Monday, May 27, 2024

2024 Best & Brightest MBA: Amin Elsheikh, Warwick Business School

Must read

“I am resilient, competitive and driven, but grounded with a purposeful and authentic leadership style.” 

Hometown: Khartoum, Sudan

Fun fact about yourself: I picked up the English language by watching TV movies during a school summer vacation when I was 12 years old. For a long time, I could remember which movie I first learnt for each word in my vocabulary.

Undergraduate School and Degree: BSc Mechanical Engineer, University of Khartoum

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? DAL Food Company, Commercial Manager

Where did you intern during the summer of 2023? NA

Where will you be working after graduation? I am exploring consulting roles in the Middle-East and Africa with a focus on social impact. I think businesses have the power in developing countries to create win-win situations that empower underprivileged communities. This was the most rewarding part of my latest professional position working in commodities trading, where we cut out the middleman in sourcing such agricultural commodities. They make huge profits by squeezing the price on farmers and so we started working directly with the farmers. This gave us a better quality product and the farmers a fair price for their work.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: I am a WBS Scholarship recipient and Vice-President of the WBS Social Impact Club, an MBA club focused on tackling social issues through volunteering.

I am also a mentor as part of the WBS Mentoring Program. Additionally, I personally volunteer as a mentor for Sudanese individuals who have been affected by the war in Sudan. I’ve closely coached several individuals who have been displaced and/or lost their employment due to the war, and who are applying to pursue higher education abroad and specifically in the UK. I know many who have not been as lucky as me and have lost their passports or seen their visas withdrawn due to the war, losing places at universities or business schools in the US and UK. Finding universities and countries that supports Sudanese students is complex and I try to help with that process.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Being the VP of the Social Impact Club, I have brought a new and innovative approach to leading the club, harnessing the diversity and rich experience of the MBA cohort to better serve the community around the business school. I believe as leaders we have an innate responsibility to our communities.

As part of our initiative, we’re launching a project that targets local businesses facing challenges and matching them with a team of our MBA volunteers. This will provide them with free consultation and access to best practice.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Growing up in Sudan, I always dreamed of joining the DAL Group. Being the flagship business conglomerate in the country with around $4 billion annual turnover and over 10,000 staff, the standards of excellence within the company were exceptionally high. I was not only headhunted to join the Group before finishing my BSc, but at the age of 24 I managed to become the youngest manager in its history since its founding.

As the sales manager of the Group’s trucks business, I drove my team to its highest sales performance in eight years. This was achieved during a declining market and increased instability due to a coup d’etat and the growing amount of political unrest and outbreaks of conflict in Sudan.

Why did you choose this business school? After I started applying to several business schools, WBS soon stood out with its very customized and personalized recruitment process. This continued with the help and close personal attention I received after the war broke out in Sudan on 15th April 2023. I was caught in the conflict area in the capital Khartoum. Soon after, I lost access to basic necessities such as food and electricity. I managed to flee to a safe region and contact WBS. At the time I had deferred my admission, but the recruitment team and the leadership team at WBS were really accommodating to make sure I was able to join immediately and provided me with an additional scholarship as I have lost access to the majority of my funds due to the war. In fact, I have lost a lot of my savings and investments because of the war, so to receive a scholarship in my hour of need was overwhelming, a truly wonderful gesture that I aim to repay.

They were so helpful and understanding with my situation in the application process, granting me late arrival after the deadline of my program because my passport was stuck in Khartoum with the fighting too fierce to recover it. The WBS team were very helpful with advice and were so patient and supportive with my immigration process because of my situation, especially as I was unable to contact them for many days as I travelled through Sudan and Ethiopia to reach Dubai.

This empathetic and helpful approach also translates to a very individualized learning experience which I hugely appreciate. Additionally, the WBS program has a great emphasis on entrepreneurship. This was key for me having co-founded a start-up while pursuing my undergraduate degree. The start-up – Orooma – aimed to bridge the gap between employers and job seekers in Sudan; six months after launch, it was valued at $100,000, with more than 65 companies subscribed, all through organic growth.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? One of my favourite professors has been Jodie Lucas. She taught us Corporate Accounting, which a lot of students find challenging, but her passion for the subject was really contagious. She went the extra mile by researching the background of our entire cohort to bring relevant examples from our previous professional experiences. This included researching our previous organisations’ annual reports and highlighting differences in reporting practices.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? LeadershipPlus, compared to all other business courses we have covered LeadershipPlus is vastly different even in terms of delivery style. It featured MindFlick – a company focused on developing high performing teams. It had us reflecting on our experiences, personality traits and preferences. It opened my eyes to how diverse leadership styles are, touched on subjects of ethics and morality in leadership, and explored how high performing teams operate.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? There is a running joke within the MBA program, that the most common answer to any question from a lecturer is: “It depends.”

