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Zara Kamileen, EMBA Dubai Programme Manager

By Lauren French

Zara Kamileen is originally from Sri Lanka and has been working in the Dubai Centre since December 2012. She started as a programme administrator and is now EMBA Dubai Programme Manager, overseeing the core programme.

Before joining LBS Dubai Centre Zara worked at the Manchester Business School where she also completed her undergraduate degree and then relocated to Dubai to join the School.

1. What does your typical day at LBS look like?
When students are not on campus I normally check my emails, prepare for class weeks, send out communications and work on long term projects that involves the programme. The Dubai office is very small (nine to be precise) so I also end up helping a colleague or two if they need it.

However when the students are on campus most of my time is dedicated to them, I meet with the students and the reps on a one-on-one basis. The format of the EMBA Dubai programme is such that this is the best time for me to collect feedback and check the pulse of the class. Anything that needs urgent attention will be looked in to that week and the other feedback goes into the long term planning projects. For me meeting students and getting to know them is the best part of my job.

2. What can the students expect during the EMBA Dubai Programme?
The emphasis LBS places on doing business with a global outlook attracts professionals from varied sectors to join the programme who not only want to advance in their careers but also lead in their respective fields. There is a huge emphasis placed on solving real business issues. Our faculty have also been able to use our presence in this region for valuable research. Apart from this we have also had many business leaders in the region talk to our students over the years. Students can expect to learn from world class faculty members, their own peers and our ever growing networks in this region. As we celebrate our 10th year anniversary I would suggest you follow our story on Twitter: #LBSDubai10

3. What is your best LBS moment so far?
I actually have many! Moving to Dubai for LBS, colleagues who are really good friends, being part of the first Dubai Global Assignment, getting to meet a new class for the first time... I can go on...

4. What keeps you motivated?
Working in Dubai means that we don’t have all the facilities that is available on campus and, challenging as this can be, it is also exciting because we get to be guinea pigs for many projects such as the iPad project,  the Canvas rollout and setting up as a GBA destination as well as dealing with day to day student issues. I love being part of something that is taking the programme experience for our students one notch up!

5. What is the top of your bucket list?
Trekking Maachu Picchu is high on the list, but this year’s goal is to visit at least two new places I have not been to and I already have made plans for this.

6. Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
I’d invite Arundhati Roy (for writing The God of Small Things), Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (for writing Americanah, Thing Around Your Neck, and Purple Hibiscus) Idris Elba (Um do I need to explain? Also love Beasts of No Nation), Trevor Noah (you need a joker) and Sarah Jessica Parker (I love fashion and SATC).

7. What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Keep learning every day and be humble.

8. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I think it may be difficult for some of you to relate to this but being raised in Sri Lanka meant I had a very sheltered life, leaving home for the first time to go to university in Manchester and having to learn to be independent was a scary experience for me. Looking back seven years later I have moved to two countries, and three cities all by myself, I am quite pleased with that.

In terms of work, I started off as an administrator and now manage the programme for EMBA Dubai. I have also had the privilege to work with the GBA team and be part of the first Dubai Global Business Experience, nominated for the School Impact Award which I won and was the first Dubai team member of the team to do so.

9. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
If you don’t ask for it, you don’t get it.

10. Tell us something surprising about you
I used to be to take part in a lot of plays as a child and loved acting, which I later took up seriously. I had to quit when I moved for uni. I am hoping to take it up again.