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Nasser Al-Nafisee, vice president of corporate affairs at Saudi Aramco (second from right), receives a gift from the Enrichment Programs team after his 2018 Winter Enrichment Program keynote lecture.
-By Lulwah Shalhoub, KAUST News
Nasser Al-Nafisee, vice president of corporate affairs at Saudi Aramco, spoke about how pushing the boundaries can pave the way towards "a career with purpose" during the University's 2018 Winter Enrichment Program (WEP).
Al-Nafisee talked about the early stages of turning KAUST from a concept into reality during his keynote entitled "A Career with Purpose: Push the boundaries and let them be pushed."
"Pushing the boundaries is really what we did at KAUST. This is what this institution is all about," Al-Nafisee said while telling the story behind his journey in making KAUST what it is today.
In mid-2016, Saudi Aramco received a mandate to build a university, as the late King Abdullah envisioned it to be the 21st century House of Wisdom. The scope of the project was enormous and the schedule was "mission impossible," as Al-Nafisee described it. He was asked to join the KAUST team, an opportunity that he was reluctant to take yet ended up devoting 16 to 18 hours a day for three years to accomplish the mission.
He added that building KAUST was equivalent to "building an aircraft while it was airborne…We were pushing boundaries left, right and center, and we were doing something no one has ever done before anywhere in the world…We invented the eighth day. We were working 16 to 18 hours a day for three years," he said.
Nasser Al-Nafisee, vice president of corporate affairs at Saudi Aramco, discussed the "mission impossible" history of constructing KAUST in less than three years during his 2018 Winter Enrichment Program keynote lecture.
"Delivering KAUST in less than three years was truly a mission impossible. It became the impressive reality in which you are hopefully living, enjoying and producing research. To make it happen, we had to break through and get rid of all of the boxes and push all boundaries where the sky has no limit," he said.
Al-Nafisee advised attendees from students to faculty to reach their own potential.
"Our worst enemy is staying in our comfort zone," he noted.
He concluded by saying, "To overcome internal voices saying, 'Don't do it. I can't or it can't be done,' rather [say,] 'It is doable and adapt the can-do attitude.' Put in the extra effort, as nothing pays off like hard work."