Mahmood Jessa started his own business, NgageU whilst studying for his Executive MBA Programme at Cass Business School, Dubai in January 2015. He graduated from the programme with Distinction in May 2016.
On April 17th 2017, his company launched their third digital platform, Name Your Rent; a disruptive digital service which Mahmood describes as “A revolutionary way for renters to find their new home and a powerful platform for Real Estate Agents to serve their clients, smarter.”
The Dubai based business is a story teller & concept builder in the digital and mobile app space with a primary focus on creating customer convenience solutions as well as developing propriety and client commissioned B2B & B2B2C platforms. Mahmood and his co-founder established the business after collaborating on various projects where they realised they held a shared vision of building digital solutions.
Mahmood credits his family’s deep roots in trading, his extensive commercial experience both in the UK & UAE along with the Cass Business School, Dubai’s Executive MBA as a factor in successful launch of Name Your Rent.
How would you describe your overall experience of the Cass Executive MBA?
Many people have asked me about the Cass Executive MBA saying that they really want to sign up but don’t have the time. The old adage of we have to make time is so true when you are trying to juggle full time work, a young family, a ‘side hustle’ and an EMBA. The EMBA not only makes you appreciate that time management is a crucial life skill but it also moulds you into a sharper individual and motivates you to achieve your goals. Nothing is more challenging than waking up at 5am to get some background reading done to only have your toddler waddle over, 30 minutes later, to give you a hug and want to play with your laptop!
What made the Cass Executive MBA the right choice for you?
Like for many people currently contemplating the Cass Executive MBA there were mixed feelings at the beginning, however, I felt that going back to university, after such a long gap, though daunting would be an exciting & bold challenge. When I originally signed up for the EMBA I had just finished a role as Operations Director and had started new role as Chief Intelligence Officer in the Digital Media business of Dubai Duty Free. It was during my MBA interview that I received my first piece of sterling MBA advice. Having built up a professional network from 12 years of working to suddenly drop off the radar would not be a sensible move and hence I signed up for the executive programme. A decision I certainly don’t regret!
Are there any life lessons you have taken from the experience?
I was in the fortunate position of undertaking 6 electives after completing 12 compulsory core modules and it was a journey which took me across the world, from Dubai to China to London to Chile. The hunger to learn as much as possible brought me in contact with so many different people and ways of doing business, that the EMBA experience is something I recommend on a weekly basis to anyone wanting to achieve anything they have their mind set on. However gruelling it may seem today, taking the bold steps in life pays off handsomely in the future.
Do you still keep in contact with members of your class and what do you think is the value in maintaining those relationships?
I never look at my cohort as a network, they are more than friends, they are my extended family. Many of whom I meet with on a regular basis and am continually doing business with. During the launch of Name Your Rent many of my cohort attended and were my most ardent cheerleaders, a deeply emotionally charged feeling, which I will always cherish.
What was the most rewarding aspect of the Cass Executive MBA for you?
Though my original goal had been to pivot my career into the Management Consultancy field given that I had worked in myriad of industries believing that the programme would enable to fill some of the gaps in my business knowledge, the Executive MBA ended up rewarding me in three significant ways:
Firstly; when you’re self-funded you may doubt your ability, however, after being awarded the Entrepreneurship scholarship, that thought was squashed instantly.
Secondly; being given the opportunity to adopt and implement what you have been taught during a class the very next day was an extremely motivating experience. The satisfaction of knowing that you were instantly benefiting from the programme gave me the drive to work harder and see the truly practical side of this education programme. Learning before was about just passing the exam, whilst the EMBA really helped to shape me.
Thirdly; after all the hard work over the 2 years, attaining a distinction gave me the gusto to believe I can achieve anything if I set my mind to it.
What advice would you give to someone considering to do an Executive MBA at Cass Business School?
When we are at school it is all about our personal results. When we decide to enter into further education as a mature student and embark on a qualification as challenging and practical the results are not the be all and end all, as the journey is as important if not more so then merely finishing it.
Here are my 3 tips:
Enjoy it – some children today believe that school is boring and they don’t learn anything. Definitely none of us would have reached the places we have if we hadn’t learnt anything. You’ll meet some amazing people who you are always bouncing ideas off or are able to give you some insight you never thought you would get access to. You will hear great stories and build a new family. Don’t think of the MBA programme as a networking exercise because then you’ll be bored and tired of the programme by the second weekend!
Share it – the most satisfying aspect of being part of the EMBA programme is your ability to share what you’ve observed and learnt from the Professors, immediately. My kids always say sharing is caring and it’s something I believe whole heartedly especially in respect of education or attained knowledge. Without sharing the knowledge, it is purely information; it is through the sharing that we grow and help others to do so too.
Live it – to really enjoy anything in life you need to have a passion for it and the EMBA is definitely something you must develop a passion for. Don’t read the text book because the Professors said you needed to, read snippets and see how you can empower yourself to better your performance. The EMBA is not just about improving your work life but all aspects of your life. Once you realise that, then you’ll be drawn back into reading the whole text as it will hold deeper meaning for you.