McDonough School of Business
His Excellency Mohammad Al Gergawi
News Story

His Excellency Mohammad Al Gergawi Encourages Graduates to Lead with Empathy and Hope

In life, a single decision can lead to endless opportunities. 

For His Excellency Mohammad Al Gergawi, he learned this lesson working as a manager at the Department of Economic Development in Dubai. While at work, he chose to help an elderly man who appeared to be in need of assistance with some paperwork.

As it turns out, this gentleman was a secret shopper for the Crown Prince of Dubai at the time, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who later appointed him as the deputy director general of that organization.

Fast forward to today — this moment of kindness — helped spearhead Al Gergawi’s career and overall successes to date. 

Traveling all the way from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Washington, D.C., to deliver the commencement ceremony speech for graduate students in Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business Class of 2024, Al Gergawi left a lasting impression on the students, families, faculty, and staff on the Healy Lawn.

During his address, Al Gergawi imparted several key pieces of advice — including important choices to consider throughout one’s life — to the new class of Georgetown McDonough alumni.

“I believe that as human beings, we have the capability of designing a better future for us, for our region, and for the rest of the world,” Al Gergawi said. 

Al Gergawi has served as the minister of cabinet affairs of the UAE government since 2006, leveraging a private-sector approach to innovation and agility to inform the reform of the UAE’s progressive, future-focused governance model. Today, he oversees the development and implementation of the Emirates’ federal government strategy, aligning efforts to achieve the objectives of the UAE National Agenda to focus on effective and efficient governance in service of the people. 

Henok Abraham (MBA’24)

Henok Abraham (MBA’24)

Al Gergawi’s career has spanned various leadership roles in the public and private sectors, and today, he is also a member of the World Economic Forum’s Leadership Council and co-chairman of the Global Future Councils launched in collaboration with the World Economic Forum.

Henok Abraham (MBA’24), a Flex MBA student at Georgetown McDonough, said Al Gergawi’s commencement speech highlighted important values that can sometimes be forgotten amidst the daily grind of school, work, and life balance. 

“We tend to focus on the numbers as MBA students at Georgetown, but Al Gergawi’s focus on the value of empathy that he spoke about at the beginning of his address to the graduates really resonated with me,” Abraham said.

During Al Gergawi’s address to the Class of 2024, he encouraged graduates to leverage life’s opportunities to choose their own path. 

Al Gergawi went on to say that each person makes about 35,000 choices a day — leading to a series of decisions that ultimately open or close avenues of possibilities.

During his speech, Al Gergawi highlighted pivotal moments in his life that led to choices he had to make. When discussing these choices and reflecting on his own life, he shared several characteristics the graduates should always keep in mind when faced with a decision — no matter the scope or size:

First, choose to serve with empathy.

Second, choose to dream big.

Third, choose to have hope.

Fourth, choose to live for a bigger purpose than yourself.

And fifth, choose to believe in the goodness of people.

Ashley Hammons (MBA’24) said Gergawi’s focus on the importance of having empathy for others especially stood out to her as she embarks on her post-MBA chapter and leaves the Hilltop.

“To serve with empathy was something that I really took away from the commencement address because I think it is something that can serve people in both their work and personal lives,” Hammons said.

Ashley Hammons (MBA’24)

Ashley Hammons (MBA’24)

A champion of higher education, Al Gergawi has played a key role in the establishment of McDonough’s Executive MBA in Dubai, elevating Georgetown’s impact at the intersection of business and global affairs and providing opportunities for business and government leaders to contribute toward their long-term strategic vision and lead the way for a better world.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, on behalf of Georgetown University, Al Gergawi received a degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa. He closed his commencement speech with the following advice: 

“Believe in the potential that resides within each of you. Remember to always serve with empathy and to dream big, to always have hope, to always have a bigger purpose than yourself, and to believe in the goodness of people. May you design a brighter future for humanity,” said Al Gergawi. 

For the Class of 2024, commencement is the culmination of their time at Georgetown and a celebration of how far they have come. Graduates from the MBA, Executive MBA, M.S. in Management, M.S. in Business Analytics, M.S. in Finance, M.S. in Global Real Assets, and M.A. in International Business and Policy programs all came together to reflect on their academic achievements and look ahead to the next chapter of their lives beyond the Hilltop.

For the graduates of the M.S. in Global Real Assets program, this is a personal accomplishment as well as a milestone for the program. The Class of 2024 marks the first cohort to earn their degrees from Georgetown McDonough.

“The MS-GRA program has given me a great foundation of both world-class technical skills, and lessons from real estate professionals. I have no doubt that my Georgetown education will pay dividends in my professional success for years to come,” Peter Bialer (MS-GRA’24) said. 

The full speech can be found on Georgetown University’s Youtube channel or Facebook page.

Class of 2024
Executive MBA in Dubai
Flex MBA
M.S. in Global Real Assets