Spotlight: Ali Al-Ansari
Ali Al-Ansari, Class of 2010, IPOL
External Relations Analyst at Shell London
Why did you choose Georgetown University in Qatar?
I chose Georgetown University because of my international background. Being the son of an Ambassador also greatly influenced my decision to study International Politics and Foreign Service. I knew Georgetown would be a diverse place with students from all around the world, and that the curriculum would cover a wide variety of cultures and people.
How did you end up at Shell?
I initially wanted to join the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to follow in my father’s footsteps, but quickly realized that I was not limited to that choice. There are many private companies, such as Shell, that see the value in Georgetown graduates. I also knew I’m more of a “people person”, so I wanted to do something that didn’t involve me sitting in front of the computer all the time, and was happy to have landed a job with the Communications and Corporate Affairs department at Shell.
What has been the most rewarding moment in your career?
In November of 2011, I was the Master of Ceremony for the inauguration of the world’s largest gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant in the world, Pearl GTL, which is located in Ras Laffan Industrial City. The plant was inaugurated by H.H. The Father Emir and the Minister of Energy (Dr. Mohammed Al-Sada). I took great pride in the fact that I was able to MC in front of very highly influential political leaders in my country and for a very significant asset for Shell, and that really honed my skill in public speaking in a way that was never done before.
What is the best career advice you received?
“Reputation comes on a bicycle, and leaves in a Ferrari.” This advice was given to me by a colleague, and I really find that it is true. What he meant was; reputation is built slowly and steadily, but can disappear very fast if you’re not careful. Being in a position that allows me to manage part of the company’s reputation, I think about this all the time. I also think about it on a personal level, and apply it to my own reputation.
What would you recommend to someone interested in working in your field?
If we’re talking about the “PR world” I would recommend doing what you do in Georgetown: Stay up-to-date on current events and politics. You would be surprised how many times current news has served as a perfect ice breaker when meeting new people.
Work on your people skills (or soft skills). Unlike engineering or finance, much of my job as a communications professional involves me being able to read between the lines. This might not be taught in class, but every time you get up to give a presentation in class, or when you visit your professors in their office to talk about class and curriculum, you are developing your soft skills.
Finally, of course, work on your reading and writing. In my field, good writing skills (in English OR Arabic) are very valuable, and you will have to adapt your writing style to several different target audiences and/or topics. Take advantage of all the reading and writing you will be doing in university to give you that advantage.
How did your Georgetown education influence where you are today?
I always remember the words: “Georgetown teaches you how to learn.” And that resonates with me every day. Nobody has reached the end…the journey of education, whether in school, university or your job, never ends. I like to think that I learn something new every single day (and I truly do on most days). That kind of mindset has allowed me to take on challenges as learning opportunities, and has given me the confidence to believe in myself while doing so.