Saudi Aramco and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) on June 6 hosted a graduation dinner for 29 Saudi Aramco employees who recently completed their Master's of Business Administration (MBA) programs from the HKUST Business School in Hong Kong. The program started on May 2013.
The program is modeled as a Saudi Aramco Hosted University Program under the University Relations Division, which takes place at Saudi Aramco in Saudi Arabia.
The 29 employees were individually recognized for their academic achievement. They are the first cohort of MBA students since the bilateral Memorandum of Understanding between Saudi Aramco and HKUST was signed in 2009.
The graduation dinner was opened by professor Caroline Wang, director of the MBA Program in Saudi Arabia, declaring this first cohort a successful pilot with more collaboration to come.
Professor Tony Chan, president of HKUST, said: “Graduation is not the end; it is the beginning of a new chapter of your life. Thanks to the sponsorship given by your employer, you have enjoyed a two-year, fruitful MBA journey at HKUST.”
Ibrahim Al-Buainain, president of Aramco Asia, participated as a judge in the team presentations contest on the capstone project of a field learning exercise, and in the evening, he attended the graduation dinner and delivered a keynote speech.
“On behalf of Saudi Aramco, I congratulate you on your great accomplishment. We are very proud of you all,” he noted. “Saudi Aramco’s commitment in developing our human capital is an important strategic pillar. The knowledge you have gained in this program will undoubtedly hone your business skills and understanding, which would consequently be reflected positively in your workplace in particular and personal growth in general.”
Waleed Al-Helal, Aramco Asia’s Public Affairs director, and Turki Al-Deghrer, Aramco Asia’s Training and Development manager, also attended the presentations and dinner, re-emphasizing the significant importance of the Pacific Region to Saudi Aramco.
Professor Jitendra V. Singh, dean of the HKUST Business School, spoke highly of Saudi Aramco and its vision to develop talent.
At the event, he extended his warmest thanks to the students. “As an HKUST MBA graduate, you have completed the finest business education and developed a mindset that enables you to think and act globally. I believe you can take pride in not only receiving this prestigious degree, but to develop a network that enables you to work more closely with other business units at Aramco.”
Mohanad Alamdar, the graduate representative of the first cohort of the HKUST MBA Program in Saudi Arabia, was the valedictorian. He achieved the highest GPA result in the cohort.
“We’ve learned so many essential things in this program,” said Alamdar. “It taught us that the answer to every strategic question is, ‘It depends.’ The trick, of course, is figuring out what it depends on.“
Citing the quality academic opportunities offered to the graduates, he added: “We must not forget the role of HKUST and our great company, Saudi Aramco, in making this a reality,” he said, giving additional thanks to the students’ families, who had “the biggest role in getting us to where we are today.”
Alamdar and two other students, Stewart Underwood, and Badr Alherbish, were awarded the Most Outstanding MBA Student Awards. Furthermore, all graduates were presented with graduation gifts prepared by the program office.
The general framework agreement between Saudi Aramco and HKUST set forth the strategic relationship in the areas of education and scientific research. The cooperation blended the complementary strengths of the parties in meeting their educational and research interests, serving as a model of academic-industrial collaboration.
The University Relations Division has eight active hosted programs locally to improve employee performance and productivity, and increase retention.