Shaping futures: Alanoud Al Hashmi, CEO and Founder of The Futurist Company and an acknowledged Top 10 Inspiring Woman Entrepreneur. She describes herself as an Emirati Futurist, Entrepreneur and Speaker who believes in the power of innovation and technology. According to Alanoud, with R&D and a team of scientists, engineers and technologists we are able to create solutions with impact to make a difference and help humanity and the planet to coexist.
As she approaches her MBA Global graduation in 2022, Alanoud AlHashmi is looking to the future and how her role as entrepreneur and founder/leader of The Futurist Company will harness innovation and help address some of the major societal challenges faced by humanity.
But how – and why - did this entrepreneur choose to join the Manchester Global MBA?
“I was in the corporate world when I applied for the Global MBA working as a manager but with a nagging insecurity about not having a master’s degree. It didn’t affect my work but the thought was in my head and I had to consider why I didn’t do a master’s degree, what was holding me back, what was I afraid of? I had to tease myself to push ahead.
One easy reason for holding back was that I needed a programme that understood the demands of the job – my job at the time was crazy with several business trips and more than 170 events every year. I managed three brands and work was hectic and demanding. I worked till late in the evening every day.
The Manchester Global MBA was the only option flexible enough to manage but without risking any loss of valuable learning opportunities and content. Personally, I was sceptical about whether I could do it and so had to make a commitment to myself. One of the results of this was that I upset many people because I didn’t go out and socialise but focused on work and study. This commitment also had the flexibility of giving me two weeks’ face to face time and then online I could study even while on business trips.
Thinking beyond the corporation
Acquiring knowledge and learning through case studies was very important to me because I knew I was not destined to work in the corporate world. I’m a very passionate person and with many organisations a job is just a job and I’m not that kind of person and always put my heart and soul into what I do.
I knew that whatever I did, it would be with a good purpose in an organisation or as an entrepreneur. I decided to set up a company just before graduating because I thought I had the tools I needed to take on the challenge.
It wasn’t easy and the academic work was challenging but the case studies brought it to life. This kind of learning had an immediate impact for me personally and helped me understand how to deal with a range of situations, negotiate, and look at operations or take a financial point of view. It equipped me for my next challenge.
I left my corporate role and started my own company. The beginning was crazy as I was doing the job, starting an SME and doing the MBA at the same time. Some companies were already approaching me for consultancy, so we were really quite busy with projects.
More than a corporate journey.
Women tend to take care of our families first and my situation before the MBA didn’t allow me to study a master’s. I had two younger sisters and had to work to support my single mum. This meant that I could not do the biotechnology degree that I wanted. I was upset at the time but it makes sense now – I understand that I was not supposed to be this forensic kind of person and had to go into business.
There was something else. Another aspect of women’s experience is that we care about others’ mental health before our own and women tend to undervalue themselves, often shown in job interviews and when talking about ourselves. This applies to men as well but it affects women more.
After my corporate journey, I realised that I’m good at what I do and that a Global MBA could help me achieve more. It worked perfectly for me.
Women often say an MBA will boost our confidence but what we mean is knowledge, and the source and critical thinking approach with UOM was really important. Real world simulations were essential – this is a confidence boost and helped us understand the mindset of investors. So, it’s much more than just getting an MBA degree.
The face to face element of the MBA meant we also made really great friends. There’s also the exposure to people from cultures all around the world which gave us a network of contacts. The workshops are a shared experience and we bonded as we worked together through sleepless nights.
Students learning from other students.
It’s human nature – we are all different personalities and we learn from each other. Soft skills were part of one of our courses. The MBA allows you to see inside and understand organisations and the soft skills allow you to use this expertise and to think more broadly and beyond just individual functions such as HR or marketing. The MBA really empowers a person to think beyond where they are currently.
We all have a certain level of soft skills and just need to learn how to enhance them so we learned about cultural appreciation and how to adjust communications to get the result – and workshop projects accelerated the learning experience.
The Entrepreneurial MBA
I started my company in 2020 while doing the MBA (which I started in 2019). I learned a lot in the first year of the MBA and this built on my 15-year corporate experience in different roles and organisations. I had already done some training in digital transformation and change management but not an MBA learning experience covering business from A to Z.
Today, The Futuristic Company is already two years old and valued in the millions of dollars but my aim was to make my passion my career, make a difference and make an impact.
There was a rationale for the Futurist. From a young age I was always ahead – hacking at 14, assembling PCs at 15, programming at 18, and then building websites. I was always doing things that people were still not yet interested in – science, CSR and philanthropy. I realised that in order to find a solution to a problem it needs critical thinking and so I applied my learning in the first year of my MBA to finding out what I wanted to do and how to turn my passion into my career.
I wanted to make sure that I developed a business model and solutions that would be beneficial to humanity, not harmful to the planet, sustainable, consistent, and profitable.
This is not a CSR project but a business model that helps the planet and is profitable and I love that.
Critical thinking helped me find what I wanted to do. Five months before launching the company, I had identified three top global problems around food security, energy, and water.
The MBA helped me in every aspect of setting up the company – strategy, marketing, solutions, negotiations, supply chain – and all of it learned in the MBA. I love the idea that critical thinking helped me discover what I wanted to do – make ideas work.