Mohamad Fakih (SKEMA 2019), Project Management Consultant for the FIFA World Cup 2022 - Qatar

13 July 2021

After working in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, Mohamad Fakih, alumnus of SKEMA Business School, was offered a job in Qatar, as a project management consultant to help in planning for the FIFA World Cup 2022. He tells us about his academic and professional paths, as well as the challenges and successes he faced along the way.


Can you tell us about your professional and academic background?

I graduated from SKEMA Business School where I completed a project management postgraduate program, followed by an Executive MBA. I knew that I wanted to go into the management field so I chose a university with a high ranking in Europe. I have more than 21 years of diversified experience which covers many aspects of project management in the biggest companies in the Gulf region, involving in large scale construction projects (metros, railways, highways…), establishing PMO offices for the Ministry of Finance in Saudi Arabia and the municipality of Mecca. I also managed the crowd management & control project for Metro Al Mashaaer in Mecca during Hajj Season for almost 10 years, where my responsibilities were to produce crowd management & control plans for up to 500 thousand pilgrims. Three years ago, I got an opportunity in Doha, Qatar, to participate in the preparation for the next FIFA World Cup 2022 to be hosted in this country. I am currently leading the project management department within the Non-Competition Venues Security Unit (NCVSU) in the Ministry of Interior.


Why did you decide to study at SKEMA Business School?

As you may know, Lebanon has been facing an economic crisis for a long time now. Therefore, studying and getting a university degree were golden investments to overcome my country's challenges. When I grew up, my family had financial issues, and unfortunately, my father lost his job while I was studying in high school. So, I started working to earn a valuable financial income to be able to pursue my university degree. I worked hard in two different sectors at the same time and jointly with my study. I finally got a bachelor's degree in business administration and management. It was a challenging achievement as it was very hard to study and work simultaneously, to support myself and my family. After a while, I got promoted at my job. Step by step, I discovered my interest in project management, so I started working on this kind of career path. I attended some project management professional courses and then I met with a professional, who graduated from SKEMA Business School, and who had an agreement with SKEMA to offer a project management program in Beirut. After being influenced by the previous employer CEO and Executive SVP, and the way they are dealing with business expansions and strategic vision, I noticed that the company needed project management skills, so I grabbed this opportunity to join the Executive MBA of SKEMA Business School. I believed that this program would change my career path, which would correspondingly change my life and give me a new opportunity to achieve my goals. Once I applied for the SKEMA EMBA program, things started to change for me in the company. My principals started to see me as a new leader, and they realized I was building a lot of different skills and knowledge in project management, business operations, coordination, etc. At this point, my efforts and achievements have been crystallized as a project manager. During this program, I acquired different tools that I immediately applied in my workplace which was a significant value to the projects that I am working for. With the EMBA, I also had the chance to study in different regions like Brazil, China, France, the US... It was very exciting to learn about the businesses in those countries and to meet with a diversity of people with different cultures and leadership styles. This program also allowed me to build good communication skills and a good network. I'm currently still in touch with most of my colleagues. SKEMA was a really good opportunity to progress in my career and grow professionally and it “made my vision real”. After SKEMA, and while working in Saudi Arabia, I started to receive several offers from employers in different countries. I was pleasantly amazed to have an opportunity to work as a project management consultant in Qatar. I accepted because being part of the World Cup preparation was one of my goals for a long time. It wasn't easy to make such a decision after more than 15 years of working with the same employer, but SKEMA gave me the skills and the self-confidence to make some decisions and to take some steps that I would never have thought about. During the EMBA program, I also met with professionals from different countries and fields of expertise that made me realize that it is really important to take the opportunity to explore new challenges.


Can you tell us about your current job? What kind of challenges did you face?

Even though I didn't have previous experience in a similar sports project, I achieved a good position with my current employer. I am working as a project management consultant and I am also providing crowd management and control services along with the event that Qatar is hosting. I am leading the project management department within the NCVSU. This unit is responsible for the security of VVIP, VIP, teams & referees' accommodations and movement, international broadcasting & media, ticketing centers, FIFA Fan Festival & Fan Zones, etc. It's also a challenge because I am working with a big team of people with different cultures and experiences, languages, and I had to manage to communicate with them. It isn’t always easy, but I'm currently satisfied with what I am doing.


Was it important for you to have an international career?

I believe that working in an international career allows you to get out of the box. Working in a local sector will limit a person's achievements and experiences. SKEMA adds up this kind of international exposure. With my previous employer, I traveled to several countries working on international projects in Germany, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Sultanate of Oman…Where the inspiration that I attained was the key turning point in my career progression path.


Do you have some career advice for young people?

I think it’s very important to pursue a similar program like the ones SKEMA Business School offers. It changes your way of thinking about life, as I experienced. It also gives you a lot of different directions in life and all the tools you need for the future. It is also a way of exploring what's going on in the world in terms of businesses and innovations. I think it is a great opportunity that you cannot get from work. Personally, during my 21 years of experience, I traveled a lot and worked on several projects, but I didn’t get all the required skills, the know-how, and the exposure that I gained while studying at SKEMA Business School, in the EMBA specifically. I advise all young people to explore their career path themselves by applying to this kind of program because they will explore several things in their personality that they are unaware of. This program helps to gain a lot of experience and exposure and to know better about what's going on in the world.


Contact: Mohamad FakihProject Management Consultant

Interview by for SKEMA Alumni