Expanding comfort zones: my MBA experience

Expanding comfort zones: my MBA experience


Tina El Khoury (Senior Consultant)
Tina El Khoury is a Senior Consultant in the Dubai office, currently pursuing an MBA in Columbia Business School.  She joined Delta 5 years ago with a Computer and Communications Engineering degree from the American University of Beirut. She worked on various consulting engagements in the MENA region.

At 22 years old, my move to Dubai and Delta Partners was my first step out of my comfort zone. Little did I know that it was only the first of many adventures in my personal journey.

Doing an MBA had always been part of my plan, but it never felt like the “right time”. Luckily, in Delta, I was surrounded by colleagues who believed in me, who constantly pushed and encouraged me to take risks. During the MBA application process, the partners, my managers and my mentor were all beyond willing to help with my recommendations and discuss my options. The MBA alumni within Delta’s network also guided me through the application process and helped me address my concerns. HR worked closely with me to help me take time off and focus on my GMAT and applications. Above all, Delta granted me the MBA sponsorship.

I still remember the day I received the call congratulating me on getting accepted in Columbia Business School. I cried, my friend next to me cried and my team took it as a great excuse to celebrate all week. It also took my mum, like any proud parent who is on Facebook, exactly 15 minutes to announce the news with a big proud post on my wall. The following days were a blur of hugs, congratulatory messages, and celebrations. As my departure date approached, I began to have doubts about wanting to leave Delta and Dubai, even if it was only an educational leave.

Dubai had become my new home, and my team at Delta Partners had become my second family. The idea of leaving them behind, even for a short while, and starting over yet again scared me. But I realized I was not really starting over. I had with me four years’ worth of tremendous challenges, invaluable lessons and unparalleled mentorship. Delta had allowed me to interact with people from all over the world, to experience new cultures and to grow into a stronger, more confident, more ambitious woman.

My experiences also allowed me to provide guidance to students interested in careers in consulting or consultants applying to MBA. During resume reviews or mock case interviews, I often get asked about my experience being based in Dubai and having done projects in Middle Eastern and African countries. In many instances during class discussions, we encountered a client I worked with or a topic I worked on. I was happy to be able to share part of my experience with my classmates.

Fast forward 1 year, I am at Columbia Business School, New York City. My MBA experience in CBS has been one of the most challenging, rewarding and satisfying experiences in my life. I have met so many amazing people from different parts of the world, interacted with top investors and start up founders and strengthen my business acumen. In my first year alone, I had traveled with my cluster to Mexico and with my ex colleagues to Jamaica, done a road trip across the Canyons with some of my CBS friends, and spent an unforgettable week with them in Lebanon. At the same time, I was living in the Big Apple and experiencing all what New York has to offer. I couldn’t feel more blessed and more fulfilled.