08 Feb Ahmed Mongeal: Gaining a New Perspective
The MaastrichtMBA Weeks Abroad: Broadening Horizons, Setting Itself Apart
“The week in Orshof changed my entire managerial style.”
Maastricht University is renowned for reaching across borders. Its international focus is certainly beyond dispute in the School of Business and Economics and, most notably, in the School’s MaastrichtMBA programme. Epitomising its approach are the programme’s International Week and its two outbound modules.
Each year during their degree programme, MaastrichtMBA students spend time off campus learning about business abroad, and about themselves as business leaders and as human beings.
Gaining a new perspective
In 2016, Ahmed Mongeal (1988) was working at SABIC in the Netherlands when he decided it would be a good life investment to pursue an MBA degree. SABIC is a Saudi petrochemical developer with plants in the Netherlands and Belgium. It is a major employer in Limburg.
Ahmed started working at SABIC in 2010 as process specialist. From there he moved to communications, chain management and project management, finally ending up in in IT. When he came to Europe, he switched to HR. He now works in a new department called Global Initiatives, which examines opportunities for company-wide growth and investments.
He wanted to study but he had a few requirements. He looked at accreditations, schedules, curriculums, and class size at a variety of universities here. The study programme would also have to fit into his working hours and his family life. The MaastrichtMBA is well-suited to working people.
“One thing that I particularly liked was that we never had more than eighteen people in a class.”
The diversity within the class members was clearly another an interesting aspect for him.
“Everyone brought something new in terms of knowledge and experience. It was really a community of exceptional individuals. I found that inspiring.”
Ahmed’s final thesis – his Business Consulting Project – was called “The Learning Organisation,” an anthropological study of the people working at SABIC.
“I examined our company psychology. I looked at the types of behaviour that can either help or hurt us. For this reason, our visit to Orshof really spoke to me.”
Orshof – a transformational experience
The five-day outbound module in the Orshof Institute includes theory and practice sessions focusing on self-understanding. These tie in with the leadership sessions that students attend throughout the study programme. Students have mentors who guide them at a personal and professional level, but the week in Orshof is more spiritual in nature. The sessions include self-assessment, mindfulness, meditation, yoga, self-development exercises, spiritual introspection, and much more.
“The Orshof Institute gave me a whole new perspective about the people with whom I work. Even with my background in HR, the week at Orshof helped me see people on a different level. I was also able to connect more deeply with myself. It surprised me that any MBA programme would offer a week of this kind. We discussed different theories of leadership. Perhaps more important, we talked about authentic leadership. It’s particularly useful because it brings out the qualities in people that we look for in HR. It reflects how people react under pressure and how people manage problems. It changed my entire managerial style.”
“I had always been very result-focused. I was doing the study programme, I was working a full-time job, and I have a family with two kids. Oh, I also have a private business on the side. Well, I was more or less on the edge of a burn-out. The coaching sessions helped me learn how to prioritize my life. I learned how to appreciate the process as well, not just the end product. The programme – and especially the coaching sessions – helped me to improve my life as a whole. I felt like a new person. I feel like I can now see many things from a different perspective.”
Ahmed also went to Shanghai for his practical training.
“I was completely fascinated by people’s behaviour there. They have a high level of technology acceptance and adoption – even more than in the West or the Middle East.”
“My experience in Maastricht made me want to send some of our managers to enrol in this study programme. I will always want to be an ambassador for Maastricht University. I have happy memories from that time and I can recommend it to everyone.”