Participant Story

Ravi Dube

Business Ventures topic image, Mellon Hall, HBS campus

Focusing on What Comes Next

  • Role

    Founder, Fanar Al Khaleej
  • Industry

    • Agriculture

The faculty brought a wealth of real-world experience tempered with an exquisite understanding of the underlying theory.

After losing his youngest son to cancer, Ravi Dube found it difficult to think about the future. However, as the founder of Fanar Al Khaleej in the UAE, he knew that he his organization's growth had stalled and he needed to find new ways to grow it. This prompted him to attend the Owner/President Management (OPM) program at Harvard Business School, a three-unit leadership development program spanning 24 months. He discusses some of the program's benefits.

Why did you choose to attend OPM?

Since starting my business over 30 years ago, growth has been somewhat haphazard. We are a midsized regional company, and we have been successful given the resources available to us. But we reached a point where we needed to make fundamental changes in order to grow beyond our regional comfort zone.

How has OPM influenced you on a personal level?

I came to OPM carrying personal burdens, and I was surprised to find myself surrounded by positivity and an overall can-do attitude. I had never encountered this type of atmosphere before, and while I wasn't prepared for it, I now realize that it's a big part of what makes OPM so special. Everywhere I looked, the overall theme was moving onward and upward and constantly striving for excellence. Being immersed in this environment every waking moment transformed my mood to one of optimism.

Living alongside 184 highly successful entrepreneurs was a powerful learning experience. Everyone was kind and had individual stories to share, and that brought us all closer together. I developed strong connections with other participants and cannot overstate the value of the constant support and friendship we give to and get from each other. Today, no matter where in the world I travel, I can always find an OPM alumnus and enjoy a camaraderie that is unique to this program.

After losing our son, we decided to dedicate 49 percent of our holdings to a charitable trust focused on cancer research and children's education. Thanks in part to OPM, I was able to increase our holdings by 54 percent, thereby increasing our charitable impact.

What was the biggest takeaway from this program?

I can think of a few. Some of the case studies offered detailed examples of both successes and failures, a couple of which brought about an important shift in my way of thinking—why not go global? This was a turning point for me. OPM gave me the tools and confidence to think globally.

Prior to my experience at OPM, we were largely a business-to-business company focused on the food industry. After doing several case studies on retail products, we decided to pivot and use our expertise in order to develop our own retail brands. Armed with the learnings from OPM we are now poised to take our two brands global.

OPM also gave me a fresh perspective into many areas of my business—among them control, finance, talent management, strategy, marketing, negotiation, and innovation—and this perspective has led to structural changes in our organization that have made us more efficient and effective.

How would you describe your experience with the faculty?

From the very first case study, I was awestruck by the energy, clarity, and eloquence the faculty brought into the classroom. They were adept at drawing us into the discussions and engaging our creative thinking, which led to invaluable insights far beyond what we could glean on our own. Having assembled so many of the case studies themselves and served on the boards of countless companies, the faculty brought a wealth of real-world experience tempered with an exquisite understanding of the underlying theory. They were able to keep a class full of very experienced and successful entrepreneurs engaged with their teaching skills and energy. Without a doubt, the faculty far surpassed my expectations, and interacting with them was one of the best parts of the program.

Featured Program

Owner/President Management