Selina Neri: Giant Leaps in Leadership

Dr. Selina Neri | Dean & Executive Director | Hult International Business School

Women leaders are contributing to multiple aspects of society through various means. From politics to academia, business to social causes, women are making their presence known to the world. Their ability to adapt to any situation makes them confident leaders who can come through every challenge and opportunity they are entrusted with. Akin to such leadership qualities is Dr. Selina Neri, who, throughout her career, has upheld several leadership positions and always has come through every challenge she faced.

Today, Selina educates the next generation of business leaders as the Dean and Executive Director at Hult International Business School, Dubai Campus. She drives campus leadership and cares for the impact and wellbeing of its students, staff, and faculty. She researches authentic leadership, corporate governance and excellence in hybrid teaching and teaches leadership and marketing courses.

Let us unveil her journey.

The Initial Roots

Selina started her education in the liberal arts, an education that evolved from a BA in Economics, to an MBA, and culminated with a PhD in Business Management in 2019. Her professional journey began in the USA in the tech sector in a junior, corporate sales role. She adapted to learn about her job and industry with an inquisitive mind and an appetite for learning with a can-do attitude, garnering essential qualities for excellent business leadership. She stayed in the tech industry for over two decades, operating in various roles with teams, clients, and suppliers scattered around the world. She managed to work in different industries such as tech, luxury, global travel, executive management, board services, and finally, landed in academia. Speaking about her journey, Selina says, “These career moves demonstrate that industry changes are possible and that careers unfold in loops, with many twists and turns. Most importantly, I am the living example that a “career” emerges through a life-encompassing set of decisions that direct our educational, social, economic, political, and spiritual endeavors and reflect our personality and life values.”

Selina learned to know herself better, understanding what motivates and energizes her, learning to live and work in foreign countries, adding new languages to her portfolio, persuading internal and external stakeholders that she was the right person for the job. She learned to listen to her inner voice and relentlessly pursue the purpose that she found in a leadership position in higher education.

Selina also learned to brush off sexist, racist comments and microaggressions. She did so with an incredible amount of courage and resilience as she never let them get in the way of what she wanted to do and thought she was capable of. On a mental and physical level, Selina also had to learn to take care of her health, practice a daily balance of time for herself, find her “de-stressors” (pilates, barre, and yoga), and make time with her loved ones a daily priority.

Experience to Excel

In her portfolio, Selina has been teaching courses in marketing and society along with luxury marketing, designing learning experiences that develop marketers who care about commercial profit and value for society, drive responsible campaigns, and demonstrate that marketing has a broader call to serve society. She notes, “In my technology days, I operated in the B2B space, serving the largest accounts and enabling their marketing machine to bring solutions to business problems through the smart use of tech, whether in healthcare, oil and gas, education, banking or financial services. In my corporate days in the luxury domain, I have brought responsible products and experiences to market when luxury was still struggling with the concept of sustainability, and many thought that the two were mutually exclusive.”

In higher education, Selina has continued to contribute a new way of “speaking” to the market, making tailored, impactful, personal connections with potential and existing students through personal meetings and events where students can meet the Dean and experience campus life at Hult. As the saying goes: “To think in a different way, you need to go to a different kind of place.”

Where the Excellence Strives

Hult is the first triple accredited business school (AACSB, AMBA and EQUIS) in the USA, with campuses in San Francisco, Boston, London and Dubai. Selina joined Hult in 2013 as a visiting faculty and her collaboration eventually evolved into full time faculty in London and Dubai.

In April ‘21 Selina became the Dean of the Dubai campus. She mentions, “Hult is a place like no other, a place of experimentation and innovation, and our campus mirrors and amplifies these characteristics. We strives to be the most relevant business school in the world. We are a school for those made to do: our students join a journey of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship in the sense that they learn to embrace calculated risks, to be innovative, to scout opportunities in the marketplace and anticipate market needs. They also discover the leader in themselves and learn to become authentic leaders who contribute to sustainable growth, business success and societal wellbeing.”

Personal growth is the cornerstone of Hult’s programs across all disciplines. It also springboard students’ careers with a unique set of services tailored to career development in the twenty-first century.

Technological Leadership

Selina states that even before the outbreak of the COVID pandemic, Hult equipped its teaching and learning capabilities with technology that offers students “limitless learning.” Hult’s smart classrooms are equipped with motion sensors that follow physical and voice movement for seamless course production and delivery to in-person and virtual students. It is among the first business schools that understood the opportunity that hybrid learning brings to students regardless of location or timezone. Hult also uses artificial intelligence-powered solutions to deliver experiential learning and assist students with career path options and CV creation/optimization.

The Long Haul

Selina has found her purpose in a leadership position in higher education and sees herself in this space for many years to come. Hult’s strategic development continues to be built around relevance to practice, excellence and innovation in teaching and rigorous, cutting edge research for a global student population.

Bestowing Guidance

Selina advises budding entrepreneurs aspiring to venture into business to dream big, work hard and develop grit. “Do your homework and develop the critical network of human relations that will help you launch and scale your business as well as support you emotionally. Do not give up, make grit your daily mantra. Admit that you do not know and reach out for help. Keep a laser-sharp focus on whatever you have put your mind to,” Selina concludes.

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