Columbia Alumni Association UAE Board Members 2021
Anna Schebsdat, ’16 EPM, President Columbia Business School (UAE Chapter)
Anna Schebsdat is a senior executive with 14 years of global work experience, which spans across MENA, UK, Europe and Russia. Extensive consultative sales and business development expertise acquired across emerging and established markets helped her in generating multi-million dollar revenue for global brands and start-up.
Her passion and expertise is in Education Management and Executive Education, to which she dedicated the past 10 years and 5 years in regional leadership roles holding P&L responsibility. In her current pivotal regional role for the leading Cass Business School (City, University of London), she is responsible for the globally ranked Executive MBA covering MENA region.
Anna worked for the top 5 out of the world’s top 10 ranked business schools such as MIT, Harvard and Wharton. She spearheaded first international expansion by opening the GCC office in Dubai to act as exclusive representative for the above brands in the region. She is 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. Prior to her journey in Education field, at the age of 21 she managed $26 million business category with $3 million budget at the global brand Philips.
Anna currently serves as the President of the Columbia Business School UAE Chapter. She holds Master of Science in International Economics and Business. She is fluent in German, English, Russian and actively learning Arabic for the past year. Lastly, she is part of official Volunteer Team for Expo 2020.
Soraya Beheshti '19, Vice President Columbia Alumni Association (UAE Chapter)
Soraya Beheshti is the Managing Director of Crimson Education (EMEA), a growth stage ed-tech firm. She graduated magna cum laude from Columbia University. She was recognised as the Rising Star in Business at the 2022 FedEx/Gulf Capital/MEED SME Awards. While at university, her team won the Columbia Innovation Award for a refugee-focused fintech startup, and matriculated into the first IBM Blockchain Accelerator. As a student, she was invited to the UAE Mission to the UN to participate in ’think-ins’ on youth issues in the UAE; conducted sustainability workshops for government bodies, and was a member of the UNSDG Media Zone. Soraya also released an anthology of refugee stories, poetry, and plant-based recipes from refugee homes, which is a fundraiser for organisations providing aid to displaced people. She is also a board member of the New Zealand Business Council.
While at Columbia, Soraya took full advantage of CU’s global opportunities, taking a semester off to research and work with refugee communities in the Middle East and Europe; conduct conservation research in the Atlantic Rainforest in Brazil and study Arabic and Migration at Columbia’s Global Centers in Amman and Paris.
Shahriar Rezvani '16 CBS, Board Member
Shahriar has over 15 years of experience in managing fortune 500 and startup companies with extensive knowledge in Mobility and Fleet management, M&A, Franchise, and partnership. He has helped various startup businesses in the mobility sector to create their strategy and value proposition. Shahriar is an active member of Gerson Lehrman Group INC (GLG Consulting) and Alpha Sights and has helped and consulted various organizations including cooperates and startups with market insight to set up their business in the United Arab Emirates. Shahriar is a four-time winner of DAST (Dubai Award for Sustainable Transport under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammad bin Rashed Al Maktoum) Awards in the UAE in the fields of Transportation Safety, Mobility Management, and Environmental Protection.
Currently, Shahriar is the partner of Houst (the biggest Airbnb management startup in the world) in the United Arab Emirates and is helping to expand Houst business in the MENA region. He is an Industrial Engineer and Has MBA in International Business and did the executive program in general management at Columbia Business School.
Victor N. de Vries '18 CBS, Board Member
Victor has over 20 years of global experience within the hospitality industry and has worked in various commercial functions (business development, sales, marketing) with Hilton, Expedia and Rotana in Abu Dhabi, Brussels, Amsterdam, Athens, Shanghai, NYC & Dubai.
Currently, Victor is based in Abu Dhabi and is the Corporate Vice President of Franchise Strategy for Rotana Hotel Management Corporation. In this role, he is responsible for the creation and implementation of the company-wide franchise strategy focusing on Europe, The Middle East and Africa.
He holds a Bachelors in International Hotel Administration from the Hotelschool the Hague in The Netherlands, an Executive Masters in Marketing & Advertising from Solvay Brussels School in Belgium, and did the Executive Program in Management (EPM) at Columbia Business School in 2017/2018.
PREVIOUS BOARD MEMBERS:
Ameera Amir '11 SIPA, Chapter Founder and President 2017-2019
Veronika Rozmahelova '13 SIPA, Director of Alumni Engagement and Secretary-General 2019-2020
Adil Hussain '18 CC, Recent Alumni and Student Chair 2019-2020
Liria Gjidija '11 TC, President 2019-2021
Tarek Daouk '09 GSAAP, President of the Columbia Alumni Association
Samer Sarraf '05 CBS, Director of Partnerships
Marwan Dalloul '08 CBS, Director of Faculty Outreach