Fine balance in this tale of two cities

The Life: Cass Business School Dubai has a new consulting service to help companies spot growth opportunitiess in Mena. But how localised is the offering?

Ehsan Razavizadeh, the regional director of Cass Business School Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National
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Cass Business School Dubai is rolling out a new consulting service in the Middle East and Africa aimed at companies that want to spot growth opportunities and solve various corporate problems.

Here, Ehsan Razavizadeh, the school's regional director, discusses the balance of bringing in foreign faculty from its home partner, City University London, while providing localised advice.

How has Cass tried to generate revenues in the past?

We started our operation in the UAE in 2007, offering an executive MBA. Basically, this core source of revenue, if you will, is our executive MBA at the moment. In May 2011, we started offering post-graduate degrees in aviation ... under our sister engineer school. That was the second source or revenue.

And the third source of revenue?

The third one is we offer tailor-made programmes for big institutions in the region.

Why do business schools such as yours need to create different revenue sources?

We are non-profit. As long as we manage to pay our bills and have the space, we are here to stay.

What was the impetus for recently launching a consulting arm for this region?

We fly faculty members from London to Dubai - we don't have any based in the UAE. Since the faculty are flying to Dubai and spend at least four days to go through one subject with our current students, we thought we could utilise this opportunity and take advantage of making them available for companies and public sector to do some consulting work. Back in London, there's a very strong link for us between consultancy, research and teaching.

But companies here would be relying on faculty from afar. Would it not be better to find local experts familiar with how business is done in this region?

Of course, you're absolutely right in that regard, but there are two elements in this service: one is there are many companies in the region that are multinational like Microsoft, Google, Ernst & Young, Deloitte. They have offices in London, New York - all over. We've already done some work for Microsoft in London, and there are natural synergies between the office in the UAE and what they want to achieve here.

What is the second element?

The other thing we're looking to do is we have very good experts … within local industries here. We engage with lots of practitioners and guest speakers. If [we] start any consulting project we'll get advice and engage the local practitioner. But the areas [we'll be looking at including are] leadership, private equity, actuarial science, insurance. I don't see that much difference from Dubai to London and New York. Of course, there are some elements that may be different, like how to conduct a business here, but the principles are the same.

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