The Arabia Times: Explain your background and your Company’s in detail.

Dr. Mariam Shaikh: My name is Dr. Mariam Shaikh. Originally from Mumbai, India, I have had the pleasure of calling the UAE my home for the past 38 years.

As a dedicated professional in the field of Education, I have had an exciting career spanning over 35 years. It all began in the 1980s when I owned my own Preschool, and from there on, I progressed to leading a large K-12 school. Subsequently, I had the honor of serving as a Senior Leader and Vice President at renowned International Universities in the United Arab Emirates.

I have also had the honor of serving as the President of the Indian Ladies Association for many consecutive years, and I am actively involved in the Canadian Business Council, where I lead their platform, Education Connect. Furthermore, I have been appointed as the International Advisor for the Youth Union Council of India, and I am an engaged member of the UAE-Africa Initiative. Additionally, I hold the esteemed position of President at the Education Leadership-Commonwealth Entrepreneurs Club, serve as the Country Ambassador for the World Women Leadership Congress 2022, and actively participate in the Indian Women In Dubai network. At the beginning of this year, I had the privilege of receiving the esteemed position as the Chair of Education Connect for the Canadian Business Council, a community dedicated to educators and professionals who are committed to advancing the education sector in the UAE. My passion lies in mentoring, guiding and supporting our young students our future leaders. I have had the privilege of serving as a Youth Empowerment Mentor for the Entrepreneurship Cell at the renowned IIT Mumbai.

I am committed to enhancing these efforts and extending support to aspiring women entrepreneurs. This commitment has been made possible through my involvement in multiple International Entrepreneurship Groups, where I serve as a Board or Advisory Member. Through these engagements, I have the privilege of mentoring, advising, and sharing my experiences with women embarking on their entrepreneurial journey.

Throughout my career, I have actively contributed to the tremendous growth of the student population at esteemed institutions such as the Canadian University Dubai, Heriot-Watt University Dubai Campus, and Amity University Dubai. Now, embarking on a new chapter, I am thrilled to have founded my own venture, MS Education Consultants, in 2020. A significant part of my journey has been dedicated to mentorship and supporting students, which is my true passion.

I am proud to share that MS Education Consultants was appointed as the official ‘Middle East Strategist’ for the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, last year. The University of Guelph is recognized as a top-ranked comprehensive institution, celebrated for its outstanding Student Experience, experiential learning opportunities, and career development programs. This partnership has been a significant milestone for my company, and I am committed to fostering continued success and excellence in this prestigious collaboration. Following on our success story with the University of Guelph, we were also recently appointed as the Middle East Representative for Toronto Metropolitan University; a leading comprehensive innovation university integrated into Canada’s largest and most diverse city, Toronto. My expertise in Higher Education is in the areas of Student Recruitment, Marketing, Strategic Development, International Relations and Student Experience.

Also, over and above the regular information we provide as in Information on Programs, rankings, costs and scholarships our focus is more on advising students with a more holistic approach on new programs being launched, developing skills to be University – ready, what to expect when you move to another country for higher education, adapting to differences in culture and environment, career opportunities of the future, developing soft skills like team-playing and resilience which become as important  as the technical skills acquired, the art of collaboration and working in groups, how to secure internships abroad, examining the skillsets most desired by employers in different regions and countries. emphasis on mental health and well -being thus being a friend, mentor, guide and a counsellor all in one.

Students today are juggling a dizzying array of challenges from coursework, relationships, and adjustments, parental and family expectations, wanting to follow their passion rather than go with the traditional programs, coping with moving away from home, social media distractions and trying to keep up with their peers. Supporting them is crucial to their well-being and providing the right guidance which is purpose-driven leaves the student far more confident and in control and better equipped to step into University life.

The Arabia Times: What are your goals?

Dr. Mariam Shaikh: One of my primary goals is to foster worldwide educational partnerships that enable students to achieve their aspirations through the GPS my company will equip them with. Since its establishment, we have successfully implemented the Student Cultural Exchange Program, welcoming students from Europe, the US, Canada, Africa, China, and India to immerse themselves in Dubai’s renowned international universities.

