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Stay Connected inspire

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Volume 2 / Issue 8 / June 2012

From the

This Issue:

President

I am delighted to introduce myself as the new President of the University of Wollongong in Dubai. I came to UOWD with significant experience in higher education, most recently serving as the Pro Vice-Chancellor, Research and Innovation and Dean of the College of Science and Technology at the University of Salford in the UK. My background reflects the multicultural nature of UOWD - I was born in Lebanon and educated in Britain where I completed a Masters degree in construction and then a PhD in Construction Management and IT at Loughborough University and now work for an Australian University in Dubai in the U.A.E. I’m proud to be here and look forward to contributing and growing the UOWD. In our effort to re-engage with our Alumni, Arpana Sharma the Manger of Presidential Alumni Relationships organised a “Dinner with the President” for UOWD Distinguished Alumni on 23 May. At this event celebrating our distinguished alumni, I was reminded by His Excellency Pablo Kang, Australian Ambassador to the UAE, that the word alumni comes from the root word – alere meaning ‘to nourish, raise or bring up’. Our goal with all of you, our alumni, is to build a lifelong relationship. To that end, we have ambitious plans to increase the scale and scope of our alumni outreach program, including continued career development support, greater networking between alumni, social activities and community involvement. I am pleased to invite you to the following series of events: ·

During Ramadan, I will be hosting an iftaar dinner for alumni

· We have scheduled interesting speakers to come in and share cutting edge topics including renowned expert Anesh Jagtiani · Our faculty leaders will be starting a new ‘Ask the Expert’ dinner series where you can continue your education outside the classroom ·

And finally, we have fun activities lined up as well – a place for you to relax and enjoy

Please stay tuned to your email and to the alumni events webpage where will be providing updates on dates. We’re excited to welcome you back and look forward to staying in touch. Meanwhile if you have any thoughts or suggestions on how we can best serve the needs of our valued alumni community, I am open to your suggestions. Please contact me at alumni@uowdubai.ac.ae. Looking forward to seeing you all!

Ghassan Aouad 1

UOWD Alumni Newsletter n University of Wollongong in Dubai

We’re mighty proud that UOWD has been making headlines locally and internationally and we have a roundup of some of the most important launches, events and reasons that have kept us in the news.

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Dr. Melodena Balakrishnan, Associate Professor, Faculty of Business and Management puts into perspective, the importance of Managing Reputation in the real world and the price you'd have to pay, if you don't!

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Mohammed Murad takes center stage as our High Achiever. He currently runs three businesses, has multiple educational qualifications and is indeed a source of inspiration, considering he was a college drop-out who turned his life around.

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It’s time to finally welcome our new Events & Alumni Coordinator, Mona Teckchandani and we put her in Spotlight this issue to know where she’s coming from and where she’s heading.

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Do you remember the initial days of UOW back when the campus was located in Ghusais. Old-timer Natasha Fernandes gives us a blast from the past, sharing her memories from the Class of 98’.

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Amina Radzhabova is the chosen Current Student this issue and is pretty busy living her life to the fullest handling three important roles at Uni while she completes her BCom in HR.

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From the

Editor New Contributors Dear Friends, We’re excited to bring you our 8th Issue of Stay Connected and more so, because we are anticipating a whole lot of new changes to the Alumni Community.

With Mona Tekchandani our new Events & Alumni Coordinator now in office, there’s excitement in the air as we gear up for some regular networking events, a meet and greet with our new President and then some more. Considering Mona joins UOWD with extensive experience in handling Alumni Relations, we can certainly tell you that there is a lot more to expect as we strive to build up the 5000+ Alumni Network that the University has built up over the years, bearing in mind we are celebrating our 20th Anniversary next year. Going back to the humble beginnings of UOW, as it was then known before we got accredited by the Ministry of Higher Education in the UAE, we’ve come a long way but the good old memories seem to have attained a gold standard, as a few of the old-timers from the earliest batches tell us in this issue (Mustafa Khan p. 14 and Natasha Fernandes p 12). If you recognize them and can connect with those ‘good old’ days, then there’s no doubt that we have something to cherish and hold on to because as they say, old connections (flames or friends) die hard! That said, we’ve talked to a number of aspiring and inspiring individuals JOiN US as we issue, joins us (Amina Radzhabova, Nanesh For our next Class Notes’ to bring ni h Undavia and Mohamed compile ‘Alum tes from your fellow batc a r upda comed la el gu w , re ed u ri yo ar m Murad) who have worked ared just got ates. If you’ve an award, appe hard to reach where they m child to the family, won have written your new ur agazine or are and continue to excel in on the cover of a m ur updates along with yo . ed yo ud us cl in nd se be to their respective fields be- first book – and full name tory of graduation tting out a Business Direc a ar ye as pu cause they believe in reachss be ne si so al bu ill n w ow We conho run their ing for the stars (literally for Alums w urage intercommunity sico bu en ur to yo e ay m w co el speaking) and pushing the limwe w nections and ils for inclusion. its to become pioneers in the inness deta dustry. A read through this packed issue is indicative of the strength and caliber of the UOWD Alumni Network which poses a wealth of information and knowledge, ultimately leading to new opportunities in more ways than one. Before we leave you to flip through the pages, I suggest a good read on what Dr. Melodena Balakrishnan says on ‘Managing Reputation’ as it bears extreme importance for business owners, given that we live in times when social media is spreading like wild fire. And who better to tell you that than yours truly - the newly certified Social Media Expert who just got done with an intensive course delivered by Abbas Alidina on Social Media 360. If you haven’t already heard about it, take a look at the short courses offered under ‘Pi’ on the university’s website and get on board. Until next time, Odelia Xavier mib (2005) http://www.twitter.com/#!/OdeliaX http://ae.linkedin.com/in/odeliaxavier

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mQm 2007 I love the feeling of utter surprise, when old friends write to you out of the blue and re-establish a lost connection and I experienced that very emotion (needless to say it was accompanied by my 1000 watt smile) when Somayeh emailed to assist us with this issue of SC. She was a driving force when we initially started out this newsletter but work pressure kept her away. Now a good 7 issues down the line, she wanted to be part of the fun and with time on her hands as she is in between jobs, it was fabulous to catch up with her. Having worked with British American Tobacco for almost five years until July 2011, Somayeh decided to take a break and travel and live in Europe for a short period of time. “I managed some iconic Brands like Dunhill, B&H and John Player Gold Leaf when I was working with BAT” she tells us from UK where she is at the time of this release. Even though there are miles between us, Somayeh is excited to touch base with the Uni because she met her best friend during her studies at UOWD. “Renewing connections with the Uni is the most efficient way of networking and keeping myself updated with the latest trends and changes in the business environment” she says and we couldn’t agree better. Three places you can’t wait to see in the world? New York at Christmas time, Tehran at the beginning of Spring and then a visit to Peru.

mbA (mbA 2001) Some people can attract you with their wit and Natasha was one such personality in a room full of people from different backgrounds and cultures. We met during the Social Media 360 Class conducted by Abbas Alidina (who also teaches a 1 month course at UOWD on the same subject) and instantly connected. It was only later that we both realized that we were from the same university, and once that was established, it was a roller coaster ride of memories and ideas. Natasha is a seasoned individual with over eight years of experience in marketing and communications, having worked on the agency and client side. Currently in between jobs and making the most of the leisure time available before she heads of to Germany in the summer, you can find her soaking up the social scene or levitating at a meditation class, if not trying out a hypnotherapy session. In this issue, she shares her views on university life back in the day and gives us all a real good reason to connect with each other. Three social media platforms that have you hooked? Facebook, pinterest and linkedin

