Meet one of our new Global Alumni Ambassadors: Sorina Constantinescu, Executive Chair Ambassador for the UAE.
In 2014, after 10 years of living in the UK and working as a Chartered Accountant for Travelport (a travel Technology company), I decided to apply for a career opportunity in the Dubai office with Travelport. I was successful in my application and moved to UAE in early 2015. I wasn’t particularly fond of the UAE when I first arrived (!) but after almost seven years and four role changes, I am still at Travelport in Dubai and loving it.
My background is in finance and as a qualified accountant who wanted to make a transition to a commercial role, the WBS Executive MBA was key for me to gain the necessary skills and fill the ‘knowledge gaps’ I’d identified.
Studying at WBS and discovering the UAE alumni group
In 2017, I researched a number of options for business schools and asked for recommendations from colleagues and friends. Based on my own research, WBS came out top, and one of my colleagues, a Senior Director at Travelport in London who is a WBS alumnus, also strongly recommended WBS. I started the Distance Learning MBA in 2018 but after enjoying the face-to-face modules during Warwick Week 1 (at Warwick itself), I decided to change to the Executive MBA and travel to the UK for the rest of my modules. I appreciated WBS’s flexibility in enabling me to change to the EMBA programme with the minimum of fuss.
I became aware of the active UAE alumni group in 2019 and attended a social event organised by the then Warwick alumni ambassador living in the UAE, Saima Asghar Riaz. I also received an invitation from Caroline Egan, Alumni Careers and Engagement Manager at WBS, who I had previously met at WBS in the UK. She invited me to attend one of the WBS alumni speaker panel events in Dubai in September 2019. There was a great turnout at that event with 75 UAE alumni in attendance - I met lots of alumni and I also offered to help advise MBA students at WBS in the future. At this point, I joined the active UAE WhatsApp group. Caroline invited me to be a speaker at WBS’s next alumni event in the UAE in June 2020, which had to be virtual due to the pandemic, and I became heavily involved in the network ever since.
I graduated in early 2020 and with all the disruption due to Covid, a celebratory period became a somewhat challenging and isolating time. I missed the interaction we had during the various MBA modules. As soon as was possible, I organised a catch-up dinner and although the initial numbers attending were small, we really enjoyed it and decided to organise a similar catch-up each month. The numbers have grown and grown with eight to 10 people attending on average each month.
The WhatsApp group continues to grow with 123 current WBS and Warwick alumni from Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and other MEA locations. We use it to arrange meet-ups but we also share information, new jobs and ask for expert advice or contacts, which I know everyone finds really valuable. I love being part of the group and sharing and consuming various information but my favourite part is the face-to-face catch-ups, where we see new and old faces, and share our experiences. We also try to celebrate special events like Diwali and Eid and, where possible, find ways to help each other professionally.
I was delighted to be invited to be the WBS Executive Chair Ambassador for the UAE and I am looking forward to continuing to evolve and improve the network with my fellow ambassadors, Wanchoo Ananya (WBS Social Chair Ambassador for the UAE), and John Burnett (WBS Global MBA Ambassador based in the UAE). One of the first steps we have taken is to support a WBS initiative and event in October, aimed at setting up a new hub in the UAE for the WBS Mentoring Programme.
We are also supported by the wonderful WBS Global Alumni Engagement team to plan future events. With their support, we will be hosting two professional development events per year, plus two social events organised and hosted by Wanchoo, the Social Chair. We will also continue with our regular informal social events too. If you are based in the UAE or Middle East (and travel to the UAE), please join our wider LinkedIn network of 307 members via our Warwick UAE LinkedIn group and reach out individually to any of us (me, Wanchoo or John) to connect!
We also welcome ideas for alumni activity from all of our regional alumni, so please do reach out to us or the Global Alumni Engagement team at email@example.com with any suggestions. For example, if there is a cause you support and you would like us to volunteer together… our motto is ‘Together we are better!’