Life as a Company Sponsored MBA Student, Aroob Tawfiq MBA 21 (Saudi Arabia)

My journey with Aramco started in 2010 when the company offered me a scholarship for a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources, and I was hired immediately upon graduating in 2014. I started my career as an HR Analyst focused on reviewing HR policies to improve organizations’ performance and achieve business objectives. Afterward, I worked as an Organization Performance Advisor, managing consulting projects related to operations, strategy, and organizational structure challenges. I was then selected to build the full HR structure for Wisayah Global, Aramco’s subsidiary and investment arm, during its spinoff. The successful end of that assignment marked my 5-year anniversary at the company. I then decided that obtaining an MBA would round out my business competencies and equip me with the toolkit necessary to move into a strategic leadership role within the company. I was fortunate enough to receive full advanced degree sponsorship from Aramco!

What convinced you to choose IESE?

While exploring options for an MBA, I was looking for a school with a rigorous curriculum and a strong reputation for developing ethical leaders. After researching various programs, attending info sessions, and speaking with alums, I found that IESE Business School stood out for its values-based leadership approach and commitment to ethics and social responsibility. I was also drawn to IESE’s focus on experiential learning and its emphasis on teamwork and collaboration. I was confident I made the best choice when I attended the Assessment Day in Barcelona and experienced the case method firsthand, resolving a real business challenge by working closely with students from diverse backgrounds and perspectives.

What were you hoping to get out of your MBA?

Realizing that the energy industry is undergoing a massive transformation, I hoped that my MBA experience would help me develop a more global perspective and equip me with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in a rapidly changing business environment. I also wanted to develop my leadership and strategic thinking abilities, as I knew these skills would be invaluable in my career. Additionally, I was looking for an opportunity to broaden my network and learn from a diverse group of classmates.

As a company-sponsored student, how do you think your experience differed from other students?

As a company-sponsored student, I had my employer’s financial and time-off support. Another significant advantage is the alleviated pressure of finding a post-MBA job, which allowed me to fully focus on my studies and extracurriculars. The sponsorship also allowed me to personalize my learning experience by choosing electives, seminars, and engagements related to my industry. I also had more freedom in choosing an internship. For my summer internship, I joined a thousand colibris, a very early-stage social startup based in Barcelona focused on empowering women during motherhood through holistic AI-based solutions. Joining a startup for my internship allowed me to gain experience in multiple business areas, such as Product Design, Marketing, and Social Impact, while contributing to a cause I’m genuinely passionate about.

In your post-MBA career, has your MBA helped you, and how so?

My MBA has been instrumental in helping me advance my career and take on new challenges. I am better equipped to understand the broader business context and make decisions that align with the company’s goals. This enabled me to become Coordinator of the Young Leaders Advisory Board (YLab), selected from 46,000 young professionals in the company. YLab is a 16-member sounding body to Aramco’s CEO and Executive Management, chosen to deliver the youth’s perspective on company strategy and challenges. The leadership and teamwork skills I developed during the program have helped me coordinate the cross-functional team and navigate complex business challenges. IESE’s case method of learning mimicked the situations I face at work, and I often draw upon what I had learned during my MBA to resolve these real-world business challenges. Furthermore, the global alum network has been a valuable resource in terms of mentorship and business connections.

What are some of your favorite memories and highlights from IESE? 

One of my favorite memories from IESE was Multiculti, the school’s annual cultural event, where I had the opportunity to share my culture with other students and experience theirs. With IESE being a very diverse school with over 50 nationalities, the event was a colorful masterpiece with so much to experience and see, guaranteed to broaden your worldview! It was a fantastic experience where I participated in folkloric dances, enjoyed ethnic foods, and took memorable photos in traditional clothing.

Finally, any advice for applicants who are also company-sponsored?

With all the great opportunities IESE offers, my advice for company-sponsored students is to leverage not needing to search for a post-MBA job by using your free time to fully immerse yourself in the MBA experience.

Take advantage of all the opportunities to network and connect with current students, professors, and alums. Utilize treks and company visits to explore other industries and functions and understand the bigger business world. Take the Business Spanish Course seriously and learn a widespread language. Make the most of your time in beautiful Barcelona and explore all the nature, culture, art, and gastronomic wonders it offers! And most importantly, invest time in the lifelong friendships you’re going to create with people all across the world.

Pursue your dream MBA! Take these next steps today:

Camille Chow View more

Associate Director, Admissions (MBA '16)

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