Zaman Rafiei: Afghanistan

With a Bachelor of Business Administration and 20 years of work experience at an international organisation, Zaman relocated to the UK from Afghanistan during the turbulent events of August 2021. He was inspired to further his education by pursuing an MBA.

Why did you decide to study an MBA?

Newly relocated to the UK, I recognised that integrating into a new culture is a lengthy and initially challenging process, and I believed that the most effective starting point would be to integrate into the UK's education system. 

What do you feel has been the most rewarding element of the programme so far?

The MBA programme has been rewarding on many levels, but what stood out most for me is its integrated focus on leadership. While each module contributed to my professional growth in various ways, the programme's emphasis on cultivating critical thinking skills was especially impactful.

The high level of expertise demonstrated by the faculty, coupled with the diverse backgrounds of my fellow students from around the globe, provided a unique opportunity to broaden my global perspectives.

Moreover, the well-organized study trip to Silicon Valley in California exposed me to cutting-edge technologies and forward-thinking approaches that, I think, will be shaping the future of global business and the economy.

What do you do when not studying?

I am currently working for the UK Foreign, Development and Commonwealth Office (FCDO) and I will continue working with them after my MBA should they provide me a full-time job.

If they don’t provide a full-time job, I will be looking for a full-time job with international development research organisations, other public sector agencies or the private sector in the UK.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of studying an MBA?

I studied while I was also working so my primary advice is to commit full-time to an MBA programme. This is crucial for several reasons.

Firstly, the programme is inherently demanding both in terms of intellectual engagement and a considerable investment in time. Secondly, full engagement requires a deeper understanding through extensive research and practical applications of theories.

Full-time dedication will also help to take advantage of the networking opportunities and learn from a diverse cultural and professional perspective. 

Why did you choose the Management School?

I chose the Management School for several compelling reasons:

  1. Its prestigious triple accreditation from AACSB, EQUIS, and AMBA. This gold standard of accreditation is a testament to the School's commitment to providing the highest quality of education and signifies that the programme meets rigorous international standards
  2. The strong focus on research, connections with industry and its emphasis on real-world application. Through case studies, internships, and networking events, the School is an ideal choice for anyone looking to bridge the gap between academic theory and practical business skills.

What have you learnt from guest speakers so far?

Guest speakers were a valuable component of several modules, offering insights from practical and theoretical perspectives.

Learning about their professional journeys, including how they climbed up the organizational ladder to attain senior leadership roles, taught me the importance of developing strong people skills, and emotional intelligence and the importance of embracing challenges.

During our trip to Silicon Valley, one speaker provided groundbreaking insights into emerging technologies like quantum computing, artificial intelligence, and cryptocurrencies, projecting their impact over the next decade.  

What skills and knowledge do you feel you have developed?

The MBA programme offered a compelling combination of theoretical knowledge and practical skills including:

  • Leadership and people-management skills, teamwork, leveraging on diversity, problem-solving, learning to tackle complex issues in a systematic manner
  • Understanding business ethics, corporate social responsibility, and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are becoming more important than ever
  • Effective communication skills particularly in delivering presentations, negotiating, and networking
  • Effective time management- balancing part-time work and academic commitments enhanced my time-management skills—a critical asset for successfully completing an MBA and navigating today's busy, ever-changing world with competing priorities
  • Cross-cultural learning- the international composition of the MBA cohort provided a unique opportunity to build cross-cultural competencies.

On a personal development front, the programme required a high level of self-discipline and organisation. Self-reflection was an integral part of the coursework, offering opportunities to learn and improve.

The programme provided a range of self-assessment tools, including those focused on personality and leadership styles, which helped me better understand my strengths and weaknesses and formulate a personal development plan.

What aspects of the programme have you enjoyed most?

I enjoyed every aspect of the programme. However, I enjoyed the Business Management Simulation the most.

It is a powerful tool which brings together skills such as strategic thinking, financial acumen, marketing and sales, operation management, teamwork and collaboration, decision making and problem-solving.  

What are you enjoying most about living in Liverpool?

Liverpool is a city that attracts me with its blend of rich history, cultural vibrancy, and modern innovation. The compact layout makes it easy to explore, whether I'm strolling along the historic Albert Dock or visiting one of the many museums and galleries.

I'm particularly drawn to the city's music scene, a legacy perhaps best epitomized by the Beatles but still very much alive in the numerous live music venues throughout the city.

However, what makes Liverpool truly special is its people. The locals, often referred to as "Scousers," are incredibly warm, and friendly, and have a unique sense of humour that's both endearing and welcoming.

Their community spirit is evident everywhere, from local pubs to football matches, making me feel like part of the city rather than just a resident student.

All these elements combine to make living in Liverpool an exceptionally enjoyable experience.