Improving businesses, improving people

"I discovered sides to myself I simply wasn’t aware of before the programme."

Fathi Al-Manassif

Executive Senior Engineering Director, Confidential
Participant on the Executing Strategy for Results Programme

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Scaling new heights

"I gained invaluable exposure to different ways of doing things; it opened my eyes to business practices that wouldn’t otherwise have crossed my mind."

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From technical expert to skilled people manager

"I’ve always loved aircraft and wanted to learn about them. Right from the beginning, even before I graduated from college they’ve fascinated me. So my career has always been strongly technical - I’m first and foremost a technical guy. I spent a long time in aircraft systems engineering with BAE, and that’s where the early days of my career were focused. But as I moved up from technical positions to higher-level management roles, I noticed some obvious gaps in my skill set, really crucial things like the need for a stronger and more inclusive leadership outlook and the ability to take a wider strategic perspective.

What did I want out of an Executive Education programme? In essence, I wanted to learn how to improve business and, importantly, how to improve people within the business. And alongside that, I wanted to find out how to shift my focus away from things that weren’t important. In the end, I actually enrolled in two very complementary LBS programmes – Essentials of Leadership, and Executing Strategy for Results (ESR). Doing the two together enabled me to cover what I needed, all in one go.

The ESR programme certainly gave me a big value-add - I learnt to tailor strategic plans to suit our business needs in a challenging environment where things evolve very quickly. And I’ll be honest, prior to the programmes I wasn’t good at managing people. That growth in self-awareness was a big learning curve. I used to stick very much to my own viewpoint – I’m inherently stubborn anyway - and was quite blind to the opinions of others. My technical background meant I was always trying to manage like an engineer, getting things done quickly but without recognising the human side of things in my attempt to move strategic plans ahead.

Lack of flexibility like that can be costly. But learning alongside highly international participants, people from everywhere from South Africa to South America, meant I started comparing their experiences to mine. I gained invaluable exposure to different ways of doing things; it opened my eyes to business practices that wouldn’t otherwise have crossed my mind.

In total, there were around 10-15 different sectors represented, but one particular colleague was involved in building airports. Given my background in the space and defence sector, I found that fascinating – I’ve worked in the industry for years as a systems engineer, but I simply wasn’t aware of the fundamentals needed to build an airport, or of the politics involved! The kind of insight that comes with the diversity that participants bring is just a huge value-add.

Learning how to manage people more effectively was a priority and I definitely achieved what I wanted. I’m more flexible, more relaxed now. If something doesn’t work one way, I know there’s another way to do it and I’m not afraid to try it."

Facing up to new challenges

"I learnt to tailor strategic plans to suit a challenging environment where things evolve very quickly."

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Enabling progress through mindset

"I was unclear on how to move strategies from A to Z. The programme equipped me with the right tools and mindset to set things in motion."

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Career building

"Executing Strategy for Results is one of those programmes that really does exactly what it promises. Just recently I had to reduce some of our work force because of budget cuts, being careful not to lose valuable individuals that we might need in the future. So, I decided to group individuals into categories based on how effective their contributions were to the actual business. Once we had that understanding we were able to put a strategy in place that moved us forwards on the basis of contributions vs salaries paid. It’s already producing tangible results.

My experience has also paid off well in terms of career investment. Having filled those gaps, I’ve become much more effective and precise when communicating across different management levels. After the programme I had a big promotion, out of a purely technical position and into a role as Executive Senior Engineering Director. As well as looking after all the engineering aspects I’m now involved at a strategic level helping to move the business forwards. And I’m not stopping here - I’m making another move very soon to a senior executive position with a different aerospace company in Dubai.

Studying at London Business School was very different from what I’m used to. Being able to combine studying and networking is a great thing that has brought me great results. Considering their expertise, the faculty are very laid back and easy to interact with – so much so, that thanks to their help both during and since the programme, I recently achieved a cherished personal/business goal. So all I can say is that if you’re looking for something that makes you stand out, look to LBS."

Executing Strategy for Results

70% of strategies fail to deliver. Be in the 30% that succeed.