From armed rebels to government officials: First Sudanese MBA student receives AMBA's top honour

Student of the year Husameldin Elnasri speaks about his experiences at Lancaster University and the hopes he has for his homeland Sudan

Husam Elnasri was the first Sudanese student to join the Lancaster MBA, leaving his family and homeland to further his business career. He was tested professionally and personally during his year at Lancaster University Management School when he had to take time out from his intensive MBA studies to rush back to Khartoum when north and south Sudan returned to war.

Speaking to Husam, a self-described optimist, his decision to take an MBA came after he moved from rural development work into the corporate world, joining White Nile Petroleum Operating Company. As Husam became more involved in management, his interest in business and the partnerships created with communities developed.

“It made me realise that I needed a more structured way of understanding business and so I took the big decision of an MBA.”

Before his MBA, Husam had studied veterinary medicine at the University of Khartoum, working on community development projects while still studying, before being hired as White Nile’s community development field officer to plan and implement community projects. What started as a small project grew into a team of 50, investing $45 million into local community projects, including women’s empowerment, educational training and infrastructure development.

Husam’s passion for community development stems from his late grandfather, who initiated one of the first social enterprises in Sudan, allocating equity shares from his business into his charitable foundation supporting education and rural development.

His decision to study in the UK has not dented his enthusiasm for his native Sudan, especially the business opportunities the country offers. Although Husam acknowledges it can be ‘very challenging to operate an international business in Sudan due to the political instability, economic sanctions and insecurity’ in some areas, he maintains Sudan presents high potentials for businesses – especially in the fields of natural resources management and agriculture.

He cites his present employers, DAL Group, as a prime example of a responsible and successful Sudanese business; generating an annual revenue of around $2 billion.

Nonetheless, the situation in Sudan is still fraught. After South Sudan ceded from the north in July 2011, becoming the Independent Republic of South Sudan, there have been sporadic eruptions of conflict.

During his MBA Husam was invited to present as part of the module on Global Society and Responsible Management, bringing to fellow students his unique perspectives on global business within a very specific sphere.

“I like to think I gave my classmates a new perspective and a tool kit for responsible management in conflict affected states.” Husam says of the experience, commenting, “I am afraid the world is not getting any calmer and we are seeing many new focal points of conflict erupting all over the world.”

His wide experience in negotiation – from government officials to armed rebels – has taught Husam a few things, which he shared with students. Principally, he advocated honesty and a display of trust – which he thinks engenders reciprocal feelings with those he negotiates with: ‘If you leave them in the dark they will develop their own version of your motives and that is a waste of valuable time.’

Yet, one of the biggest challenge facing Sudanese businesses is not, according to Husam, the military conflicts, but finance.

“As Sudan is considered as a high-risk state, cost of finance is significantly high compared to other developing countries. The fact that there are economic sanctions on Sudan has made the situation even harder on entrepreneurs and local business to maintain their competitiveness.”

All his hard work has paid off: earlier this year, Husam was awarded the prestigious AMBA 'student of the year' award, sponsored by The Independent.

Looking to the future Husam is working towards becoming a regional agribusiness expert. He is optimistic about Sudan and Africa’s progress in the global business market: ‘I believe in the near future Africa will feed the world rather than the other way around. I would love to be part of that.’

PROMOTED VIDEO
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: Trainee / Graduate Helpdesk Analyst

£20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Data Analyst - Essex - £25,000

£23500 - £25000 per annum + Training: Ashdown Group: Graduate Data analyst/Sys...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Account Manager

£16000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate Account Manager is r...

Guru Careers: Graduate Account Manager / Sales Executive

£18k + Uncapped Commission (£60k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Account Man...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project