Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, Chairman, Al Habtoor Group hosted a group of 20 students from Harvard who are in the region for Harvard GCC Trek, a student-led effort to take students to several GCC states (UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman to meet political and business leaders and give the students an opportunity to experience the culture in the region. The group, made up of 11 students from Harvard Kennedy School, and nine from Harvard Business School, are from the USA, Canada, Argentina, Ecuador, Mexico, Denmark, Cameroon, India, Kazakhstan, China, South Korea and New Zealand.
The Harvard GCC Trek, which runs from 29 December 2016 to 14 January 2017, aims to give the students a better understanding of the region, its culture and business practices. Leading the group was Majid Al-Ibrahim, an MBA and MPA candidate from MIT Sloan School of Management and Harvard Kennedy School; Abdulaziz Albassam, an MBA candidate at Harvard Business School; Anas Aljumaily, a second-year MBA candidate at Harvard Business School; and Yaarub Al-Yarubi, who is currently doing a master in public administration at Harvard Kennedy School.
The students got the opportunity to ask Al Habtoor questions about his business successes and failures, as well as his management style.
Majid Al-Ibrahim said, "It was our pleasure to meet one of the most prominent business leaders in the Middle East. We learned a lot about the entrepreneurial spirits in the GCC region through his success story"
Al Habtoor said, “Success is not something you can learn in school, you have to take calculated risks, conduct feasibilities studies and have a good team of people around you. I had many failures before I became successful, but I learned from my mistakes and they made me stronger.”
He said diversification since the start of his business in the 1970’s has helped the Al Habtoor Group become the conglomerate it is today. “Diversification is key, and operating in sectors that you know. Don’t invest in anything you don’t know anything about, or you will fail.”
He added, “The UAE offers many opportunities to entrepreneurs. Dubai is a place where businesses can flourish. It has all the ingredients needed for success, but you need to be committed and disciplined to capitalize on it.”
He said, “The GCC works together as one family. This is the key to the success of the region.”