On a mission: Five careers and counting
Mustafa Ammar is an alumnus on a mission - to help one million professionals to find their dream career. This is his latest career adventure - his fifth – in which he plans to help executives, business managers, young business leaders to thrive by rebuilding their careers and businesses based on their passions. It is unlikely to be his last venture as he is pursuing his own dream and so there are likely be another 1-2 steps before he reaches his own ultimate goal. Mustafa has a distinctive personal story and he likes to start from the beginning.
Mustafa started out as a pharmacist because of his passion for chemistry but quickly realised that pharmacy was not for him. So, he moved into diplomacy, where he spent almost 10 years.
“This was a very interesting life, representing my country (Egypt) and culture, and fulfilling one of my early dreams. By 2016, I realised that I had reached my peak with no big challenges ahead and I started to look around for opportunity. This led to a move into investment banking with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, based in Beijing, where I worked on business development with an interest in the Middle East and frequently travelled to the region. I had no background in investment banking and this was when I started to think about the MBA.
“When I eventually decided to go ahead with the MBA, I believed this would help me reskill and grow and develop my current career as an investment banker. But I began exploring other areas as doors opened and as the MBA opened my mind – I began to see myself as an author, or an entrepreneur.
“This is what led me to starting my own coaching business – the Passion MBA – and I left investment banking and diplomacy to do this, in 2020. Since then, the business has gained a lot of traction and media attention, especially in the US through summits, radio and podcasts. We have served hundreds of people and helped change lives. So, I thought - if we can help hundreds, why not thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of people?
“The best way to do this is build an online platform to reach more people, and this is what I am doing now – learning how to design and build a startup to deliver this. I got an opportunity to join one of Europe’s leading startup incubators, in Italy, where we started in January. It’s an interesting experience and we get the benefits of a unique programme connecting with a network of other startup co-founders, which is very cool and we can exchange information and experiences – and we have the chance to pitch investment committees.
The MBA journey – HK to UK
Once he had decided on the MBA, Mustafa spent several months deciding where to apply and did his analysis of the top schools in the US, Canada and UK, while he was still based in Beijing. He focused on Manchester and found that the Global Part-time MBA offered the optimal package of experiences and benefits, including practical learning by doing (the Manchester Method), the opportunity to build connections, and a regional centre in Hong Kong, where he started and studied in year one. He found plenty of opportunities to develop his presentation and academic writing skills – two areas of particular interest. In year 2, he went to study at the Manchester campus.
“The MBA changed me gradually and I developed the discipline needed to work full time and study, on a daily basis. It was a trigger to read and learn. At the end of year 1, I found I was reading beyond the MBA requirement and developing new interests, and this continued. I was also building connections beyond work and across several industries – I did this in HK and also in Manchester, which was especially cosmopolitan with students from the US, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East. One of the benefits of the MBA was the wide network and I am good at keeping connections.
“For example, I met three Brazilian students on the VC/PE elective in HK. Our first evening together, we talked about our lives and they suggested I write a book and kept encouraging me until I actually wrote a book. It’s an important friendship and source of support and I acknowledge this in the foreword to my new book.
“Today, I consider myself part of a global alumni network rather than any specific centre and I want to be more active. I was fortunate to be invited to the Middle East Centre and to participate in the annual Career Networking Event in Dubai, and I am currently working with the Centre on a coaching programme for students and alumni. I see this community as my family and want to share my practical knowledge – it’s about serving people in different capacities to help them develop.
“During the MBA workshops in Dubai, I ran a career session on the 10 mistakes to avoid when planning career transitions and practical guidance on how to build skills fast – non-traditional steps to hack the process.
“I also ran a session on the 7 career myths that professionals should bust before finding their dream career, including busting the myth of the supreme specialist, which I discuss in my upcoming book ‘Time to Move On’.”
What’s next for a man on a mission?
“I have learned that it’s important to make plans and also understand that they won’t work. I do like to plan but I am also very open to change. I hope that my new startup grows and develops to a level where it is helping thousands and eventually millions of people. In my own dream lifestyle, which I have had from a young age, I would be running a charity to help one million teenage orphans to create their own dream lives. This would be my focus in future - I would build an incubator for them and their business ideas.”
Mustafa values spending time on things he loves while helping others to live a good life. “From experience, the more I give, the more I receive. When people work in their dream careers they thrive, find their life purpose and live a fulfilled life.”
‘Time to move on’ by Mustafa Ammar: the 7 career myths to consider before finding your dream career. Publishes 18 April 2023 (Amazon Publishing).