The Team: EdiTOr: Odelia mathews-Xavier (mib 2005) editor.uowdnewsltr@gmail.com

NEwS cOOrdiNATOr: rumana rahim ( miTm 2009) RumanaRahim@uowdubai.ac.ae

dEpUTy / NEwS EdiTOr: bahjat Aly Khan (mEm 2009) newseditor.uowdnewsltr@gmail.com

cONTribUTOrS dharini Kumar (bcOm 2006) dharinikumar@gmail.com

dESigN dirEcTOr: rita Jouaneh rita.jouaneh@gmail.com

Saima patwa (bcOm 2006) saima_patwa@hotmail.com

UOWD Alumni Newsletter n University of Wollongong in Dubai

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Alumni

News

UOWD alUmni express gratitUDe tO their alma mater Past graduates, led by UAE nationals holding key positions in major organisations, speak about the University’s role in their success Alumni of the 19-year-old University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD), including Emiratis holding key positions in major organisations, expressed their gratitude to their alma mater and relived memories of their time as a UOWD student, at an alumni dinner organised by the University’s President, Professor Ghassan Aouad. Addressing the gathering, the Australian Ambassador to the UAE, H.E. Pablo Kang stressed the importance of alumni networks, and described the University’s move to bring together past students for regular interactions as a great initiative. Professor Ghassan Aouad, President of the University, in his welcome address, hailed the alumni as the University’s best ambassadors and urged them to stay connected. He announced that UOWD would organise regular alumni events from now on. Arpana Sharma, Manager - Presidential Alumni Relationships highlighted UOWD’s plans to work with alumni on an ongoing basis as mentors and by projecting them as leaders in their fields so that they can inspire others through their success stories. “The journey has just begun, and there will be many such reunions,” she added. Invited to tell their success stories briefly, the alumni paid glowing tributes to the University and recounted how the learning enriched their lives and helped in their career advancement. Shurooq Al Banna, Marketing Specialist at Noor Foundation, recounted how the networking skills she learnt at UOWD helped her in a job that involves running projects in remote villages in Africa and Asia and raising funds for a project conceived by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum with the goal of helping one million visually challenged people. Shurooq, who completed her Master of Strategic Marketing degree, told the audience: “Today, as I flit from Bangladesh to Ethiopia, I am able to apply the skills I learnt at the University to my day-to-day tasks and chal-

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lenges. I am very proud of my association with UOWD.” Nazneen Maymoun, Director of Nursing at the Sharjah Medical District, talked about how she overcame personal tragedy to emerge stronger and advanced her career through her MBA degree from UOWD. Winner of Sheikh Rashid Award for Academic Excellence, Nazneen was a science topper before she did her MBA. “I had won a scholarship at an overseas university, but I preferred to study in the UAE after the death of my husband in a car accident,” Nazneen said. “I chose UOWD and this marked a turning point in my life, because it helped me get out of depression and opened new avenues of self-development. Today, as I run the whole of Sharjah Medical District, I am constantly inspired by what I learnt at the University.” Mohammed Shael Al Saadi, CEO, Business Registration and Licensing, Dubai Department of Economic Development, revisited his fascinating journey from a school dropout to a Master in Quality Management. He joined the army at the age of 13 after faking his age because he was traumatised in school, and rejoined school at a later age and completed his Masters degree from UOWD. Yusuf Al Suwaidi, Director of Strategic Development, Dubai Courts, who did his MBA from UOWD in 1990, said the most important attribute the university gave him was ‘self-confidence’. “It has been a long journey since my MBA from UOWD, and I have been intensely involved in the evolution of Dubai Courts. I am also proud to say

UOWD Alumni Newsletter n University of Wollongong in Dubai

that there is an ongoing collaboration between UOWD and Dubai Courts in developing case studies. Hopefully, by the end of the year, two of the case studies will be published,” said Yusuf. Dr. Mohammed Ali Karkouli, who holds a Master of International Business degree from UOWD, related his experience as Corporate Emergency Preparedness Manager, SEHA, Abu Dhabi Health Services Company and a revolutionary project he is working on. Ahmed A. Omer, a Master of Business Administration holder from UOWD who works as Senior Manager, Product Development, Etisalat, recalled how his learning at the university helped him in his career, including executing a greenfield project for Etisalat in Nigeria. Fadi Abdulmoein Al Sakka, an MBA, related his experiences as Manager, Training and Development, Dubai Airport Free Zone.

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Alumni

News

here’s just the right amount of information to keep you up-to-date with the latest happenings at UOWD.

2nd eDitiOn OF mOst pOpUlar Case stUDy bOOk laUnCheD Following the successful launch of its first volume in May 2011, the second edition of the case study book series ‘Actions and Insights : Middle East North Africa’ was presented by Dr. Melodena Balakrishnan, Associate Professor, Faculty of Business at UOWD to HH Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi, UAE Minister of Foreign Trade. The new volume which was launched at the Ministry of Foreign Trade in Abu Dhabi features an article about ‘Managing in Uncertain Times’ which is also the theme on which it is based and 12 exciting case studies of companies such as Al Ain Dairy, Etihad Airways, Jumeirah Group, Abraaj Capital Limited, Advanced Technology Investment company, Haier and more. From describing complexities of sales forecasting to the process of building a strong value based UAE brand, this book covers a range of interesting topics and is available for purchase at Amazon.com. The book was edited by Dr. Melodena herself along with Dr. Tim Rogmans from Zayed University and Immanuel Moonesar, Institutional Research Officer, UOWD and the cases featured are currently being used in classes across the world. The book was published through the funding generated through AIB-MENA and is in partnership with the UOWD Business Case Centre and it’s worthy to note that many of the AIB-MENA cases are the most downloaded cases in the Emerald Emerging Market Case Studies Collection.

Dr. Melodena & HH. Sheikha Lubna bint Al Qassimi

UOWD team Creates First-ever ipUrse How awesome would it be if you could have a purse with which you will never have to worry about losing your cell phone, or laptop or any personal belongings and it will remind you of the things which you might need during the day? – Pretty Awesome! When Manprabhjot Kaur and Rashida Daruwala, both final year students at UOWD were deciding on a topic for their project, their keen intention was to develop something which would help people track lost items because they themselves were always losing things. The duo along with Dr. Mohammed Watfa, Assistant Professor at UOWD then went on to create the iPurse which uses the technology of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) to keep track of things. Further to that the team has also created an online calendar which can Dr. Mohammed Watfa shows the iPurse be used with Gmail or Hotmail where you programme your activities and the things you may need for them. “For example, if it’s cold and rainy outside and your calendar is connected to the weather centre, it will check whether you have your scarf and umbrella in your purse, if you don’t, it will send a message reminding you to take those items” says Dr. Watfa. This project was recently featured in UAE’s local newspaper Gulf News and is under patent and has already received interest from international companies who want to look at ways to commercialize the invention.

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UOWD Alumni Newsletter n University of Wollongong in Dubai

teleWOrking FOr WOmen Dr. Mona Mustafa, Assistant Professor at UOWD is currently researching on a dream that many of today’s working people may have – working from anywhere else outside the office! She is currently researching on the idea of using Teleworking to help Emarati women get absorbed in the job market through remote employment. The idea of Teleworking was first put into practice in the 1970’s during the US fuel crisis and has somehow survived the impacts of globalization and cultural difference in management styles of different countries, but could now face a new challenge – work life boundaries. “Traditionally, when we leave the home and close that door to go to work, you enter a new boundary, so traditionally people had them separate but in the case of people working from home, these boundaries are sort of mixing, which becomes challenging”, says Dr. Mona, whose main area of interest in the research is Boundary Management, and how Teleworkers can maintain a healthy Work-Life balance. Her research was also featured in the UAE’s local newspaper, Gulf News.

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Alumni

Accomplishments

Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing here’s what you should take pride in.

UOWD viCtOriOUs at sympUlse 2012

Winning the kpmg COmpetitiOn UOWD’s Legacy Team won the Gulf segment of the international KPMG ‘Ace the Case’ competition by beating six top UAE Universities and hence will be representing UAE in the finals which will be held in Hong Kong in April. The team – Ali Khadim, Eoghen Hennessy, Fountain Abani and Oluyinka Oreolowa, were given the case of PlanetTran, a US based Transportation Company that uses hybrid vehicles in all its operations. The competition involved analysis of the business case, finding a workable solution and presenting it to KPMG partners. “The success of the team is a testimony of the teaching and learning philosophy that UOWD promoted, as a step towards making them career ready. It was really rewarding to see the students bloom to the full potential”, said Dr. Swapna Koshy, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Business and Management at UOWD and the team’s Coach.

