an unforgettable impression on whoever she meets. She loves to travel, watch TV, and listen to music, apart from shopping and working out. Her fads are perfumes and the latest fashion accessories. Raja plans to pursue an MBA this autumn and a Doctorate soon after. Moreover, she hopes to move to a higher managerial position within the DHA. On behalf of the Alumni Community, we wish her all the best. If you’d like to get in touch with Raja, catch her on

Studying at UOWD helped me in understanding engineering economics, managing people at the work place, and logistics. I remember four professors who Editorial made a huge impact on my life while I was studying and these include my favorite – Professor Ajit Karnik, Dr. Sumit Mitra, Dr. Albert Tan, and Professor Nabil Baydoun

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Alumni: Who, Where, When

Sanaa Merchant (MIB 2006) Freelance Artist Self Employed Dubai, UAE

26-year old Sanaa Merchant has been living in the UAE with her parents and four siblings since a long time. Art is her passion, although she completed her PG in International Business. She says that the best thing about being a freelance artist is ‘to let the mind relax and experiment what it likes; something many other jobs do not fulfill’. Because of the nature of her work, she finds herself working according to her clients’ needs and believes that ‘one has to be closely linked with the changing environments that take place every now and then’. Recalling her years at university, she says ‘I think the most challenging aspect (while at university) was the presentations that took place. This is because one needs to create unique and interesting outcomes to keep everyone’s interest focused’. She fondly remembers the teaching style of Professor Doug Young. ‘Because marketing is a creative field I could relate myself to it easily,’ she adds. Creative being the operative word here, Sanaa is one individual who lets creativity guide her and this is evident in her many paintings that portray emotion, nature, heritage, artifacts and more. “I like to read books, study new topics, try out new fields of work, get inspired by the people I meet, visit museums and study other people’s work,” she says adding, “Currently my goal is to make the best out of everything I have and to get bigger and better in work and other personal issues”. When asked what the most important thing is to her, she points out to family and friends saying ‘Work and career without them do not make life happy or fulfilling’. Looking to the future she says, “I do intend to open up my own agency or gallery some day and I might also do a PhD in the near future. In terms of career and progress, I plan to reach out a bigger audience, and I am planning to put into practice some ideas I have in mind relating to art”. Over the years, her ability to capture beauty on canvas has won her ample media attention and she has received certificates for the work she’s produced for government centers in the country. If you’d like to view Sanaa’s website visit and get in touch with her on or Alternatively, you could join her facebook group, Sanaa’s Art Gallery to know more about her latest collection and exhibitions.

“ Editorial


The piece of art work that Sanaa is generously giving away to one lucky alum

I do intend to open up my own agency or gallery some day and I might also do a PhD in the near future. In terms of career and progress, I plan to reach out a bigger audience, and am planning to put into practice some ideas I have in mind relating to art


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University of Wollongong in Dubai

Alumni: Who, Where, When

Mitten Nalin Kumar Shah (MIB 2005) Head, Regional Merchandising & Trade Services Al Marai Company Dubai, UAE

