Qatar’s first executive MBA

by  — 14 April 2013

The Edge spoke exclusively with professor Laoucine Kerbache, the newly appointed dean and CEO of HEC Paris Qatar. He discussed how the various academic and research programmes were developed in line with the needs of Qatar and the region.

Professor Laoucine Kerbache, the newly appointed dean and CEO of HEC Paris Qatar.
Can you tell us a little about what you did before coming to Qatar?

Just prior to arriving in Qatar in February 2013, I served as associate dean, director of the HEC PhD programme for almost five years. I have been teaching in undergraduate, MBA, PhD, and executive programmes as well as actively conducting research in the field of operations management and supply chain management. Besides these activities, I have also been doing consulting work for companies in supply chain and operations management.

In all, I have been in the higher education sector as an academic for more than 30 years. This experience has been extremely rich and rewarding.  

As the new dean, what is your vision for the future of HEC Paris in Qatar?

My mission is to consolidate our positioning in executive education in Qatar and in the region, not only for degree programmes like the executive MBA and the specialised masters but also for in-house custom programmes. The next step is to build a locally based faculty of the same quality as that of HEC Paris main campus. The role of this faculty will be to contribute to local teaching and research development. Our objective is to produce, in terms of research and teaching, relevant content in line with the needs of Qatar and of the Gulf region.

In short, my vision is to pursue and intensify the growth and influence of HEC Paris in Qatar through the excellence of its programmes and faculty. We have all the ingredients to achieve these goals, the UK-based Financial Times has ranked HEC Paris as number two in the world for executive education in 2012.

Why did HEC decide to establish a branch in Qatar?

The prime objective behind the establishment of HEC Paris in Qatar was to bring the finest executive education to the region, as a means to contribute to talent development needs of individuals and organisations, to better serve this market and to contribute to the transition towards a knowledge-based economy.

Who is it that the executive programmes are looking to target in the country?

Our management development programmes target experienced managers and executives. For our executive MBA programme, the average age of a typical cohort is 40 years, and participants have around 15 years of work experience.  

HEC Paris in Qatar just launched a new programme, the specialised master in strategic business unit management, which is aimed at younger professionals with high potential. The average age of a typical cohort is 29 years. Further, we offer custom-designed programmes for individual companies that are keen on addressing management development needs for their executives.

“Our objective is to produce, in terms of research and teaching, relevant content in line with the needs of Qatar and of the
Gulf region.” 

What skills do you think an EMBA can provide high level decision makers working in Qatar? 

In addition to the basic skills offered in any EMBA, ours offers participants, who are often senior managers and executives, a unique opportunity to select from a number of majors. Each major is a practical and intense programme developed to provide executives with an understanding of the social, economic and environmental aspects of international business, as well as the skills to put their vision into action.  Among the majors, the ones relative to energy, luxury, and reinventing business for emerging markets are of great benefit to the business sector in Qatar. In addition, participants have the opportunity to enhance their international experience by taking regular modules of the programmes at any of our other global locations.

Can you tell us more about the other majors offered under the executive programme, and which of them are the most popular among participants in Qatar?

To be more explicit, within the framework of the EMBA, HEC Paris offers eight different majors, which allows them to make a special investment in their particular area of interest. The duration of each major is two weeks, with modules offered in two different locations of the world. 

For example, the luxury major takes place one week in Milan and one week in Paris. In Doha we are hosting the energy major, which is popular not only among participants from Qatar but from all the five different locations where our EMBA is offered. 

What other programmes are in your executive education portfolio? 

In addition to our degree programmes, there are two other main categories in our portfolio. The first category is custom-designed with programmes tailored to the needs of specific individual companies. The second category is what we call open-enrolment management programmes.

In Doha, we recently launched a specialised master in strategic business unit management. The programme aims at developing management acumen and fostering a genuinely entrepreneurial approach to management.

Are students able to find immediate benefit and business application of what they study?

All of the programmes offered by HEC Paris in Qatar have both theoretical bases and practical aims. Our participants are challenged by the faculty and monitored throughout the programme to apply the learnt concepts in their own organisation.

Some HEC Paris faculty members were recently awarded research grants, what will these research projects entail?

In fact, the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) awarded two research grants to two teams involving faculty members from HEC Paris. The first project is entitled ‘Designing, managing and assessing incentive structures for sustainable energy solutions’. 

The second project was awarded to a team of which I am part of. Our research project deals with ‘Revenue management modelling and optimisation for commercial airlines’.

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