Ahmed-Rafi-B-Ferry, CEO, University-of-West-London-RAK-Branch-campus
Ahmed Rafi B Ferry, CEO, University of West London RAK Branch campus Image Credit: Supplied

Please share a brief history and profile of your Institution and the services it provides.

The University of West London (UWL) Branch Campus located in Ras Al Khaimah is the only branch campus of UWL in the UAE. We have been operational since 2017 and offer cutting edge undergraduate and post graduate programmes to the student and professional communities in the UAE with the same academic and quality standards offered in the parent campus. We currently have a team of highly competent and reputed faculty members and an ever- growing student base.

What are some of its recent achievements and how has the establishment impacted its sector?

We have strived consistently to meet and exceed the expectations of all our stakeholders. Our students are fully engaged as is evident from the National Student Survey 2019, which reports that we are the top modern university in London for overall satisfaction. The corporate sector is happy with our products as 98 per cent of our graduates are in employment or further study within six months of graduation, earning us the coveted title of Career University. We were ranked top in London for teaching quality by the Good University Guide. Our local stakeholders honoured us with the Best Educational Provider, runner up title constituted by the Rakez Business Excellence Awards.

Critical and quick decision making is an art form that defines CEOs. How has this evolved during the pandemic?

When uncertainties abound, it is difficult to have a clear vision and strategy. Instead of making long term plans, we should be running short sprints. I believe that leaders must resist the urge to wrest control and must super empower their people instead. It’s group intuition that works best in such situations. Get as many stakeholders involved, make decision making easy and test out your strategies. That would be the best way forward.

What are the short- and long-term challenges you foresee within your sector, how do you plan to surmount them?

As we keep moving deeper into the 4th industrial revolution, we have to ensure that we embrace robotics and machine learning in our curriculum. As most of the jobs that exist today shall be irrelevant soon, we should proactively work towards building 21st century skills. We also believe that the industry and academia could work more closely. Students should be prepared to hit the ground running and be productive at the earliest. With a unique program called the Employability Lab, we ensure that our students develop and demonstrate the competencies expected by their future employers.

Emotional quotient ranks high in a CEO’s list of variables in handling staff. How do you relate to this statement?

I believe that leadership is all about having a vibrant dream and realising this vision through the wholehearted support of a team. For the latter to happen, the leader must build trust and relationships. And it goes without saying that a high EQ definitely helps in rallying people around one’s cause.

Your advice to entrepreneurs planning to set up business on what it takes to build and nurture a brand.

Choose a domain that aligns with your strengths and passion. Build partnerships, work hard and learn as much as possible from best practices. Try to satisfy the unmet needs of your target customers by coming up with something unique. And above all, have the grit to persist even if you don’t taste success initially.