Ben Lebig Jr is not only an alumnus of The University of Manchester, and Finance & Decision Support Analyst at Chevron, but also a very active and high profile leader of the Filipino community in the UAE. Ben also finds time to lead and support his professional colleagues, as Founding Chairman - Association of Registered Financial Planners UAE Chapter. He is also an entrepreneur.
Ben’s work has been recognised with the award of Outstanding Filipino Achiever 2016, the highest award given to an Overseas Filipino in the UAE, presented by the Consulate of the Philippines in Dubai. He was also awarded ‘Kabayan of the Year’ by Kabayan Weekly 2016 (Kabayan is the correct way to address a fellow countryman from the Philippines).
Ben tells his own unique story.
My Manchester MBA degree has served as a powerful tailwind for my career. After graduation and backed by a strong University of Manchester brand and qualification, I was given roles with bigger scope and greater degrees of responsibilities. AMBS taught me to get out of my comfort zone and venture into something new. Since then, I have become an entrepreneur applying many of the critical thinking skills I learned especially relating to strategy, operations, marketing and finance.
Initially, my MBA journey was motivated by professional development. Once I earned the degree however, I quickly realised that I could use what I learned to mentor those individuals who seek guidance, and to help uplift the Filipino community here in the UAE.
Since earning my degree, I have served (and I am currently still serving) as Chairman of the Middle East & African Network of Filipino Diaspora (MEANFID), The Philippine School Governing Council, The Sponsorship Committee of Bayanihan 2018, The Dakilang Bayani Awards 2020 and the Association of Registered Financial Planners in the UAE. In addition, I also became the Program Head and Mentor of the Philippine Business Council GenBiz Program, an initiative geared towards training and developing new Filipino Entrepreneurs in the UAE. These roles and responsibilities have been avenues for me to apply the wealth of knowledge that AMBS generously imparted to me during my MBA studies. In 2020, I was also hailed as one of the 300 Most Influential Filipinos in the Gulf by Illustrado Magazine, an icing on the cake for the work I do with the Filipino community in the UAE.
The overall AMBS approach of “Original Thinking Applied” is perhaps the single most valuable lesson I took away from my MBA journey. At work, I always put on my AMBS ‘hat’ as it gives me a new perspective on how I approach situations and allows me to explore new arenas resulting in business ventures. Then tried to impart the same approach to my 10 year-old daughter which I would like to believe helped her to write and publish her first book on Amazon entitled “Alex Hades and the Legend of the Dark Prince”.
The subjects offered on the MBA programme were both relevant and also tickle your thought processes. One subject stands out for me and to many alumni I know. This is ‘Negotiation Skills’ because of its highly practical approach (and one of the coolest professors I know – Malcolm Smith).
As someone who had already earned a Masters in Management degree from the University of the Philippines, my Manchester MBA degree gave me one of the best and useful resources, the alumni network. Four years after I graduated, I am still in contact with some of my classmates and co-alumni, either in my batch or not. We share ideas, share resources and information and it has helped me tremendously at work and other professional activities.
Managing the pandemic mind-set
I work in the Energy Sector and for the first time ever, we saw the Oil Futures go negative. This is unprecedented and a strong indicator of what the economy could look like not only during but also after the pandemic. This means we all need to provide greater added value to our employers, as many are under pressure, and of course an MBA degree from a highly reputable Institution such as Manchester gives you an undeniable edge and high level of marketability.
It is during these times that I have chosen not to focus on a potentially bleak future but rather opted to reach out and help educate compatriots on the importance of Financial Planning in the time of a pandemic. I have been invited several times as a speaker on various platforms, focusing on investments during economic downturns, financial planning in marriages, psychology behind spending, money management during the pandemic, personal goal setting and exploring business ventures with friends.
The Manchester MBA programme is more of a training ground than a classroom. The time spent on the programme equips students to succeed in any environment. And this is what we truly appreciate about the programme, its ability to prepare you and coach you to face the most challenging circumstances. The situation we are in right now is no different.