Institute of Business Administration

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Institute of Business Administration - Karachi


IBA Dubai Study Tour 2014


By: Tracy Roque and Quratulaien Tanveer MBA II

On January 17, 2014, 46 students from BBA and MBA program embarked on an exciting 5-day retail study tour to Dubai. The group ventured out of Karachi to learn beyond the walls of classrooms and take in an all-encompassing global perspective.

The students were provided with a brilliant opportunity to broaden their horizons while being exposed to cross-cultural differences in a city now known for its heritage and progressive thinking. Visiting a place like Dubai which is home to more than 80% expatriates itself gave the students an opportunity for an ideal international exposure.

Day 01 started with an interactive and highly engaging session with the IBA UAE Alumni Chapter at the our hotel. We were introduced to the new office bearers of the Dubai Chapter: Tabassum Vally (Head of Customer Service/Customer Advocacy at Barclays Bank), Uzzam Malik (Group Product Manager - Cards at National Bank of Abu Dhabi) and Rehan Ali (Credit Risk Manager at Oil Trading). Being out of UAE, the President of the Chapter, Syed Arfeen Alam unfortunately could not join us.

Each of them spoke to us about the career prospects in UAE in particular and GCC in general, the progression of their careers and the learnings on the way. They even highlighted the upturn of the UAE market and opportunities in the Middle East as a result of Dubai winning Expo 2020 bid. Danish Kazi Direct Marketing Manager - Middle East, Bancassurance, Affinity and Partnerships at Zurich Insurance Company Ltd, and founder President, IBA UAE Alumni Chapter, gave an inspiring speech about the importance of having a vision in life and building one’s own personal brand.

After this informative and stimulating session, the students were briefed on their group project, and assigned product categories to each group of five students. They were advised to study them in the light of core marketing and retailing principles. The group then visited the Deira City Centre, a shopping mall in Dubai with over 370 shops, restaurants, entertainment facilities and a hotel.

Day 02 commenced with a visit to Mondelēz International formerly Kraft Foods and specializes the globally in the snacks market. We were given a warm welcome by the IBA alumnus Mr. Ali Shaikh who is the Category Marketing Head at Mondelēz MENA and Pakistan. The presentations began with a holistic understanding of the biscuits category which consists of renowned brands like Oreo, Ritz, Sarita and ChipsAhoy! Mahdi alHusseini, Brand Manager Oreo highlighted the challenges of marketing in GCC region, particularly Saudi Arabia which is the largest market for snacks for Mondelēz in the region.

Mahdi talked about the success story of Oreo’s launch in the GCC region and about how various marketing channels were used and how communication was localized for consumers. The speakers discussed the importance of creative content and shared brand communication of Oreo GCC - Princess and Ice cream flavor campaigns. A presentation on brand strategies and engagement rates for brand Barni, a spongy cake treat for children presented in a teddy-bear shape followed.

From Mondelēz we were taken to the Ibn Battuta Mall, the world’s largest themed shopping mall with over 275 retailers, 50 restaurants and food outlets, 21 cinema screens including the UAE’s only IMAX theatre and a continual array of events and promotions have helped evolve and develop one of the city’s fastest growing areas. The day ended with a quick stop to the Atlantis resort on the Palm island.

Day 03 started off with a series of presentations made by the IBA students to the accompanying IBA faculty Mr. Jami Moiz and Ms. Farah Naz regarding the group assignments – selecting a category and studying store layouts, merchandising, shopper behavior, store environment and sale service levels, competition. The students then set forth on a journey to Dubai Festival City which apart from the Ferrari Store, Dubai Gold Mark and many other brands has an IKEA showroom as well where shopping is an experience in itself. The group was served breakfast at the IKEA store and then ventured on to explore the store and study the way furniture retailing is done.

From IKEA the next stop was to the spectacular Global Village which proved to be an exhilarating, fun-filled, culturally-enriched and adrenaline-filled experience for all the students. From rides for adults and children, to shops to match everyone’s taste, the Global Village has representations from more than 40 countries from across the world.

Day 04 was an insightful visit to financial wizards of the world at Bloomberg. The students again were welcomed warmly by the hosts at the office and served breakfast of our choice. Bloomberg is known for its financial analysis, research and data generating terminals which enables countries from all over the world to make the best projections and decisions regarding key projects and tasks. After the presentations, the students were divided into groups and taken for a tour around the office. This was perhaps a high point of the tour in terms of being exposed to real time financial decision making happening around the globe in every imaginable industry one could think of. An addition to Bloomberg’s product portfolio is the Bloomberg Aptitude Test – BAT that ranks and posts student globally for placements.

The group then proceeded to the Mall of The Emirates and Dubai Mall. These multi-level Shopping Centers feature hundreds of international brands and include department stores, fashion, lifestyle, sports, electronics and home furnishing outlets and the largest Carrefour in the city.

This illuminating and memorable experience of the study tour and the learning will go a long way in shaping our career goals. Overall, this trip not only gave us the invaluable experience of an international market but also helped us in applying the retail, brands and consumer behavior concepts that we studied in class. For this experience we would like to thank Dr Ishrat Husain for encouraging these study tours. Additionally, Dr Mohammad Nishat, Ms Nida Aslam Khan, Ms Shehreena Dawoodani and Mr Syed Mazhar Kazmi the deserve our gratitude for their support provided in making it happen for us.