Ahmad Qasem graduated with a University of Manchester MBA in 2012 and his study experience and MBA journey has made a deep and lasting impact on what was already a dynamic and entrepreneurial career. By his own admission, he enrolled onto the MBA with some hesitation and concerns but he took his time (the full five years to complete the programme) and was determined to enjoy it. He also used his experience to build his network, structure his approach to business and used the MBA as a springboard to starting his own successful businesses.
Today, Ahmad is Managing Director of the company he founded – Chemi-Link Corporation Oil & Gas Engineering Procurement and Construction– and Water Cooled Sports Services proving that you really can mix oil and water.
This is Ahmad’s refreshingly candid view of his personal journey so far.
“I started the Manchester MBA in 2009 with a little hesitation and some uncertainties - about financing my study, going back to being a student after such a long time, and my ability to manage my time (this was a really core issue). I decided to give it a try, meeting the high calibre fellow students definitely gave me a push to believe that yes - it would be possible for me to complete the MBA and that it would also be fun.
“In 2012, I decided to start my own business, so time became really a big constraint as this new journey started. So, I decided to study two topics per semester. This meant it took me five years to complete the MBA. The good side of this was more networking and more professional contacts.
“My new company started with a team of three people, which by 2015 had grown to a team of 90 people working in Iraq, including 15 Engineers from different disciplines coming daily to serve our Oil & Gas clients.
“With the slump in Brent oil prices in 2016, Oil & Gas was not a glorious business, so I started looking into diversification to mitigate the Oil & Gas industry risk. In 2018 I started, along with partners, providing strategic finance to businesses, across a variety of sectors, and different capital structures. Typically, this has included providing bridge finance to support projects, and working capital such as purchasing of material. My team and I ultilise our technical, commercial and financial knowledge to assess the risks involved and put measures in place to continuously monitor the business. This Finance has helped many businesses deliver projects and grow, which would not have been possible without the alternative capital provided. I am also open to support the capital needs of young and start-up businesses from within the University of Manchester provided that there is clear understanding of the business and deliverable measures.
“In 2019, I acquired a new water sports company, which was already working in multiple 5-star hotels in the UAE. Today, we have a total number of 15 people working in this business. The team is now working to franchise the business and promote it to water sport operators, supported by a set of Standard Operations, Training and Performance Measurement processes.”
How the MBA continues to help
“I would say that the MBA helps me structure what I’m doing in a more organised manner and helps me think about business as a set of processes that can be measured and controlled. More importantly, the MBA gave me what was missing in my engineering life. The MBA helps me take the leap into other challenging businesses for an Engineer that I would never do without the Finance, Digital marketing, Risk management and strategic management knowledge that I acquired from the MBA.
“What I really enjoyed about the MBA was meeting bright people from various industries and different countries who enrich my personal and business experience. The Manchester MBA is a glorious experience that develops your knowledge and relationships even beyond the business world.
“If you are thinking about the Global MBA, my advice is don’t worry, just start. I was never really a good student at any time during the MBA programme and I was always struggling with time management. But ultimately, it all turned into nice memories and gave me the expertise that was vital in establishing my businesses.”