Rawan Albutairi ’10 is Financial Analyst at Saudi Aramco

Six years after graduating from MBS, Rawan Albutairi ’10 is a leading financial analyst at Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil and gas company, as well as an activist who co-founded many social, educational and economic initiatives that she hopes will make a difference in her home country of Saudi Arabia.

“Saudi Aramco, where I have been able to realize my true professional calling, encourages and supports good citizenship among its employees,” says Albutairi, who is working to improve economic opportunities for young Saudi females and develop sustainable businesses that address important social challenges.

Albutairi, who came to the U.S. as a participant in the King Abdullah Scholarship Program, earned a degree in finance from MBS. After graduation, she worked as an institutional banking relationship manager with Saudi Hollandi Bank, and then joined Saudi Aramco in 2013. She lives in Al Khobar on the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia.

“The enriching classroom experiences and challenging curriculum at MBS provided a strong platform to develop critical thinking and analytical skills,” says Albutairi, whose friend recommended UMaine after earning his bachelor’s degree at the university.

“The genuine support I received from the MBS faculty and my classmates served me well in both my professional and personal endeavors, and fed my motivation to succeed, both for myself and, ultimately, so that I can give back and help so many other people in my country who are struggling to find the right path in their life or career,” she says.

What are your duties at Saudi Aramco and what does a typical work day entail?

I work in the Financial Planning and Analysis Department of Saudi Aramco in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. A typical work day, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., includes catching up on news in the morning, analyzing reports and key performance indicators, attending meetings and presentations throughout the day, and lots of coffee. During busy periods, such as the annual business plan cycle, the days are much longer and, of course, involve even more coffee.

Why do you enjoy your job?

My job is dynamic, especially nowadays with the extreme volatility in oil prices and the ever-changing political tension in my region. Finance professionals play a vital role in the company during times like today when the energy industry is facing significant structural and cyclical challenges.

For Saudi Aramco in particular, the move toward greater investment in refineries and chemicals — both domestic and international — requires professionals with strong finance skills, as this “downstream” part of the business is highly competitive with tight margins.

The fact that Saudi Aramco contributes significantly to the kingdom’s economy makes it even more personal to me as a citizen of the country and makes my job particularly rewarding.

What are the social, economic and educational initiatives you are working on?

About two years ago, I co-founded and was named curator of the Global Shapers Al-Khobar Hub. The Global Shapers Community, an initiative born out of the World Economic Forum, is a network of city-based hubs developed and led by youth 20–30 years old who are passionate about developing their leadership skills to serve society. To that end, hubs undertake local projects to improve their communities.

As curator, I led our local hub in projects aimed at improving the economic opportunities for Saudi females, creating opportunities for cultural outreach and dialogue between U.S. and Saudi university students, and advancing autism awareness.

As I became involved in each of these endeavors, I saw firsthand the challenges and inequalities faced by many people denied equal opportunity, either by society or through birth. I became so moved by these experiences that I decided to dedicate my ability and energy to developing sustainable and profitable businesses to address important social challenges.

I have a strong desire to help improve the economic welfare for young Saudi females, where the unemployment rate exceeds 30 percent. I believe that by expanding the available opportunities to young girls, the prosperity and future of Saudi Arabia will be positively and immeasurably enriched.

The progressive societal and cultural shifts, in fact, make this imperative in my country, since millennial and younger Saudi girls are expected — and required — to become financially self-sufficient. As in the West, this generation is marrying later or not at all, a trend that will cause a particularly acute problem given the educational and employment challenges faced by my country.

For these reasons, I founded EduGo Arabia and co-founded Mubarada GCC, two social initiatives designed to empower youth with the knowledge, skills and confidence to thrive in a professional setting and become successful entrepreneurs.

How has your time at MBS influenced your career?

A well-rounded curriculum, such as the one at MBS, enables any graduate to succeed in any job, career or industry. The real-life activities and experiences through the Student Portfolio Investment Fund (SPIFFY) and the capstone business simulation were the most useful and relevant to me after graduating.

In addition to helping me develop a deep appreciation of actual challenges faced by businesses every day, these courses taught me the value of clear communication and strong teamwork. All the MBS professors were mentors and devoted a great deal of time helping prepare me — and all their students — for success after graduation.

I was pleased that the MBS program had a good diversity percentage. I believe it is important to have varying opinions and perspectives to allow students to grow personally and academically, particularly as the world becomes more interconnected, businesses become more global, and societies benefit from greater tourism and free trade.