When Clint Pemberton first joined Dubai International Academy (DIA) Al Barsha, he and his students were in a race against the clock.

Clint had come to DIA Al Barsha in August 2021, and he took on Year 12 students in the second and final year of their international business management course.

“The students were in danger of not reaching their potential in their final exams,” he says.

So, with help and support from the new management team, Clint hosted extra sessions before, during and after school to help the students with internal assessments and extended essays. Together, they chipped away at the learning backlog.

“I worked harder and with more passion than I ever have. And seeing the kids understand that I was doing this because I was invested in their journey was really gratifying.”

It confirmed Clint’s decision to leave his successful career in corporate finance for teaching seven years earlier was the right one.

But he didn’t abandon the knowledge and skills he’d gained in the corporate sector. Today, he’s using them together with what he learned more than 20 years ago in his AGSM @ UNSW Business School Grad Certificate in Management, to help develop the next great minds of international business.

Leaving the corporate world for teaching

In 2015, Clint was ready to leave the world of corporate finance.

From 2000 to 2015 he worked for major global corporations in senior positions and landed lucrative overseas roles. He was good at his job. But he didn’t like it.

“I was involved in a lot of the negative parts of that world – selling things off, closing things down, cutting costs, redundancies and firing. It took a toll on me, and I lost any sense of joy I had doing my job.”

For example, as head of finance in one company, his job was to negotiate the sale of the business to an Indian company. This meant a normal workday, then negotiations, followed by three-hour calls with head office in the UK. The result? Long days with little-to-no-sleep for 14 months.

Unsurprisingly, Clint resigned. He went on a sabbatical, spending most of the year surfing and attending meditation retreats and mulling, “what’s next?”. His travels took him around Europe before he settled in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. It was there that he decided to teach.

“I was sick of doing things that I felt were hurting everyday people and benefitting faceless corporations. When I looked in the mirror, I wanted to be proud of myself for doing something good. And I thought the easiest way to do that was to get involved in education.”

After taking what he calls “the easier on-ramp to teaching” and earning his English teacher certification, he landed his first education job in Moscow.

“I found I was really good at it, and I fell in love with it immediately.”

See also: How an AGSM MBA supported Veronika Kryuchkova’s global learning journey.

Teaching business and finding happiness in the classroom

 At DIA Al Barsha, he works with students from all over the world, including Germany, Portugal, India, Pakistan and Egypt.

“I love working with the kids,” he says. “Interacting with them every day, building those relationships, seeing them grow and improve and reach their targets – those bonds are really special.”

Clint transitioned to business management teaching after realising his professional experience could help his students.

“With teaching, you need to have different ways to communicate information – different stories, different lessons – because not everything works for every student,” he says. “My past career lets me teach the kids how and why the nuts and bolts really matter.”

One example is lessons about cashflow.

“I could just tell them what to do in their spreadsheets to sort it out. But they need a deeper, more conceptual understanding of it for their essays and exams,” he says.

UNSW Sydney

Following working stints in Russia and China, Clint now lives and teaches in Dubai. And he’s found what he was looking for in the classroom. Image: supplied

"Most students don’t have bank accounts, so it can be a difficult to conceptualise. So, I printed out money that we physically move around the classroom – revenue coming in, spending going out, what your cash flow statement is at the end. And then I link that learning back to how it is done at major companies using the same principles.”

How Clint’s AGSM studies impacted both his careers

But it’s not just what he learned on the job that’s useful. Although his last UNSW learning experience was more than 20 years ago, Clint still uses what he learned while studying for his AGSM Grad Certificate.

“I didn’t see myself as just a finance person. I saw myself as a businessperson who did finance. I wanted to develop skills in other areas, such as HR and marketing and operations strategy.

“That learning helped me see different stakeholder perspectives. Rather than just keeping score, I could play more of the game,” says Clint, who explained how his AGSM studies continue to help him in the classroom.

“By expanding my experience through AGSM, having studied subjects like marketing and operations management, I have a more well-rounded depth of knowledge, which makes me a better teacher.

“Something like having to catch up this past year – that’s one of the benefits of me being a businessperson and having gone through the Grad Certificate. You learn that things rarely go to plan. You’re always changing, reflecting and adjusting your roadmap to get where you need to go.”

See also: How an AGSM internship helped Josefina Chediack go from intern to international.

Developing the next generation of leaders

“Towards the end of his first year at DIA Al Barsha, Clint had a chat with one of his students from Pakistan. The student told Clint his goal was to study law at university and then get into corporate finance. Clint was surprised.

“Then he told me he wanted to make as much money as fast as possible and use it to start a non-profit organisation in Pakistan to help solve the problem of gender-based violence against women.

“It was so shocking, so beautiful, to see a teenager want to make the world a better place like that; it made me quite emotional. And to see him work so hard and improve throughout the school year was so gratifying.”

That student has since earned his way into a university in the UK to study law. It’s a prime example of what Clint loves so much about teaching.

“I’ve never been happier from a work perspective. I know how hard these kids work, and you just want to see people get rewarded for that effort,” he says.

“I want them to have the opportunity to chase and fulfil their dreams.”

To learn more about AGSM’s Graduate Certificate Programs, click here.

To find out more about AGSM @ UNSW Business School, click here.