May 17, 2020

Anna Schebsdat

President Columbia Business School UAE Chapter, CAA Board Member; responsible for Executive MBA at Cass Business School (City, University of London); Advisor to the Private Office of Founder & Chairman’s Office

  • Which school did you attend at Columbia and why did you choose Columbia in the first place?

I always believed that continuous learning gives you greater freedom of choice in life, better decision-making skills, better networking and self-fulfilment. Studying at one of the world’s top 5 business schools was a dream come true.

Now, four years later being elected as President of the UAE Chapter and the CAA Board Member is an honour and responsibility. I have graduated from the Executive Programme in Management from Columbia Business School in 2016.  At the time, I was in my second year of managing a newly established office and one of our partnerships was with Columbia Business School. I enjoyed the flexibility of the programme, modules in New York and the outstanding faculty. Being a General Manager, having a one-year old son and doing the programme was a challenge. However, it is always a self-inflicted urge to do more. I never said no to challenges and always jumped on the wagon of opportunities. One of my favourite quotes is “Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings” (Salvador Dali).

You need to be able to dream, make a plan, create a supporting environment and act. I see how my two children look up to me and realize that I must do my utmost to be the best role model in all aspects.

  • What did you enjoy the most at Columbia? 

Learning from my wonderful classmates, world-class faculty and the energy on the campus were the highlights of my time at Columbia. I came back from the campus with sparkling eyes and full of energy, simply inspired. This feeling would spread to people around me and motivate them as well.

  • You currently serve as the President of Columbia Business School in UAE. How will you be collaborating with the CAA UAE chapter in the future? 

I am honoured by the trust extended to me by the Board in New York for my appointment and by the CAA UAE Chapter’s Board Members. I was truly excited to see the mutual interest in working together – we can do so much more by collaboration between Chapters. We had plenty of plans, however the unfortunate lock downs around the world limited all our exciting initiatives for some time.

We are therefore working on our first webinar, bringing faculty and experts on board, revamping social media channels, share Alumni success stories and once allowed, we will have plenty of networking events. I am confident that with combined efforts we will bring even wider networking opportunities for Alumni of both CBS and CAA chapters! We aim to build a successful collaboration between UAE chapters 2020 onwards to benefit current and future Alumni.

  • Could you describe what you do today? Is this what you thought you'd be doing while you were studying at Columbia? 

My life had more exciting opportunities in store than I ever imagined. It is important to set a golden standard in everything you do, so great things come your way.

My passion and expertise is in global Education Management and Executive Education, to which I dedicated the past 10 years. I have the last 5 years in regional leadership roles holding P&L responsibility. In my current pivotal regional role for the leading Cass Business School (part of one of the largest and oldest universities - City, University of London), I am responsible for the globally ranked Executive MBA covering MENA region and based out of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). It gives me self-fulfilment to meet senior executives from all industries on weekly basis and consult them on their education path. Why is it fulfilling? One can see visible results – transformed and successful students. Neither day is the same as I attend networking events and meet different cultures.

I am also involved as an Advisor of Founder and Chairman’s Office in the Private Office. It includes Abu Dhabi Arts Society (ADAS), UK registered non-profit organisation with the mission to build bridges between cultural organisations from Abu Dhabi to the world, and the Al Suwaidi Foundation to preserve legacy and projects.

Previously I spearheaded first international expansion by opening the GCC office in Dubai to act as exclusive representative for a number of the world’s top 10 ranked business schools such as MIT, Harvard and Wharton.

At the moment, I have completed 9 months of learning Arabic and I am on my way to master a new level. I am also working on my PhD proposal.

  • What advice would you give recent alumni or prospective students?  

I was raised in a family, which would steer and guide me towards getting the best education possible. Education is your wealth. Finally, I would advise to never waste your time on self-doubt and answer the question – what is the best result you want to achieve in every aspect of your life?

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