With an extensive background across various fields, Saif Haddad was looking for a way to upskill and decided to pursue his options with the Executive Master in Strategic Marketing & Communication at IE University.

4 min read

Saif Haddad has an incredibly unique and storied history, which includes the time he served in the office of the Her Majesty Queen Al Abdullah of Jordan, his home country. He first began his career as a journalist and, after a few years, shifted to working in communications and public relations. This switch led him to the office of Her Majesty.

While working for Queen Rania of Jordan, he was part of the team that handled all her international communications and public relations, including contributing to her press releases and speeches. He decided to make yet another switch into the corporate world, where he started working for Ferrero, an Italian multinational company. There, he specialized in trade and retail marketing, looking after global brands Nutella and Tic Tac. As this was an incredibly different role than anything he’d ever done before, Saif thought it was time to elevate his marketing skill set.

Only applying to IE University, he decided that if he got accepted, it was meant to be—and if not, he would continue self-learning. However, he knew that it was the only place he wanted to pursue an executive master’s degree. He was accepted to the Executive Master in Strategic Marketing & Communication program and with that, was ready to take the next step in his career.

Identifying gaps and enhancing skills

Saif was very realistic about what he was lacking in his marketing skillset due to the constant changes in the fast-paced market, so he saw the program as a way to get up to speed. Plus, he had heard great things about IE University from friends who have studied there. “And honestly, there’s no harm in getting a master’s degree and this is the best place to do it,” he says.

Saif highlighted that the program set him up for leadership by enhancing his strategic and big-picture thinking.

“Specialist training can happen on the job and differ from one company to another. The program focuses on how to lead in a role, regardless of the specifics.”

Shifting your career from journalism to content marketing

Studying while still working at Ferrero, Saif enjoyed taking the things he was learning in the classroom and applying them directly to his role. But the converse was also true—he was able to use his real-world experience to tackle the things he was working on in class. This served as a great way to discover what was working and what wasn’t. “I could feel the difference at work just a few months into the program.” He also emphasizes the collective learning aspect, explaining that it’s a rare opportunity to learn from a colleague who doesn’t work at the same company you do.

Balancing work and study

Going into the program, Saif knew that he’d be giving up his Saturdays for his studies, as well as time during the week to complete various discussion forums. He was a program participant during those early post-pandemic days, so he was already working remotely, which turned out to be in his favor as he was able to spend more time in Madrid.

For Saif, one of the biggest challenges was trying to separate being a student and a professional. He studied alongside like-minded peers but still found he had to flip the switch and get into a different mindset. At the time, his work revolved around chocolate, so the in-class projects didn’t quite relate to his day-to-day activities in that way. So trying to change his mindset daily was a challenge, but it taught him to be agile and adaptable.

The program’s residential periods stood out to Saif. “I was able to talk face-to-face with the professors, who have a wealth of knowledge as both academics and real-world professionals. The chance to pick their brains was amazing.” Meanwhile, spending time with his cohort in both Madrid and Segovia was an incredible experience. He still remembers the media training they did while in Segovia, “I’ve been a journalist and a press officer, but I’ve never been on the other side. It was nice to learn how to carry myself in that position.”

Taking away a lifelong network

Saif graduated having formed an incredibly solid network. Currently living in Dubai, he sees the benefits of those connections regularly. “In Dubai, the IE Alumni community is very active.”

Shifting your career from journalism to content marketing

“I’ve had the chance to meet a lot of people and make personal and professional connections. The exposure the program gives you beyond education is priceless.”

After the Executive Master in Strategic Marketing & Communication, Saif has moved on to higher roles—twice. He worked for leading companies such as Emirates Group and Amazon before landing his current role at Publicis Groupe, a French multinational advertising and public relations company. He now works as an Associate Business Director in the content division with multinational clients, ranging from government to tech and consultancy.

Saif would remind future program participants that the Executive Master in Strategic Marketing & Communication is not easy, but it’s well worth it. He’s been able to grow his network and build connections with people from around the world. And even though he finally got used to the workload, he’s happy to have his Saturdays back.