“The Executive MBA has made me more confident in assessing business opportunities, building a high-performing team, managing growth within different business structures and retaining top-talent.”

Sohail, Switzerland

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Sohail Ahmed

About me

I was born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, because my father was a petroleum geologist working for US oil companies interested in the Middle East. We returned to the US (Houston) where I lived for 20 years and later met my Swiss-French/Italian wife, Silvia, while studying in Baltimore at Johns Hopkins. Academic medicine was my calling back then, and it led me to Boston where I subsequently switched over to the Pharmaceutical industry, followed by the vaccine industry, and now I am working at a rapidly-expanding biotechnology company called Galapagos. This career decision led me to explore the world, and I have the privilege to live in Tuscany, Italy, and work in Switzerland. My work at Novartis Vaccines led to the unforgettable experience of meeting Bill Gates and helping with their efforts in developing countries. Globalization cannot be ignored, and the Executive MBA from IE Business School prepared me for embracing change and seeing opportunities!
WHO

Sohail Ahmed, Switzerland

POSITION

Senior Vice President, Head of Translational Medicine Galapagos GmbH

Program studied

Executive MBA

DEFINE YOUR EXPERIENCE IN THE EXECUTIVE MBA IN ONE WORD

Insightful.

IN WHAT WAYS DO YOU THINK THE EXECUTIVE MBA HAS CHANGED YOUR LIFE, PROFESSIONALLY AND PERSONALLY?

Professionally, the Executive MBA has made me more confident in assessing business opportunities, building a high-performing team, managing growth within different business structures and retaining top-talent.

Put simply, the Executive MBA helped me prioritize the factors that will translate into better business results. Some of these factors are more operational, like where a supply chain needs to be optimized. Other factors center around planning, that is more about the how rather than the what in business.

As a physician, scientist and executive manager in the pharmaceutical industry, I am guided by the words of Louis Pasteur: “Chance favors the prepared mind.” This is exactly what the Executive MBA has done for me professionally by enabling me to recognize opportunities.

The Executive MBA has also changed my life personally, helping me to appreciate that with discipline and strict time management I am capable of achieving more than I thought I could. Also, the lessons learned in achieving business success can also be applied to your personal life. Business associates need an inspirational leader, just like children need an inspirational father or mother. A manager´s associates will flourish in an environment where they feel safe and respected, and the same is true for children being raised in a household.

Happiness breeds happiness, and positive energy breeds positive energy. Humans are capable of extraordinary acts when they love what they are doing, and the positive effects can be seen at work and at home with a leader who keeps this in mind.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO STUDENTS WHO ARE ABOUT TO BEGIN THE PROGRAM?

You are investing in your ability to recognize opportunities in the future. Life is not always about working hard—sometimes it’s about working smart. With globalization breaking down geographical borders, there are opportunities for those who have “prepared minds” to bring much-needed help to the world and be rewarded for their efforts.

Invest time and energy in the Executive MBA journey. You may not get another chance because life will only get busier. Focus on what you learn, apply it to what you see in the world around you and imagine how it can help you make your dreams a reality. Never be afraid to think outside of the box!

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE MEMORY OF THE EXECUTIVE MBA SO FAR?

Becoming a part of a family of people from all over the world who are the best at what they do. I know they will be there when I need personal advice in life, or professional advice related to businesses outside my specialty.

Another magical memory is when our business case team combined our different expertise to connect the dots of our business proposition and make a business plan! We were busy being awesome and that feeling is hard to forget!

WHAT IS NETWORKING LIKE IN THE EXECUTIVE MBA?

The first day of the Executive MBA will give you a glimpse into what networking will be like throughout the program. I was impressed by everyone’s professionalism, as well as all the different nationalities, specialties and levels of experience represented.

As time went by and we faced the challenges of our schoolwork or projects together, the difference in specialties became less apparent. Instead, the similarities regarding what was driving us to succeed took over. It was this commonality that helped forge friendships that now span the globe.