One of the most popular and helpful guys on campus during his year, Mitten just tied the knot late last year in India. He comes from a family of five and has an elder brother and a younger sister, both married, making him the last in the family clan to complete the blissful picture of cute coupledom. “I have been working for almost seven years now, my first job being in Mumbai as an Events Executive which I took up during my second year of graduation. After coming to Dubai, I worked at Saks Fifth Avenue, an American high segment fashion retailer for five years”. He presently works at Al Marai, the largest integrated food and dairy company in the world. His main responsibilities at work include advertising and branding Al Marai products in the lower gulf region (i.e. UAE and Oman), increasing brand exposure by almost 60% through window branding, indoor sampling, event sponsorships and revised TV commercials, especially focusing on the Northern Emirates. The best thing about his work he says is ‘Negotiating event sponsorships and overseeing sampling campaigns, especially at schools for children. Another thing I really enjoy is positioning the brand via different media to the final consumer”. When asked about how his degree at UOWD helped him out he confidently replies, “Studying at university and gaining a Master’s degree has, without doubt, helped me in my career. In fact, I can say that almost 95% of the subject matter studied has come into use. This is especially crucial in my field, where brand positioning and brand loyal customers have to be maintained to keep Al Marai as a market leader having the major stake in the market”. Although he is using his education to its full potential, he says it was no easy task while going through classes especially when it came to ‘submitting assignments on time and answering deadly questions during class presentations’. Reminiscing over his earlier days, he fondly gives credit to Advertising Professor, Doug Young, who he says he can never forget. “He was strict but I now realize how fruitful the minute details he pointed out were and, of course, his tough assignments. In today’s corporate world we need to know the industry facts and strategies thoroughly before entering the market. He was one professor who had vast knowledge of the subject he was teaching!” Mitten’s 5-year plan is to see himself as the Director of Advertising & Marketing for a multinational FMCG brand and should time permit, he is keen on studying further, with his ultimate goal being to lead a multi-million dollar business. He enjoys reading management literature, watching the news, going on long drives and evening walks, but above it all, he loves travelling the most. If there was one thing in this world he could change, it would be to ‘get rid of those ugly boarders around each country. Why can’t we live happily without any?’ he questions. Blessed with a wonderful family, he confesses ‘Frankly speaking, I would not have been where I am without their presence and life would not have been this great ever! I did not dream much, but I did plan well to achieve whatever I wanted to date”. If you’d like to get in touch with Mitten or contact him for any work Editorial you can reach him on

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Mitten with his wife & family

Studying at University and gaining a Master’s degree has, without doubt, helped me in my career. In fact I can say that almost 95% of the subject matter studied has come into use. This is especially crucial in my field, where Brand Positioning and brand loyal customers have to be maintained…


University of Wollongong in Dubai


Alumni: Who, Where, When

Nina Maria Jasmin Tamayo - Aninias (MSHRM 2009) HCT – Dubai Women’s College (HR Department) Dubai, UAE

32 year old Niña Tamayo, is based in Dubai. The proud mum of 2 sons and the owner of ladies salon ‘Pink, Nails and More’ is a rather generous woman who has given our Alumni members a free voucher and a special discount on the PBL (check out our website). She says, “I just opened Pink, Nails and More mid last year while completing my post graduate degree. Opening a business were trying times for me. I was doing everything at the same time. Completing my last semester, holding a full time HR job and having a family with two young boys” With so much to handle, it certainly is no mean feat and at most times, it’s the attitude that counts. Nina is one fine example of that. “If there’s one thing I learned during those times it is that, we can always push the envelope a little bit further, stretch those boundaries a little wider and ultimately win against your greatest adversity, your self -made confines” Just after opening her business, Nina looked out for a new job and joined the Dubai Women’s College as the Senior HR. Speaking about how her degree helped her in her business she says, “I honestly think that completing MSHRM opened a lot of opportunities for me. I recruited the right people for my business which is independently functioning; my staff requires very minimal supervision because the framework was already built for them. On top of it, I was able to land this amazing job surrounded by supportive management in a really inspiring environment” Pink, Nails and More is a haven for women who want to feel and look fabulous without breaking the bank. Located at the Jumeirah Lake Towers, the place offers amazing discounts, treats and services, including a home service for ladies and their ‘metrosexual’ partners. To know more visit the website or call +971 4 4230685 for bookings. “I really am enjoying life tremendously and see tribulations as a mountain that I enjoy climbing” If you’d like to get some inspiration on how to climb your own mountains, you can get in touch with Niña on or call her at +971 50 7526198

I just opened Pink, Nails and More mid last year while completing my post graduate degree...If there’s one thing I learned during those times it is that, we can always push the envelope a little bit further, stretch those Editorial boundaries a little wider and ultimately win against your greatest adversity, your self -made confines

Nina with her husband and kids



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Alumni: Who, Where, When

Michael Spice (MIB 2005, Distinction)