The UOWD team comprising of 23 Undergraduate students won various competitions at the Sympulse International sporting and cultural festival in Pune, India. The UOWD throwball team won the game against SIMC Pune, while Nitesh Lakhani won the ‘War of the DJ’s’ competition and Sundeep Singh was the runners up in the photography competition. Apart from the usual sport competitions such as Throwball (women), Street Football (men), basketball (women) and volleyball (men), UOWD also competed in competitions of Photography, Fifa PS3 and War of the DJ’s. “The students enjoyed some high class sports and cultural events over the 5 days, providing them a new benchmark for where the teams want to reach. The event gave us an opportunity to show our sporting abilities and other skills on an international stage”, said Erin Collins, Assistant Manager, Student Services at UOWD.

it’s W.a.r time! At the recently held Wollongong Amazing Race (W.A.R) which was organized by the Student Services Department (SSD), the students from the Faculty of Finance and Accounting emerged as winners by beating other two teams from the Faculty of Computer Science and Engineering and the Faculty of Business and Management. The W.A.R is a unique competition that tests problem solving, analytical thinking and organizational skills of the participants. Each team was given a list of tasks which involved collecting unique items and taking pictures at different landmarks around Dubai and returning back to deposit their pictures and items within six hours. The winners and runners up prizes were distributed by Franky Baretto, Manager, Student Services at UOWD. The SSD plans to make this an annual event and introduce more faculty grouped events where the students can compete.

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UOWD Alumni Newsletter n University of Wollongong in Dubai

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Alumni

Events

Celebrating aUstralia Day at UOWD

On the 1st of February UOWD celebrated Australia Day by lining up day long fun activities for its students and staff. The day was filled with fun and exciting competitions like Eat a Vegemite sandwich, Sip ‘Chai’ through a Tim tam, Decorate a Boomerang, Sausage Sizzle, Lamingtons, Face painting, a drumming session, Aussie music as well as Indian Entertainment. A friendly ‘six a side’ cricket match was played between Teams ‘Australia’ and ‘India’ featuring students & staff members. Batting first, Australia was all out at 42 while India went on to win the match comfortably. Professor Ghassan Aouad, President of UOWD was the guest of honor at the prize distribution ceremony. He gave away certificates to the winners of the annual Dean’s List and 98 scholarships to new and re-enrolling students, valued at over AED 2.3 million thus bringing an amazing end to the Australia Day celebrations.

aWarDs FOr inspiratiOnal leaDership The 2nd Academy of International Business (AIB) MENA, which was a collaborated effort between UOWD & Zayed University, was attended by over 100 delegates from 24 countries and 89 Universities. Delivering the keynote speech, Mirza Al Sayegh, Director of the Office of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, called for a new mindset for ‘Managing in Uncertain times’. “The State Companies will be saturated in the near future, and will no longer be able to employ new people. We will need a new crop of leaders and entrepreneurs, with more tangible ideas on starting one’s own business, working from home or operating as freelancers”, said Al Sayegh who also presented the AIBMENA Awards. The first Award – the AIBMENA Ghaf Tree Award was given to Abraaj Capital in recognition of its commitment of community development, the second award – the AIB-MENA Windtower Award was presented to Professor Rob Whelan, former President of UOWD, Professor John Seybolt, Dean, College of Business Sciences, Zayed University and Frederic Sicre, Partner of Abraaj Capital. Receiving the award Prof. Rob Whelan said, “I am proud to have been honored by AIB-MENA as a mentor. It is always good to be in at the start of something big and to be told that one has had a positive influence in mentoring and industry support”. Delegates present at the conference also discussed priorities in education, research and organizational development as well as the current state of business in the MENA region.

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Faculty

News

managing repUtatiOn:

TWO kEy POINTS OF CONSIDERATION

dr. melodena balakrishnan, Associate Professor, Faculty of Business and Management, talks to us about the importance of managing a business reputation and the devastating results of not paying heed to the right communication methods.The partical solution provided is a great starting point for any new or established business.

Somehow in the business world this concept of “reputation management” has been lost among the Finance and PR departments and agencies. It seems to have been pulled out of the purview of Top Management Leadership Teams, Human Resources and Marketing departments, which is very odd - because the leadership team is the steward of values and the keeper of the strategy flame. The HR and Marketing Teams are value enhancers contributing to the product or service of the firm. Reputation is not purely a communication campaign but it is the interpretation of the long-term strategy and is built on the foundation of organizational values! Communication is important as a reputation that took years to build can be threatened by a single event in a very short period of time. Since we already know the importance of communication – I want to focus on the three other departments I have listed up. While the average investor may panic at the sight of a global recession and a hint of scandal – the reputation on a stock market in my opinion is the emotional response of a lot of people, most of whom haven’t read an annual report, know nothing about the industry and are just enjoying the highs and lows that come with the concept of gambling or making a fast buck. On the other hand financial journalists – seem to derive their pay/bonus by the rating – the more they get people to respond (nothing gets a rise out of people more than panic), the more viewership, circulation and hence more sales and perhaps bonuses. What happened to the great GLOBAL pandemic SARS in 2003? It hurt the travel industry in SE Asia,

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impacted the hospitality sector in Hong Kong went to 37 countries and resulted in about 1000 deaths. It was the reputed World Health Organization that was constantly quoting the risks of SARS leading to a healthy black market in face masks, Indian spices and Tamiflu. Just to put things in perspective – 3000 people die due to road accidents (1); another 21,000 children die daily due to neglect, lack of help after environmental issues like floods, earthquakes and tsunamis and man-made war (2); 3000 suicides occur daily according to WHO (3). I don’t know – it may be me but I think sometimes we need to think rather than react to news – good editorials with multiple perspectives are getting lost among the sensationalism of news. Which brings me to point No 1. We are dealing with the uncontrollable in a crisis and our power to influence is vital to weathering the storm! point No 1: reputation management needs a careful understanding of the macro-environment and requires skill to manage “uncontrollable factors” and seek coalitions to reframe problem and find solutions. Take the case of the case of the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel (4). During the Terrorist attack, Taj was faced with the challenges of media covering the whole operation on live TV, with customers in the hotel using cell phones to give accounts live to media and even

UOWD Alumni Newsletter n University of Wollongong in Dubai

worse – the ongoing nightmarish question “how did the terrorist know their way around so well?”. First of all, at an individual organizational level – the PR nightmare would have been too hard to handle and even worse would have drained much needed resources that are required for managing the crisis problem. The priorities were “SAFETY & WELLBEING of Customers – SAFETY & WELLBEING of Employees; Safety of Possessions and Assets; and then finally management of stakeholders”. Taj and Tata’s reframed the problem into an issue of National Security. It was not just about them but about Mumbai and India – this allowed them to get more champions into the fray and change the emotional sentiments from panic and futility to a more positive and stronger emotion –patriotism and the feeling “we will not be defeated”. This gave Media a rallying call (still sold papers/viewership etc) and Taj managed the murky line that is reputation management. There are many other things Taj did and you can read it in my paper cited below. Take the case of BP Oil. When the oil well broke in Gulf of Mexico in 2010, there were

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Faculty

News

Very simply to be successful at reputation management you need an understanding of markets, the macro-environment and must be in a position of influence. over 4000 active wells (5) BP was unable to get support from the oil Industry coalition and more surprising that of the US Government. The US Military is considered to be the single largest user of petrol in the world (6). Considering that the US Navy had most of the equipment to help BP it was surprising the crisis took so long to resolve and BP was literally left on its own. The share prices fell dramatically in 1 1/2 months wiping away £50bn off the company’s market capital. Jon Rigby, a UBS analyst, wrote in a note to clients “The market has become increasingly sensitive to speculation and unfounded claims, highlighting the effect of the absence of hard facts on which to work.”(7) Another example would be the recent Japan tsunami and earthquake – the low probability of the two events had fooled many strategists at looking at probabilities – the crisis brought home the fact “Low probability is not NO PROBABLITY”. Very simply to be successful at reputation management you need an understanding of markets, the macro-environment and must be in a position of influence. This perhaps means that reputation management needs to be under the purview of the Leadership Team – how many of them are trained in this? While you may need a partner to execute strategy – it is critical you build strategy from within (relationships are like assets and must be cultivated). Secondly, the Marketing department is often a liaison between customers, suppliers, distributers and agencies like media. As an organization you need to start assessing an employee’s level of influence with important stakeholders and their ability to win goodwill through education and long-term activities. The Tata Equity allowed major media to run some free advertisements on their campaign “I will Prevail” which was an outcry on the terrorism attack. Johnson & Johnson’s tamper proof packaging was an outcome of the Tylenol Crisis. Crisis are learning opportunities and organizations can take advantage of them to spearhead change or innovation. point No 2: it’s all about the people! Here comes my second most important point. Reputation management is about people management. Internally and externally. Personally, I think I would always manage reputation from within as a company that does not have the respect and loyalty of its employees is a sinking ship. History is full of corporate scandals that have destroyed companies because of whistleblowers. They exist as they (1) do not respect the organization (what has the organization done to get respect – paying a hefty salary is more like a bribe – better you build the or-

