As of now, Mohammad Rafi will be the one providing solutions for the Afghan government.
“Still many Afghan government organisations pay thousands of USD per day for an international expert to come to Afghanistan to help develop strategies and documents. These days my team and I work on the same strategies and documents and develop them for that same government with provision for Afghan context oriented solutions that are feasible and applicable. Having trained and experienced experts with a high quality education is essential for our country to overcome obstacles. We must no longer depend on international experts to come up with solutions for us.”
Coming up with solutions; exploring problems; analysing them and discussing the best way to go about them: some of the elements of the International Action Learning MBA which appealed greatly to 25 year old Mohammad Rafi. “That, and the fact that I can work alongside the programme whilst incorporating what I learn directly into my work,” says Mohammad. “Since the day I started the programme in February 2013, I feel as if I have been learning something new every day.”
Prior to starting his MBA with Business School Netherlands, he obtained his Bachelor in Agricultural Economics and Extension at the University of Kabul, followed by his Master’s degree from the prestigious University of Wageningen in the Netherlands. “For me personally, the new methods of learning I am offered by the Action Learning MBA are extremely useful – the fact that I am learning from what I am doing, especially within my work at the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation & Livestock. When I am faced with a problem, I can explore it with a group of people, discuss it and come up with an efficient solution.”
Afghan born and bred Mohammad started working for his country’s government when he was only 20 years old. In his first years he worked for the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation & Development, before being transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture as a technical change management specialist; a position he still holds today. In between he stayed in the Netherlands for over one year to finish his Masters. Yet, even after this degree, Mohammad felt he wanted more.
“Being educated in agriculture and working as specialist for change management made me feel there were limitations to my knowledge, especially in the areas of management experience and skills. I wanted to fill that gap in order to do better in my job and not limit my future possibilities.”
Has it proved a successful move so far? “It has indeed,” smiles Mohammad. He has already noticed changes taking place. “In order for things to change in your life, you must change.” And he did so. “I feel I have changed both on a professional and on a personal level. The MBA has given me self-confidence that I didn’t have before. For instance, recently I applied for a higher position within the Ministry of Agriculture, a position in which I could serve my country by bringing it more professional and managerial capacity – something which, without this MBA I can’t imagine doing. With the managerial experience and education I have now, I feel am much better equipped to do things that used to be out of reach, like strategic, operational, financial, and information systems management in an organisation. I feel my capacity to work in higher positions and at higher levels is increasing.”
The programme has also awoken the entrepreneur in young Mohammad. “Action Learning has made me realise I might want to start my own business one day, perhaps with my family or friends. Being in this programme made me realise that when you are working in a group – either in a business context or in a personal setting – you get better at managing groups of people and resources, at how to mobilise and transform them in order to achieve things.”
High quality education is important for a country like Afghanistan. “Until late 2012 we didn’t have a Master’s programme in our country; the highest degree you could obtain was a Bachelor’s degree. In order to do a Masters one had to go abroad, which is extremely expensive and not an option for most Afghans. Luckily the educational system is now slowly recovering; the first Afghan MBA programme started recently with only few newly established private institutes. We need the education and the expertise; having our own qualified people will help improve our economy and our society.”
The road is still long, but Mohammad has enjoyed the first part of it although it has not been the easiest of rides so far. “I find the workload of the programme pretty high, given the projects and all the reading and research that is involved.” Every day after work Mohammad spends another three hours reading; during weekends he studies both days, and the whole day. “At this point in my life I spend roughly 35-40 hours a week studying for the MBA.” Is it worth it? “Absolutely. I am developing my future quality of life. Moreover, everything I learn and read about is useful and interesting, which makes the long hours of studying actually very pleasant.”
Find out more on the International MBA Programme on our profile.
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