1. Could you explain the impact of the DBA on your career development – has your role/direction changed in any way, as a result?
When I was enrolling for postgraduate studies, I knew that the curriculum provides candidates with advanced research skills and knowledge of complex issues in their area of study, supporting career development in business or academia.
Enrolling for the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program offered at The University of Manchester in 2012 helped improve my conceptual and systems thinking. Studying at Alliance Manchester Business School (AMBS) positively impacted my career development and enabled me to become an expert who can apply critical thinking, academic knowledge, and fundamental theories to solve business and managerial problems rigorously and systematically.
The curriculum enabled me to gain a comprehensive understanding of how business analytics solve real-world problems by using data to make timely, innovative, and accurate decisions, and applying strategies that improve performance. The program outcomes motivated me, as part of my lifelong learning, to increase my associative thinking on how I can apply the best international practices to solve current and future problems.
After graduation, I started working on my doctorate research findings and recommendations. These included improving and developing initiatives (in the academic field and the public sector) on a federal basis in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
2. What was your motivation to study for the DBA?
Since childhood, my father’s encouragement has fuelled my passion for pursuing knowledge that I could use to make impactful changes in modern society, and for becoming a distinguished and honourable role model demonstrating will, determination, and perseverance. My motivation to study for the DBA was supported by the need to gain the advanced skills in leadership, applied research, and global strategic management that I believe will help me contribute towards the UAE’s achievement of its Vision 2021.
Vision 2021 is a long-term plan that aims to make the UAE one of the best countries in the world, and it requires innovation, research, science, and technology, which are the core pillars of a knowledge-based, productive, and competitive economy.
I chose to study in one of the most prestigious business schools in Europe, Alliance MBS, because of its global reputation as a learning and innovation hub that provides industry-focused education. The institution is also associated with some of the world’s renowned scientists and scholars, such as Stafford Beer (1926–23 August 2002), a British theorist, consultant, and professor regarded as the founder of management cybernetics.
3. What was the most valuable lesson learned through the DBA experience?
The first valuable lesson learned through the DBA experience was that each challenge can be converted into an opportunity. Second, I learned that difficult tasks support my ability to improve my competence and proficiency. The third lesson came in the form of an epiphany: I realised that the core experience for everyone is to become the person they aspire to be. Fourth, I learned that mitigating a challenge requires the application of associative and creative thinking, which supports the integration of seemingly unrelated concepts to create unique solutions. Fifth, the DBA experience reinforced my perception that time is invaluable and requires systematic planning.
4. Is the DBA network beneficial to you after graduation?
The University of Manchester has a friendly environment that allows open interaction among its culturally, ethnically, and racially diverse students. The DBA network has been beneficial to me in numerous ways. First, because of my dynamic experience in the field, I had the privilege of giving several lectures on international leadership in healthcare to students at the university.
Second, I participated in several international conferences in the UK, which allowed me to disseminate my academic research findings to people who can maximize the benefits of the outcomes. These findings included successes achieved by the UAE in the field of digital transformation and innovative e-Government.
I am currently working on publishing a part of my DBA thesis as a book chapter which will include the UAE model for digital government and international public leadership. The publication is expected to make a significant international contribution to the concept of applying science, technology, and innovation to facilitate the development of novel strategies to promote governance and respond to global challenges.
5. How has the pandemic affected your work, and how have you managed work and life in this period?
The pandemic has not affected my work, and I have managed my duties in this period effectively. Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, I have been working on implementing my research recommendations and developing business plans for the significant projects that were included in my research findings. I am currently also working through the fellowship program at a prestigious UK university in collaboration with experts from international academic institutions. Our goal is to conduct academic action research in the fields of innovation, cybernetics, and artificial intelligence (AI).
6. Did the DBA help equip you to manage the current situation and position you for the post-COVID-19 world? If so, how?
The DBA helped me gain the skills to overcome complex, challenging, and unforeseen issues such as COVID-19. Equally, the curriculum enabled me to acquire sufficient knowledge and skills to apply data to preparation and planning for the aftermath of problems.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to develop risk management strategies, and also to create a new vision for governance that will act as a guide during the post-COVID-19 phase.
