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MBA Thesis given the ‘sign’ of approval by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

Alumni Stories.

FabrizioFabrizio Nicoli (Executive MBA in Dubai, 2014), shares how his fantastic opportunity to complete his MBA Thesis project at Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s not-for-profit organisation, R20 – Regions of Climate Change, has secured him a representative role in the Middle East.

Find out more about Fabrizio here:

Can you tell me about your time at Cass?

Having lived in Dubai for the last 10 years, I undertook the Executive MBA at the age of 31 at the institution in the United Arab Emirates. This was alongside my full-time employment at the leading conglomerate Group of Dubai. Being a full-time employee while doing the MBA taught me how to optimize my time. This included adding hours of study to my days, finding motivation to study during evenings and weekends for over two years and carrying out the MBA Thesis for an additional period of seven months.

I carried out my MBA Thesis project on finance and strategy at R20 – Regions of Climate Action (R20), a not-for-profit international organisation founded by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, which supports sub-national governments around the world to develop and secure financing for green infrastructure projects.

What happened after you graduated?

During my MBA studies, I became a commercial director of a leading European construction company. Once I graduated, I was then appointed as a general manager there, which involved me setting up a new branch in Dubai. Within five years, our business has gone from a startup level to having work in the Middle East, Singapore, South Asia and Australia.

After graduation, I also had the opportunity to become a representative for the R20 Group in Dubai. I developed a strategic plan, including extensive research on the green investment market and investors’ appetite for sustainable infrastructure projects in the Gulf Region, for the deployment of an R20 regional office in the Middle East.

How did the opportunity to get involved with R20 happen?

My Idea to get in touch with R20 came about in 2011. As soon as I started the MBA, I realised that the masters would provide me the knowledge, the capability, the credibility and the confidence necessary to work in any industry, along with professionals of global companies that before the MBA, seemed to be far away from my profile.

I had the opportunity to first meet Gov. Schwarzenegger at a fundraising event in California in 2008. I later learned he had founded an NGO dedicated to sustainable infrastructure projects which focused on renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Their approach, which essentially consists of “connecting the dots” between local authorities, who want to develop projects which have the technologies and investors and can fund project implementation, was particularly interesting to me in the context of the Gulf regions. I contacted R20’s management and presented my idea to carry out my MBA thesis with them – a strategic plan for the Gulf Region and for the creation of a regional office in the Middle East.

What have been the biggest challenges?

This has been the easiest question to answer. When you have a vision and you are passionate about what you do, nothing is seen as a challenge. The new things learned every day and the small achievements overcome the majority of the daily challenges, even when you have to match multiple cultures, projects or investments between Europe, Arabian countries and Asia.

What has been the most rewarding experience?

The most rewarding experience has been the opportunity to attend high-level meetings with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. This includes when we were preparing for COP21 in Paris in 2015 and at the R20 Austrian World Summit in Vienna in May 2019. The R20 team, the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, a number of heads of states and sustainability professionals from around the world were all in attendance. The opportunity to have personally met Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger twice in four years and to have presented him with my MBA project has truly been a lifetime achievement.

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to follow in your footsteps?

My personal advice is to have a clear vision of which business you want to do or in which industry you want to work in. Be motivated and passionate about your project and vision, and work hard to be a part of it.

I would suggest not to wait till the end of the MBA course to receive the proposal to carry out the MBA project. It is important to visualise what you want to be before the completion of the MBA, then you can create the necessary connections within the industry. Get in touch with the decision makers of the company where you dream to work at and talk to them about your project. All of this should be done before you complete the MBA.

Thank you to Fabrizio for sharing his success with us! If you would like to find out more about him, follow him on Twitter: @fabrinicoli

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City, University of London is an independent member institution of the University of London. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University of London consists of 18 independent member institutions with outstanding global reputations and several prestigious central academic bodies and activities.

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