First Executive MBA, Finance Master’s Graduates Set New Career Goals

For Yasmine Helal, who works as the retail banking technology head at Citibank, joining the Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) program two years ago was a business challenge.

“I was having a debate with my manager on a work-related matter, and he told me that I lacked a business edge,” said Helal. “So I decided to take the comment in a positive, challenging approach and work on developing my edge by joining the EMBA program and, as they say, start from where the giant stops.”

Today, Helal is among the first graduates of the EMBA program who celebrated their achievements at the Spring 2014 commencement, along with the first graduates of the Master of Science in finance. Both programs were launched by the School of Business in 2012, primarily targeting working professionals who are seeking to expand their knowledge and gain exposure to global business practices and financial trends.

Having finished her degree, Helal plans to carve out a niche of her own by starting her own business. “I am working on expanding the digital banking product in my current workplace and then starting my own business in what I do best –– dealing with people through soft skills training and life coaching on how to have a positive approach to any challenge. The same way I did with taking my manager’s feedback to motivate me to grow and develop myself.”

The EMBA program is composed of modules that are hosted both at AUC and universities abroad by leading international faculty members from top universities such as AUC, INSEAD, Rotterdam School of Management, Oxford University and the École Supérieure des Sciences Économiques et Commerciales (ESSEC Business School). This year’s EMBA graduates spent two weeks in the United States at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and another two weeks in China at The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

“The graduation of the first class of the Executive MBA marks a milestone for the MBA programs, the School of Business and AUC at large,” said Ahmed Abdel-Meguid, director of the MBA programs, associate professor and chair of the accounting department. “We are reaping the results of a rigorous and well-designed program offered by a tripled-crowned School of Business within a prominent University. As both an administrator and a teaching faculty of the program, I have witnessed the transformation of 25 high-caliber business professionals into 25 high-impact business leaders who are willing and able to make a difference in their organizations and respective communities. I am very proud of them.”

Targeting professionals working in the banking and financial services sectors, the Master of Science in finance is composed of intensive courses that work to enhance participants' professional skills, as well as promote the principles of ethical financial practices.

"The Master of Science in finance program gives the opportunity for our students to gain in-depth theoretical knowledge and practical financial skills that will help them pursue careers both professionally or in academia and research," said Aliaa Bassiouny, assistant professor and director of the Master of Science in finance program. "It is also the only master's program in Egypt that has the CFA Institute (Chartered Financial Analyst) University recognition, which helps our graduates to sit for this professional certification. The graduation of our first students from the program in Spring 2014 is an important milestone, since it marks AUC as the leading educational institute that caters to the growing financial and banking sector in Egypt."

For the graduates, the Master of Science in finance program helped them hone their skills and strengthened their professional potential. “After graduating with a bachelor’s in finance, I was interested to be more knowledgeable and skillful within that field,” said Noha Allam, one of the graduates of the program. “I was working as a teaching assistant at the Canadian International College and was planning to continue in the academic career, so I was delighted when I heard that AUC was finally offering the Master of Science in finance. The strong program structure, along with AUC’s reputation, made it an easy decision for me to apply.”

Since finishing the program, Allam has been considering shifting to a professional career. However, she is still determined to earn a PhD. “For me, getting a PhD is not a matter of career advancement or a requirement; it is a step on the road of learning,” Allam affirmed. “Not only do I want to acquire more knowledge in the finance field, but I want to also explore different cultures and new viewpoints.”

Looking ahead, Allam hopes to become a “respected expert in financial consultation,” she said. “I wish that one day I can pass the knowledge and experience I shall acquire to the new generations and future scientists. The Master of Science in finance program taught me to believe in my abilities, to work hard for what I want and to persevere, and now I will go on to employ that in everything I do.”

Another skill that graduates acquired is breaking the fear of starting something new. “I am more accepting of change now; I am not scared of it anymore,” said Helal. “There is always an idea, a chance, an opportunity that is out there waiting for you to pick it up and make it big. Before the EMBA program, I wasn’t willing to make that sort of drastic change. But now, I’m not scared to take the risk.”

Maha Farouk, assistant director of development at the School of Business, echoed Helal’s sentiments. “I am now considering starting my own business, which I have been dreaming of doing for many years,” said Farouk.” I am no longer afraid of starting new things. Entrepreneurship has become a status; it is no longer a one-time decision.”

She added, “The innovative and practical approach of the EMBA modules makes it very enticing to learn and explore. The program has such valuable perspectives, allowing me to look strategically at issues and identify more effective solutions. Having classmates with 350+ years of combined experience in 17 different sectors provided diversity and openness of thinking that made my experience remarkably rich and rewarding.”

Ahmed Nawara, another EMBA graduate and the managing director of Al Manar Group, also emphasized how the program had changed his business practices. “The EMBA broadened my horizons and enhanced the way I manage my business,” he said. “We were exposed to different cultures, challenges and success stories through real-life case studies of international companies working in several industries. This drastically affected how I look at my business today and how I see it being 10 years from now.”