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ganization on values) (2) they do not feel loyalty and some cases are willing to take the risk to stand-up for their beliefs. You never know when a crisis will occur so the first thing you want to make sure is that whether your company can survive the storm. Use a simple Net Promoter type question to find out. On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend your workplace to others? Answers 9-10 show employees have high loyalty – they are called Promoters; score 7-8 are called Passives – satisfied but not fervently loyal and scores below 6 are called Detractors – people who are not loyal. If you want to know the reasons (always better to know them so you can address them) ask them WHY. The only problem here in the Middle East North Africa region is the fear that employees tend to sugar quote their answers in fear of reprisal. A major international market research company here says that answers here can be upto two points higher which means you may be easily not aware of what employees really feel. For this you need an empowered and active HR team. Again looking back at the “Taj” example;– one of the things they did to “reframe” the crisis was to turn attention to their people – their exemplary staff who had sacrificed their safety, lives and family so that their guests would be safe. There are many heartrending stories there that won the hearts of customers, media and other stakeholders. Leading at the helm was none other than the great man himself - Ratan Tata and all communication came essentially from him or his office. After a crisis, employees need counseling. Taj arranged group intervention and counseling (also for customers) and what resulted was a more caring culture and a bond – “we survived this and got through this”. This can only lead one way – better performance. In 1999, there was a 7.6 earthquake in Taiwan and electricity and communication lines were cut off. My husband who was at that time Heading Human Resources in Procter and Gamble managed to trace their 1200 employees through a telephone and human tree even though many were in rural interiors and telephone lines gave way. The last 30 employees were contacted using an outsourced rescue party. Nothing in his past assignments had prepared him for this but his fundamental belief was that people are most important to an organization and his boss at that time supported him. Counseling was free for all employees and

“Crises are learning opportunities and organizations can take advantage of them to spearhead change or innovation.”

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Faculty

News

died at the rig explosion. You want to be able to work with regulators, legal parties, influencers and industry partners to address the problem rather than symptoms and find rapid solutions. You want to talk to Communities as they can rally and join with lobbyists and slow down the good work. Nothing hurts an organization’s morale more when its intentions are good and the public can’t see the big picture and you are at loggerheads with them drowning in details instead of focusing on resolution!

Figure 1: managing reputation their families at both individual and group level. The organization supported employees through relief materials and funds, undertook community support projects like providing tents, water purification tablets, and tissue towels. P&G came out of a national crisis stronger than before and these stories became part of the folklore of the organization – an organization that cares! Take examples like Enron – from being the most “innovative company” it disappeared when no one including a majority of employees would stand by them because that was the culture – “take advantage”(8). Unfortunately many employees lost their retirement funds and this impacted them severely. It’s not just employees (in your organization or an organization you take over) that have to manage, but also people involved in external relations. If people panic when share prices slide – you want to be able to reassure major stock holders, insurers, creditors, suppliers and distributors. You want to be able to get Media on your side so a fair picture can be painted rather than a one sided story! A popular story circulating at the time of the BP crisis was that of the CEO Tony Howard “enjoying” himself at an expensive yacht race. The public is very unforgiving in these cases and Tony eventually “resigned”. There was never any mention in media of the support the organization gave to the 11 employees who

“The support you require during a crisis depends on your ability to have assessed your risks, reduce their impact and the existing relationships you have already developed. what should you do? A report on Predicting Organizational Preparedness by Prof. Paul C. Light(9)documents other studies on the lack of preparedness of senior managers for crises. Organizations can begin a strategy by looking at Figure 1. You need to assess where you are for multiple scenarios before you can plan for a crisis. The challenge is always for growing organizations who are not able to predict their markets and don’t have enough time to devote to such an exercise. More than once it has been shown that a robust Early Warning System helps mitigate research and this requires information management. During a crisis you want information to flow to the “Crisis Command Centre” but information from the organization to be routed through designated spokespeople to reduce uncertainty. But this is fire-fighting! The support you require during a crisis depends on your ability to have assessed your risks, reduce their impact and the existing relationships you have already developed. Start with employees and industry stakeholders – create a relationship of trust rather than a transactional relationship and this will help as there is one rule to a crisis – IT IS UNPREDICTABLE!

Sources 1)http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/road_traffic/activities/roadsafety_training_manual_unit_1.pdf 2) http://www.globalissues.org/article/715/today-21000-children-died-around-the-world 3)http://www.who.int/mediacentre/events/annual/world_suicide_prevention_day/en/index.html 4) Balakrishnan, M.S. (2011),“Preventing Brand Burn during Times of Crisis: Mumbai 26/11- A case of the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel”, Management Research Review (formerly Management Research News),Vol. 34, No. 12, pp. 1309 - 1334. 5) http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/06mexico/background/oil/media/platform_600.html 6)http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/apr/11/peak-oil-production-supply 7)http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/oilandgas/7825131/BP-oil-spill-Largest-shareholders-cut-stake-as-price-falls.html 8) http://www.usatoday.com/money/companies/management/story/2011-12-03/enron-10-years-later/51592092/1 9)http://www.nyu.edu/ccpr/pubs/OrgPreparedness_Report_NyU_Light_8.18.08.pdf

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UOWD Alumni Newsletter n University of Wollongong in Dubai

www.uowdubai.ac.ae


Alumni

High Achiever

Building his Legacy For a veteran who has come a long way over the last few decades, Mohammed Murad (MBA – 2000, MQM 2001) is an inspirational role-model for those who believe in perfection and pro-activeness. As the Managing Director of Tanseeq Event Management, a company specialized in uber-luxurious weddings for the rich and famous, he continues to set the benchmark with whatever he undertakes. Here he goes down memory lane, taking us back to his humble beginnings in good old Dubai, right through the years of his hard work and pioneering efforts, all of which have paid off handsomely today.

There are three types of people in this world, just as renowned Author and prominent Business Woman, Mary Kay Ash once said: Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened. For our High Achiever this month, we have Mohammed Murad who falls into the first category and there’s no doubt that he has left many watching and wondering what happened. A proud Emirati who considers his two daughters the apple of his eyes, Mohammed grew up like any other average child – not of this age, but of the yesteryears and that too, in old Dubai. Being a resident of this city since my birth, I can tell you that it meant playing on sand dunes, watching sunsets without the hustle and bustle of city life and witnessing firsthand the true beauty of Arab culture without the commercialism attached to it. “My childhood was a normal one, born and grown up in Dubai,’ says Mohammed, “I used to play in the alleys of the now famous Bastakia, which in those times had the authentic buildings. I am proud of being part of the history of this fine city in whatever small way that I have contributed to it.” And if you look deeply into it, he has done quite a bit for his homeland. Starting at the basics But before we go on to his accomplishments and accolades, we asked Mohammed how it all started and were shocked to know that he was a college dropout. Yes, you read right! The first school he ever went to was the Varkey International School which was initially established in the Bastakia area in Bur Dubai. Today, the same school is recognized as the Our Own English High School. Soon after school Mohammed joined the Al Ain University and after finishing only a year with them, he joined the Dubai Police. Unlike what anyone else would do, it was not a matter of staying put and going with the flow for someone like Mohammed because he stayed true to his own needs and looked for solutions. “Few years later I felt the void in my educational level and went back to school and joined Ajman University College and studied Computer Science. Then I was looking at pursuing a Masters Degree and at that time the only available University that matched my timings and fitted the reputation and strength of studies was Wollongong.”