University of North Texas MBA in Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management Denton, Texas Michael spent 6 years in the UAE (Dubai) during which he completed his PG from UOWD and also taught at the Higher Colleges of Technology, where he was a business faculty teacher. Last year, he and his wife Joanna and their three year-old son Dylan moved into their new home in Denton (Texas) which he describes as ‘a quiet little city on the edge of what is the 4th largest metropolitan area in the USA, and gives us the feeling of living in a quiet small town, while having all of the amenities of the big city right nearby.’ He tells us, “I am pretty happy to be home in my country now, although the job prospects at the moment are not too hot. We spent the summer in Poland, where we have a house on a lake, and looked for jobs there but my wife Joanna actually found work here in Texas instead, so we packed up again and moved here in October.” For an ex-business teacher, an MIB graduate and a father to an adorable little three-year old, Michael has some pretty lofty goals (which is always a good thing!) “My goals are to do a second Masters degree to get a better base in analytical approaches to business (accounting, statistics, financial management - since my undergraduate degree was in English Literature, I didn't take the commerce background courses that most MBA’s have taken as undergraduates); and to get more advanced training in Organizational Behavior and Human Resources Management. Additionally, I'd like to get PHR certified and, of course, at the end of the day, I would like to find a job as an HR Manager somewhere”.

Michael’s wife Joanna with their son Dylan

Talking about his son he says, “He's an incredible little boy who fills me with love, and drives me a bit crazy at least 3 times a day. Being a dad has changed everything. Best thing that ever happened to me.” Well, as you can see, Michael is enjoying every bit of life and with a son as cute as Dylan, you cannot but do just that! He signs off saying, “If any UOWD alumnus is in Dallas, they can look me up on or +1 940 735 2782”. Cheers Michael and we wish you all the best!

My goals are to do a second Masters degree to get a better base in analytical approaches to business …and to get more advanced training in Organizational Behavior and Human Resources Management. Additionally, I'd like to get PHR certified and, of course, at the end of the Editorial day, I would like to find a job as an HR Manager somewhere


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Tested & Trusted Covering a variety of subjects, we bring you a collection of books all recommended by fellow alums, faculty and staff at UOWD. Share your reviews here and send in your contributions to

A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man's mind can get both provocation and privacy


~Edward P. Morgan

A Beautiful Success

Understanding Art

by Jacques Courtin

Written by the founder of the famous French cosmetic brand Clarins, this fabulous book tells of the making of an empire, tracing its foundation and its legacy built over 50 years. Jacques begins his story in the most attention grabbing way with the lines “Empty hands and empty pockets…” As you flip through the 220 pages you get an insight into how he created one of France’s greatest business achievements and positioned the Clarins brand at the forefront of the beauty-care industry in France and in the entire world, with 6000 employees in 157 countries. In October 2009, I enjoyed the opportunity to interview his son, Dr. Olivier Courtin who was in town for the opening of the second Clarins boutique in the world, located at Dubai Mall. This book was the most amazing gift. Not sure if it is available in the international market, but do e-mail me in case you’d like to borrow it. - Odelia M

Coverage Strategies in Wireless Sensor Networks by Professor Mohammed Watfa

by George Laboritz and Victor Rosansky

A must read for people who wish to integrate resources and systems to achieve organizational missions - Shawqi Sajwani


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As the name suggests, the book covers a lot of areas, mainly focusing on the artist's painting to why they produced a particular piece of art the way we see today. It comprises of what was going on in their mind, life, surroundings, etc. - Sanaa Merchant

The Greatness Guide to Anyone

A wireless sensor network is a network of a number of distributed nodes, each equipped with sensors, computational elements, and transceivers. A fundamental issue in the deployment of a large scale Wireless Sensor Network (WSN) is the ability of the network to cover the region of interest. This issue takes on added importance as the sensor nodes have limited battery power. In this unique book, the coverage problem in a three dimensional space is rigorously analyzed. The analytical methods developed in this book are flexible and are shown to easily accommodate the requirements of different types of coverage encountered in the practical deployment of a wireless sensor network. The algorithms developed in this book are a significant addition to the scientific knowledge in the area of wireless sensor networks. The proposed techniques help realize the practical deployment of wireless sensor networks in three dimensional regions and some applications of the results presented in this book include: Disaster Recovery, Mapping Topographical Properties, Undersea Monitoring and Traffic Monitoring - Professor Mohammed Watfa

