Habib Mammadov portrait

The Blue MBA is about more than up-to-date knowledge

If it weren’t for his colleagues and friends, Habib Mammadov would not have found his way onto the CBS Blue MBA course in 2019. But it didn’t take him long to realise it was the right thing for not only his business but his personal development too.

I started work in this industry in 2003 as a telecom technician, servicing the radio navigation equipment in the Caspian Shipping Company – a government-owned entity in Baku, Azerbaijan. I later joined a private British company that was more focused on electrical works for offshore oil rigs.

Industry specialists

When my friend and line manager left the company, we talked about starting our own business, taking things in a different direction. So that’s what we did in 2010, and presently we have 30+ people in our Baku team with 15 more based in Dubai.

At MarinTel, we are dedicated to radio navigation and comms for everything from commercial vessels to navy and coastguard ships. Presently, Marintel running two operations divisions. The original focus was on maritime, radio navigation and telecoms, testing and certification of ship’s equipment. Recently we started to develop a team to concentrate on coastal systems, such as vessel traffic monitoring systems,  offshore assets protection and the global maritime distress systems that each vessel within IMO conventions is equipped with.

Short notice sign-up

When my business partner, Leo, completed his CBS Blue MBA classes in 2019, I went along to his graduation and met some of the guys on the course. They all tried to convince me to join. I said that I would look through Leo’s materials and then maybe join in two years. ‘But why?’ – they exclaimed, ‘His materials will be out of date and not relevant to you – you’ll be losing two years of opportunity if you wait!’

I didn’t understand why Leo thought I needed the knowledge too if he is already bringing it to the business. He told me to start, and I would understand. So, I committed to joining the CBS MBA in Shipping & Logistics at the concise notice in August 2019.

Speaking the same language

Soon, I realised that Leo was right. It wasn’t just about the knowledge; we were speaking the same language. When we want to forecast or analyze something, we do it much more efficiently than before CBS. It gave us the logic and background to know how to attack every situation. My leadership and presentation skills have improved – even the way I communicate via email.

And I’ve been astounded at how up to date the course has been. It’s current, giving insight into the market situation of the moment. We’ve been faced with COVID-19 and all the curves that present – whether financial, logistical or something else. The pandemic was reflected in the course in real-time, and apart from that, the course has helped me adapt to the pace of change in the shipping industry. That’s a great position to be in.

Steering the business better

We are a relatively small company, while we have 30 more people in the office, yet communication methods, flexibility, and motivation were never on the agenda. Now we think more about delivering the message, how it will be understood and how and why to motivate our team. We explain what we want to achieve better, for example. We gather together more, we get good feedback, and we see happy faces. It feels good, and that translates to better-motivated employees.”

Fitting it all in

The main challenge has been prioritising my time, but by spending half an hour on daily readings, I got myself in good shape. Of course, it depends on your personality, but for me, it’s about ticking the reading and the case studies off chunk by chunk, then it doesn’t feel too heavy.

The schedule was quite manageable; we met at Copenhagen once every two months for a week. That’s ten modules over the two years. Of course, with COVID-19 travel restrictions, we’ve done only half of them in person, which was not too exciting. But having that start helped us to put a network in place, which was so important for me. We had 44 people with 23 nationalities; that’s a valuable business community connecting me with people from many different parts of the world. Our internal WhatsApp group is live and working daily, with people sharing information and answering questions – and I see no reason that will change.

What’s next?

I will graduate this year in August, but the CBS experience has helped me realise the importance of working on myself and updating my grasp of technology. I will take a break first but will then take some more courses. They will be shorter and will have to fit around my family, friends and commitments – perhaps I’ll choose time management or further leadership. I want to stay up to date and keep developing.

Business-wise, I’ve suggested for CBS Blue MBA classes another person, who would benefit from the course – the Marintel UAE GM, he’ll start this year. I’ve been interviewing business partners and customers, ship owners, captains and agents for my different assignments. It’s been exciting, and they also wanted to hear about the programme. Perhaps in the future, more will take it on, but we’re focusing on the stability of the business for the time being.

As I think my business partner knew, the course is really what I needed right now. Yes, we are running the same business, but our strength is doubled, as is in the fact we both come at it from the same direction now. If you are in a management position in shipping, you have to do the Blue MBA. There are no negative side effects; you will simply gather a lot of knowledge and, more importantly, the know-how to put the theory into practice.