Following their graduation from the Dubai Business Associate program, a group of 29 professionals are now well-equipped for kickstarting their ambitious career.
Running under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the Dubai Business Associate program prepares fresh graduates and young professionals with up to three years of working experience for a successful career in Dubai.
The 9-month program was launched in 2014 with the aim of providing graduates with a top-notch opportunity to advance their management, professional and personal skills, while grooming future leaders – who ideally decide to settle in Dubai.
Summarising the program’s motto, James Maughan, a British national and the brains behind the program, said: “We nurture talent, transform young professionals (including Emirati talent) into tomorrow’s global leaders, and create ambassadors of Dubai, who have the city in their DNA.”
Last month, the program’s seventh class – 29 professionals from 11 countries – graduated from the program, lifting the total number of alumni to over 200.
The program provides transformative experience for candidates, blending learning & development (in-class learning and masterclasses with leading subject matter experts,) with an on-the-job learning approach, culminating with a real-life paid consulting project.
According to Maughan, the intensive nine months “are transformational for candidates” and represent the equivalent of “a three-year” career boost. “The program is unique in its pedagogy and in its geographical base, which is the most vibrant city in the Middle East.”
Consulting skills are a consistent factor throughout the learning journey. During the early stages of the program, candidates develop career-enhancing consulting skills, which they then apply in the last phase – the delivery of real-life consulting assignments over a three-month period. “The consulting project phase represents the epitome of professional and personal development,” explained Maughan.
Run by Falcon and Associates, a talent management company in Dubai, the program has three learning partners: Capadev (a capability development firm), Bon Education (a program design specialist), and PwC (a professional services giant).
Capadev been a partner since the program’s inception,” explained Fares Saade, Executive Director at Capadev. “We run a number of courses including the consulting skills training, and coach the associates during the 12-week consulting project at leading organisations across Dubai.”
Bon Education coordinates the soft skills development training, career readiness skills training, themed business visits and speakers, cultural excursions, and career and life coaching.
PwC delivers training on hard skills and functional topics, from management and operations to sustainability. The trainings are delivered by PwC Academy, which is led in the Middle East by Gavin Aspden.
Notably, Capadev and PwC run a broadly similar program in Abu Dhabi (‘the Abu Dhabi Public Exchange Program), teaming up with other learning partners such as Oliver Wyman and Strategy&.
The other partners of the Dubai Business Associate program are organisations that host talent during their consulting project, such Emirates, Emaar, Dubai International Financial Centre, International Humanitarian City, Dubai Future Foundation, Digital Dubai Authority, DP World, Nasdaq Dubai, and The Executive Council.
Maughan: “Over the past eight years, we’ve delivered almost 70 consulting projects to key players in Dubai’s economy. A number of these projects have been truly transformational not just for the graduates but for the companies and for Dubai.”
With a well-respected title under their arm, graduates are now embarking on their next step. Analysis of alumni data from the previous six classes shows that alumni work for top-tier consulting firms such as McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group and Bain & Company, or for multinationals including, Microsoft, Google and IBM. Most decide to pursue a career in Dubai, with others are scattered all over the world.
Wherever they go, one thing is certain, asserted Maughan. The graduates are up for any challenge that comes their way: “Associates have proved their mettle, know the business landscape in depth and can hit the ground running in a new role, solving complex business situations. And if you know how to do business in Dubai, which is 90% international, you can do business anywhere in the world.”