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“It changed the way I...” he pauses, and gathers his thoughts. “At that time, I decided I want to do more of this.”

Far from seeking to prosper on his own, Husameldin’s motivation in business is to help the people of Sudan, those living in poverty, with the threat of war looming over their heads, to have a better quality of life. The MBA at Lancaster, while fruitful, was a platform for him to return to his homeland with a rich bounty of knowledge. “I took the matter of my MBA very, very seriously,” he asserts.

“And I did very extensive research before I applied to a program. I wanted a program that would give me exposure to different sectors and the Lancaster MBA program offers a lot of practical programs with the opportunity for big projects with clients.”

Husameldin secured internships while on his MBA as a consultant for Isothane Limited and EDF Energy. Doing business in the UK opened his eyes to a whole new way of operating. “People in Sudan are a bit more relaxed than in the UK,” he jokes. “But most of the commitment here in Sudan is kind of personal and emotional. People really need to trust you to do businesses with you over here and this is not the same in the UK.”

Sudan is considered a high-risk state and a difficult place to do business in. Sanctions imposed by the US and other Western states make transferring money difficult, and many American and British companies have been restricted from doing business with Sudan, Husameldin says. Does he think it’s been difficult to establish new businesses in the current climate? “Definitely,” he says. “Here in Sudan it’s tough for many reasons. The war has been here for a very long time, and the Government of Sudan hasn’t really been very popular for a while.

“This has been going on for a very long time and has resulted in Sudanese people starting to export

less, so instead of doing business with the West, we are doing more business with the East now, countries like China, India, Malaysia and Indonesia. So many people here are trying to find innovative ways to cope with these problems.”

Although he completed his MBA at Lancaster with distinction, because of sanctions imposed by the West Husameldin was barred from taking the GMAT exam, needed for entry onto many MBA programs. “Just to let you know how bad the sanctions here are,” he says, “when I was applying for my MBA I discovered that Sudanese people are not allowed to take it (the GMAT).

“The government really didn’t know what the GMAT was, it was really funny! So, I only had to apply for the schools that could waver the GMAT. I have never taken the GMAT before. “Even when applying for my MBA it was just a big challenge; transferring the money from here to the UK was just madness.”

Although Husameldin has been faced with an enormous amount of challenges, he landed a job with DAL Group, based in Sudan, in November 2012 - the same month he completed his MBA. The company is the largest and most diversified conglomerate in Sudan and Husameldin is a Senior Project Manager, tasked with expanding their agriculture strategy across the country. He says that he would “definitely not” have got the job had he not studied an MBA at Lancaster, and that it provided him with the soft skills and experience that he needed to make a career for himself.

If there was every any debate as to whether LinkedIn really is a useful employment tool for MBAs, Husameldin clarifies it in one fell sweep. He drew the attention of DAL Group officials through social media. “I didn’t really follow the regular route to be honest,” he says, comically. “What I really liked about them was that they are committed

to invest in Sudan, in despite of all the challenges that are happening here and the conflict. They are very responsible.”

He messaged senior managers on LinkedIn. “I made use of my new acquired MBA skills, specifically the strategy module, and I did an analysis for the business,” he continued. “I built a business model and I made a nice graphic map. I looked for some contact for the company on LinkedIn and I got two of their top management guys: so I sent them the map and said that I had a business proposition for them. And then I waited.” His daughter screams and climbs onto the seat on the bed next to him, again. He apologises.

“It took them like ten days, but then they called me in for an interview and I met the HR manager and then the managing director.” He has since been working there for almost a year.

Husameldin thinks that agriculture could provide a lot of solutions to the problems the people of Sudan face. Is his motivation to help others succeed? “Yes,” he adds. “I aspire to be an African agriculture business expert. I think we would be able to provide a lot of solutions because we have to take the fact that most Africans are actually farmers and see that this is the area that we really need to address.”

Husameldin has succeeded in the face of remarkable adversity and his journey has been nothing but inspiring. North and South Sudan may face a raft of social, economic and cultural issues, but Husameldin is on a mission to make it a better place. With an MBA from Lancaster University School of Management, he feels he can make that happen.

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