MBA student helps engineer her family company into a multinational corporation

Many family owned companies recruit graduates from the Suliman S. Olayan School of Business (OSB) to help their organization grow and thrive. Others rely on relatives to fill positions. One company was able to have the best of both those worlds by hiring an OSB student who was already part of their family.

Sabine Daher, OSB Class of 2019, is studying for her MBA to augment her engineering background. She decided to stay at the American University of Beirut to gain critical business skills that would both complement her technical capabilities and help her family’s business, Difco Group.

At 25 years old, she is often younger than her colleagues are and having an MBA helps her take charge in many aspects of the company. The skills and self-confidence she gained in the business program have allowed Daher to add value to both her personal and professional life.

Difco Group operates various industries including food, agriculture, real estate, and investments. It is most widely known for their food manufacturing division through the Poppins and Snips brands as well as their breakfast cereals and snacks. The company employs approximately 550 employees in three manufacturing facilities and 11 branches across the MENA region.

Daher currently serves as the deputy general manager with a focus on human resources, particularly in recruitment. “We are trying to find the right people with the right skills to fit the right positions,” she stated. “We believe having the right skills can make or break a business. It's all about the culture and the right team members to make an organization thrive.”

As she explained, educated and experienced Lebanese people tend to travel to work in the GCC, Europe or elsewhere. It is hard to find team members with the right qualifications and skills who live in Lebanon or would consider coming back to the country because of the political and economic situation. "Another challenge is the lack of competitors in the manufacturing industry. It is easier for us to recruit fresh graduates and train them internally for a few years than to recruit ones already experienced in the field. At Difco Group, we rely on hiring young people who want to stick with the company for the long-term. After all, a business can only grow if has an enthusiastic and self-motivated team," she noted.

Daher’s eventual goal is to turn the family business, currently a regional company, into a multinational corporation. As she concluded, “this will take time and effort, but I am confident we can get there one day.”