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MOT '18 Alumnus Abdul Dire Adds Author to His Credentials | Technological Leadership Institute

Posted on
August 18, 2020

In addition to being an applications engineering supervisor at 3M, Abdul Dire has recently added author to his title.

A 2018 graduate of our M.S. in Management of Technology (MOT) program, Abdul was born in Ethiopia and lived as a refugee in Kenya before moving to the United States 20 years ago. He is now one of 40,000 Oromo people who call Minnesota home. That is the largest Oromo population anywhere outside of Ethiopia, yet still little is known in Minnesota about the Oromo people. Abdul hopes to change that with his new book “Oromo Witness now on sale on Amazon.

Abdul attended high school in Minnesota where he developed his love of science and engineering. During that time he participated in 3M’s STEP program, a six-month training and internship program that exposes students to scientific careers.

“I worked with many people who worked in the lab so I really thought that was fascinating, especially that intersection between R&D and translating that work into solving customer problems,” said Abdul.

That passion and new found confidence led him to the University of Minnesota where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Material Science and Engineering. He did an internship throughout college and quickly found a fulltime job after he graduated as an applications engineer. Three years later, he decided he was ready for more responsibility.

“I was interested in advancing my career, moving from an individual contributor to being a people leader in a technology based enterprise,” said Abdul. He was looking for an alternative to a traditional MBA and began researching master’s degree programs online. That is when he discovered the Technological Leadership Institute (TLI) and the MOT program. He did research, attended information session and sought out the opinion of others.

“I spoke to many alumni of the program at my company and all of them highly recommended the program so that is what made me decide and chose the program,” he said. In addition to the tools he needed to advance his career, Abdul said he gained a fresh perspective on how to tackle the day-to-day and long-term challenges within his job.

“That was quite powerful for me in terms of how I approach problems at my work, instead of doing things the way they’ve always done it, it’s all about how can we do this better, more effectively,” Abdul adds. Even a bigger surprise was the incredible network he formed with his classmates and the multitude of lessons gained from their diverse experiences and backgrounds.

“While we were in the program, working fulltime and studying full time, family commitments, community commitments, it was just really good to have people who can understand all of that and we relied on each other, supported each other,” said Abdul. “On top of that everyone came from really quite very different backgrounds. The class discussions were quite rich. We learned so much from each other.”

Not only have those relationships, skills acquire and network formed helped propel his career, they also played a big role in Abdul’s book coming to fruition.

“For example, Professor Steven Wilbers, who taught the communications class, made a comment, kind of tongue and cheek to the whole class, ‘If you ever write a book, first dedicate it to me and then reach out and I will help you.’ And I did reach out once I wrote my book! And he was great help and phenomenal in terms of taking my book to the next level. For me instead of self-publishing which has a very limited exposure, he introduced me to my current publisher and invited me to his writer’s group,” said Abdul.

He credits several other instructors for the tools he finds himself calling on frequently in his career. He also credits several of his classmates for supporting not only his career, but his passion project.

“They told me they were around and helped with the manuscript and they opened up their network to me actually, where I was able to reach out to their networks who have experiences and something to contribute which is really fantastic to have,” he said.

While Abdul has no plans to change careers or even add a second book to his credits, he said this book is a story he felt obligated to tell.

‘The book is actually part biography of my uncle and part the Oromo people, the ethnic group I come from in Ethiopia, their experience in Ethiopia and the Twin Cities as well,” he said. “These people struggled for their dignity, for justice. At the height of the 1960s was a very historic moment in Africa in general and in Ethiopia. My ethnic group, the Oromo, were fighting for justice, for equality and living with dignity on their own land. Because of that the government cracked down on them and they were shut out of the system and (had) no access to education. So their part of history was never covered and history as you know, is always from the victor and captor. I wanted to correct that and give a voice to the people that struggled.”

Abdul said despite their large numbers in Minnesota, the Oromo people are an invisible community and he wanted to introduce and connect them with their Minnesota neighbors. He also felt compelled to share their story for his own family.

“I wanted my children to know where we come from and that people have faced challenges in the past and they have overcome and I want them to have hope for the future,” he said. Abdul plans to donate the proceeds from the sale of his book to help buy school supplies for children in Ethiopia.

When Paul Hansen, TLI senior fellow and Abdul's capstone advisor, learned about Abdul's personal and professional developments after the program, he expressed great pride.

"It was a great honor and privilege to have Abdul in the MOT cohort. He brought great insight, passion and perspective to the group," said Hansen. "It's great to see Abduls continued inspirational leadership building his career as well as community connections in Minnesota!"

As for what’s next, Abdul is focused on using the MOT tools he’s gained to help lead his company during these uncertain times.

“The fundamental human needs don’t change much,” he said. “Certain things get emphasized, other things get de-emphasized. But at the core, human fundamental needs don’t change much. What changes, in my opinion, is how we address those needs. We need to do scenario planning, looking at a number of scenarios, so you will be ready with different options. That is at the core of what MOT is all about.”

To learn more about how an M.S. in Management of Technology (MOT) degree from the Technological Leadership Institute can benefit your career, attend an upcoming information session or contact our admissions department.

About the Author

Photo of Azra Halilovic

Azra Halilovic

Senior Communications Specialist

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