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The eagerness to educate himself was so strong that Mohammed returned to UOW to pursue his Masters in Quality Management and consequently signed on for a number of courses, both locally and internationally thereafter, only because he realized that there was nothing more valuable than being a lifelong learner. Even after achieving his first and second degree, there has been no stopping for Mohammed and he continues to better himself even until now. Mindful of the impact of education he says, “Lately, I completed my Diploma in Event Management and I am pursuing a Certification Program in Coaching now. Education has made me what I am today; it has shaped my life, not only my career.” patriotic and passionate As most of our readers would already know, Mohammed Murad is an ex-serviceman and back in the day he was widely recognized for his efforts within the Dubai Police Department. A simple google search will show you a list of his achievements, but to hear it from him in his own words, he says, “I started my career by becoming a police officer and served 20 years before asking for voluntary retirement. In the beginning of my police career, I was working in the Criminal Investigation Department (Dubai Police), so I was part of upholding the reputation of Dubai in being the safe city it is now.” Doing things with great pride and a quest for perfection was what was of utmost important to Mohammed, especially because he believed in giving each task he undertook the time, patience and attention to detail, while moving up the ladder, one step at a time. When starting out his career in Dubai Police, Mohammed joined in as a cadet officer and moved from department to department, learning, developing and bringing change along the way. After years of hard work, his last prominent position, and that too, one of great importance was in him being the Director of Emergency Medical Service (EMS). In the capacity of his role, he went on to establish the protocol and measures required for the Emirate of Dubai of which he proudly says, “I went on to become the Director of the Ambulance Department and I am proud to have contributed in establishing a world-class service in that arena. With my team of super stars, we had established a system for the

UOWD Alumni Newsletter n University of Wollongong in Dubai

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Alumni

High Achiever

“My main task was to ensure that processes are laid to correspond to quality standards that Dubai is known for and integrate the work of CDA with the Dubai Strategic Plan.” Emergency Medical Services for the whole city of Dubai. At that time we were the only EMS provider citywide. We were the first to have acquired an ISO 9001-2000, on the police department level in the whole of the Middle East. The team also was instrumental in transforming the training system and care standard from a transportation service to an actual medical care service with measurable criteria.” Then it was in 2003, after having worked for a good two decades for the Dubai Police that Mohammed decided to move onto something different and he retired with a Lt. Colonel Rank. As most would think with the average retirement, Mohammed was nowhere remotely near the end of his career growth and in fact, it turned out to be a new beginning in an area previously untraveled. Given that Dubai was fast emerging as a global destination with an influx of tourists and blue-chip clients wanting to make the best of the tax-free zone, the focus was much more than ever on the social changes taking place in society. For that very task, Mohammed was roped in as the Chief of Performance and Excellence at the Community Development Authority (CDA) in 2008. Looking back at the task entrusted to him, Mohammed explains, “I joined CDA in the establishment stage, and the vision was to create a social arm for the government, so the team at that time worked together to put down a robust strategy and operational plan for the future. My main task was to ensure that processes are laid to correspond to quality standards that Dubai is known for and integrate the work of CDA with the Dubai Strategic Plan.” As with all major tasks, this one too was not devoid of challenges and because of its very nature, the onus lied not only in creating a vision but also in keeping up with the team work to achieve that vision but Mohammed and his team made it one step at a time and he confidently tells us, “What you can be certain of that work is well under way to make Dubai a better place to live in” The present day For a few people an education begins outside the classroom and for Mohammed, this was undoubtedly the fact, as he continues to chart his professional growth by setting goals and achieving them in due time, all while keeping his family in the loop. After a voluntary resignation from the Dubai

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Police, he started out his own Event Management Company, Tanseeq - with just three people, a great vision and some hard work and sound quality to back it up. He says, “I am a partner with my wife in the company, and I take care of all the logistics and management side of things, where my wife is the creative one. The business was a natural progression to what we had at the time of my retirement. We had a garments outlet and a beauty salon, and what best could compliment the two than a wedding decoration company. The vision was to create a world-class company that would handle high-end high-capacity weddings that are turnkey and customized to fit the customer requirements.” Today, the company is recognized as a pioneer in the market and has published two books – Wedding Arabia and Mesmerize, which is sold worldwide and showcases the nature and quality of the events. With clients that include a number of Royals there is no doubt that Tanseeq has etched out a space of its own in a city that is known for its glamorous events, but even then, that isn’t where Mohammed has stopped as he tells us, “Now I run three businesses and I am starting a Consultancy and Training firm which is my passion.” On a last note, we ask him if he is willing to mentor anyone who is inspired by his story. Least do we expect such a welcoming answer from such a busy man, but judging by the tone in his voice when he says ‘Sure’ we are certain that it comes with a smile it makes believe that he lives up to his own motto in life, every single day. That motto is: In order to succeed, one must always help others. If you would like to get in touch with Mohammed Murad for business or enquiries, you can contact him at mohammed@tanseeq.ae

“Back then UOWD was a small institute like entity and while completing the 2 degrees I saw the campus develop and the facilities become larger and more technology oriented. Everyone knew everyone and the sharing of experience was something that lifted the level of learning”

UOWD Alumni Newsletter n University of Wollongong in Dubai

www.uowdubai.ac.ae


Spotlight

On

Mona Tekchandani events & alumni Coordinator

monalisatekchandani@uowdubai.ac.ae

Shortly after moving base to Dubai in October 2011 and joining UOWD as the Events & Alumni Coordinator in February this year, Mona joins the UOWD family with much gusto, eager to meet new people and inject a fresh perspective into everything. Backed by substantial skill and knowledge of handling Alumni Relations with her alma mater, we were thrilled when we met her during a brief and initial encounter. Here she opens up just a little bit more to tell us where she’s coming from and where she’s heading. Tell us a bit about yourself, your family and educational background? My husband, Vikram, and I moved to Dubai in October. He’s been working in Doha on and off for the past 5 years, so we’re familiar with the region. I completed my MBA (with Distinction) from University of Michigan (Michigan, USA) and did by BA from Stanford University (California, USA). what made you join UOwd and when did you start work here? I started work at UOWD in February and I am really enjoying it! I worked for 5 years at Stanford University (my alma mater) in alumni relations so I’m ready to hit the ground running in this role. How about your career? where did you previously work? Before working in higher education, I was in strategy consulting for 10 years. My last clients were United Airlines and Delta Air Lines – I was helping with their bankruptcy restructuring. It was high profile, very gratifying work, but I always knew I wanted to work in a university environment and give back in the education sector. what is your current role at UOwd and what are your responsibilities? As the Events & Alumni Coordinator, I am responsible for the biannual graduation ceremony. I am also really excited about re-starting the alumni efforts. Look out for events and activities! And let me know what you want – I’m here to serve! As the new Alumni Officer, what new changes would you like to implement? I think we could use consistency. I realize there have been various starts and stops with alumni work – I’m looking forward to putting a long term plan in place. How about your hobbies? I love to travel (who doesn’t?!) Since arriving in October, we’ve been to Rome, Munich, Beirut, London, Detroit, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Amman, Petra, Aqaba and Moscow. More to come, for sure! I also love In dian Classical Dance. As soon as I’m well settled at work, I look forward to taking more Bharata Natyam classes.

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“I realize there have been various starts and stops with alumni work – I’m looking forward to putting a long term plan in place. “ Are you involved in any philanthropic activities that you’d like to share? I am very interested in green/environmental efforts. Back in California, I served on the board of Caltrain, a regional rail provider, with approximately 38,000 commuters per day. I am looking for new activities, now that I’m a bit more settled. what message do you have for the UOwd Alumni Network? I can’t wait to get started on alumni activities. Let me know what you are interested in and we’ll get planning.

A few books you highly recommend? I love reading – mostly fiction, but a good book on business as well. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett is short and well written. I also love Stephen Covey books – they are classics for a reason!

