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Academic Roots, Corporate Heights: A Journey of Excellence

by Belinda Breeze

Dr Hashem Salem, an esteemed alumnus of Canadian University Dubai, has ascended to the pinnacle of corporate leadership as the CEO of Bin Owais Holdings and a board member of United Foods and Unikai. His exceptional education and innovative mindset, fostered during his time at the university, have driven his remarkable success in the business world.

Here, he discusses his experience with the university, as a student and beyond.

Education UAE: Why did you choose the Canadian University?
Dr Hashem Salem: I pursued my double master’s degree at Canadian University Dubai after careful consideration of various factors that are important to me. One of the primary reasons for choosing this university was the exceptional quality of education it offers. I was impressed by the academic standards and the reputation of the faculty members, which assured me I would receive a top-notch education.

I was impressed by the academic standards and the reputation of the faculty members

The flexibility in scheduling classes was another significant advantage that Canadian University Dubai provided. The option to attend classes on either weekends or weekdays gave me the freedom to manage my time effectively and balance my academic pursuits with other commitments. What also drew me in was the university’s convenient location. Being in Dubai, a vibrant and cosmopolitan city known for its opportunities and cultural diversity, offered a unique learning experience that I was eager to be a part of.

Education UAE: How did your university experience shape your career path?
Dr Hashem Salem: Canadian University Dubai shaped my career path by providing education, skills, networking opportunities, career services, credibility, research skills, soft skills development, and personal growth, all of which helped me to succeed in my professional life and opened doors for higher job opportunities.

Education UAE: What extracurricular activities or clubs were most impactful for you?
Dr Hashem Salem: Being a member of the professional organisation’s team had a significant impact on me. We had numerous visits and discussions at the Dubai Financial Market, followed by insights into business ideas at Canadian University Dubai. This experience helped me expand my network, sharpen my decision-making skills, and stay informed about market trends and developments.

Education UAE: Did you have any mentors or professors who significantly influenced you?
Dr Hashem Salem: Yes, I had Professor Elgilani who effectively conveyed his expertise in accounts and finance, drawing real-life scenarios from the market. His teaching approach made it easier for us to grasp complex concepts and bridge the gap between academic theory and practical applications in the real world.

Education UAE: What challenges did you face during your time at university, and how did you overcome them?
Dr Hashem Salem: Time was the fundamental challenge, striving to find a balance between university, work, and family. Initially, this posed a significant challenge. However, through careful time management and support from professors and family, I was able to successfully juggle these responsibilities and strike a harmonious balance between them.

Education UAE: In what ways did the university community support personal growth and development?
Dr Hashem Salem: Engaging in research projects, independent studies, or collaborations with faculty members helped me to develop critical thinking skills, problem-solving abilities, and a deeper understanding of my field of study, fostering intellectual growth and personal development. Also, involvement in community service projects, volunteering opportunities, or social impact initiatives cultivated my sense of social responsibility, empathy, and leadership.

Education UAE: Can you speak about any specific projects or experiences that were pivotal in your learning?
Dr Hashem Salem: I was part of a significant project that involved establishing a DFM room at a Canadian University Dubai. This project was highly beneficial for me and all the students, as it provided valuable insights into the workings of the Dubai Financial Market. For example, the project helped us gain knowledge about the current number of companies listed on the DFM, how to watch the share prices, and the process for extracting data from the website.

Education UAE: How has the alumni network benefited you post-graduation?
Dr Hashem Salem: The alumni network has been instrumental in helping me build strong connections with other professionals. Thanks to these connections, I had the opportunity to serve as a keynote speaker at an entrepreneurship and innovation showcase and to support students in developing their creative ideas with an incubation grant. As an alumnus, it has been an honour to give back to this thriving university community and help enhance graduate employability through my work with the CUD Hub Incubator. I am honoured to have joined the advisory board of CUD.
I also delivered a lecture to the senior management of a Chinese state construction engineering group on conducting business in Dubai and the essential legal requirements for opening a branch.

Education UAE: What advice would you give current students or recent graduates entering the workforce. Dr Hashem Salem: For current students or recent graduates entering the workforce, here are some pieces of advice that can help them navigate their career paths successfully:

  • Continuous Learning: Embrace a growth mindset and be open to learning new skills and knowledge throughout your career. Stay curious, seek opportunities for professional development, and be proactive in expanding your expertise.
  • Build a Professional Network: Networking is crucial for career growth. Connect with professionals in your field, attend industry events, and maintain relationships with colleagues, mentors, and alumni. Your network can offer support, guidance, and potential opportunities.
  • Develop Soft Skills: besides technical skills, focus on developing soft skills such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving, adaptability, and emotional intelligence. These skills are highly valued by employers and can set you apart in the workplace.
  • Seek Mentorship: Find mentors who can provide guidance, share their experiences, and offer valuable advice as you navigate your career. Mentorship can help you set goals, make informed decisions, and accelerate your professional growth.
  • Stay Resilient: The job market can be competitive, and setbacks are inevitable. Stay resilient in the face of challenges, setbacks, and rejections. Learn from failures, adapt to changes, and stay focused on your long-term goals.
  • Set Clear Goals: Define your career goals and create a roadmap to achieve them. Break down your goals into smaller, actionable steps, and regularly reassess and adjust your plan as needed.
  • Embrace Opportunities: Be open to new opportunities, even if they may seem outside your comfort zone. Take on challenges, volunteer for projects, and seek experiences that allow you to grow professionally and personally.
  • Maintain Work-Life Balance: Strive to maintain a balance between your work and personal life to prevent burnout and ensure overall well-being. Take care of your physical and mental health, engage in activities you enjoy, and prioritise self-care. Stay Professional: Maintain a professional demeanour in all your interactions, whether in-person or online. Display integrity, reliability, and a positive attitude in your work, as professionalism is key to building a strong reputation in your practical life.
  • Be Patient and Persistent: Success in your career may not come overnight. Be patient with yourself, stay persistent in pursuing your goals, and celebrate small victories along the way. Remember that each experience contributes to your growth and development. By following these pieces of advice and staying proactive in your career journey, you can position yourself for success and fulfilment in the workplace.