Obviously, September 11 happened, and it changed everything, so they indefinitely postponed that, Sleiman recalls.
The airline did not, however, wish to leave Sleiman hanging high and dry, and so it referred him to a careers fair for top-end graduates in London, where he met recruiters from CitiGroup, Chase Manhattan and, of course, General Electric.
It was basically British Airways that introduced me to GE, Sleiman says. What happened was, as soon as they notified us, it was the last day of this two-day event at Imperial College. Literally, when I went there, I got offered a job on the same day because British Airways backed us with all the education, references and everything with regards to what we needed.
Indeed, Sleiman got offered jobs from all three of the companies that he met, though GE stood out for him in a number of ways not least because the company had pledged to put him on a graduate fast-track scheme, an executive leadership programme that would take him across the world. In contrast, a job at either of the other two firms would involve only half the amount of travel.
I chose GE because it was four rotations, not two. All the others were two one year in London, and one year in New York. Instead, this was four six-month rotations. At the time, I didnt know exactly what I wanted to do in IT, so I ended up doing that.
Having joined GEs so-called Information Management Leadership Programme, Sleiman quickly fell in love with the GE Capital business, which entails GE Money and the consumer, corporate and commercial finance sides of the GE business. Immediately after his two-year stint in the leadership programme, Sleiman joined GE Capital, adopting a global reconciliation programme manager role.
At the bank, we had lots of reconciliation issues, as you can imagine, so me and my team would focus on any business that had more than $6 million in write-offs a year. As soon as we did that, wed go there and rectify that, using automation, using technology, and fix the issue so that they would be saving that $6 million that they were losing previously. Thats what the whole idea was. It was like an audit staff type of role, and every three months, we would do something like that, Sleiman says.
Having built up a successful track record for reconciliation, Sleiman joined the acquisitions and merger team for GE Capital, which brought him to Dubai in 2007. He was directly involved in a merger with Al Futtaim Group, which jointly created Al Futtaim GE Money with GE that year. Little did Sleiman know then, however, that he would end up staying in Dubai long after that deal had run its course.
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