S

JOiN Uins us as we xt issue, jo es’ to bring ne r ou For ni Class Not fellow batch m lu compile ‘A tes from your ed a da you regular up just got married, welcom ared pe ve ap u’ d, yo ar If an aw mates. tten your the family, won new child to of a magazine or have wri with your g r ve on al co s e te th da on included. nd us your up first book – se tion and full name to beDirectory ua ss ad gr ne t a Busi year of ss as a be putting ou We will also ho run their own busine conw ity un m om rc for Alums urage inte siway to enco d we welcome your bu an ns io . n ct ne r inclusio ness details fo

UOWD Alumni Newsletter n University of Wollongong in Dubai

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Alumni

View Point

How well are you Connected? I have to admit, I am the last person who thought about connecting with anyone. I always seemed to think – Hey, if someone really wants to talk to me, they will Right? Well sometimes that works and sometimes you just have to take the initiative to connect with that person. Now you must be wondering that this girl seems to have way too much time on her hands. Right again! But then, that’s what got me thinking. Why wasn’t I really connecting with anyone else from my past, what held me back - studies, work, marriage, responsibilities, kids? I’d tick probably 3 out of 5 on that list and that’s what surprised me. I suddenly had this freed up time (I’m job hunting at the moment, no kids – you get the drift?) and you know what, I was suddenly meeting people from my past. Some I took the initiative to keep in touch with and some I just randomly met at places I hadn’t thought or considered. Now a couple of those friends were from Wollongong. Yes I had long forgotten I had made a few friends there while studying for my MBA course back in 98’. Aha don’t try and guess how old I am now – there’s plenty of time for that later, but coming back to the point, here was this woman who I met recently at a meditation class who just shouted out my name and for the life of me, I was trying to figure out how I know her. Seems we were in the same class together. Now there I was all embarrassed because she remembered me and I didn’t and it got me thinking, how connected was I at that point in time that I forgot about her? A few days later my amnesiac memory suddenly poured in with briefs moments of our encounter. Yes she was in my class. Yes I do remember her and yes she was who someone I couldn’t have missed. How did I forget her then? Should I attribute age to this? Yeah I thought about that, but no, it’s just that I didn’t spend as much time connecting with her as she did with me. Brings me now to the question - Who all have I forgotten? It seems quite a few as I looked back realising while I made quite an impression on a number of people, I didn’t take the time to get to know them. When Wollongong was based near Ghusais (wayyy back then) we were just a few students in the class. We barely started with using the internet for emails and the likes to which mobile phones got introduced. I remember mine – the old Sony Ericsson handset which had big buttons and an sms feature. That was it. I actually remembered people’s phones numbers – the ones that I wanted to keep in touch with that is. So from” Bricks to iPhones” one would think – hey I’m so connected, I can reach hundreds of people at the tip of my finger. So now with the social media “explosion” joining the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and a whole bunch of various other apps and associations , you’d think we would probably have crossed paths at some point. The reality of the fact is I hadn’t searched for them. I hadn’t even looked. I had assumed I was connected to everyone on my facebook at least, and then I met this girl at the meditation and I realised that while I jumped a considerable number of schools, colleges and universities, here was one that I missed. The joy of meeting her, reviving old memories, about how we were amongst the initial batches to study at Wollongong, to the classes we took, the professors we liked, the ones we didn’t like and the ones who actually made us sleep. (Yes guilty! I fell asleep for the first time in my life and he saw me– front row, right under his nose if you can imagine that, till of course I heard him say “I guess it’s time for a break folks”. Don’t know how my ears caught that but it did!!) To my defence I was working and studying at the point, but I guess the day got the better of me. (The class in itself was amazing) So yeah, we laughed about it and you know what? Suddenly we connected! You are always connected to your past in some form or the other. Education is great. It helps us learn, grow and evolve into the kind of people that we were meant to be and it is also one of the places where we made our connections. Those con-

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“And that’s the beauty of being part of an Alumni.You get to associate all over again, connecting with old friends or even making new ones - people that could possibly add more value to your life. “ nections could have been in the form of deep rooted friendships, marriage or maybe even a business associate. And that’s the beauty of being part of an Alumni. You get to associate all over again, connecting with old friends or even making new ones people that could possibly add more value to your life. Whatever the reason I think it’s time we start to call each other. Search old diaries, whatever form they maybe in, pick up the phone, call an ex “Gong” if I may say so, and just put a smile to someone’s face. We may have an alumni coming up soon so let’s get together to share our memories, our achievements or just simply to have a cup of coffee together. Whatever your reasons are, come and connect. We all have busy schedules, we have various responsibilities and you might think – hey I’ll just let one of the alumni people do the work and probably then consider connecting. Guess what? It takes each and everyone of us, and that does include you to make it possible. So my request to you is, take out a little time, even if it’s just 5 minutes, find an old classmate, call him or her, connect again and tell them you’ll meet them at – you guessed right – the University of Wollongong, Dubai! And to reiterate my sentiments, here is a little something to go by: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” Steve Jobs With that I’ll simply say, Stay connected and see you around soon.

Natasha Fernandes (MBA 2001) was amongst one of the first batch of graduates that UOWD produced. If you happen to have studied in the same campus, class or batch, feel free to reach out and make a connection by emailing her on fernandesnatasha@hotmail.com

UOWD Alumni Newsletter n University of Wollongong in Dubai

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Current

Student

The Dancing

QUEEN

Amina Radzhabova BCom - Human Resource Management Russian (amina.algiz@yandex.ru) For any average teenager you’d find it hard to believe that they’d have a ten year plan chocked out ahead of them, but then – that’s just your average teenager who’s carefree and clueless, just taking life one day at a time. Well, brace yourself readers as we give you Amina Radzhabova – a spirited 17 year old lady who is Russian by birth and currently calls Dubai her home and UOWD her second home. Not only does she have a 10 year plan set up, but Amina also has her hands full with studies on one side and three important titles on the other side, these being the Communications Officer of the Student Representative Council, the External Interactions Officer at the Students’ Club Management and the President of the Dancing Club at UOWD. Amina first came to our attention dubbed as the ‘most popular’ girl on campus because she is involved in a lot of things that put her at the COA (Center of Attention), but least did we know that this enthusiastic ‘it’ girl of the moment has a lot more to her than go-getter’s attitude and a vision that could rival that of a CEO! “I received my school education back in Russia. At the same time, I was engaged with studies in Europe and UK, because I was planning my future there,” she says, adding that her decision to join UOWD in 2009 was because ‘it was love at first sight’. Her fearless nature and ability to make the best of every possibility is what drives her to new limits and perhaps that is why she is so loved by her peers and friends. She says, “Since year 2011 I have been the President of the UOWD Dancers Club. We are aiming to achieve a point where we can inspire dance. Currently we are one of the most active Clubs in the university as we actively participate in campus events and represent our University in various Inter-University competitions.” If she isn’t busy dancing or speaking her way into everyone’s heart, then you’ll find Amina engrossed in a class by one of her three favorite professor’s - Dr.

“Since year 2011 I have been the President of the UOWD Dancers Club. We are aiming to achieve a point where we can inspire dance. “

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Payyazhi Jayashree, Dr. Mike Newnham and Dr. Arijit Sikdar. What intrigues us most about Amina is her 10 year plan which is to enter the HR industry in one year, then in three years to allocate her personal talent within a particular company for the long-run, followed by a 3 to 5 year goal of establishing her reputation in a given company and growing personally and professionally and then finally, to achieve a top management position in a ten year period. Should you want to connect with Amina, catch her tweets on Amicha1994 or check out her youtube channel http://www.youtube.com/user/TheBestAmina/videos

Zodiac: Aries proud of: Always staying positive about things no matter what happens best memory at UOwd: Christmas 2011 for Special Guests Favorite movie: Alexander. Top 5 songs on your ipod: Medinayou and I, Outlandish- I am calling you, Florida – Good feeling, Ne-yo – tonight, Nero – guilt . can’t live without: My iPad! Hobbies: Dancing, especially salsa. Hidden Talent: Baking. dream career: To be a Police-woman proud moment: When my first book was published.