Power of Alignment: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization Editorial

by Lois Ficher-Rathus

by Robin Sharma

What makes this book an incredible read is that it appeals to all age groups regardless of what stage of life you are going through and can significantly impact your personal and professional life. The book brings out the timeless truths to achieve greatness. Anyone that is looking to achieve personal mastery and excellence to tap into their greatness should definitely read this book. - Gladwin Menezes

Who Moved My Cheese?? by Dr. Spencer Johnson

This little book narrates an amusing and enlightening story of four characters that live in a maze and look for cheese to nourish them and make them happy. Cheese is a metaphor for what you want to have in life - whether it is a good job, a loving relationship, money or a possession, health or spiritual peace of mind. And the maze is where you look for what you want - the organization you work in, or the family or community you live in. This book shows you how to anticipate change, adapt to change quickly, enjoy change and be ready to change quickly again and again. Discover the secret for yourself and learn how to deal with change, so that you suffer from less stress and enjoy more success in your work and in life. Written for all ages, this story takes less than an hour to read, but its unique insights can last for a lifetime. - Bahjat Aly Khan

University of Wollongong in Dubai

Life Abroad Mumbai – Dubai – Mumbai: An Exciting Journey!

23-year old Arva Bhavnagarwala (MSHRM 2009) recently moved to Mumbai, India to assist in the family business. Previous to that, she worked as a trainee in her father’s company while pursuing a Masters Degree in Strategic Human Resource Management from UOWD. We get her to tell us about her goals, achievements, challenges and dreams. Early education and life in Dubai I come from a family of four which includes myself, my elder sister and my parents. I completed my schooling and graduated in Arts from the University of Mumbai. Later I came to Dubai to pursue my PG in Strategic Human Resource Management. Dubai has always been like a second home to me as my father setup his business here. I was residing in Dubai for two years during which I completed my Masters and gradually moved in as a trainee in my father’s Company, Galaxy International. ( Moving to India I currently reside with my parents in Mumbai - the financial hub of India. Presently, I am assisting my father in his business and trying to develop and implement HR practices crucial to obtaining and retaining a high performing workforce. I am also involved in the marketing and development of products within the company. Our organization in India is known as Esaar International, and we are into distribution of raw materials required by paint & printing ink industries. The business is carried out by directly supplying container load volumes on indent basis. For smaller requirements, we import material, stock it in our local warehouse and supply it. The business is done on an all India level from our office in Mumbai. You can visit us on Taking on the challenges My current position in the organization is a Marketing Assistant to my father. However, I am also responsible for developing HR policies within the organization. Although HR has been my area of specialization, working with my father as a Marketing Assistant did pose certain challenges, such as learning new aspects of marketing and getting into interaction with customers. When I entered my father’s business, my aim was to align my individual goals with that of the organization. When it comes to the personal front, my goal is to carve a niche for myself as an HR & Marketing Professional. As far as my target for the organization goes, my aim is to get into further business expansion. The value of good education Having done a specialization in Strategic Human Resource Management from UOWD, it has helped me to put in practice those HR policies that align strategic objectives of an organization with the impact of demographic, sociological and technological trends. These factors may have medium to longer-term implications and hence need to be considered strategically while meeting workforce requirements to deliver high quality services.

Arwa with her family

Looking forward to new opportunities It was a conscious decision to come back to India as I wanted to be a part of the growing economy. I believed the experience and knowledge that I gained would enable me to grow professionally and put my theoretical learning more into practice. Also, India promises great learning opportunities, challenges and a rational career progression. The best part of working in a family business For a business that has been established for the last 15 years, what comes as an excitement factor to me is the opportunity to learn from my father’s experience of 35 years and get the freedom to bring about changes to the dimensions of business that would promise better gains. Nevertheless, I have to strictly follow the rules of the organization as any other colleague of mine. Living a little after working hours In my free time, I enjoy travelling, reading and photography. After a long day’s work, I like to catch up with the current affairs and get in touch with my friends through an online medium and spend quality time with my parents.

