Student Walid Abou ElNour 'Making Ripples' at AUC and Around the World

Walid Abou ElNour, finance and accounting major, has recently been selected to attend the McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character in March 2018 at West Point in the United States. The conference will revolve around the theme, Making Ripples, and will welcome “top undergraduate student leaders” from 19 countries.

Abou ElNour plans to attend the conference with a clear vision in mind -- using this as an opportunity to increase student engagement and “make ripples” at AUC. “During the conference, I look forward to being exposed to different perspectives and experiences on the topic of leadership, and to expand my knowledge and vision toward leadership skills,” Abou ElNour said. “I will be able to evaluate my own practices on how to be involved more effectively and how to interact and impact different cultures and people in the process.”

The conference is set to have panels that discuss character, as well as the power of ideas and the impact that an individual or a team can have in their surrounding environment. The conference selected “top undergraduate student leaders from diverse backgrounds to participate in a team-based, experiential and analytical exercise that bolsters leadership skills, fosters critical thinking and collaboration, and develops potential strategies for addressing pressing global issues.”

Actively Engaged

Since Abou ElNour joined AUC in Fall 2015, he has been actively engaged in extracurricular activities. He is currently president of AUC’s student-led Business Association, with a vision focused on advancing the student experience, and student representative in the School of Business Council. Abou ElNour previously served as the Business Association’s operations manager and associate treasurer. He believes that “more competitions, activities, engagement, conferences abroad, startups, ideas and feedback are what the school needs to have a unique combination among the student body and create impact.”

Abou ElNour’s participation in the Business Association allowed him and his colleagues to rebrand a study trip campaign set by the Office of  Internationalization and Partnerships in the School of Business, which initiatlly gained little reaction from students. The Business Association’s revamping of the campaign and advertising for a study trip to University of Stellenbosch succeeded in having 15 students selected among many to go on the trip. Moreover, they were able to meet with the provost and allocate funds for travel costs. The students ultimately broadened their experience and knowledge of multinational companies and entrepreneurship from a fresh perspective while simultaneously offering their intellectual insight with others, Abou ElNour explained.

Abou ElNour believes that there is an inevitable gap between academics, staff and students in all universities. His goal is to bridge this gap and have students build toward their futures by involving themselves more during their undergraduate years. The way he sees it, AUC should continue synchronizing its vision with student activity and interest. “We need to have the ripple effect in the University and the Egyptian community," said Abou ElNour. "This will happen with more international exposure and outreach."

Come March, Abou ElNour will be able to bring to the table the ‘AUC edge,' which he sees as the Middle East and North Africa perspective. “We are a competitive school in the region, and we have talented faculty members and competitive students,” he said. “I will be showcasing the University mainly because some people do not know about [us] and what makes us stand out: our visions and the way we are seeking to always involve students.”

Into the Future

As the financial analyst of a cutting edge FinTech startup, Q-Less, -- a platform for digitalizing payments -- Abou ElNour recently attended the Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal. He recalls that attendees were impressed by startups representing Egypt. The startup has so far partnered with the National Bank of Egypt and is set to launch its services in the next few months.

“We are hoping to digitalize payments across different industries. The government has initiated a decision that payments should be done through banks, instead of upfront cash,” he explained. “Education is our starting point. What we are doing is facilitating this process by saving parents the hassle of queues, where tuition can be done through your bank account information directly to a school – at the same time, this supports the government’s initiative and efforts for financial inclusion.”

Stressing the importance of entrepreneurship, Abou ElNour describes the process of making a difference as “a cross between academics and community building.” He sees the Business Association as an example of this process, as it does not only hold entertaining activities and events for students, but also attracts faculty and staff to be part of its development.

Through networking, Abou ElNour envisions a greater ripple effect at AUC and sees opportunity for expansion of the Business Association and the School of Business. He asserts that this type of advancement and international exposure is what helps to maintain AUC's status as a leading University.