Category Archives: Career Insights
As Chief Financial Officer of Investcorp, Rishi Kapoor has a rich perspective on the investment industry in the Middle East. Based in Bahrain—with additional offices in London, New York, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi—the firm is a provider and manager of alternative investment products, and Kapoor has held a number of progressive responsibilities there over the last 20 years. The founder and CEO of Investcorp is set to retire in 2015 and Kapoor will then assume the role of co-CEO.
Kapoor graduated from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business Global Executive MBA program in 2001 and currently serves on the school’s regional advisory board for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). He shared his industry and regional insights in a Fuqua Q&A.
Q) Investcorp’s current portfolio includes companies in North America, Europe and MENA. Are there fundamental differences in how you target investments in each of these regions?
Yes, there are fundamental differences in the types of investments we look to target in these regions.
In the US, we prefer control investments in mid-market companies, particularly in the services or consumption-driven sectors, since a large component of America’s economic growth is anchored by domestic consumption.
In Europe, we also target control investments in mid-market companies, except here we prefer companies that are export-driven, in particular catering to some of the global growth markets in Asia or Latin America etc., as opposed to relying on domestic European consumption.
In MENA, the target universe is very different. We acquire minority stakes in opportunities sourced from family businesses, divestitures of non-core corporate assets and corporates seeking growth capital. Our core investment thesis is that the economic transformation in the MENA region (including Turkey) and the evolution of the family business model has created opportunities to establish higher-value, larger-scale businesses that require complex and sophisticated processes, and enhanced management capabilities.
What is the benefit of studying abroad? Wouldn’t it be easier and more convenient for me to stay put here in Dubai and study global business? After all, can’t I just go online to hear global perspectives?
French native Bertrand Guillotin, director of the international programs office at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, shares his point of view in the following Q&A.
Q) What does international experience do for one’s resume?
Going to America still has a cachet associated with it. Just look at the lists of global companies, largest banks or billionaires and see how many are American. Making it in America implies higher performance, success and prestige.
Q) How does a student extract value from the international experience for recruiters?
You need to spell it out, especially if the recruiter does not speak global. If you come to the table with an international background, you are ahead of the crowd (only 1% of Americans study abroad; 30% don’t even have a passport). You need to unpack your international experience. Research published in Harvard Business Review on the Global Mindset by Mansour Javidan shows that global minded managers handle ambiguity better (there is plenty of that in international markets, either you manage it or you don’t survive), solve problems faster, are more creative than others, show more tolerance and embrace diversity in a deeper way. All of those attributes not only help global-minded managers differentiate themselves, but also yield a competitive advantage in our global world.
A True/False Exam
What do the GMAT, GPAs and VISA requirements have in common?
Well, the answer could be many things, but for the sake of this blog, these are three areas that frequently are on the mind of prospective students from the Middle East when contemplating business school. Here is a short true/false test that dispels some of the myths related to the GMAT, the required GPA for business school and the reality of VISA requirements:
1. My GMAT score defines my application.
Answer — FALSE. Standardized exams can be terrifying, difficult and can add a tremendous amount of stress to a person’s life. The same applies to the big, bad GMAT — the standardized exam for prospective MBA students across the world. Over the past three years, I have personally come across thousands of prospective students in the Middle East and roughly 9 out of 10 have expressed genuine anxiety over the GMAT exam. They are convinced that it is the one determining factor and that if they don’t score above 700, rejection is inevitable. In reality, it is one of many requirements that comprise the application. Admissions officers are equally interested in the quality of both your work experience and undergraduate education. Is it important? Sure. Candidates should take practice exams or sign up for a preparation course. Perhaps consider taking the exam a second time if you’re not satisfied with your score.
Oh, and a word of advice: do not ask for a waiver. I have been asked far too many times if Duke could waive the GMAT exam requirement. The answer remains a firm negative. Personally, I would be suspicious if a business school did in fact agree to waive the exam as a requirement because that would scream inconsistency and a potential lack of quality amongst the student body.