Even before she was among the ranks of HEC Paris Executive MBA participants, Ruba had the kind of upwardly mobile career anyone would be proud of.
International experience of more than 18 years in marketing, sales leadership, business development and operations management, all within culturally diverse environments, attest to the clockwork achievements of her professional ascent. If you ask her, the Lebanese national will tell you that her prodigious determination to succeed comes from a simple, yet powerful, place.
“I come from a small village in Lebanon,” she explains. “In Middle Eastern culture, a woman’s happiness and success was (and still is) linked to the wealth of her husband; her goal in life is to get married and have children. I wanted to prove that if such is a woman ‘s choice, she so be it, but she also needs to be given a choice to also be successful in the corporate world. That’s why it’s so important to me to take a leadership role. To be able to go back where I come from and show that you can be whatever you want to be in life if you want it badly enough, and if you work hard for it.”
On the right path
The soaring arc of her career has always been driven by her origins— first Lebanon, then to Paris, by way of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. She has made a deliberate effort to set her sights high since Schneider Electric in Dubai in 2013, so much so that in short order she was transferred to the firm’s French headquarters in 2017, accepting a role with a global scope. But there were hoops to jump through.
“I was discussing my career path with my career mentor. As a thought exercise, I asked myself, ‘where do you see yourself in 10 years? In 15 years? How do you get there?’ We highlighted the path leading to various roles and then identified the challenges, and the areas I needed to strengthen. Together, we established that I needed to get into sales if I want to become a Country President, and so this is what I was doing for the past 3 years.”
Another potential roadblock in her career’s steady climb was a matter of simple geography; when she arrived in Paris from Dubai, she didn’t know anybody.
“I needed to build a network in Europe. Being Lebanese and coming straight from Dubai, I didn’t have access to the type of network that I needed,” she says. She very quickly arrived at the conclusion that pursuing an Executive MBA was the correct move for her to meet both her professional and personal goals. In Ruba’s exacting calculus, the choice was obvious; HEC Paris emerged as the best option.
“As I was interviewed for my new role, the HEC Paris EMBA was a big, big plus to have.”
“My choice of university was based on those factors. HEC filled all those categories because it’s one of the most reputable schools in the world.”
From curriculum quality to the demographic and professional diversity of the class—not to mention the content, design, and delivery of the material—HEC Paris was her only choice.
“The risk in working in a big multinational is that you get caught up in your own world. An EMBA helps you step back from your bubble and explore other industries. This was true with those in my cohort in that were lawyers, finance experts, and a mix of private and public sector professionals. My favorite part of the EMBA was that I got to see the world again through people that showed me both where I want to be and where I don’t want to be.”
Key learnings exposed
Ruba distills the essence of her academic growth at HEC Paris into two key learnings:
“The first thing is the importance of people in any organization. You can never drive transformation or success if you don’t have buy-in from your people. Organizations and their transformations fail because people don’t believe in them. Before the EMBA, I thought the only thing that mattered was strategy and product. Yes, these are important, but if you don’t have the right people in place who buy in, you’re never going to succeed”
“Secondly, it matters how you invest in people. We live in an era where everything is connected. Big data is the reality today, but the challenge is about how we benefit from the data. Everything around us is and will be connected, it is up to us to bring such inspirations of new ideas acting as intra-preneurs and change agents.”
Best possible outcome
Professionally, Ruba has already begun to reap the rewards of her EMBA effort. On June 15, she began a new role as a Global Segment Sales Director for Digital Services – Energy Division in Schneider Electric. The role is critical to the massive firm which is, like so many others, pivoting from traditional methods to digital services.
“When I introduced myself to senior leadership before I got my promotion, I was more comfortable using the executive business language and presentation techniques. Also, social responsibility topics is a hot topic on the agenda of every company. I strengthened my knowledge about these topics at the EMBA. As I was interviewed for my new role, the HEC Paris EMBA was a big, big plus to have.”
Her achievements are chiefly the result of an indominable will to succeed, itself borne from her origins. As she transitions into her new global leadership role, she affords herself a moment to step back and take stock of how she got there.
“Without the EMBA, I would have just been following trends. Because someone else has done this in my company, I would’ve done the same thing. People can inspire you; but the path of success is not to imitate others, but to bring uniqueness and value to where you are to help you prosper and grow. Everyone has their own stories and journeys. HEC Paris opens doors, but it’s up to you to use these doors. HEC was a passport to me that I can hold, but it’s up to me if I want to travel.”
More CEOs of Fortune Global 500 companies have graduated from HEC Paris than any other university in Europe, and nearly 4,000 graduates are currently CEOs, CFOs, or have founded their own companies. According to the Financial Times, the HEC Paris Executive MBA is ranked #1 in Europe and #3 in the world; click here to learn more.
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