Faisal Darwazeh graduated from Duke’s cross-continent MBA program in 2010, and was so impressed that he decided to stay apart from his family and his home in the Middle East, Jordan.
Although first beginning his career in the Middle-East, Faisal left Jordan to study in America, where he remained for 12 years. “If you can afford it, you (Jordanian people) go to United Kingdom or the United States to study. The US is one of the best countries for education,” he explained. “The opportunity for higher education is much better in the US or the UK.”
Jordan has a population of 6.3 million and a youth unemployment rate of 27%. With an economy ranked 33rd in the world according to the 2013 Economic Index of Freedom, Jordan’s population is further strained by the influx of refugees from the Syrian civil war.
Faisal thinks that the Jordanian government cannot afford to support the cause without help from other countries. “That’s a major concern that we have; the 10 per cent of our population now that are refuges from Syria,” he said. “That’s the major problem that we have now: the funding - and keeping up the refuges we have to build camps, schools and provide food, health-care and education. We need support from other countries to maintain the refuges in Jordan. The country cannot sustain itself alone."
Faisal chose to study abroad to gain more international exposure and the cross-continent MBA program at Duke took him to four different economically significant locations around the globe. As well as Fuqua’s base in Durham, USA, the MBA offers students the chance to study in New Deli, India; Shanghai or Kunshan, China; St. Petersburg, Russia; and Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
“I really like the fact that you get to go to different locations around the world during your studies,” Faisal said. “My favourite location was India, because the language is easy to speak, and the country has so much history and culture and sight-seeing and different religions. The different types of people, the food, everything about the place is just amazing.”
Faisal thinks that the international program at Duke helped him understand how businesses can grow across the globe. “I would say it helped me get exposed to the different continents,” he said.
“When I went to Europe we got to see how business is done in Belgium. Asia, China and India are all very important locations too. It gave me exposure to those cultures and businesses, and I learned how companies grow and how they operate in those continents, which is very important.”
Although originally studying a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering, Faisal was keen to study an MBA after engineering. He says that the highlight of his time at Duke were “the people I met”. “And Duke’s way of education,” he added. “So the professors, their knowledge, experience, research, and innovation is tremendous.”
Faisal now sits on Fuqua’s European Advisory Board, along with 10 other members with business backgrounds from around Europe. Their role is to “advise the business school on how to grow” and how to include more European students. “My role is to give ideas and follow up on certain projects that are to do with the image of the university in Europe and their recruitment of new students from Europe,” he said.“I also have to think about the future of the MBA program in Europe."
Faisal also helps with the recruitment of new European MBAs and tries to help graduates find jobs across the region. He "absolutely" helps them network. Asked if he helped MBAs directly, he said: “As much as I can, yes. I sometimes get alumnus asking about jobs or how to find jobs or even current MBA students asking about the Swiss market or European market in general.
“A few times a year, I try to mentor and help students, whether current or alumni, in finding jobs or directing them to the right contacts.”
The board meets twice a year and their most recent event was held in London in June, where Duke MBA alumni’s were invited to discuss what was going on with the business school and how they could get involved.
Since graduating, Faisal has enjoyed Europe so much that he took a managerial job based in Switzerland. The Duke MBA works in Geneva and says the way the Swiss do business is different to anywhere else in the world. “The quality of life is very good in Switzerland," he said.
"But also the international people: especially in Geneva, where there is a core of ex-pats. The way of doing business in Switzerland is very different than most other countries I’ve worked in before and different than other parts of Europe.
“It’s a very interesting market to work in. We work with a lot of hospitals, for example, and the way they function here, the buying, budgets and transparency of what they do, is all known to the public.
“So it’s really interesting to be able to be part of a transparent system: the banking and the way they operate, it’s a very open society.”
Since moving away from his home in Jordan, Faisal has been immersed into an entirely new business culture in Europe. Thanks to studying an MBA at Duke Fuqua, he was able to build a successful career in Switzerland.
Now, his job is to help other Duke MBAs acheive the same. To find out more about how you can get involved in Duke's cross-continent MBA, click here.