Discussions among Executive MBA participants in Tehran are vibrant and loud. Managing Director Babak Pirouz has a colorful career background, which he is now complementing with an MBA degree.
Babak Pirouz has a career that spans more than three decades behind him. He sees the Aalto University Executive MBA program as a way to unlearn bad habits and routines.
“The longer you work, the more you get stuck in a rut – including routines that may have felt natural and relevant during a certain period of time, but are no longer the best way to manage a business. The program has really opened my eyes: this could be done differently.”
Pirouz is the managing director of Iran Credit Investment Company. All managerial staff in his company take turns to complete the Executive MBA program.
All managerial staff in his company take turns to complete the Executive MBA program."
The Aalto Executive MBA program has been available in Tehran since 2014 through an exclusive partnership with the Iranian Business School. It is the first global accredited EMBA program in Iran, and currently has approximately twenty participants.
“Discussions in Tehran are vibrant and loud”, says Pirouz. He has found it rewarding to exchange views with younger participants. “I enjoy long, direct conversations that lead to real debates.” Lectures on failing and resilience aroused plenty of conversation. "Failing sparked plenty of thoughts. It’s something you, too, can plan and practice. Before, the subject has been almost a taboo.”
Pirouz could also be sighted engaging in heated but warm discussions with other participants at the Aalto Executive Summit in Singapore. Iranians form a close-knit group with a great team spirit and plenty of laughter.
Iranians form a close-knit group with a great team spirit and plenty of laughter."
Every now and then, cultural differences arise in conversations and lectures, but basic business principles are the same all over the world. Pirouz was born and educated in the United States, and has lived and worked in Europe. Iran has been his home for twenty years.
“The starting points and language in business training is often very western. It’s important to localize the information.”
Pirouz thinks that biz talk in the West is characterized by political correctness . “I like to emphasize that the employer-employee relationship is twofold: the employer is entitled to demand, and not just say that ‘oh, but employees are our most important resource’.”
Instead of reacting, you learn to see the bigger picture
Pirouz has a colorful career background. Like so many Iranian EMBA participants, he, too, has a solid education behind him. He is an engineer and economist, who has worked in the fields of nuclear power, consulting, finance, think tanks, media… After moving to Iran, he began to write articles about the country for Business Week, LA Times and New York Times. He felt that reporting on Iran was sporadic, and reporters didn’t have a sufficient grasp of the country. Now, media is a little too fast-paced and superficial to his liking.
I’m interested in everything. And I like people.”
“To be honest, I miss the time when people understood that the meaning of life isn’t tied to numbers, but to communities, a life lived and happiness.”
This, too, is typical Executive Summit talk. In addition to business, conversations turn to work-life balance, family issues, values and personal motivation. Pirouz claims to be motivated by an interest in what he does. “I’m interested in everything. And I like people.” That provides a good starting point for working in different areas, in different parts of the world.
With several career changes behind him, Pirouz also envisages different opportunities ahead:
Instead of reacting, you learn to take a step back, and see the bigger picture."
“The most important thing for me is to find new challenges. I’m not after safety or routines. I try to find areas that don’t work and need fixing.”
According to Pirouz, the content of the modules aids him in overhauling his work methods and thinking from informal to more formal. Instead of reacting, you learn to take a step back, and see the bigger picture.
In Iran, he recommends the Aalto EE Executive MBA program especially to those who inherit a company but lack training and tools to manage it. Another group that would benefit from additional training is midlevel managers, who aim to further their careers, but easily adopt bad habits from around them if left without formal management or business education.