Accelerating a career through the MBA

Accelerating a career through the MBA

Sam Shoaie
Senior Sourcing Project Manager
Maersk Group
Cohort of 2006

Tell us about your career journey so far.

I joined Maersk in 2004 as a junior customer service agent and accepted a role in the regional operations office in 2006. There, I joined a newly established procurement team in 2009 and -  until 2017 - I was responsible for negotiating contracts with terminals, ports, JVs with shipping lines and traveling globally to train new contract managers. In 2017, I rejoined the regional operation and today I lead a team to improve customer experience, enhance our NPS, drive cost leadership and operational excellence.

How has the MBA contributed to your career success?

My first two years at Maersk helped me gain experience in the corporate world. As I began to progress in my career, I felt that I lacked the level of knowledge to apply in my decision making. This is when I found The University of Manchester Middle East Centre and I enrolled on the Global Part-time MBA, immediately. My organisational leaders and I have seen the tangible development I am making in reaching my potential, not only in my day-to-day work but in adopting more strategic thinking in my approach in my job. This has really helped me develop my career within the Maersk organisation. 

Did you have specific goals when you started the MBA?

I felt challenged when making crucial decisions and so I set myself the objective of understanding macroeconomics, looking at the big picture and seeing the business the way senior leadership does. My aim was to learn the theory and practice, and improve my skillset by studying various management styles, rather than spending years learning them through experience. The MBA accelerated the process.

Have your career goals changed? 

My career goals didn’t change during my studies as I had established a clear goal in the beginning. The fundamentals of my career remain the same although it has changed shape to some extent since I have been exposed to new areas of the company, new roles, scope and opportunities.

Looking back, what were the highlights of your MBA studies?

Bob Vas, my strategic management professor who also later became my thesis supervisor and an informal mentor to me, made a huge impact. Beyond my academic studies and even after graduation, we stayed in regular contact and Bob helped me very much with his guidance. 

Why the Manchester Global Part-time MBA programme?

The University and the Manchester MBA have global reputations and the fact that there is a Middle East Centre in Dubai, UAE, was also a big factor.

How important were your fellow students in the MBA experience?

My student peers were an important part of my MBA experience, especially because I was relatively early in my career at the time. Most of them were senior leaders with long and deep business experience and this was the ideal learning environment and gave me many opportunities to learn from them.

What about the alumni network? 

The alumni network and the diversity of knowledge and experience within it was - and still is – of great value and you can hear different opinions and see other perspectives.

Did you face any significant changes during your studies?

Yes, indeed. I was provided frequent feedback by my leaders on the progress I was making in my career and how I was evolving to prepare for a larger scope of responsibilities. Most of my assignments gave me the opportunity to practice what I was already applying to my daily work and projects.

Is career timing an important part of deciding when to study for an MBA?

In my opinion, it is important that students should feel the need to acquire the knowledge from an MBA and not to join the programme just for the sake of the qualification. The career timing depends on the student need and this will differ defer from one individual to another.

What would you advise others considering an MBA?

Potential MBA candidates should reflect carefully first and identify any lack of knowledge and skills, ask themselves whether they have the ambition to grow in their career and what is preventing them from reaching their goals. The MBA is a great tool, pool of knowledge and an eye-opening experience to help a person realise their goals.


On the 15th anniversary of the centre, I would like to say to all the staff, members of the faculty, my professors and fellow students that I am very grateful for all your support, without which I could have not achieved everything that I have.