Editorial Following my dreams I have always believed in following one’s dream. I’d advise other to have goals set in place and to work towards accomplishing them. It’s all about pursuing a career that you think will keep you happy and motivated in life. In the near future, I see myself growing with the company and becoming a specialist in my areas of expertise. If given an opportunity I would like to do a course, specializing in the marketing field or general business administration.

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University of Wollongong in Dubai


Culture Vulture

Talking with our ‘Kabayans’ Our fellow Filipino Alums - Nina Tamayo (MSHRM 2009), Luis Piczon (MBA 2010), Joseph Aninias (MBA 2008) introduce us to their values, ways, traditions and culture. NT: The Philippines is a land of great beauty with the 5th longest coastline in the world. It is a place best known for its beach resorts and exotic islands. The most popular are Boracay Island and Palawan. JA: A tradition that we Filipinos hold in high regard is respect to our elders. Until now, we still kiss elders’ hands asking for their blessings when we meet. We address them with “po” or “opo” which is “yes” in Tagalog but only used for elders as a sign of great respect. NT: In the Philippines there is a great emphasis on family. Family values revolve around respecting others and perseverance in whatever we do, while keeping an eye on opportunities for progress. Although the generation now makes independent decisions, opinions from our family still have their weight, especially if suggestions are coming from our elders. Our elders always say, “You’re yet to embark on your journey, we are already on our way back”. LP: If ever visiting the Philippines, make sure to visit Tagaytay, Corregidor, Villa Escudero, Cebu and Palawan. JA: Studying at a multicultural university like UOWD gave us a sense of global citizenship. It has provided us with different perspectives in relation to other cultures and business practices. However, what we miss most about home is the simplicity of what nature offers. We also yearn for authentic traditions that we call our own. One example of uncomplicated tradition is a town’s Fiesta. It embodies camaraderie over a good meal. The hospitality occurs. Fiesta is the celebration of the town’s Saint’s day. The whole town prepares a feast to commemorate the day. It is a day that everyone is welcome in everyone’s home. We may visit a place we have never been to and be welcome in a stranger’s home as if we’re a family. A buffet of sumptuous cuisines, highlighting the produce of the province is always a treat. LP: When talking about our education to friends or business acquaintances, we share a sense of pride in the fact that our education gave us a very good foundation. We are able to further progress through the window it opened for us, allowing us to make things possible. Our education enhanced our sense of well-being and accomplishment. NT: One thing we Filipinos hate is stereotyping and generalization on the limitations of our abilities. We have been occupied by different countries of different beliefs and cultures and we have tried our best to hold our own. The Spanish occupied us for 333 years, the Japanese for 3 years, Americans only left in 1992 and even the Chinese occupied us just by being traders. We survived and persevered to be an independent country. And although for the majority the occupations were not welcomed, the remnants of the previous cultures made us who we are. We are highly adaptable and the only limitations we understand are the limitations set by ignorance, for which we treat by indifference. JA: Filipinos are best known for their friendliness and generosity, and if you ever want to get on their good side, always make sure to be considerate and friendly. On top of it, a discussion over a good meal most of the time paves the way. Of course, it goes without saying that music is considered food for our souls. Top three must-do things in Philippines: Enjoy our nature, visit the islands and climb our mountains. Enjoy our fresh seafood. Attend at least one Fiesta. A Must-try Filipino dish: Bagoong and Mangga (Salt cured baby shrimps and green mangoes). Never tell a Filipino: any criticism to his/her country or culture. Like any other country, there are too many flaws to mention, but only Filipinos earned the right to say it so. We treat our country and culture the same way we treat our parents. “We” earn the right to say it so.

