“From a professional standpoint, what stood out was the quality of the program, with distinguished, world-class professors who provided a phenomenal learning experience. From a personal standpoint, it would have to be the incredible and invaluable network I formed with my fellow classmates”
Salim first left for the United States at the age of 17 to pursue his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. It was his first time away from home. Moving from the Middle East to the middle of Pennsylvania is a 180-degree shift when it comes to things like culture, language and weather, making for a challenging yet rewarding experience at such a young age. Later on in his career, Salim started working at a job that allowed him to travel to over 40 countries, carrying out work for customers and introducing himself to different cultures and experiences.
Now, as an Executive Business Leader for General Electric in the Middle East, Salim says that the law degree he embarked upon with IE and Northwestern law schools could not have come at a better time: he can now put this profound learning experience into practice in the real business world, impacting both his professional and personal lives.
Salim Mousallam, Bethlehem, Palestine
- Program studied
Why did you decide to do the Executive LL.M.?
I’ve always had a passion for law, and my interest in this area has only increased throughout my career. This is especially true for my current position as Executive Business Leader for General Electric (GE) in the Middle East. My role involves a lot of negotiations, contract disputes and amendments, particularly with finalizing terms and conditions, so I often have to work with the legal department to get input and advice. This exposure to the practice of law inspired me to learn more. I wanted to become better equipped to tackle legal issues alongside customers, and to be able to team up with our lawyers for deeper legal review and analysis.
With this goal in mind, I started researching different Executive LL.M. programs. I was looking for schools that allowed non-lawyers to participate in highly ranked programs; offered a more flexible structure with both online and in-person sessions; and had a reasonable program duration. Finally, after extensive research, I decided on the Executive LL.M. joint program from IE Law School and Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. It checked all the boxes. I also appreciated the fact that this program allows students to get a degree in both law and business. Once I found this program, the choice was made.
From your experience, both professionally and personally, what stands out about IE Law School?
Overall, it has been a fantastic experience. From a professional standpoint, what stood out was the quality of the program, with distinguished, world-class professors who provided a phenomenal learning experience. From a personal standpoint, it would have to be the incredible and invaluable network I formed with my fellow classmates. Their international backgrounds and experiences added a unique flavor to the program, and I made lasting friendships.
Having studied another degree that was not law, did you have any problems completing the master?
Not at all. My problem-solving skills from my engineering education, over 14 years of experience at General Electric Company (GE), and exposure to international business deals and negotiations helped me a great deal when it came to understanding different concepts and classes. It’s true that certain law-focused classes were outside of my comfort zone, but I found the challenge exciting.
The structure of the coursework and the group assignments also played a key role in enhancing my learning experience and helping me understand unfamiliar or difficult topics.
You are in a very diverse classroom with peers from all over the world. Have you found cultural differences in how they approach the law? If so, what are they and how do these differences enrich the learning experience?
I would definitely say that the diversity of my cohort was one of my favorite parts of the program. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people. We were 19 students representing 18 nationalities, a variety of industries, legal fields, and non-legal backgrounds. Each individual brought a unique and interesting approach to our class discussions.
For example, in contract law, as we analyzed each case in class, it was fascinating to hear about the differences between countries and judicial systems. Whenever we analyzed cases as a class, our diverse perspectives allowed us to explore many different strategies and viewpoints when establishing a resolution.
After many years of professional experience in senior positions, how was it to return to the classroom?
When you’re in high school, you can’t wait to finish. But when you’re a few years into your professional career, you wish you were back in school. So, studying again felt amazing. It was like I never left.
One of the greatest things in life is that we’re always learning—whether we’re at work, at home or traveling the globe. Going back to school was extremely rewarding for me as it allowed me to learn something new, open my mind to new learning experiences and get in touch with what’s happening in the educational sector. As a business leader who relies heavily on recruiting top talent, this is extremely important to me. The experience provided me with a unique perspective on the dynamic realities of the education system, allowing me to take these insights back to the business to enhance future recruitment processes.
How do you envision your professional life after the master’s program?
After finishing my Master in Aerospace Engineering early in my career, my professional life was focused on building technical expertise. This later became the foundation of my professional career and helped me excel. Now, my professional life has reached a stage where my roles involve a greater degree of responsibility as an executive business leader, team coach and mentor. So, I believe that the values, skills, legal perspectives and lessons learned from this Executive LL.M. paired with my professional experience at the GE will help me navigate the next phase of my professional life.
GE has an amazing business environment that fosters continuous learning and leadership development. The company has been constantly committed to supporting my professional, educational and personal goals: from the start of my career at their prestigious Edison Engineering Development Program, to sponsoring my first master’s degree, to the various leadership and business training courses at their world-class leadership school in Crotonville, NY, to now giving me the opportunity to complete this program at IE.