Interview 4: Bavly Obaid

Bavly Obaid (CEng MEng Hons, University of Hertfordshire), IMD Business School
Prior to starting his MBA at IMD Business School, Bavly’s professional experience was in the automotive and manufacturing sector with Cummins and then Ricardo. He started out as a Powertrain Engineer and held several roles across various engineering disciplines, ranging from design of transmissions to production of McLaren engines. In 2016, he progressed into a Strategy Consulting role, in which he advised global manufacturers and investors on future mobility decisions relating to market entry strategy and acquisition target due diligence. In this role, he also devised and implemented operational effectiveness initiatives for vehicle manufacturer product development teams.

What do you hope to achieve through your MBA experience?
Much of my professional experience so far has been in the automotive and manufacturing sector, which is currently seeing significant disruption as the drive towards zero emissions technology accelerates, and as the lines between automotive, energy, transport, infrastructure, and digital technology blur. As I look to progress my business career in this space, it’s important that I not only build a strong foundation in business topics within the context of this exciting industry but also enhance my leadership skills. It was therefore important for me to study at a business school that was well suited to my career needs and interests, so when I began researching the various MBAs offered, I identified the business schools that would best prepare me for a business career in this exciting space.

I found the MBA at IMD Business School to be a very strong fit, not only because of the school’s strong ties with various firms in my target space but also because of its unique focus on leadership development. At IMD Business School, I hope to not only build a strong foundation in business topics but also to expand my network in this space and to develop the leadership skills that are vital to making an impact in the industry as it transitions through this exciting phase. 

How will you use your MBA to further your career? 
In my most recent role as a consultant at Ricardo Strategic Consulting, I advised various clients on decisions relating to future mobility market strategy and conducted due diligence studies on acquisition targets for various investors. In these engagements, I often advised not only my direct client but also stakeholders from across the various business functions within the client organisation. In a similar manner to my direct client, these stakeholders also highly valued the nuanced understanding of the industry that one acquires from hands-on commercial experience.

In looking to maximise the value of my advice to my clients, it became clear that I must pursue two key activities. First, I must strengthen my knowledge of various business topics, so that I can tailor my advice to stakeholders from across various business functions during my client engagements. Second, I must and seek out opportunities to gain hands-on commercial experience in the zero-emissions space, so that I could provide my clients with a nuanced understanding of the industry that they highly value. My MBA will be a crucial step in my career. Through it, I aim to strengthen my knowledge of various business topics and to broaden my network. In five years’ time, I aspire to be in a commercial leadership role, accelerating the transition to zero-emissions and actively shaping the future mobility space.

How was your experience of applying for the scholarship? 
My experience of the scholarship application process was very positive. The very seamless process starts by applying for the scholarship on the RAEng’s grants portal. Completing the online application form, which also consisted of two essay questions, was straightforward. The essays, in particular, helped me reflect on my career aspirations and enabled me to clearly articulate how my chosen MBA program and how being part of the SMF network were vital components of my career journey. Once I submitted my application, I received a very prompt response notifying me that I had been invited to interview. I was asked to prepare a ten-minute presentation and was advised on the date and time that my online interview would be held. I was interviewed by a panel consisting of three industry leaders, who were incredibly welcoming. Although I was asked various questions relating to my application, my career journey, and my professional background, I felt that the interviewers were keen to get to know my character. The interview was, overall, an enjoyable experience, and a few weeks later, I was informed that the panel had decided that I would be a part of the SMF network and that I would receive the SMF scholarship.

Throughout the entire application process, I received an unrivalled level of support from Veronica Frincu. Right from the beginning of the process, Veronica proactively provided me with frequent updates on the status of my application, and she also did her best to answer all my questions. Overall, I found the scholarship application process to be an enjoyable and very beneficial journey.

What difference has the scholarship made to you?
Securing funding for MBA programs during COVID-19 was certainly challenging. The financial burden of studying an MBA is considerable during normal circumstances let alone during a pandemic, in which financing options are incredibly limited. The scholarship has made a world of difference, and without it, I would have likely had to defer my MBA until I could secure an alternative source of funding. Furthermore, receiving this scholarship has enabled me to be a part of the SMF network, which will be incredibly beneficial throughout my career.

What tip would you give to someone seeking financial support to do an MBA?
The decision to pursue an MBA ultimately depends on one’s personal and financial circumstances. However, I would advise people looking to embark on this journey to first and foremost identify whether going to a business school makes sense in light of their own career aspirations, without placing too much emphasis on the sticker price. I would then advise them to research financing options early in the MBA application process. Depending on the business school that one is targeting, tuition fees alone can be considerable. Business schools do generally offer scholarships, but it’s important to identify external sources of funding from organisations whose purpose and interests align with yours, and to network with individuals in those organisations. The SMF has published an article, which provides invaluable advice for those seeking financial support, called How to fund my MBA. I highly recommend following the advice in this article and diligently researching all of the funding options available to you early on in your MBA application process.

What are your expectations of being part of the SMF network after business school?
The SMF network is a highly prestigious network, which has the potential to act as a force for change in our society. It is also highly influential in accelerating the UK’s transition to net-zero emissions, in that its members lead firms that are currently defining this space. As a member of this network, I hope to collaborate with these industry shapers to drive the adoption of technology that has the potential to transform our society into being more sustainable. I also aim to learn from the experience of the members of the SMF network and apply these learnings to my career. It is precisely through learning from the experience of these industry leaders that I too can drive a positive change in our society, through the commercialisation of technological solutions, and influence others to follow suit.

How do you hope to support SMF after you graduate from business school? 
Throughout my career, I have benefited significantly from mentorship and I am grateful for the support that I have received from my mentors over the years. I strongly believe that gaining the perspective of others and learning from their experiences is invaluable when shaping one’s career journey and making career-defining decisions. As such, I hope to pay forward the help I have received by mentoring, either informally or formally as part of the Engineers in Business Competitions, young engineers who aspire to become business leaders. I hope to leverage my engineering and commercial leadership experience to advise entrepreneurs as they develop high-potential technological solutions that help accelerate the UK’s net-zero transition. I also aim to promote the SMF to the wider engineering community and encourage engineers to strongly consider applying their much-needed skills to a career in a business context in order to advance the economic performance of UK engineering and manufacturing.

Find out how to apply for a scholarship.

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