Abeer Hazboun-Sader: from technology and Ted Talks to impact investment
“Business is the way to create positive impact on society and the world.”
Positive action characterizes Abeer Hazboun-Sader’s every move. She has co-founded an intercultural leadership program, turned a company around, while co-organising a three stages Ted Talk – connecting exiled Palestinians from around the world via satellite. At IMD, she anchors her intuition and experience with the strategic business skills necessary to make impact investments, her ultimate goal.
Although she had been rewarded with stunning results in her successive occupations, Abeer had no formal business training and felt the need to acquire the tools to run a business. She decided to obtain a top-level education in an international environment with a high level of exposure to big corporations. Other reasons that contributed to her choice of IMD, she explains, are its focus on leadership, high diversity and small classes.
Abeer Hazboun-Sader is the recipient of an IMD MBA Alumni Scholarship.
Abeer, a Palestinian with an Israeli passport, was born and raised in the West Bank, where she has spent much of her young life building cultural and economic bridges.
As early as 2004, in cooperation with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), she cofounded MEET - Middle East Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow, an educational program centered on technology and entrepreneurship for young Palestinian and Israeli leaders, which is still going strong today.
An avowed TED enthusiast, she was speaker at TEDxHolyland and went on to co-organize TEDxRamallah, which took place on three stages in Palestine, Amman and Beirut with a total of 2600 attendees and live streaming in 15 countries.
But her most notable achievement was to bring employment to the Bethlehem area, where the unemployment rate among the educated is the highest in the Palestinian territories, after Gaza: while CEO of Transcend Support, an outsourcing service provider, Abeer brought the loss-making company into profitability and increased the employees from eight to a 100 in just three years.
“It changed the perspective of a hundred families by giving them hope.”
Coming to IMD
Lausanne is a long way from Bethlehem, where Abeer grew up. She then gained her degree in Chemistry & Biology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She gives credit to her husband who first told her about IMD and supported her through the GMAT studies and application process. To care for their 2-year-old daughter as she completes her MBA, he gave up his job to accompany her to Lausanne.
The assessment day, she advises future candidates, is a key component of the application process.
“I believe one of the most important things is your ability to balance between your contribution levels and allowing the space for others to contribute. You really need to master a balanced approach to leadership and team work. “
The MBA program is a very intensive one, she warns, so there may be little chance to enjoy IMD’s beautiful location on the shores of Lake Geneva!
Insights and breaking misconceptions
One of her greatest sources of enjoyment at IMD, Abeer explains, is “Meeting a lot of interesting and highly intelligent and accomplished individuals and being mentally and intellectually challenged all the time”.
“It’s pretty amazing to be working with people from so many different countries. It teaches you so much about cultures and how other people think and work.”
She admits that courses at IMD have allowed her to break misconceptions, namely on entrepreneurship.
“I learned that entrepreneurship is a mind-set that seeks solutions to problems, aligns resources to sustain solutions and creates value.”
Abeer’s ambition upon graduation is to work in a key position in corporate strategy and/or innovation management in big multinationals.
Positive, insightful, energetic and caring, Abeer says that IMD is giving her the business fundamentals and tools to approach her goals and continue to make a difference in people’s lives. “To give hope is to give a chance for the future.”