I started my career in the UAE as a Specialist Radiologist and was promoted to departmental head after one year

Dr. Yasmine Maher – Chief Operating Officer, Abu Dhabi Stem Cells Center

Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Yasmine Maher – Chief Operating Officer, Abu Dhabi Stem Cells Center

Building a leadership career to make a difference in healthcare

Dr. Yasmine’s remarkable healthcare career started in Egypt, in 2004, when she finished her MBBS in Medicine and decided to specialize in Radiology. She began her Radiology Residency Program and Radiodiagnosis Master of Science, completing the training and academic programme (top of class) in 2008.

Dr. Yasmine then pursued her early career, holding the post of Assistant Lecturer in Diagnostic Radiology at Ain Shams University, Egypt, where she was involved in academic research, taught younger residents and medical students about the principles of image interpretation, radiological anatomy and radiation physics, while still working as a specialist radiologist in tertiary government and private hospitals, as well as reputable diagnostic centres.

The first major change in her career took place when she relocated with her family to Abu Dhabi, UAE, in 2011. Dr. Yasmine continues her story…

“I started my career in the UAE as a Specialist Radiologist and was promoted to departmental head after one year, then to Medical Director and eventually to regional Chief Medical Officer of the entire Al Ain city operations for a corporate healthcare group.

“During this seven-year period, I oversaw the medical and administrative operations of the organisation, where I was responsible for developing and implementing policies and procedures to ensure the efficient and effective delivery of healthcare services to patients, driving healthcare initiatives both at radiology and organisational levels while directing operational strategies and successfully improving patient care.”

Following this positive initial career experience, Dr. Yasmine decided to step down and transition back to a Specialist Radiologist role (while also undertaking the University of Manchester part-time MSc International Healthcare Leadership, IHL).

In her new role, in addition to her clinical work and involvement in the interpretation of medical images, she looked for opportunities to implement in her day-to-day the learning from her master’s programme. So, she recommended a number of projects to improve both the productivity and quality of clinical care provided by the Radiology Department, which proved to be a challenge.

“I soon discovered that it is really challenging to lead change management projects from a functional position without having a clear leadership role and this is the reason why I then decided to return to a managerial role rather than continuing as a clinician in the clinical team. So, I joined my current employer, where I started handling both clinical as well as non-clinical leadership roles and held multiple titles during these two years - Medical Director, General Manager/Medical Director and Director of Operations.”

Dr Yasmine assumed her current position as Chief Operating Officer, in 2023, overseeing the day-to-day operations of the organisation and with responsibility for managing staff, overseeing budgets, developing and implementing strategic plans, and ensuring that the organisation meets all regulatory requirements. She is a key member of the organisation's senior leadership team, working closely with her C-suite executive colleagues to develop and implement policies and procedures that help the organisation achieve its goals and objectives.

Why join the MSc IHL programme?

“When I enrolled with the University, I felt that my seven years’ career development and industry experience just weren’t enough for me to make the impact and difference I wanted, so I decided to pursue a specialist master’s or PhD degree in healthcare leadership so that whatever leadership practices I adopted were based on best practice and international standards.”

Why the University of Manchester?

“I was searching for programme that was international in outlook, delivering a combination of blended learning modules, and an institution that had a physical Middle East centre and regional presence. A colleague recommended the part-time Manchester MSc International Healthcare Leadership programme and after looking through the module outlines, the calibre of the teaching faculty and the two-year study plan, I decided that it was the best option for me. My main objectives were to better understand my own leadership capabilities and unique skills, and learn how I could use these to develop my career and personal growth, as well as contribute to my organisation.” 

What impact did the study experience make?

“The IHL programme was challenging and demanding but I learned a lot from my professors and my fellow diverse colleagues and their work experience - both in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. It really made a difference. I started critically analysing everything that I did and this has helped me in taking a lot of important decisions - personal and professional. I was fascinated by the Strategy, Negotiation, and Change Management topics along with the comparisons between the NHS (UK National Health Service) and the Middle East healthcare sector. I committed to using these two years to the maximum and so invested a lot of my time and energy – as a self-funded student, I really appreciated the University’s instalment payment plan, which helped me a lot.

“The experience was superb from every perspective, especially the face-to-face workshops where we met our ‘action learning sets’ and engaged with our professors. I found the academic writing assignments challenging but I still managed to graduate with merit - and a distinction in my graduation thesis project.

“The IHL programme helped me understand my personal strengths, and how passionate I am when it comes to administration, operations, and leadership roles. I had a much better understanding of the NHS and international healthcare leadership practices in comparison to those in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt markets and I identified a lot of potential scope for improvements when I resumed my leadership tasks. There was inspiration everywhere including my student colleagues’ professional passion and commitment – our diversity brought us together. Many of my IHL colleagues became very good friends and despite the diversity of our professions, our age, career levels and backgrounds, we learned a lot from each other.

“I am still in contact with many of my fellow graduate friends and the University alumni association. The alumni network has proved to be really valuable and we regularly hold virtual meetings and discussions and our Whatsapp group is up and running - we keep each other updated on our career development and explore how we can all help each other, whenever possible.”

What’s next?

“Since completing the IHL programme, I have also enrolled on other international online courses and workshops from the NHS Leadership Academy, Harvard, MIT and Wharton School of Business.

“I am now exploring the opportunity of joining a Doctorate or PhD programme in Business Administration, though this is going to be quite challenging now after my recent promotion. However, I believe that regardless of my career growth, I still need to find the time for my academic learning and upskilling.”