---------------------------Editorial If you’d like us to feature your culture and country in this section, do write to us at


UOWD Alumni Newsletter

University of Wollongong in Dubai

The Last Word A New Year: A Sharper Saw, a New Career Ladder? It gave me great pleasure to be invited to write this article for UOWD Alumni. As we start the New Year in these turbulent economic times, I thought it would be timely to focus on the theme of career renewal, change and professional development. As a management lecturer and workplace psychologist for over 15 years, I have taught thousands of postgraduate and undergraduate students and professionals, and I have seen them grow, develop and graduate into higher positions as a result of their hard work and studies. In his classic book on career and life success, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, Dr. Steven Covey wrote a chapter called “Sharpening the Saw”. In essence, he explains that to be successful, sometimes it is best to step off the never-ending treadmill of life for a while, take stock of life and sharpen our skills. There’s no use in trying to cut through the barriers to success with a blunt saw. Sharpening the saw, or gaining new knowledge and skills is essential for success at work and life. Covey also speaks about the ladder of success. He tells the story of a middleaged man who spent 20 years of his life climbing his career ladder to the top, and was considered highly successful by his colleagues. However, the “successful” man wasn’t entirely happy. When someone asked him why, he looked at them wistfully and said, “I’ve been busily climbing my career ladder for 20 years, and now that I’ve reached the top, I can see I was climbing the wrong ladder”. This man’s story may sound like a tale of wasted years, but it’s not. In 20 years, he learned many skills, met many people and learned from them, and had many life-enhancing experiences that he can use in a future career. He is wellequipped for change. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my many years of teaching and consulting in the areas of change management and workplace psychology, it’s that most people are afraid of change – especially unexpected change. It’s human nature to want predictability in life, but many people are forced to change jobs or even careers due to economic circumstances. Ironically, change is often the best thing that ever happened to them. After the initial “shock of the new”, their new career - indeed their new life - is much better than before, and they wish they had been forced to change earlier.

I thought I had finally found my true “career ladder” as a psychology and management lecturer and consultant, but my career ladder took an unexpected turn five years ago. I had just started at UOWD as an Assistant Professor when I was asked to be Chair of the College of Business. Administration work (especially paperwork) is not one of my strengths, but I accepted the challenge as a team member of the university, and as an opportunity to learn new skills and knowledge. After nearly five years as Chair then Dean at UOWD, I recently decided to step back “down the ladder” in January 2010 to focus on my passions for teaching, research, and writing. My years as Chair and Dean “sharpened my saw”, increased my skills and management experience to become an even better lecturer and workplace psychologist, and helped me decide on the right ladder for me.

Let me share with you a personal example of career changes and professional development. Coming from a working class immigrant family to Australia, I didn’t appreciate the value of higher education as a child, seeing it as something costly and only for middle- and upper-class people. I decided to learn a trade like my father, who was a welder. So I left school at 15 and for several years I worked in various jobs such as a welder, restaurant worker (and a short stint as a very unsuccessful salesman!). I always took pride in working hard and doing a good job, but in my spare time I loved reading, learning and writing, and my dream was to go to university and become a teacher or a globe-trotting journalist.

While my career has had some interesting twists and turns, the “career ladder” for some people is much more straightforward. I was recently at a conference in Sydney, chatting with a bright and ambitious young academic about his career. He is in his early 30s, but he has the CV and experience of many full-professors in their 50s – he has many publications, taught many courses, and he is editor and reviewer for many academic journals, etc. When I asked him how he achieved so much for such a young man, he told me that he knew since he was 17 that he wanted to be a high-profile professor when he grew up. I half-jokingly replied that I am in my 40s and I’m still not sure what I want to be when I grow up.

I left home at 17 and moved from the small industrial town where I grew up, to live in the ‘big city’ near a prestigious Australian university, and I saved hard in various jobs to be able to pay to continue my education. Firstly, I was a “matureage” student at a technical college, completing my high-school certificate (at the “mature age” age of 20). Then I worked several more years, saving hard before starting university at 25 years of age.