UOWD Alumni Newsletter n University of Wollongong in Dubai

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Alumni

Who, When, Where

bbA (2005) djibouti Air pilot + Flight Operations manager

Now that I have been flying, working in an office enduring a desk job makes me want to throw an epileptic fit of epic proportions simply because when you have your office in the sky, everything else seems ‘grounded’. Witty and jovial, Mustafa khan has always done what he enjoys doing the most. “At the time when I finished school, we didn’t have much of a choice in Dubai, in terms of higher education, and more importantly there were no universities that were awarding international degrees. And UOW, as it was called then, was the most feasible choice” he recalls. Reminiscing about university days takes him into a different zone to the point of making him almost teary-eyed as he brings to mind the great fun he experienced. “I cannot emphasize enough on how memorable my university days were, especially the first 2 years. The old-schoolers would agree that the Beach Road campus was where the fun really was. But yeah, it was the whole experience ….” he tells us. He pursued a General Degree in Business Administration at UOWD as he believed it involved a lot more common sense and understanding of the business environment. Mustafa also adds that another reason for pursuing a General Degree was because it would aide him in finding that ‘first job’ in a more varied and diverse job market. He was particularly inclined towards Management and Marketing but in retrospective says that he should have given a thought to Economics as well in order to help him understand today’s tumultuous economic climate. Nevertheless whatever he did gain from his educational experience did go to great lengths. “After I got into Aviation, I would have been restricted to just flight-deck/cockpit duties had I not had a degree in Business. The aviation industry has been experiencing turbulence since 2008 and hopes and chances of getting a break have greatly diminished. To my advantage at least, the degree and previous work experience actually landed me this job,”says Mustafa. While studying at university, Mustafa was part of a local radio station wherein he was co-producing and co-hosting a rock/metal show. He had also freelanced with some event companies and met many favorite artists/bands in the process. After graduation, he landed his first job at an Advertising Agency as a Marketing Executive but as it wasn’t a very pleasant experience he gave it up soon, without any regrets. It was almost as if luck rode with him because he landed an amazing job with Emirates Airlines as a Product Development Executive where he worked for 14 months. He says, “I got to work with some of the nicest, knowledgeable and humble individuals and that really helped me grow. To this day, I’m in touch with my ex-bosses and whenever I’m back in Dubai, we all make it a point and meet up.’ Even though he made the best out of whatever came his way, it seemed that fate

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had other plans and his heart ruled his head because he decided to move to South Africa to pursue flying - his dream. “I got done with my training in 2008 and that’s when the economy went down the drain. The aviation industry was badly hit and any chances of a pilot with zero commercial experience went out of the window” he tells us. But given his go-getter attitude, come recession or rain nothing was stopping Mustafa from following his heart. Meanwhile he took to managing a Motor Club and also briefly worked for Souq.com, whilst helping a friend for TV Commercials and doing a second radio show. While he was rather engrossed in the experience, lady luck came knocking once again and this time, she came with a hard-to-resist offer. “Finally in January 2011 the biggest opportunity came along to help start up an airline in some obscure part of Africa,” he says, “I was approached by an old friend who was made in charge of an airline in Africa (Djibouti Air) and the rest is current.” His greatest achievement, something that’s more fulfilling than an award to Mustafa, was the compilation of the Operations Manual for Djibouti Air. Recalling the incident he tells us: “The airline being a new setup, the Operation and Procedures Manuals were yet to be compiled and published. This is mandatory for all airlines. Once that is done, the next step is to send these manuals to the Civil Aviation Authority for review and requires regular checks and amendments. Now this task is normally done by individuals who have decades of experience and are very well versed with the intricacies of it all. As it was a new setup and since we were terribly short-staffed, the task of compiling one of the manuals fell on me. With guidance from one of the Captains, I toiled and successfully managed to accomplish the daunting task in a little over a month and it was published and to me, that is a huge feat. It’s more of a personal recognition, coupled with the acknowledgements from your colleagues, superiors and board members that made the work all the more worthwhile. And honestly, to me, that is a lot more fulfilling than an award.” It was Mustafa’s dream to fly in the sky but he never thought it would really materialize because, quite ironically, he has a fear of heights. But now that he has been flying it seems irrelevant and does not affect performance, says Mustafa. Also, his main inspiration to be a pilot comes from his father who has served the aviation industry for more than 38 years and he learnt a lot of technical aspects from his father before his actual training. Besides flying, Mustafa has a huge passion of collecting Diecast model cars and cds. He has a 5000+ collection of original cds and also hunts for old and new diecast cars, irrespective of their condition, while travelling. Adding to this exciting list of interests is adventure, cars, movies, music, food, travelling and animals. On an ending note, one of his advices to the current students at UOWD is - “DO NOT BE IN A RUSH TO GRADUATE SOONER. Unless you already have a job lined up for you, make sure you acquire some sound work experience whilst you’re studying as it will make finding that first job all the more easier.”

If you wish to contact Mustafa, you can reach him at: mmk1709@gmail.com

UOWD Alumni Newsletter n University of Wollongong in Dubai

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Almuni

Who, When, Where

master of Strategic marketing (2009) Al rawabi dairy Advertising coordinator

Young, ambitious and most definitely charming, Bojana Batricevic is an adventurous lady waiting to explore opportunities and the world. She arrived in Dubai three years ago after acquiring her Bachelors Degree in Economics from the Republic of Serbia, her native town. Considering she speaks English, French, Spanish, Italian and then some Arabic, this pretty-young-twentysomething is a cocktail of sorts with interests as varied and diverse as her childhood dreams. “As a child I wanted to be a pilot just like my dad, and then I wanted to be a football manager, an actress and many other things, but in the end I decided to change the course to economics and marketing” she tells us. Coming from a small family of four, she has a brother who is two years younger to her and is grateful for the support she receives from her stay-athome mum who gave up her career to be with the family. Today, Bojana has embarked on her chosen career in the food industry and wants to remain with the industry as she has some dreams for the future too. Being the Advertising Coordinator at Al Rawabi Dairy, she is in charge of dealing with the advertising agency and coordinating all advertising and market related jobs with them. This being her first full-time job, she says, “Working in Al Rawabi is something very different. It is like working with nature and we have around 10,000 cows at the moment. It is the first serious job I had, as the rest were only part time jobs or internship programs. One of the most interesting part time jobs was for Dubai Film Festival. It was truly an amazing experience. I met many interesting people and learned so many new things.” Although still in the learning process with her current job, she thinks of her own venture in line with food production and agriculture back in Serbia. She says they are just ideas at this point in time and she is currently looking forward to gaining more experience in a multinational company in the Middle East or South America.

“I see the UOWD Alumni Network as a benefit for ex-students to connect and share their UOWD experience and maybe create a potential business relationship. It definitely can benefit all students and is a big plus for UOWD.”

Going back to the days at UOWD, Bojana recalls her two years of intensive studies at the Uni where the thoroughness of assignments and case studies attracted her. Of this she says, “We did a lot of case studies, which I consider to be more important than just sitting and learning from the book. We had a lot of discussions during our classes and most importantly, most of the case studies were taken from current world issues, so that we were up to date with all marketing news around the world.” Talking about interests and hobbies (and she can’t be more thrilling than this we think) we learn that she is a sport’s person at heart. She used to play basketball, tennis and even Karate and she loves watching sports, especially football! When not kicking the ball or dreaming about being a coach, Bojana enjoys reading and travelling. She has travelled all across Europe and would now like to explore South America.

If you wish to contact Bojana you can reach her at bojana6@hotmail.com

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Alumni

Who, When, Where

masters in banking & Finance (2011) rAK bank Operations controller

“I intend on becoming the manager of the department in the next 5 years while still working to gain other experiences which will lead me to grow in every stage of my life.” Like all of us, Nainesh too was in a dilemma regarding which university to choose to pursue his further studies. After touring a couple of campuses in Dubai and having unlimited conversations with friends and family, Nainesh knew it had to be UOWD for obvious reasons. “I choose to do my masters in uowd because it is one of the most reputed University’s in Dubai and the quality of teaching was  highly appreciated by people” he says.

Since the very beginning, Nainesh has always had a keen interest and understanding of finance and its various aspects. After finishing his studies from the Indian High School in 2004, he went on to pursue his Bachelor’s Degree in Finance & Marketing from the Gujrat University in India in 2008, Nainesh joined UOWD for his Masters in Banking & Finance which he completed in 2011 and while he studied was also working as an Accountant in Economic Exchange. Nainesh presently works with RAK Bank, a leading name in the banking industry in the UAE, with the ever growing Operations teams where he applies his knowledge to the day to day operations of the bank. Talking about his current responsibilities he says, “The work includes posting accounting entries, reconciliation, issuing cheques based on the customer’s request, etc.” With previous experience as an accountant and being backed by a degree from UOWD, it was fairly easy for him to enter the banking industry. Not only was the degree his entry ticket into the industry, but with the insight and practical knowledge of the traditional market mechanisms gained there, he was able to make his foundation firm. When asked about his 5 year plan, he says rather optimistically: “I intend on becoming the manager of the department in the next 5 years while still working to gain other experiences which will lead me to grow in every stage of my life.”

