Over 50 students graduated last week from the MBA programme of the Scotland-based University of Strathclyde Business School (SBS) in Dubai.

Students came from a range of backgrounds, diverse not only in ethnicity but in lifestyles as well. Whether the student was a single parent, a working husband or wife with children, or a part-time working adult, he or she strove for success and reached their goal of taking their knowledge to a higher level.

A working mom

Mazneen Fernandes, a mother of two, a wife and a purchasing officer at Sharing Plug, achieved her MBA while maintaining a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle with her family.

"I never let my studies interfere with my personal life. I always made an effort to separate the two," she said. "I'd either study while the children are sleeping or when they were engaged in any of their activities. Whenever it got tough, though, I took it in good spirit knowing that in the end it would be all worthwhile."

Fernandes said that this achievement has helped her grow both in her career and as a person. Hoping to start a new page in Australia, Fernandes called her experience a "rejuvenation of one's development" giving her a great boost towards her dreams and ambitions.

A couple beating the odds

Many students shared Fernandes' viewpoint, claiming that the long hours of hard work were worth the outcome. Sanjeeb Nayak and Sasmita Nayak, a married couple with one child, had a rather unique experience. Together they pursued their MBA and were able to complete their degree in two years through intense hard work.

"Accomplishing this programme gave me the confidence I needed to take on more challenges and earn a new position in my career," Sasmita said.

Sanjeeb said that working together on this achievement allowed them to grow closer as a couple and understand each other on a different level.

"Making it through the programme required a tremendous amount of teamwork," he said. "But knowing that there's someone at home who understands exactly what you're going through works as a kind of stress remover."

Sasmita also highlighted the positive impact of studying, having a baby and striving through one's career on a relationship.

"The programme's flexibility allows you to balance all three, prioritising what is essential," Sasmita said. "And going through these challenges as a couple gives you the support you need to do so."

More than just grades

Meanwhile, Sulaiman Semaan, SBS Dubai MBA graduate and general manager at ALU27, a branch of the Sharaf Group, described his accomplishment as a "refreshing experience."

"I have always felt that something was missing and completing this programme has filled that void," he said. "This feat has allowed me to increase my knowledge, giving me the confidence I need to grow and develop as a person, and in my career."

Semaan stressed an important point, however, saying that the degree alone doesn't guarantee you a life of success – it's the experience that does.

"A master's degree gives you perspective," he said. "It helps to create a path for yourself in the correct direction. But it's your personality and charisma that will truly help you attain your goals."

Ranjit Gajendra, general manager of the Higher Colleges of Technology, Centre of Excellence for Applied Research and Training, also emphasised the role character plays in accomplishment.

"Forty-nine of our graduates completed their programme with recognisable distinctions," he said. "And this reflects the quality of students and their determination to strive for achievement."

A stepping-stone to your dreams

Nayak summarised the MBA experience, expressing great self-fulfilment upon the completion of her academic goals.

"The synergy between your work experience and what you learn in the classroom, along with the interaction with students from different backgrounds gives you an experience that can't be emulated by anything else," she said.

So no matter how busy you think your life may be, squeezing in a little more knowledge is always possible. And in today's competitive work environment coupled with skyrocketing expenses, such an endeavour is almost a must.

Not only will seeking further education make you a more competitive candidate in the job market, but it will also enhance your character, giving you the confidence you need to go through many of life's walkabouts.

Highest achievement

Among the 49 students was Khalid Zgheir, a regional sales and marketing manager for Tyco Water in the Middle East. Zgheir won the Sir Paul Girolami Prize given to a student who demonstrates excellence in the strategic core of the MBA programme.

Zgheir, who won the award out of 500 potential candidates, said that at times it was difficult to maintain a balance between work and academics, but that it was possible with effort.

"I had to sacrifice some of my work timings and reshuffle my schedule to include sufficient time for my studies," he said. "On the plane you'd find me reading a textbook instead of a magazine."

With his success, Zgheir is aiming for two greater goals.

"I hope to be a Certified Management Accountant in the near future, as well as obtain a DBA (Doctorate in Business Administration)," he said. "I would also like to be a local tutor for students in marketing."