If my career changes and progression trigger a sense of self-recognition in your own career path, you are definitely not alone. I have conducted many training courses and coaching sessions with professionals, managers and executives who were either forced to change jobs or careers, or who wanted to step onto another career-ladder.

I loved university (except for the exams!). It opened my eyes to a new world and new possibilities. In my first year of studies, I discovered my passion for psychology, but entry to the psychology Honours degree required a minimum GPA of 5.5 out of 6. So I studied even harder than before, achieving a high GPA, earning a psychology degree with First Class Honours, and qualifying for a PhD scholarship. This “new ladder” of a PhD in Workplace Psychology naturally led me into an academic career. But was I on the right career ladder? I enjoyed it and I worked hard, but at times I was still uncertain, so I took time away from academia for a Editorial few years to become a full-time workplace psychologist and management consultant, which I also enjoyed. After a few years of full-time consulting I decided to return to the creative stimulation of university life (but even now I still find time to enjoy work as a consultant workplace psychologist).

UOWD Alumni Newsletter

We are living in uncertain times of global economic change, which means we have to be ready for unexpected career and life changes. I hope this article encourages you to deal proactively with your own career and skills development, and towards success in whatever you do in this new year of new possibilities - whether it be learning new skills and knowledge in your current career, starting a new career, or taking up further studies. It’s never too late to sharpen your saw and choose the right ladder. ----------------------Dr. Michael Willemyns is Associate Professor of Management at UOWD. He specializes in teaching, training and consulting in workplace psychology and communication, change management, cross-cultural management, and leadership. You can get in touch with him at

University of Wollongong in Dubai



We Need You We’re looking for the following people to help us out on the Stay Connected Alumni newsletter. If you fit any of the descriptions below and have a few hours to dedicate to the job, we’d be glad to welcome you on board, as soon as possible!

Team Player

- We’re looking for someone to join our team in the capacity of a writer/assistant editor. - Responsibilities will include interviewing individuals, writing articles, completing and coordinating sections on an as-andwhen-needed basis. - This work requires you to have a few hours available (after work) to dedicate towards team efforts and meet set deadlines - You should ideally have a flair for writing, good multi-tasking skills and commitment. - A team player with enthusiasm and a proactive approach to everything would be fabulous!

Assistant Designer

- This role will require you to assist our ‘Head of Design’ and work closely with her on various sections of the newsletter. - You will need to dedicate a few hours after-work to design sections, as mentioned by the Head of Design. - A bit of background in software such as Adobe Illustrator, PhotoShop and In Design would be absolutely amazing. - However, even if you do not have a professional qualification but possess self-taught experience we’d be glad to have on the team. - Creativity is a must and commitment would just make us adore you.


- A picture says more than a thousand words and we require someone with a passion for photography to create work that is visually appealing. - If you have a good camera and a good hand to guide it, we could use you as a freelancer on the team. - Assignments will include a few photographs – on and off campus – and we will coordinate a schedule and give you ample time. - Should you have a natural eye for style, ambiance, lighting and angles and a just a few hours every now and then, we’d be glad to hear from you.

Events Coordinator

- The Alumni community has a number of events and seminars happening each month. This role will require you to coordi nate and develop social events. - You will work in close conjunction with the Alumni Officer, assisting her on various fronts. - If you are a social person with great people skills who enjoys interacting with people from different backgrounds, this job will give you wings. - Good correspondence skills, multi-tasking abilities and dedicated time are all plus points.

Kindly bear in mind that all the above mentioned positions are on a voluntary basis and do not include monetary benefits. If you are a go-getter and have what it takes to run the mile with us, don’t wait a second before hitting us back on Editorial We’ll make sure you enjoy the ride and gain many new friends in the process!


UOWD Alumni Newsletter

University of Wollongong in Dubai

Stay Connected - Volume 1 Issue 1 - January 2010  

UOWD Alumni: Remain in touch with your alma mater and your university friends with the UOWD Stay Connected newsletter.