2022 Best & Brightest MBA: Maram Albutairi, ESADE Business School

Maram Albutairi

ESADE Business School

“A brand of success, a mother of two who is willing to go above and beyond to reach her goals.”

Hometown: Dammam, Saudi Arabia

Fun fact about yourself: I add ginger to almost everything I eat – Mrs. Ginger.

Undergraduate School and Degree: BBA Major in Finance and Minor in Global Studies, Drury University, MO, USA.

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Project & Corporate Financing, Treasury Department, Saudi Aramco

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? My internship started in February 2022 at the Real Federación Española de Fútbol (RFEF), Madrid, Spain.

Where will you be working after graduation? Back home at Saudi Aramco in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: I am proud to say I was the Coach of the FT MBA 2022 Football Team, which played against other MBA schools.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? It was being shortlisted by my peers on the MBA programme for the MBA Leadership Award 2022. I’ll know whether or not I have been successful by March 2022. This means a lot to me. Although I was in the intensive track, which means crazy hours, I was able to demonstrate leadership, and my social media platforms gave me the opportunity to share my story every day. I was able to highlight the challenges I faced and how I overcame each of these. In doing so, I was able to inspire a lot of people and establish credibility with many of my peers.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I have two careers running in parallel. On the one hand, I have a professional career with Saudi Aramco, and on the other hand, I am a Football Coach & Manager. At Saudi Aramcon, I would say my proudest achievement was closing a 2 billion dollar deal (I can’t provide any more details). The deal was a first of its kind! The feeling of success was just indescribable.

As a Football Coach & Manager, my proudest achievement came in 2019, when I was recognised by our king, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, for all my efforts in the field of sport, and in football in particular. It was a very special time, marking the beginning of women’s football in Saudi Arabia. #historyinthemaking.

Why did you choose this business school? Simple. ESADE’s values matched mine. I refer here to teamwork, excellence, community and sustainability.

Who was your favourite MBA professor? That’s a tough question. I would say Jan Hohberger. Apart from his method of teaching and his way of engaging you, strategy development was a real eye opener for me.

What was your favourite MBA event or tradition at your business school? “Be My Guest” wins. This involved matching a host with guests for dinner, all of whom were MBA students at ESADE. It was a very clever way to break the ice and get to know your peers, given the context of the COVID restrictions (and bearing in mind that up until May restaurants closed at 4.30 pm), so this was a beautiful idea.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? If I had a chance to do it all over again, I’d try to learn more Spanish, because my Spanish is still not good enough.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The students are not competitive enough. It’s just not true!

What surprised you the most about business school? The tremendous diversity. There were 180 or so students from 47 different countries. I was exposed to a wide variety of cultures, which is exactly what I wanted in order to become a global citizen, appreciating, learning and understanding how others behave, think and do business.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? Being a team player in every possible respect.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I would say Bismah Kiani, who is currently in NY, USA. She was fierce, a go-getter, and a ball of energy.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? Sheila Alrewaily, a manager back then at Saudi Aramco and currently CEO of Wisayah. When I first joined Saudi Aramco, I asked to meet with her and she accepted. The conversation we had was all about career choices and lessons to be learned for someone who had just started their career (me). She talked to me about the glass ceiling and told me that at a certain point in my career I would need more. By more, she meant an MBA, and that’s how I began to harbour the objective of doing an MBA before I turned 35.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I would say they are the following:

  1. Becoming a board member at the Saudi Arabia Football Federation.
  2. Being a mentor for a young professional.

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? The pandemic was not easy at first. Once I had embraced the situation, I started to explore ways in which to gain recognition by thinking outside the box. In a male dominated industry, I was pushing myself to gain credit and promoting my accomplishments, which you must understand goes against our culture and humble nature. I was able to give my accomplishments the appropriate exposure via different platforms, highlighting them on social media, for example.

What made Maram such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“Maram is a female MBA candidate from Saudi Arabia and a shining example of female empowerment, devotion to community service, and academic excellence.

Maram has worked in different roles in finance and business development for Saudi Aramco; she has lived in eight different countries around the globe; she is a single mother with two beautiful children; and she is 200% determined to make a difference in the world. Her dream is to become a role model, not only for her daughter, but for other women in her country by boosting their self-belief and showing that you should never be afraid of taking up a challenge.

As a die-hard football fan, she has been a huge advocate for women’s sport and female empowerment. She is a player and a coach, and she recently became chairwoman of the first female football club in Saudi Arabia, the Eastern Flames. In these roles she has been able to impact the lives of many young girls who aspire to enter the world of sport, and to create change and development in the field of sport in Saudi Arabia.

In this context, she has been a guest speaker at FC Barcelona’s Sports Tomorrow Congress. There, she shared her experience of “Shaping the future of grassroots women’s football”, stating the need for leaders who will push and motivate the new generations to break glass ceilings and take the step to dedicate themselves to football. Her football expertise also led her to become the head coach of ESADE’s men’s football team.

Maram has been an agent of change, empowerment and inspiration beyond the world of sport. Her energy is infectious, and she has devoted much of her time to supporting fellow students across sections and cohorts. For all these reasons, she has been nominated by her peers to receive the MBA Leadership Award.”

Laura Bonavia
Programme Director, Full Time MBA at Esade Business & Law School

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