Another goal I am actively pursuing is supporting young entrepreneurs. As an entrepreneur myself, I understand the challenges and opportunities that come with starting and growing a business. With this firsthand experience, I am dedicated to providing guidance and resources to young entrepreneurs who aspire to make their mark in the business world. I firmly believe that entrepreneurship is a driving force behind economic growth and innovation. By empowering young entrepreneurs, we not only cultivate the next generation of business leaders but also foster a culture of creativity, resilience, and problem-solving. I am also deeply committed to empowering women in the business world and creating an inclusive environment where their entrepreneurial aspirations can thrive.

The Arabia Times: What do you feel is the biggest strength of “MS EDUCATION CONSULTANTS” right now?

Dr. Mariam Shaikh: At MS Education Consultants, our primary focus is to offer a comprehensive solution for students seeking admission to universities in various countries including the U.K, US, Canada, Australia, Dubai, Europe, Malaysia, and India. We specialize in guiding and advising students throughout the entire application process, helping them choose suitable programs, providing insights into career prospects, facilitating internships abroad, assisting with accommodation both on and off campus, offering visa support, and addressing any other needs they may have to ensure their student journey is a remarkable one. What distinguishes us from other service providers is our extensive experience of 35 years in collaborating with leading international universities.

The Arabia Times: You are awarded for your Outstanding Contributions to the Education Industry, advise the path to our readers, you took to reach here?

Dr. Mariam Shaikh: First and foremost, developing a genuine passion for education and a deep understanding of its significance in society is crucial. This passion will fuel your dedication and drive to make a positive impact, just like it did for me. It is also important to engage in continuous learning and stay updated with the latest research, pedagogical approaches, and technological advancements shaping the field of education.

While having formal education does help in building a strong foundation, education is not confined to the walls of a classroom. Diverse learning opportunities, such as attending seminars, workshops, and conferences to broaden your horizons and stay abreast of emerging trends, will help keep you well-informed of the education industry.

Networking and collaboration are invaluable in the education industry. Building connections with fellow educators, researchers, and experts allows for the exchange of ideas, sharing of best practices, and collaboration on innovative projects. Join professional associations, online communities, and educational forums to expand your network and build meaningful relationships.

Engage in research, publish articles or books, and present at conferences to share your insights and contribute to the knowledge base. Contributing to the education field goes beyond the classroom. Seek opportunities to lead or participate in educational initiatives, policy-making discussions, and community outreach programs to make a broader impact on education at a systemic level.

Lastly, always remain adaptable, flexible, and open-minded. Education is a dynamic field that constantly evolves, and it is crucial to embrace change and stay receptive to new ideas and perspectives.

By following these general guidelines, anyone can embark on a path towards making a positive impact in the education industry. Remember, each journey is unique, and success is often the result of perseverance, innovation, collaboration, and a deep passion for transforming lives through education.

The Arabia Times: Why did you start “MS EDUCATION CONSULTANTS”?

Dr. Mariam Shaikh: It was January 2020. I had decided to retire from my last position as VP of Amity University, Dubai and move back to Mumbai to manage my home and Art Gallery there. Unfortunately, lockdown was declared and I was stuck in Mumbai for 7 whole months.

It was a difficult and challenging time for me with so many restrictions and I was unable to do anything there. Frustrated and terribly disappointed that I could not even open my Art Gallery or Office, I felt socially very disconnected as we could not invite people over nor go out of the house. As someone who is socially active and extroverted, not being able to invite people over or venture outside took a toll on my well-being.

Given my restless spirit and the strong desire to remain engaged, I realized that retirement was not the right path for me at that moment. I developed a new dream, a fresh goal to pursue, and set new targets to accomplish. The prospect of retirement seemed completely incompatible with my aspirations and energy levels.

Being able to start my own company has been my lifetime Goal, and I have always held these words close to my heart: “It is never too late to set a new Goal or Dream a new dream..!!  So right from my desk in Mumbai, I initiated the process to set up my company and decided to return to Dubai, my home of 37 years to continue with my passion.

The Arabia Times: What have been the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome during the journey of your leadership?

Dr. Mariam Shaikh: As someone who’s been in a leadership role multiple times over during my career, I have met with several challenges as a working woman. Most women feel as though they need to adopt a stereotypically “male” attitude toward business: competitive, aggressive and sometimes harsh. But I believe that to be a successful female leader always remain true to yourself and find your own voice which is key to rising above preconceived expectations. I believe anyone with smart habits and a positive ‘Can Do’ attitude can be a success. We should always be aware that a few conscious changes to behavior and attitude could prove to be very rewarding.

