His nickname is “The Candyman,” and it’s no surprise that he is the most popular guy in his neighborhood. As the CFO of one of the world’s leading candy companies — HARIBO of America — he enjoys the nickname and treating his friends to the delightfully sweet taste of the entire HARIBO line of candies, including the world-famous gummy bears.
Wesam “Wes” Saber (MBA 2014) brings his contagious smile, personality and work ethic to his job each day and celebrated the many years he’s been involved in the candy industry.
Saber was one of six children brought up in the Middle East by his Egyptian parents, and he has a remarkable 46 cousins. He spent his formative years growing up in the rich Egyptian culture known for its hospitality, friendliness and emotional intelligence. From a young age, he learned these traditional values as well as a deep respect for others, especially his elders and extended family members.
These values come through as soon as he walks into a room. In conversation, Saber makes you feel like family. He has impeccable manners, and his presence exudes the warmth of his upbringing. To him, listening is imperative to capturing every word, nuance and meaning in a conversation. Colleagues in his organization say, “He is the only executive that we’ve worked with who truly cares about every one of us here, as well as our families. He’s such a warm, inspirational person.”
His first job out of Cairo University suited him well as he learned to manage a tourism company near the Red Sea. But he always wanted to work for one of the big accounting firms, and he navigated his way to KPMG (Egypt) in June 1997 as a market research analyst on the tourism and telecommunications business. From there, he went on to market and expand Pizza Hut in Dubai. KPMG called him back to produce market studies and financial feasibilities but, a few years later, he moved on to Mars, the snack and ice cream company. Still, he kept yearning for more international experience, so he decided to earn his M.B.A. in the U.S.
“I chose NIU’s Executive M.B.A. program because of its unique offerings and flexible fit,” said Saber. He would travel from Egypt to Illinois every 10 days for almost two years to attend classes. Sundays were always reserved for family.
Not only did he meet some of his closest and most respected friends and colleagues in NIU’s program, but he absorbed the different business styles and creative, competitive environment. Immersing himself in a new culture with different thought processes enhanced his management skills.
Now, as the CFO of HARIBO of America, located in Rosemont, Illinois, Saber uses his skills to work for a multinational company. He is open-minded, multiculturally aware and well-traveled. In fact, he makes a trip to company headquarters in Germany every month. In the Midwest, he is deeply involved in HARIBO’s expansion to open its first-ever U.S. factory in Wisconsin.
So next time you eat one of HARIBO’s gummy bears, think of one of our favorite Huskie and NIU’s “Candyman.”
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