You can see him casually strolling in Hamra after his classes, with his backpack filled with books & magazines, or discussing with his students in the beautiful green gardens of Haigazian University, Beirut.
Welcoming and natural, Dr Khakhar is also an innovative teacher who enjoys launching new initiatives. His students attend in numbers the talks he organizes with his fellow professors and guest speakers with the support from his Department and the President’s Office.
A reference in his field, Dr Khakhar sat with Kamsyn for a talk about his extensive experience around the world and his special relationship with Beirut where he conducted in-depth research.
As a humanist he cumulates the traits of a renaissance man and the love of new encounters typical of a citizen of the world. Dr Khakhar of multicultural roots partially grew-up in Manchester UK where he was also the youngest to graduate from both the MSc program at University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology UMIST (aged 22) and the PhD at The University of Manchester Business School MBS (aged 27) .
He gained valuable international experience working at Ecole Supérieure de Commerce de Paris ESCP-EAP involving projects in the UK, Germany and France. He has also taught within the Strategy and International Business division at MBS.
Today he is Adjunct Faculty for the Global MBA by MBS, which is rated amongst the top 10 within business programs internationally (Financial Times ranking).
In addition to his impressive academic and professional qualifications, Dr Khakhar is also a Photography enthusiast with a distinctive and authentic style as well as an accomplished athlete.
Exclusive Interview with the Professor who’s inspiring and empowering our students today; showing them how to look through the Glass.
So tell us about why you chose to move to Lebanon? Some people are trying to leave and you have chosen to call Beirut your home, why is that ?
Good question. After my academic achievements in academia and consulting, I decided to move to the Middle East in order to enhance my global exposure and to better understand this vibrant region, which was bound to play an increasingly important role on the international scene. It has also provided a platform to explore research opportunities (Negotiation’s and Conflict Resolution).
My plan was to come here for a year, and I ended up staying several. I have travelled a lot. I like to observe societies, and how they perceive themselves as well. Beirut is an eclectic mixture of bohemian, modern and postmodern, European-like attitudes and laissez-faire personas.
The traditional is in a constant argument and dialogue with the past, present and the future, often in an obsessive schizophrenic way. And many of my friends have left for that very reason. There are the problems in civil society at the fundamental level. But scratch under the surface and you see that it isn’t as simple as that.
Something is always bubbling as strongly as melted burning sugar under the surface; the air is always pulsing and crisp in a metaphorical sense. And there is a radiance to that which I find beautiful, so I call this place, my home. As Marcel Proust put it “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes”
That’s a beautiful quote, It is indeed an interesting country to work in. I am sure research here is interesting as well. Have you managed to conduct some whilst you are here?
Research and data collection here is absolutely interesting. For example, I have published in the International Business Review (IBR) in 2013 (rated A+) about the region and negotiations specifically. This research paper entitled: Examining negotiating styles between Arab and non-Arab MNE managers was also requested of me by the Chair at Manchester Business School for use in their teachings at the MBA level.
The findings and recommendations indicated that the concept of Wasta in Lebanon should be leveraged, and not shied away from as a source of competitive advantage, which was deviant of the view with some other research that equated it to Nepotism. Findings also suggested a general insecurity in the concept of the ‘Lebanese Cultural Identity’ – of negotiators often feeling paradoxically part of, and alien within their culture. This year I received the award “2016 McGraw-Hill Education Distinguished Paper Award” Presented at the Federation of Business Disciplines conference held at the Oklahoma City (Oklahoma, USA) for a paper entitled, “Integrative Versus Distributive International Business Negotiations: The Role of the International Manager”
I know you are passionate about teaching. How would you describe your teaching philosophy?
I encourage students to think outside the box, and in this vein, I use a combination of informal presentations, debates, project videos, case analysis, and guest lecturers to facilitate critical thinking and analysis. I also try to promote lateral thinking by constantly questioning students on their answers even if correct, which is a way to communicate key concepts within the social sciences, as many paradigms may remain subjective and require debate. It’s not always the right answer that’s important, but whether you are asking the right questions. It is more beneficial if the student comes up with the answers through his or her own questioning, my role being that of an educator and facilitator. In the classroom, I seek to help students manage personal issues, challenges, and complexities that come with studying in a multi-fibered society like Lebanon.
Good to hear. What do you do in your free time? Hobbies and Interests?
I love photography – specifically outdoor, wildlife and special faces. Below you can see a sample of my work.
Final Question – What do you consider your greatest weakness?
I am too honest
Hmm, that’s not really a weakness is it?
I don’t care what you think now. do I ? (Chuckles)