UNICON has over 100 member institutions worldwide that are committed to the development and advancement of executive education. To celebrate our member institutions, we will be sharing spotlights and interviews of some of our members within the UNICON community.
Member Interview: Dr. Ghada Howaidy, Associate Dean, Executive Education and External Relations, School of Business, The American University in Cairo
Please describe your role at your institution.
My current role, since 2018, is associate dean for executive education and external relations. I am one of three associate deans, my two colleagues are responsible for undergraduate studies and accreditation and graduate studies and research, respectively. My role in executive education covers open enrollment programs and corporate business solutions, while in external relations it covers communication and marketing, internationalization, stakeholder engagement and corporate governance for the school as a whole.
AUC is my alma mater. After working in government, regional and international organizations for two decades I returned to AUC in 2008 to start working in executive education. We were hit by the global financial crisis, swine flu, avian flu and then the Arab Spring. We restructured executive education and I moved to become responsible for institutional development and strategic alignment at the School of Business. In 2016 we had a major currency devaluation, and in 2018 I returned to executive education to lead an aggressive growth strategy while increasing the integration of executive education with the school.
How long have you/your institution been a part of UNICON?
I joined my first UNICON event in 2011 and my school became a member in 2013.
What UNICON activities and resources do you engage in the most? Which activities and resources do you find the most valuable?
UNICON is an extremely valuable resource for my own professional development and networking, as well as for executive education staff development, benchmarking, research, partnerships and positioning. We attend conferences, online events, training programs, respond to surveys and use research output.
Please describe your institution’s approach to executive education.
Our approach to executive education is to be conscious of the relevance of context. We are situated in The American University in Cairo, Egypt’s Global University, that celebrated its centennial in 2019, and has a very strong brand identity in our region. We are also part of the only Triple Crown accredited and FT ranked business school in the Arab region, and one of 3 in Africa. To be consistent with this positioning we make sure that we remain acknowledged as Best-in-Class in the programs we offer, by increasing experiential learning and adding business acumen components in all programs and facilitating the creation of communities of practice for our alumni. We have a legacy in certain sectors, such as healthcare management, people and organizations and real estate development, as setting the benchmark for the Egyptian market in training. Being part of a relatively small liberal arts university has facilitated multi-disciplinary approaches to developing programs for industry rather than a functional approach. We are also aware of the value of being university based in terms of trust and knowledge production, therefore we developed activities to increase our integration with the school of business. Given the dynamic nature and agility of executive education, it is often seen as a springboard for new and innovative programs for both the school and the university as a whole. We are also conscious of the fact that we operate in a developing economy with high demand for open enrollment programs that are more often a personal investment by individuals in their own professional development. To this end we also offer programs to government employees to support the realization of a thriving and competitive economy as part of Egypt’s Sustainable Development Strategy 2030.
How has your involvement with UNICON made an impact on both your professional career and the executive education program(s) at your institution?
In my own career I consider UNICON my professional community of practice and this is a vital support network for anyone working in executive education. For my institution, UNICON’s timely research that reflects the pulse of the industry, has provided benchmarks that helped us in our structure and operation. In addition, UNICON is a stamp of global quality that we value and promote with our stakeholders. UNICON has also provided opportunities for developing partnerships.
How do you see executive education changing in the next few years?
I see open enrollment programs becoming more modular and offered as part of a professional development journey that is more personalized and customized. I also see corporate business solutions as a curation of elements by multiple providers rather than a total solution by one institution. This will require different kinds of partnerships, and will also require re-skilling our own executive education staff.