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Fourth AUC Business Forum Discusses Sustainable Finance, Family Business, Micro-Credentials, Case Studies, and SDGs

Nouran Rabie
March 7, 2023

This February, the AUC School of Business hosted the fourth edition of its annual flagship event, the AUC Business Forum, for the first time back on campus since the onset of COVID-19.

The forum featured five insightful roundtable discussions, where renowned and distinguished scholars, practitioners from business and industry, as well as policymakers from Egypt and other parts of the world, discussed timely and relevant issues related to the changing role of business schools in society and how business and management education needs to transform itself to remain not just relevant, but also impactful to help society face the growing diverse challenges.

Representatives and top executives from the World Bank, Central Bank of Egypt, Commercial International Bank, PwC Professional Services, SEKEM, Abou Ghaly Motors Group, Al Qalaa Holdings, IFRS Foundation, and the American Marketing Association, as well as academics from Edinburgh Business School, University of Paris-Saclay, the American University of Beirut, the Faculty of Economics and Political Science at Cairo University, Harvard Business Publishing, and The Case Centre, deliberated on issues of sustainable financial reporting, family businesses’ challenges, case studies as a pedagogical approach, micro-credentials and the future of work, as well as the pressing and challenging issues related to addressing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the discipline of economics. 

The 2023 AUC Business Forum was powered by the Willard W. Brown International Business Leadership Series.

Roundtable One on Sustainable Finance

The first roundtable discussed the need for a shift to sustainability and how it is becoming a crucial part of our financial statements. The session featured Dalia Abdel Kader, Chief Sustainability Officer, CIB, Egypt, and Maysa Bedair, Corporate Sustainability Lead, PwC, Egypt, and was moderated by Noah Farhadi, professor of practice in finance, AUC School of Business, Khaled Dahawy, professor of accounting, AUC School of Business, and Rim Cherif, assistant professor of finance, AUC School of Business.

The unrestricted and inexpensive utilization of resources has been causing the wide-reaching environmental impact of today's world. For decades, decision-makers have been overlooking the environmental ramifications of our current economic models. Legal frameworks and financial instruments have emerged to uphold corporate social licenses and implement global transformation toward sustainability reporting. In March 2022, the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) launched a consultation concerning its first two proposed standards - one on climate and the other on sustainability-related disclosures in general. The AUC and CIB have worked together to develop a better understanding of recent trends and the imperative for the implementation of sustainable financial reporting. The roundtable discussion brought together experts from academia, business professionals, and policymakers to explore the technical implication of the ISSB disclosures for the business world, regional difficulties and opportunities arising from the standards, as well as institutional collaboration to facilitate the necessary organizational changes.

Watch the full roundtable discussion here.

Roundtable Two on the Resilience of the Family Business Mindset in a  Disruptive Environment

Family businesses are a key pillar of economic growth and social development; however, their environment is a complex ecosystem where family roles, management, and ownership can be easily confused. This session featured a number of family business owners from different generations to discuss the opportunities, challenges, goals, and strategies for promoting the sustainability and growth of family businesses. This roundtable discussion was one of a year-long series of initiatives organized by the AUC School of Business to share the working knowledge and best practices on the family business to support family business sustainability. Helmy Abouleish, chief executive officer of SEKEM Holding, Ohannes Kozobiokian, managing partner, Dekerco Foods and Processing SAL and lecturer, American University of Beirut, Lebanon, as well as Senator Mohamed Abou Ghaly, board member of Abou Ghaly Motors Group, were the session’s keynote speakers. The session was moderated by Randa El-Bedawy, associate professor of management at AUC School of Business, and Hoda El-Kolaly, assistant professor of marketing AUC School of Business.

Watch the full roundtable discussion here.

Roundtable Three on Micro-Credentials and the Future of Lifelong Learning and Development

As business schools strive to remain relevant to the ever-changing corporate learning and development landscape, new forms of life-long learning are emerging to respond to the preferences of learners and the skills needed in the market. University World News has dubbed micro-credentials a ‘new category of education … that falls between courses and degrees.’ They are characterized by portability and stackability. As the European Commission notes, they are “… owned by the learner, … may be standalone or combined into larger credentials … [and] are underpinned by quality assurance following agreed standards in the relevant sector ….”. According to a recent study by AACSB, 47 percent of business schools offer some kind of micro-credentials. These include certificates, digital badges, licenses, and in some cases, apprenticeships. They are seen to create efficient lifelong learning opportunities, make visible skills, and enable higher education institutions to meet student and workforce demands while opening up new revenue streams. This roundtable addressed the dynamic and fluid evolution of micro-credentials from the perspectives of business leaders, learning and development experts, professional associations, universities, and learners themselves. 

