Today, Mahmoud El Sakka enjoys an esteemed career as Advisor to the Prime Minister of Egypt on Privatisation. Looking back on his Chevening journey, Mahmoud shares the unique career advice he would give his younger self as a scholar in 1990.

After 35 years of experience in investment banking and corporate finance, I now work as Advisor to the Prime Minister on Privatisation in Egypt.

I can trace the beginning of my career journey back to Chevening. Ever since I graduated from Cairo University in 1983, it was my dream to expand my horizons and study abroad in the UK.

I still vividly recall the moment I received my Chevening letter of award. I was on summer vacation and my father called me from Cairo, urging me to return home and prepare for this new chapter in my life.

As I look back on my Chevening journey, I like to take the time to reflect on the decisions I have made and the paths I have followed. If I could travel back in time to give advice to my younger self in 1990, here’s what I would tell him.

Advice to my younger self

1. When you start your career journey, carefully consider the type of work that brings you satisfaction. You will never regret choosing a career path that truly fulfils you.


2. Remember that success is often a result of effective teamwork. Wherever you can, collaborate and communicate with others to achieve your goals. It feels better not to succeed alone.


3. Seek opportunities that prioritise continuous learning and training over just a high salary. A master’s degree can be just the beginning of your learning journey – never stop reading and acquiring new skills.


4. Have confidence in yourself when you speak, but never forget the importance of being a good listener. Learning to listen is just as important as expressing yourself.


5. Recognise that your network is one of your most valuable assets. Cultivate and nurture professional relationships, as they can open new doors and lead to opportunities.


6. If you ever get the chance to start your own business, seize it. Entrepreneurship can be a rewarding and transformative experience.


7. Finally, remember that work is essential, but it’s crucial to find a balance in life. Take care of your well-being and make time for your personal life and interests. A harmonious work-life balance is the key to overall happiness and success.


I am also grateful to my younger self for playing an active role in my local Chevening Alumni Association, the Association of Graduates and Trainees from Britain in Egypt. I served as Chairman for seven years, before stepping down this year to make way for the next generation of younger scholars. I would urge any current Chevening Scholar to join their country’s Alumni Association once they return home. It has ensured that I still feel part of the supportive, global Chevening family.

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