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Why MBA: International University of Monaco — Europe

Lamis Zaibac plans to launch a start-up or work in a luxury-focused role — or both

Wed Jun 29 2016

When Lamis Zaibac wraps up her MBA in luxury management at the International University of Monaco (IUM), she plans to launch a start-up venture — or find a full-time MBA job related to the sector. Or both.

The specialization was one of her highlights of the program. Lamis was dead-set on Monaco — a city-state known for its luxury industry, but one that she also singles out for having excellent networking opportunities.

Before the MBA, Lamis worked in tax advisory for KPMG, one of the so-called Big Four professional services firms, in Lebanon. Prior to that, she worked for PwC, a KPMG rival, in a similar role.

Why did you decide to get an MBA at IUM?

I decided to pursue an MBA to improve my learning and career. I had already decided on Monaco for personal reasons, however in my opinion, IUM’s competitive advantage lies in its MBA specialization in luxury management.

How has the MBA been beneficial to you?

I’m happy with my decision. I took the specialization in luxury management. What I personally enjoyed were the courses I took, such as luxury supply chain management, luxury services, luxury consumer behaviour, strategy, and digital luxury. Digital is a trend that is like a train. All companies must become digital, because the consumers are going digital.

This is what makes my degree stand out from an MBA at Harvard. Because if I did an MBA in finance or a standard MBA, it would have been very common. Or not special. What makes my MBA special and competitive worldwide is my specialization.

What makes Monaco a great student city?

Networking. As it is a smaller place compared to some others, your efforts might be rewarded more than in other places. But you still need to be outgoing, sociable, and respectful.

There are a lot of events, like yacht shows and small conferences. And the university organizes events, such as the luxury symposium, every two years, and a mentorship cocktail event.

And the people at the university. The different nationalities are a plus — this is not the same everywhere.

What are your tips for getting hired by KPMG?

I worked in tax consultancy. And before that in strategy and business consultancy.

It’s a global company so you have to be global minded for sure. You have to be very qualified. Because this is what they sell. They sell qualified knowledge and expertise. These are the main elements needed for any candidate to be hired by one of the Big Four. In addition to that, your personality and some other things can come into play — being organized, disciplined, a team-worker, but at the same time being comfortable working on your own, helps.

How is automation and wider technology, such as data analytics and cloud computing, reshaping the role of the accountant?

Everything is getting automated now. It’s the digital trend. You have to have automated systems and if you hire employees you should train them to be able to use these systems and, they [accounting firms] should teach their clients about these systems. Some clients don’t understand how the company [accounting firm] is working on their accounts.

It saves time, is more accurate, and it can allow you to give a better service to your clients.

What will you do upon graduation?

Maybe become a consultant in a luxury company, or work in tax advisory again, but for luxury customers.

I’m looking for a job, and I have a couple of projects [business plans for start-ups]. I’m looking for investors. In the meantime I will focus on finding a job. If I find an investor, I will do it [launch a company] parallel [to my future full-time job].