Nicholas van der Walt

Nicholas van der Walt

Executive Director, Hult International Business School
Ehsan Razavizadeh

Ehsan Razavizadeh

Regional Director MENA and Head of Dubai Centre, Cass Business School, City University London

Why was Dubai chosen as a location for your business school?

NICHOLAS VAN DER WALT There are several reasons why we chose Dubai, but the principle reason is that we have selected areas, which are considered major innovation or trade hubs. For example, we opened a campus in San Francisco, which is both an innovation and trade hub. Next, our London campus is based in the world's financial center, as well as, the trade hub of the future. Shanghai is similar to Dubai, in that it has consistently performed as a powerful economy in its region. We seek locations such as Dubai, which enjoys a stable and efficient government with a business-friendly environment and is a key hub in the Middle East. We also looked at the economic performance of other countries in the region, but we felt comfortable with what we were offered in Dubai.

EHSAN RAZAVIZADEH This decision to set up in the MENA region and Dubai in particular was influenced by various personal, cultural, and institutional factors. First of all, we live in a culture in which most of our parents usually push us to become a doctor, engineer, or lawyer. This is our fantasy. When I was studying at Cass, I realized that it was in a very unique position because it has very good links with the City of London. In fact, the Lord Mayor of London is the Chancellor of City University London, of which Cass is a part. There was a constant interaction between the real world finance and banking sectors and the student experience. This is something that was not really happening in this part of the world. I personally thought that we needed something like Cass for the region and for Dubai in particular.

How is your faculty formed?

NVDW We have a faculty based in Dubai, but some faculty members will rotate to teach in Boston, London, San Francisco, and Shanghai. We also invite other professors from around the globe to teach particular courses. For example, we have a top, prize-winning professor from Harvard University that flies to Dubai to teach a course three times a week. Her focus is on consultancy work, including advising several governments in Eastern Europe on their financial structure. This professor is a practitioner, researcher, and consultant at the leading edge of her field, and our students benefit tremendously from this opportunity. We also have a professor who led innovation practice at Motorola, and we have several other professors who are working for the world's top consulting firms. Many professors are interested in teaching at Hult. Many of our past faculty members also decide to come back and teach. Others have set their careers up for a traditional university structure, but have done work in an industry environment and enjoy classroom engagement. The classroom offers a network, potential friendships for life, and the satisfaction of learning and teaching. Professors feel that they are giving back to both their own generation and the next, when students will fulfill their aspirations.

ER All of our faculty members teach at Cass in London and fly in to Dubai to meet and teach the students. Most faculty members work across teaching, research, and consultancy. As a result, they are constantly working in industry, gaining real world experience, and bringing this to their teaching. The degree that we give out here is as if you had studied in London with the same program, curriculum, and faculty.

What is your long-term outlook?

NVDW I think there will be growth through very hard work in the sector; we will implement good marketing strategies and build effective industry relationships. Our challenge is to attract the best faculty that feels at home in both the classroom and the boardroom. We want people who can walk out of the classroom and into the boardroom, maintaining respect in every area of life. This is the primary challenge for us; finding people with PhDs and advanced degrees who are top teachers with very strong industry experience. We take our professors very seriously.

ER We are very committed. We have already invested and developed an MBA, which is 100% deliverable in Dubai. This means if you cannot leave your job or family due to cultural reasons or timing, then the Cass EMBA is the right choice for you. We will continue recruiting high profile students for both our EMBA and MSc programs, and we will be expanding our Executive Education and consulting business according to the region's future demand.