The rigorous DBA curriculum provided me with an opportunity to conduct impactful research focusing on one of the core areas outlined in the UAE’s National Innovation Strategy. Thus, my recommendations are congruent with the goals of the UAE’s Centennial 2071 vision of promoting sustainable development, progress, and wellbeing for all.
Among the recommendations in my research was the establishment of major innovation projects related to the sustainable development goals set by the United Nations. At the same time, the recommendations align with the UAE’s National Strategy for Quality of Life 2031 vision of fostering an integrated concept of wellbeing. The current state of the world reinforces the need for governments to focus on improving their citizens’ quality of life.
As part of the implementation of my DBA recommendations, I plan to play a part in the UAE government’s new post-COVID-19 strategy, which includes measures to address the country’s most urgent economic and social sectors.
7. How would you characterize your achievements so far, as a UOM alumna?
I thank God for helping me achieve the following:
• I am proud to be the first Emirati researcher in cybernetics and innovation. I have always sought to fulfil the dream of our exemplary leader, Sheikh Zayed (may God have mercy on him), whose ambition was for the sons and daughters of the Emirates to distinguish themselves in the academic field.
• My thesis added significant value because I conducted a scientific study that was implemented in the UAE government public health sector. My research also added value in the areas of innovation and digital governance. The research addresses one of the areas set by the UAE’s National Innovation Strategy, implementation of an electronic system with a digital platform providing smart health services.
• One of my notable contributions to the field is the novel methodology I developed for measuring the performance of digital platforms that provide smart services in the public sector, thus enhancing government performance. My evidence-based methodology for achieving strategic performance management, enhancing governance, and fostering performance excellence in government smart services can be replicated globally. The methodology is an effective tool for evaluating multiple elements of the value chain: control over inputs, compliance with policies, production of outputs, levels of beneficiaries’ or stakeholders’ satisfaction, and achievement of strategic goals and desired social outcomes.
• In 2012, my organization initiated a revolutionary new project that was in alignment with the UAE’s vision. As project manager, I was responsible for leading the design, planning, implementation, and follow-up processes of the project, which were achieved successfully. This substantial project, on which I was able to successfully test my DBA research methodology, is an exemplar of a key type of innovation ‒ a public-sector administrative hub and orchestrator. In theoretical terms, it manages the transaction costs of the health service in both public and private sectors and, if adopted, its implementation raises the fascinating prospect of reform in public administrations across the globe. This innovative project won the Abu Dhabi Award for Excellence in Government Performance.
• In recognition of my academic performance in 2018, I was the first student to be nominated by the Cultural Department of the United Arab Emirates Embassy in the UK for enrolment in the post-doctoral studies program at the University of Cambridge, one of the UK’s most prestigious top-ranking universities.
• In recognition of my academic achievement in the field of cybernetics in 2018, I was nominated to join the global committee of SCiO (System and Complexity in Organization), a non-profit professional body for systems practitioners operating in the UK and internationally. Additionally, I was assigned to the position of Regional Director for the Middle East, and my core responsibility was to establish and run a chapter of SCiO for the UAE and the Middle East. Membership of the global committee indicates that the UAE is on a par with scientific and professional developments around the world and can be compared to developed countries, demonstrating its development, progress, and prosperity.
• In 2019, I represented the UAE at the International Conference of the Operational Research Society (OR61) in the UK. During the conference, I presented a research paper on the UAE’s remarkable achievements in the fields of digital transformation and innovation. The core focus of the research paper was the nation’s e-Government services, as manifested in the UAE’s government strategy to provide smart and interactive services based on modern digital technologies, artificial intelligence (AI), and best international practices.
Mouza Majed Almansoori
Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)
Innovation, Management & Policy Division
Alliance Manchester Business School (AMBS), The University of Manchester