Amin Elsheikh

Thankful: Amin Elsheikh received a scholarship to pursue his Full-time MBA in his hour of need

There were more than a few moments on that rickety minibus clanking towards the Ethiopian border when Amin Elsheikh wondered whether he was ever going to make it out of Sudan.  

What if the bus was stopped at a militia checkpoint, or attacked by one of the bands of looters or rebel gangs that had emerged since the civil war broke out?  

“I feared for my life on that bus,” Amin says. “But I was helped by the place I had won at Warwick Business School. This gave me a sense of hope during the long 15-hour journey. A plan, and a goal to get to.”   

It took four months, but on September 24, 2023, Amin finally arrived at the Warwick campus. The very next day he started his Full-time MBA.  

With a good job at Sudan’s largest private company, the DAL Group, he had been initially scheduled to start the programme in September of 2024, but, as Amin remembers, on April 15, 2023, “the world in Sudan blew up”.  

Civil war between Sudan’s military and a paramilitary group had broken out, and civilians in the capital, Khartoum, were now scrambling for safety as the fighting edged nearer their homes.  

MBA scholarship 

For Amin, personally, it was time to flee the country if he could, and with the encouragement of his family, get in contact with Warwick Business School again.   

“I managed to get to a safe region outside Khartoum and contact the School,” he says.  

“The recruitment and leadership teams at WBS were really understanding and said I could bring forward my course entry. What’s more, due to the fact that I had lost access to the majority of my funds during the early days of the war, they topped up my scholarship. 

“To provide me with a scholarship in my hour of need was a truly wonderful gesture.” 

But first there was the business of escaping Sudan. In his hurry to depart Khartoum, the 27-year-old professional had been unable to retrieve his passport at a visa application centre very close to the fighting.  

So, as he now embarked on a dangerous journey to neighbouring Ethiopia – the only country now allowing Sudanese in – it would be with an old travel document past its expiry date.  

What followed was an “overwhelming journey” that took four months through three different countries to finally arrive in the UK.  

With rebel militia soldiers blocking all routes out of Khartoum, Amin had to go through a dozen checkpoints to leave the city. At one point he was arrested and held for half a day because soldiers had found a few US dollars on him. At another point his bus driver had to swerve out of the way of gunfire.  

Finally, there was that minibus journey on the hot, dusty road to the Ethiopian border, Amin peering anxiously out of a grimy window as his life hung in the balance.  

Bus trip to the border: the passengers feared they could be attacked by looters or rebel gangs at any moment

The Gallabat border crossing itself was very crowded and unsafe, and he was relieved when his bus finally departed for the old royal city of Gondar in Ethiopia.  

Amin’s hardships did not end in Ethiopia, however. Reaching Gondar by nightfall, he was then advised to lie low amid anti-Government unrest in the city. 

Even when Amin managed to reach the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, there was yet another setback. The United Arab Emirates, his connecting destination for the UK, had cancelled all visas for Sudanese people. 

He would be stuck in Addis Ababa for a further two months, waiting for paperwork issues to be sorted out but managing, thankfully, to employ a person back in Khartoum to rescue his bona fide passport from the visa centre.   

Eventually he managed to reach Dubai, apply for a student visa, and catch a flight to London.  

When he opened the door to his room in the halls of residence at Warwick a new adventure in his life was starting, one very different to the one he had just experienced.  

Studying Leadership at WBS 

The MBA at Warwick Business School is certainly a new departure for the Sudanese professional but also a course that is building on the successful career he had enjoyed in Sudan before the war broke out.  

First, he says, there has been the emphasis on entrepreneurship during the programme, particularly in the Innovation and Strategic Entrepreneurship module, which is consolidating the knowledge he gained when co-founding a start-up with a senior student on his Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Khartoum. Orooma was a sort of Sudanese LinkedIn, Amin explains, and within six months it was valued at $100,000.  

But a more corporate career was already beckoning. While he was still at university he was headhunted by DAL Group, the largest conglomerate in Sudan, operating across a range of business sectors from automotive and mining to agriculture and commodities trading.  

Initially employed in marketing by the group’s Caterpillar equipment dealership, the graduate was promoted quickly to become sales manager in the automotive subsidiary at the age of 24. 

“I was the youngest manager in the history of the group,” Amin recalls. “This was the first time I was heading up a team of my own, and I managed to drive them to the highest sales performance in eight years.” 

Leadership is something that he has gravitated to during his MBA. His favourite course so far has been LeadershipPlus, a module that has opened his eyes to “diverse leadership styles” and “how high performing teams operate”.   


He is also Vice President of the WBS Social Impact Club, an MBA club focused on tackling social issues through volunteering.  

Social impact consulting to help organisations increase their positive impact on the world is a field Amin might consider after MBA graduation.  

“My heart is still at home in Sudan, and I would love to return and help rebuild my country,” he says.  

“But with the war getting worse and the country on the verge of famine it is not safe to go back at the moment.  

“In case I can’t return, I am exploring roles in the Middle East and Africa with a focus on social impact and empowering underprivileged communities.”  

Thinking back on his journey, Amin feels extremely privileged that he had the “support from Warwick Business School for his MBA”. 

“Millions are not as lucky, stuck in conflict zones or displaced with no clear future,” he says. “The situation is dire in Sudan. Some of my family remain in the country, and in recent weeks I have lost contact with them because the militia have decided to cut all communication networks in the areas they control.” 

What will happen in the future is hard to predict. Amin is mindful of the well-known maxim of Steve Jobs that ‘you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards’. 

“That really sums up my story,” he says. “If I hadn’t studied engineering at undergraduate level, I would not have met the person who would become the co-founder of our start-up venture, and I probably would not have been headhunted by DAL.” 

The same perhaps can be said for his escape from Sudan. If he had not caught the bus that he did, and at the time that he did, he might never have made it to Warwick Business School. 

But he did. And now, halfway through his MBA journey, the next chapter of his story is only just beginning.  


The Full-time MBA at Warwick Business School is designed for visionary leaders who want to make a difference in the world. 

Learn more about leadership on the four-day Executive Education course Leading People Through Change and Disruption at WBS London at The Shard.