"The program has a well-curated curriculum and an innovative teaching methodology, which opened my eyes to new trends and opportunities in different parts of the world."

Ali, Kenya

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Ali Akbarali

About me

Ali Akbarali is a second generation hotelier and the managing director of Maplestar Hotels Group. He oversees the development and operations of the group’s properties in Canada and sub-Saharan Africa, as well as new commercial and real estate developments. His international hospitality experience extends across the African continent and North America. In addition to the IE Brown Executive MBA, Ali holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Toronto. Ali is also a member of the Aga Khan Grants and Review Board for Kenya, where he currently resides with his family.
WHO

Ali Akbarali, Kenya

POSITION

Managing Director, Maplestar Hotels Group

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WHAT DID YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT THE IE BROWN EXECUTIVE MBA PROGRAM?

The best part of the program was meeting accomplished, down-to-earth people from around the world during the residential periods at IE Business School in Madrid and at Brown University in Rhode Island. The joint executive program between two leading institutions attracts a diverse group of individuals. As a result, I have made new friends for life and have expanded my network considerably.

HOW HAS YOUR EXPERIENCE AT IE BUSINESS SCHOOL BENEFITED YOU PERSONALLY AND PROFESSIONALLY?

The program has provided me with a deeper understanding of the newest global trends and an up-to-date toolkit that complements my extensive experience in development within emerging markets.

WHICH ASPECT OF THE PROGRAM DID YOU FIND THE MOST CHALLENGING?

Time management and balancing the workload with my personal and professional life were the most challenging aspects for me. It was hard work, but I enjoyed learning, both through the course material and through interaction with my fellow students.

HOW DID THE PROGRAM EXPAND YOUR NETWORK AND OPEN NEW OPPORTUNITIES?

The program has a well-curated curriculum and an innovative teaching methodology, which opened my eyes to new trends and opportunities in different parts of the world. As a result, I am now looking to expand my investments in other countries and differentiate my existing real estate portfolio into more sustainable development opportunities. After such a positive experience, I intend to pursue further study at IE School of Architecture and Design.

WHY DO YOU THINK AN MBA AT IE BUSINESS SCHOOL IS A WORTHY INVESTMENT TO MAKE IN THE CURRENT BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT?

I think any form of continuous education is a worthy investment. It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to access knowledge. It provides a deeper perspective, develops critical thinking and contributes to self-growth.

IE Business School attracts a diverse community of students and highly qualified and experienced professors, while also understanding the role of an effective administration—all this underpins its high ranking and strong reputation. These aspects contribute to its continued success, making the learning experience relevant, evolving and forward-thinking.

THE IE BROWN EXECUTIVE MBA GIVES YOU THE UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY TO STUDY AT TWO GLOBAL INSTITUTIONS. HOW HAS THIS AFFECTED YOUR VIEW OF THE BUSINESS WORLD?

I chose this program because of the partnership between IE Business School and Brown University. The humanities and social science courses give the program a more well-rounded approach, which provides global leaders with an increased awareness of the human element in business.

Courses such as The Shared History of Slavery and Capitalism, Climate Change, and Health Disparities give perspective on our civilization’s history, present and future, enabling more thoughtful business decisions.

AS THE MANAGING DIRECTOR OF MAPLESTAR HOTELS GROUP, YOU HAVE A LOT OF RESPONSIBILITY RESTING ON YOUR SHOULDERS. WHAT ARE SOME KEY TECHNIQUES OR SKILLS YOU LEARNED IN THE PROGRAM THAT YOU APPLY IN YOUR ROLE TODAY?

Two key learnings I found extremely useful are the importance of financial flexibility and the impact of climate change on our future. Aligning financial policies and tax strategies with investment strategies are critical for an organization’s growth. And the impact of climate change presents new opportunities for sustainable development practices. I have been able to apply a lot of the knowledge I gained from the IE Brown Executive MBA in my current role, from maximizing my contribution margin to bond investment analysis.

The impact of the pandemic on my business has meant that I spend more time tightening my financial policies and concentrating on trends in real estate development which complement the UN’s strategic development goals in both mitigating and adapting to climate change. Focusing on a double bottom line is more rewarding than simply taking more from society than we give—and there are a lot of business opportunities in this space.

YOU HAVE NUMEROUS ACADEMIC CREDENTIALS TO YOUR NAME ALREADY, INCLUDING CERTIFICATIONS FROM HARVARD KENNEDY AND CORNELL UNIVERSITY. WHY IS LIFELONG LEARNING SO IMPORTANT IN YOUR OPINION?

In an ever-evolving environment, lifelong learning is the only way to remain relevant. According to my spiritual leader, His Highness the Aga Khan, education develops the character, intellect and mental resilience which enable humanity to prosper. I am in a privileged position to be able to access high-quality knowledge from reputable institutions, and I honor this privilege by allocating time for self-improvement. Lifelong learning complements experience and prepares me to seize the opportunities that life presents. It also allows me to model the behavior for my children to witness and hopefully adopt in their lives.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE WHO IS ABOUT TO START THE IE BROWN EXECUTIVE MBA?

It is a rigorous program that requires a lot of time. However, nothing worthwhile comes without sacrifice, and sometimes it is necessary to forgo social gatherings or even family time, but this is a small sacrifice for a huge gain. I would suggest carving out time for family or friends and making this a priority. Take breaks, prioritize the areas you want to get the most out of, pace yourself and use your network for mutual support.