Learning with impact | Understanding when not talking will improve your communication at work

The Communication Skills for Managers at UBC Sauder Executive Education gave Nader El-Ramly the confidence to share his ideas with senior executives.


Nader El-Ramly has been working for software solutions provider ZE for almost 20 years. Throughout that time he devised some great ideas for improvements to the company’s data management.

There was just one problem: He didn’t have the right strategies to deliver them to company executives.

“I knew I had good ideas, but I couldn’t get them out,” says El-Ramly. “I could deal very well with my own team, but I struggled to win over the senior executives.”

It was a gap in his skillset that he knew he wanted to fix to get ahead, but an MBA was not the right solution for him.  El-Ramly knew he had the business background he needed for his job, but needed to hone this very specific skill. He turned to UBC Sauder School of Business Executive Education program and enrolled in the Communication Skills for Managers course.


In 1995, El-Ramly joined software development and data analytics company ZE PowerGroup Inc. As one of its first staff members he set up the computer infrastructure, and took on accounting and some human resources duties.

“We started as a consulting firm back then, but as of 2000 we became a software development firm, mostly in the utilities and oil and gas industry,” says El-Ramly, adding that the company’s main focus is data management.  “We help businesses do data automation and transformation by collecting data from various sources, like Excel, pdf or the internet,” he explains. “Then we populate it into our database where our clients are able to access this information, complete their analytics and ultimately helps them in determining their pricing.”

He admits, “It’s quite complicated.”

It was in this setting that he discovered his interest for business and decided to complete his Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Northern British Columbia graduating in 2000. 

Seven years ago, El-Ramly was promoted to Vice President of Client and Corporate Services, which stretched the scope of his responsibilities to include overseeing all aspects of administration, networking, system architecture (including ZE PowerGroup’s newly developed private cloud system), and client support for their software.

“I have a busy schedule,” he laughs.


UBC Sauder Instructor Tracey Gurton’s enthusiasm was one of the first things El-Ramly noticed when he began the Communication Skills for Managers course.

“Her examples of how to boost our leadership impact were practical and accessible and made sense right from the first day,” he explains.

It was in these first days that El-Ramly says he realized he needed to build upon his listening skills to ultimately have his contribution heard, “a fact I was only mildly aware of before.”

Nader El-Ramley

It was incredibly powerful for him and he says learning through storytelling and role-play gave him clear ideas about how to positively engage his colleagues and feel confident about addressing his company’s executives.

In fact, El-Ramly found Gurton’s suggestions so profound he immediately signed up to take her Building a Strong Organizational Culture course.

“I knew I wanted to learn more in this setting,” he says.


Within a week of returning to work, El-Ramly was tasked with giving a presentation in front of his workplace higher-ups—an exercise he would have dreaded in the past.

“I always fumbled in front of executives and didn’t know how to engage the person I was speaking with,” explains El-Ramly. “But with Tracey’s tools that included building self-confidence and recognizing what motivates others and communicating according to their needs, I was able to combat these issues.”

The presentation was a great success and reinforced the notion that El-Ramly had made the right choice in turning to the Executive Education courses.

“My level of engagement at work is completely different now.”

The next Communication Skills for Managers course begins Apr 23 - 24, 2018

Executive Education at the Sauder School of Business

Our professional development programs aim to transform your career and accelerate your organization’s business objectives. With more than one hundred open enrolment programs taught by top Sauder faculty and leading industry experts, we zero in on your goals and ensure you get results.

We have a broad range of programs, from short skill-building courses for managers who want to make their mark to intensive week-long programs in residence for senior leaders. Each is comprehensive and convenient, minimizing your time away from the office and family. All our programs can be customized to meet your organization’s business objectives and professional development needs.