I think this reflects a lot about WBS teaching. It is very easy to give confident one-dimensional answers, but acknowledging the subtleties of each question and the context for any decision, makes this answer a great insight into the philosophy of business in our time.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Getting to the UK to prepare and start the course earlier. I arrived at WBS after a very overwhelming journey that took four months through three different countries to get to the UK. The journey started with first leaving the conflict zone. There were no safe travel routes, and I had to go through a dozen checkpoints just to get out of the capital as the rebel militia soldiers had blocked off all routes. Many times, I felt my life was in the balance as we approached the checkpoints and I was arrested and questioned for half a day because they found some US dollars on me. Our bus driver also had to swerve out the way of gunfire as we travelled through the city. You can’t travel by car as the militia will stop you and steal it. The only option to get to Ethiopia – which was the only country at the time allowing Sudanese in – was by bus. Once I reached Ethiopia, I was stuck there for two months due to travel limitations on Sudanese people and having to apply for a new visa. Finally, I managed to travel to Dubai to apply for a UK student visa, before arriving just one day prior to the start date of my course. It took me a long while to fully immerse myself in the program and de-stress. If I could change that I would. The WBS MBA is a genuinely unique and transformative experience that I would have loved to have maximized each moment of it more.

What is the biggest myth about your school? A myth I came across was that Warwick was elitist. I have found this to be the complete opposite of the truth, as evidenced by the extremely supportive and personal recruitment process. I received continuous support from the first communication I had with the WBS admissions team to a phone call to check on my safety after the war erupted. The WBS recruitment team were very supportive and understanding. This personal touch and desire to bring people from all over the world to the school translates into a truly diverse cohort representing 22 countries – not at all elitist. Also, the alumni I have talked to have all been very supportive and accessible. 

What did you love most about your business school’s town? The beautiful nature and landscape, and quiet of the campus helped ease my transition to the UK. The scenic routes and diverse wildlife always help me to de-stress when assignments are racking up, it also helped me recover and unwind after the long and stressful journey getting to the UK.

What surprised you the most about business school? Diversity and inclusivity, not only reflected within our cohort, but even faculty members of the school. I’ve had several interesting conversations with some of our teaching faculty on topics such as the educational system in Greece, and leadership styles in the United States. This exposure to diverse backgrounds and knowledge makes the MBA program very engaging and helps to understand the nuances of international business.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? A peer that stood out for me from the first day of our MBA journey was Sergei Tingaev from Russia. I would describe him as a humble genius, his intellect and thought processes never cease to impress me. His insights and participation in class are always unique. Moreover, he is always willing to share his experience and knowledge on every occasion. Given his career in consulting he had an initiative to walk fellow colleagues through case interviews he had done over a two-hour session.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

I would love to join a role where I can create a positive impact and improve the quality of life for marginalized communities through business tools.

We had a speech during one of our LeadershipPlus sessions that talked about professional goals and touched on legacy and what it means. Business and personal development targets and positions are great goals, but for me, having a positive impact on the world is a good legacy to leave behind.


What made Amin such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2024?

“Amin is a humble, thoughtful and self-aware leader who has showcased extraordinary resilience in his journey to undertaking an MBA at Warwick.

His determination to progress in his career, his people-centric approach to management and championing career development in others, despite being fairly early in his career, really shone through in the application and interview.

Alongside performing strongly in in the application and interview, there were long gaps in our communication with Amin following the outbreak of civil war in Sudan.

We were horrified to learn about the outbreak of war in Sudan, and to learn how it had affected Amin. It was even more alarming as we learned about the number of deaths and casualties, with heavy fighting concentrated around Amin’s home city of Khartoum.

Indeed, according to reports, as of January 2024 around 10,000 people have been killed, with the United Nations estimating 5.8 million people being internally displaced and 1.5 million fleeing the country. And there are now reports of millions facing starvation.

The war has decimated the country’s infrastructure and transport, so for Amin to still be able to escape and make his way to the UK has been miraculous, and testament to his determination and ingenuity.

It really is a scary situation, especially as there are reports of ethnic cleansing emerging. We tried our best to remain supportive and in contact while Amin made a long and dangerous journey – making large parts of it on foot – from Sudan to the UAE.

When he called from the UAE, it was an incredible relief for us to hear that Amin was safe, well and applying for his visa to the UK.

Now that he is on the course, the way he has coped with escaping a war zone and mentally dealt with such a traumatic experience has been amazing to see. And of course, he has friends and family who he is constantly worried about.

So, to put all that stress and trauma to one side and perform so brilliantly on the MBA has been astounding to see. Amin possesses outstanding business acumen (as evidenced by his start-up success) and has excellent persuasion and presentation skills, which we have constantly observed during his MBA course.

Amin was identified as a strong MBA candidate with a track record of championing personal and career development in others, which he continues to do on the MBA by helping other Sudanese looking to escape the war and build a career in business.

He has added the unique perspective of Sudan’s volatile and complex environment coming from a sales background in the automotive sector.

I look forward to seeing how Amin progresses in his future career. If Amin’s past performance is anything to go by, it will definitely be one to watch.”

Philippa Perry-French
WBS Recruitment and Admissions Manager

 

Latest article