Be yourself and have confidence in who you are. It’s a change as you are no longer associated with the company you worked for. But thankfully for me, the trust and the expertise accumulated over the past 35 years was a great asset as I was already well known in the Education Space for my achievements. As an entrepreneur, the transition from a senior professional role in a university to an entrepreneurial role and not receiving a monthly salary but having to hustle and work hard daily to generate funds was a difficult change to overcome.

At one time or another, most women CEOs find themselves in a male-dominated industry or workplace that does not want to acknowledge their leadership role. As a female entrepreneur in a male-dominated industry, earning respect becomes a struggle for most women. But living and being a woman entrepreneur in Dubai is truly a blessing. Turning popular misconception on its head, Dubai is at the global forefront of female empowerment, entrepreneurship and growth in the business sector.

The Arabia Times: Give us one word that describes you the best.

Dr. Mariam Shaikh: Passionate. I reached where I did because of my passion. Passion is one great force that unleashes creativity, because if you’re passionate about something, then you’re more willing to take risks. I was able to come back from retirement and started my own company all because of my passion for education. My passion to cultivate young minds and help them achieve their dream careers will live long. I put my best into anything I do, and to me passion is that driving force that makes what you do successful both for yourself and others.

The Arabia Times: What do you value the most about “MS EDUCATION CONSULTANTS” vision?

Dr. Mariam Shaikh: At MS Education Consultants, our vision is to empower global students in attaining their academic and career goals. To accomplish this, my company actively promotes the establishment and expansion of educational institutions. We also strive to establish vital partnerships with innovative learning programs, specialized initiatives aligned with the government’s vision, and corporate collaborations. By doing so, we equip students with the skills required in this era of rapid innovation and change. Through these comprehensive efforts, we aspire to provide valuable support to students worldwide, enabling them to thrive in an ever-evolving educational landscape.

The Arabia Times: We have seen your expertise covers Student Recruitment, Marketing, Strategic Development etc. Can you please tell me what gives the inspiration to this?

Dr. Mariam Shaikh: Focusing on students and their success was the main driving force which brought me back to embark on my entrepreneurial venture MS Education Consultants. I want to continue with my mission of supporting students to turn their dreams into reality and stay focused on their career goals and aspirations.

It is incredibly rewarding to witness their growth, achievements, and happiness as they pursue their educational and career goals. Student recruitment plays a crucial role in connecting educational institutions with prospective students. By employing effective recruitment strategies, institutions can attract talented and diverse student populations. Effective marketing strategies help educational institutions raise awareness about their offerings, build their brand reputation, and differentiate themselves in a competitive market. Marketing is an integral part of any industry, including education.

By remaining focused on students and their aspirations, I am motivated continually to enhance my expertise in all areas that concern students. This enables me to provide the best possible support and guidance to students and educational institutions alike.

The Arabia Times: What are the key values which helped you to overcome the challenges in your path? Tell us something about your memorable incident in your leadership?

Dr. Mariam Shaikh: I never dreamt about SUCCESS. I worked for it!! Success for me was definitely no accident. Achieving success requires a combination of hard work, persistence, commitment, steadfastness, self-assurance, belief in oneself, continuous learning, diligent study, willingness to make sacrifices, and above all, a genuine passion for the work at hand. Your chosen profession or pursuit will occupy a significant portion of your life, and true satisfaction can only be attained by engaging in work that you consider exceptional. To excel at your endeavors, it is essential to wholeheartedly embrace and enjoy what you do.

I have always been the type of leader that leaves my door open for anyone to come to me for help. I have been able to help multiple students with receiving scholarships and additional financial aid to complete their courses.

During my time at Amity University, I had the privilege of personally aiding two exceptionally talented Syrian refugees in securing scholarships for the Engineering department. These students later went on to pursue higher education in Canada. Whenever these students reach out to me, it fills me with immense joy and a sense of pride to witness their flourishing professional lives. Knowing that I played a part in their educational journey and helped them attain their academic aspirations is truly gratifying. Observing their achievements serves as a profound reminder of the significance of supporting and empowering refugee students as they strive for education.

The Arabia Times: How do you see the company is changing in two years, and how do you see yourself creating that change?

