Dr. Selina Neri: Challenging traditional teaching and learning paradigms.

Flying High

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Hult International Business School

For most companies, quality education, knowing the market requirements, learning on the go, adaptability, and being ready to face the challenges in the real world have perhaps become the benchmark when it comes to hiring. Mundane education methods, bookish knowledge is slowly becoming obsolete. Companies look for candidates who can be productive and intuitive from the word “go”. Dr. Selina Neri, Dean and Executive Director, Hult International Business School, Dubai Campus has a vision that coincides with industry requirements. Hult has been in business for 27 years and is a leading, global business school. It operates across several campus locations (Dubai, London, Boston, and San Francisco) and is headquartered in the USA. Dr. Selina elaborates, “We empower students to apply theory to solve real-world business challenges. We bring together creative, open-minded people from all over the world to do business, not just study it so that they graduate ready to thrive in an ever-changing world.”

Striving to be the best: Empowering students to pursue their passion

Dr. Selina joined Hult in 2014. With over two decades of executive and board-level experience in the big tech, luxury, and travel industries, she began teaching at Hult as a visiting faculty before becoming a full-time faculty in 2019 and Dean in 2021. She says, “With Hult, it was love at first sight, I love the vibe of this school, its ethos, and character, the dynamic nature of the education we deliver, the students we serve, our staff, and faculty. Hult, just like Dubai, is a place filled with possibilities.” As she moved ahead with great aplomb, Dr. Selina always believed in the transformative power of education. Her tenacity and perseverance have earned her worldwide acclaim. She was named Best Professor of the Year in 2020 and 2021, and she also received the Hult Global Faculty Award last year. She shares, “I continue to teach and research, and I also serve as career champion for our Executive MBA students, helping them to identify and land their next big career step.” 

Hult is a triple-accredited, non-profit business school that not only educates, but also inspires, and connects some of the world’s most forward-thinking business talent. They have successfully flipped the traditional approach to education by transforming students’ skill sets through learning-by-doing experiences. When a student enrolls at Hult, their transformation towards being an exceptional businessperson begins. Hult is a business school “For Those Made to Do.” They enable students to apply theory to real-world business challenges by bringing together creative, open-minded people from around the world to do business rather than just study it. It not only delivers graduates but also business-ready people who are ready to thrive in an ever-changing world. Every course is relevant to the current economic, business, and societal climate and is geared to deliver impact. Hult especially focuses on what an individual can do, not just what they know. As Dr. Selina shares their mission statement, “We strive to be the most relevant business school in the world. Our mission is to have a positive impact on individuals, organizations, and society by transforming management practices. We do this by using our global reach, being creative, entrepreneurial, and cutting-edge. We contribute to sustainable growth, helping leaders integrate commercial success and societal wellbeing. In so doing, we are the business school of choice for existing and aspiring leaders.”

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Dr. Selina Neri

"We all want to be diamonds but not everyone is willing to get cut. If we want to be diamonds, we must be willing to get cut as it is part of the process."

Countless Business Schools: Why Hult?

Simply put, people come to Hult from all over the world to be challenged, to nurture a spirit of innovation, global exposure, to grow, give back to their communities and the world. Students from over 140 nationalities, with a can-do attitude and the ambition to make an impact have chosen Hult. The conflux of culture, experiences, traditions, has made Hult into a hub with the free flow of ideas, an open forum of debates, and bewildering transformation. Dr. Selina explains, “Full-time students are typically in the early stages of their career while our part-time students are executives in mid-to-senior management roles across all industries. Our Hult Dubai campus identity is immersive, futuristic, innovative, and entrepreneurial in spirit. We bring cutting-edge, post-graduate education that prioritizes competencies and mindsets most relevant to employers and society. Learning by doing is the guiding force behind all programs we provide, from Executive MBA to Master in International Business and Master in Business Analytics.”

There is a saying, “Every test in our life makes us bitter or better, the choice is our whether we become victim or victor.” It was these occurrences that prompted Dr. Selina to initiate and innovate. She says, “In tech, I brought the industry forward by focussing tech developments on solving pressing business problems; in luxury and travel by delivering exceptional experiences that make people dream while respecting our planet; in academia by advocating for education to be relevant to business and society, as opposed to an ivory tower at times detached from practice. I have also championed mentoring men and women to develop their leadership profile and find their definition of success.”

Nothing is impossible: The Will to succeed

Dr. Selina has been shattering preconceived notions right from the day she started working. It’s not all hunky and dory, being a female and challenging stereotype has made her stronger and has acted as a catalyst for her ambitions and growth. She believes, “We all want to be diamonds but not everyone is willing to get cut. If we want to be diamonds, we must be willing to get cut as it is part of the process.” Dr. Selina is also a firm believer in good fortune and timing, like in everything in life a bit of good fortune is necessary and timing is everything. 

She exemplifies grit, perseverance and determination. Her greatest accomplishment was beginning a Ph.D. at the age of 49 and been awarded a doctorate at the age of 51. These accomplishments, however, did not come easily. She shares, “I have encountered a lot of micro-aggressions and stereotypes built around being female and not being or sounding Anglo-Saxon. I fought back by brushing these remarks off and learned not to allow them to hurt me.” Dr. Selina in particular remembers an interaction with one of her first managers who constantly demoralized her. She shares, “He told me that I would go nowhere in tech because I am female and I am an economist (not an engineer). I took this as a challenge and proved him very wrong. This manager became the role model of someone I never wanted to be or become!” Indeed, the differences between a successful and unsuccessful person are the attitude and the ability to respond in sticky situations. She summarizes all of her life lessons for future entrepreneurs and leaders. She says, “Lead with authenticity. I demonstrate a passion for what I do (purpose) and how I do it, I consistently practice my values and I lead with my head as well as with my heart.” 

Being in a position where trust and common purpose and values are highly regarded, Dr. Selina has fine-tuned her hiring process. She says, “I always hire character over competence.” Despite her demanding schedule she always prioritizes managing herself and de-compressing. Finding time for herself, her sports practice and tantalizing healthy meals as well as for her loved ones. She shares her guilty pleasure, “I love history. You give me a history book and a cup of tea and I am a happy woman. I am also a devoted yoga, barre, and pilates practitioner, vegan and I love cuddly teddy bears!”

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