The two subjects that caught most of his attention were Portfolio Management where one learns about strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the choice of debt vs. equity, domestic vs. international, growth vs. safety, and many other tradeoffs encountered in the attempt to maximize return at a given appetite for risk, while the other subject - Multinational Financial Management, focuses more on currencies, swaps and issues related with current markets. Furthermore, his father owns an exchange house in Dubai and that was one of the main factors that added to the motivation. Time spent at the University has not only been a stepping stone in his further development, but has also taught Nainesh many practical and vital lessons apart from the knowledge gained through classrooms. Interacting with a mixed bag of nationalities in the form of lecturers, tutors and classmates at UOWD, today he feels confident to mingle with any group of associates. Confident with his skills and knowledge acquired, in the near future Nainesh sees himself higher up in the banking industry. Apart from punching in numbers all the time, Nainesh likes to read books by Chetan Bhagat, from which ‘3 mistakes of My Life’ is his top favorite and the one that inspires him. On any given weekend, Nainesh can be spotted in nightclubs enjoying time with friends or with family. If you’d like to connect with him, he can be reached at nainesh86@hotmail.com

Studying at the UOWD is a part that will always remain close to his heart. Recollecting his days from the University, he particularly misses studying till late hours with friends in the Library, going for short coffee breaks at the nearby Bakemart store and picking up a snack from 24/7. As many of us can relate, Nainesh too had to juggle his time to maintain a balance between work related deadlines and handing-in assignments by the due date. However the most difficult and challenging part was to stay awake preparing for an exam the next day and looking fresh and alert for an important presentation the same morning.

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The

Last Word

Corporate Communications ...and why it’s wise not to undermine its importance the air at the Ukrainian nuclear site came from foreign sources outside of the region. Poland was next door, breathing the same contaminated air, but because the Soviet Union stayed quiet and then tried to control the news and minimize its effects, the Polish government spent days denying the problem and revealed some of the truth slowly in bits and pieces. The full story came out several years later after Poland’s Communist government and the Soviet Union were gone.

One of the characteristics of a developing country is that communicating information is an unresolved problem for business and government. I first made this observation when I owned and managed a public relations company in Poland in the early 1990s after the first democraticallyelected government was installed. Everyone from the Prime Minister to the Minister of Privatization came from the Solidarity camp. These people had been fighting to dislodge the Communist party and its Soviet allies for more than 20 years. A prime complaint of everyone who supported the Solidarity movement was that the government lied to the people; information was not provided; problems were covered up. The most blatant example had been after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 when news about how much radiation was released in

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Solidarity was going to rule differently, and it did. Today, more than 20 years later, Poland is one of the success stories of the 1989 revolutions, politically and economically. But it took much longer than I expected for the years of not revealing information to be replaced by something like recognizing the public’s right to know what is going on in the country or the public’s right to know the truth. Interestingly, companies, both private and government-owned, were the first to start answering questions and lifting the veil of secrecy. One of the vehicles for churning out information was corporate communications or more generally public relations. I was a founder of the Polish Public Relations Association (PSPR) which helped many people learn how to handle professional communications for companies and government agencies. The reason for starting PSPR was that

UOWD Alumni Newsletter n University of Wollongong in Dubai

few people understood what public relations does. They were used to information as propaganda, by definition not to be believed, and not something that anyone decent would want to be associated with. Public relations is not propaganda. Public relations means conveying information in a variety of directions, first of all to a company’s employees, the primary stakeholders, and then to all the others from clients to regulatory agencies to shareholders.

“The financial crisis in Dubai in 2008-9 was made to appear worse to the outside world because so many questions were not answered by those who could. In an open society like Dubai’s where foreign journalists are free to visit and report, an absence of information is a dangerous thing. The reporters who come to find the real story will rely on rumours and gossip if no one serious will talk to them.” Underlying the practice of public relations is the idea that sharing information is beneficial to the source of the information as well as to the recipi-

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Last Word

ents. This is where companies operating in developing countries sometimes lose their nerve. Because there hasn’t been a tradition of passing on and sharing information, the executives in charge are reluctant to start doing it. Doing something different can get you into trouble. Why risk it? The problem is compounded when international companies appear in a foreign market and employ people of many nationalities who bring their past experiences and cultural tendencies to their jobs. It always seems easier to not say something, to bark ‘No Comment’ if buttonholed by a reporter, and to hide behind closed doors and answering machines. When I arrived in Abu Dhabi in 2005 to live in the Middle East and GCC for the first time, I expected to find great differences between what I had been used to growing up in the United States and working there and then in Eastern Europe. I found the differences that I expected, but I also found similarities that surprised me, one of which was the lack of clear cut communications at many levels and in most contexts. The parallel between Poland in the 1990s and today’s UAE goes only so far. Political systems are different, religion, language, and history too. But Poland then and the UAE today are similar in consciously working on developing and reorganizing their economies in a region of the world that is itself undergoing political and economic changes.

“The people who can help provide those answers are all around us. In fact, they are us because we all have knowledge of our organizations which are parts of the whole. We can contribute by not limiting our knowledge of our own company to our desk or the cubicle in which we work.” Along with that, in the UAE today as in Poland earlier and perhaps still to some extent, is the problem of communicating information. In every country there are stories that are not fully told for reasons of national security. Once past those inescapable limits, a mountain of information can be provided on almost every subject by those who know the facts, be they corporate or government employees. The financial crisis in Dubai in 2008-9 was made to appear worse to the outside world because so many questions were not answered by those who could. In an open society like Dubai’s where foreign journalists are free to visit and report, an absence of information is a dangerous thing. The reporters who come to find the real story will rely on rumours and gossip if no one serious will talk to them. Once those kind of stories start to circulate outside the country, inevitably leaders here comment that Dubai is being treated unfairly. Perhaps so, but reporters have to come up with stories. By not giving reporters what they need, those who could talk shouldn’t be surprised if stories tend to be exaggerated. It would have been easy for Dubai to gain sympathy by admitting mistakes and explaining how the mistakes would be rectified.

The

“Public relations is not propaganda. Public relations means conveying information in a variety of directions, first of all to a company’s employees, the primary stakeholders, and then to all the others from clients to regulatory agencies to shareholders.” cation have been learned. In an April 11 column in The National, Frank Kane, one of the best observers of the local economic scene, writes that the Drydocks World application for restructuring its debt at the Dubai International Financial Centre court is an opportunity “in the interest of transparency, which is at the heart of continuing concerns among international investors about the emirate” for a “thorough review of the company’s predicament.” A few years ago Drydocks World made huge investments in Singapore and Indonesia. Kane and others who follow the economy want to know, Why? How much was lost? Where did the money go? Questions like this are asked by investors and by those of us who live here and would like to understand how Dubai works and how the entire UAE works. The people who can help provide those answers are all around us. In fact, they are us because we all have knowledge of our organizations which are parts of the whole. We can contribute by not limiting our knowledge of our own company to our desk or the cubicle in which we work. We can ask questions and give answers. More importantly, we can talk to our colleagues and friends about what we do and share knowledge. We can help create a culture of openness and free communication around us. Such a culture is catching and spreads. And if we are working in any area of corporate communication or public relations, we can spread the word about the benefits of providing information – not trade secrets or any private matters – but the good news about our organization to our employees, clients, suppliers, and other stakeholders.

Dr. Alma kadragic is the Academic Program Director at UOWD and also conducts two short certificate courses under UOWD’s Pi (Professional Institute).These are - Corporate Communications: PR for Tomorrow’s Managers and Starting your Own Business: The Entrepreneur’s Tool kit. Dr. kadragic has owned and managed a PR agency and worked with entrepreneurs in Europe and USA. As a former journalist and the current Editor of the Middle East Media Guide published by UOWD, she is a proclaimed expert in the field of Public Relations.

The financial crisis has lifted. Dubai is back as recent headlines and rising real estate prices show. However, it’s not yet certain that the lessons of communi-

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Stay Connected - Volume 2 Issue 8 - June 2012  

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

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