Dr. Mariam Shaikh: My company has already partnered with several well-known universities here in Dubai as well as in Canada. I plan on expanding my target market and introducing students to new programs focusing on student mentorship and giving them internship opportunities. Taking the initiative in recognizing the pressing need for effective communication and support in the remote learning environment due to the pandemic, we embarked on the development of a dedicated counseling application which will be in full operation soon.

Through the counseling application, students will have a user-friendly platform where they can seek guidance, ask questions, and receive personalized support. This digital space not only aims to address the challenges associated with remote learning but also provides a supportive environment for students to navigate the uncertainties they may encounter along their educational journey. With the counseling application, students and parents will have direct access to qualified counselors and educational professionals who are committed to providing comprehensive guidance and assistance. Whether students require academic support, emotional well-being counseling, or career advice, our platform ensures that they receive the personalized attention they need to thrive. From scheduling virtual counseling sessions to exchanging messages or participating in video conferences, the application streamlines the counseling process, ensuring efficient and timely support. It may include features such as educational resources, self-assessment tools, goal-setting capabilities, and progress tracking mechanisms, all aimed at empowering students to take charge of their academic and personal growth.

I believe that by developing this dedicated counseling application, we are taking a significant step towards fostering a supportive and connected educational ecosystem. Through efficient communication channels and personalized support, we aim to empower students, alleviate their concerns, and facilitate a positive and successful remote learning experience.

The Arabia Times: What benefits are your clients getting from “MS EDUCATION CONSULTANTS” in this competitive world?

Dr. Mariam Shaikh: MS Education Consultants recognizes that the future of student mobility lies in integrating physical international experiences with digitally driven virtual opportunities. By combining these approaches, we can broaden access to education and reach a wider range of students while fostering greater cross-cultural awareness and skills. As an organization, we are committed to keeping pace with these changes and continuously strive to provide enhanced global access to students.

Our services at MS Education Consultants encompass various verticals, including:

  1. University Admissions: Our focus at MS Education Consultants is to prioritize the needs of students throughout the university admissions process. With our extensive experience in handling both undergraduate and graduate applications, we provide personalized guidance and assistance tailored to each student’s academic and vocational/career aspirations. We have established connections with over 400 universities in the UAE, USA, UK, Canada, Australia, and Europe, enabling us to help students pursue their higher education goals effectively.
  2. Education Consultancy: We are dedicated to promoting the United Arab Emirates as a thriving education hub and facilitating the growth of educational institutions in emerging markets. Our consultancy services include advising and consulting on new campus start-ups, developing student recruitment plans, and formulating outreach strategies both locally and internationally. We also offer expertise in effective marketing budget utilization and planning, solutions for growth and retention, government accreditation support, training and development for student recruitment teams, and guidance on partnerships and collaborations. Additionally, we actively promote initiatives that enhance positive student experiences.
  3. Online Training: As part of our commitment to continuous learning and development, we have established valuable partnerships with industry professionals. Through these partnerships, we facilitate training courses designed to boost interests, skills, and knowledge for students. Furthermore, we actively support the launch of innovative learning programs and courses offered by leading providers, catering to both young and adult learners.

At MS Education Consultants, we strive to provide comprehensive services that empower students and contribute to their academic and personal growth.

The Arabia Times: Would you like to say anything else to our viewers?

Dr. Mariam Shaikh: Involving youth as active contributors in global initiatives enables us to tap into their distinctive viewpoints and novel ideas. When equipped with education, opportunities, and encouragement, young people become agents of progress, fostering development, innovation, and peace. They hold the power to shape a promising future for generations to follow. Recognizing their capacity to bring constructive transformations in our world and affording them platforms and resources, we unlock their potential to lead, innovate, and contribute to sustainable development and peace building endeavors. This inclusive approach paves the way for a more prosperous and harmonious world that benefits everyone.

I strongly believe in the development of society through Education, and its value system, to leave a profound legacy for the future generation.  I believe that international exposure and amalgamation of various cultures will help to create a tolerant and peaceful global society that will be progressive and will establish a bright future.

Education is not just a means to acquire knowledge; it is a transformative force that fuels innovation and opens doors to endless possibilities. By investing wisely in education, you can equip yourself with the tools, skills, and mindset to unlock your potential, navigate challenges, and make a positive impact in the world.

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