The session was led by Kevin Bradford, associate professor of marketing and associate dean for undergraduate studies, Paul Merage School of Business, University of California, and chair, American Marketing Association, USA, and Angus Laing, executive dean, Edinburgh Business School and The School of Social Science, Heriot-Watt University UK, and was moderated by Ghada Howaidy, associate dean for executive education, AUC School of Business, and Mohamed Kesseba, senior director for programs, Executive Education, AUC School of Business.

Watch the full roundtable discussion here.

Roundtable Four on Case Studies as a Pedagogical Tool

Learning from experience or experiential learning approaches has been perceived during the last decade as fundamental to meaningful learning. Case studies play a vital role in the world of experiential learning. Cases simulate the managerial work experience as closely as possible by being problem-focused, managerially relevant, and intellectually and emotionally engaging. Teaching with case studies allows students to become actively engaged in figuring out the principles by abstracting from the examples. This develops their skills in problem-solving, analytical tools, and decision-making. Several educators believe that cases help students bridge the gap between theory and practice by applying theory to practice and developing theory from practice. Another perspective is that it provides an opportunity to integrate and solve some multi-dimensional issues facing the organization in the new era of global competition. Case studies are gaining momentum in higher education and are considered a very effective and innovative pedagogical tool. Currently, they are heavily used in several institutions, which have the readiness to adopt such tools due to their financial resources and faculty development programs. Nevertheless, the practice is lagging behind in the MENA region due to various challenges. Changing the educational culture within the MENA region is challenging. The shift from traditional teaching methods to more experiential approaches through teaching with cases is always an argument within academics, even within the same institutions. These points and more were discussed during this session, which was led by Vicky Lester, chief executive officer, The Case Centre, UK, Dviwesh Mehta, director – Higher Education | Middle East and South Asia, Harvard Business Publishing, and Virginia Bodolica, the Said T. Khoury chair of leadership studies, the Head of Department of Management, and professor of management, the School of Business Administration, the American University of Sharjah, UAE. The session was moderated by Maha Mourad, associate dean for undergraduate studies and administration, AUC School of Business, and Engy Magdy, director El-Khazindar Business Research and Case Center, AUC School of Business.

Watch the full roundtable discussion here.

Roundtable Five on Discipline of Economics in Addressing the SDG’s Challenges

A new global economic discourse emerged post-pandemic, giving rise to structural transitions to accommodate new realities such as de-globalization, demographic shifts, climate change, and digitalization. This comes with a regression in the realization of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), more so in the developing rather than developed world, and on the backdrop of a bleak macroeconomic outlook by the Bretton Woods institutions. These new realities represent a new challenge facing economics as a profession and discipline. The American Economic Association has defined economics as a “broad discipline that helps us understand historical trends, interpret today’s headlines and make predictions about the coming years.” With its complex mathematical and econometric modeling, the discipline of economics in academia has managed to define and inform economic problems. It is constantly challenged to provide potential solutions to these problems. Recent literature analyzing the role of the discipline of economics has suggested that these mathematical models have failed economics, given the recurrent recessions we face. The multiple assumptions that mathematical models and economic theory depend on do not represent real-life economic problems. The real question remains: To what extent is the science of economics ready to address the pressing and challenging issues and meet the universal SDGs? These questions and more were discussed during the session led by Sherine Al Shawarby, professor of economics at the Faculty of Economics and Political Science, Cairo University, Jose De Sousa, professor of economics, University of Paris-Saclay, France, and Hoda Youssef, senior economist, World Bank. The discussion was moderated by Dina Abdel Fattah, chair of the Department of Economics, AUC School of Business, and Ismaeel Tharwat, visiting assistant professor of economics, AUC School of Business.

Watch the full roundtable discussion here.