How has your upbringing and experiences shaped your thoughts on producing future leaders?
I was born in Cairo, Egypt, and received early schooling in India and Egypt. I completed my schooling and undergraduate studies at Kuwait University and my Master’s, PhD, and MBA degrees at universities in Canada. Along the way, I’ve worked and taught in many places around the world. One thing I’ve come to realize is that the more diverse voices, perspectives, and lived experiences you incorporate into any endeavour – the better it can be.
Our most creative and enduring solutions come from collaborations across disciplines and sectors. This interdisciplinary advantage is what we at DeGroote are aiming to provide for our students.
We want them to be resilient leaders who can seek advantages in untraditional ways and leverage them for transformative impact. To succeed, we know the next generation needs these skills.
Your background is in research and McMaster’s DeGroote School of Business is known for its research leadership. What is some of the leading research coming out of DeGroote at this time?
I feel very fortunate to work with some of the leading business scholars today. Right now, DeGroote researchers Elkafi Hassini and Manish Verma are looking at how next day delivery of products and climate change are impacting the global supply chain and many aspects of life for you and I. Catherine Connelly is seeking to understand and improve conditions for marginalized Canadian workers like temporary foreign workers, those living with disabilities, gig workers, and others. Erin Reid’s research is focused on how gender inequality, diversity, and identity are affected by the design of today’s jobs and workplaces. Jiaping Qiu is studying the chilling effects of patent trolls and how corporate bankruptcies impact employees. And in my own research on the impact of technology on business, I’m studying how we can prevent data analytics recommendations from resulting in discriminatory managerial decisions. These are just a few of the many, many research projects underway at DeGroote today.
There is a workforce crisis in this country. How is DeGroote working with the private sector to train the future workforce?
When I started my role in July, I had the great benefit of taking up the work Dr. Len Waverman – DeGroote’s previous dean – as well as Dr. Sue McCracken and others had done before me in launching the Rethink Business Education initiative. This project is putting the focus of our undergraduate commerce program squarely on those skills we know will be essential for our students’ future success. Creative problem-solving, collaboration, entrepreneurship, critical thinking, and a global perspective – effective business leaders need these skills, and we are reshaping much of our curriculum to deliver experiences both inside and outside of the classroom that will ensure our graduates thrive in the years ahead. Some of the best innovations on this project have come with the support of our private sector partners like BMO and KPMG, ensuring our plans are aligned with employers’ needs and leveraging their industry expertise.
Of course, private sector partnerships have always been a strength of DeGroote’s. Whether we’re collaborating on programming, scholarships, or special projects, our industry partnerships are an important advantage we offer students and the community. In fact, our alumni now work in a broad spectrum of private industries and regularly engage with us to speak in our classes, work with our students on experiential projects, and support student learning.
What are your thoughts on the future of the City of Hamilton?
I call Hamilton home. I live here and love this city.
Hamilton has a rich and diverse history. It’s built on a foundation of hard work and sustained achievement. This city’s rapid growth in recent years is reflective of its ambitious community.
I believe we have some of the most talented people driving growth in industries like healthcare, education, advanced manufacturing, hospitality, and tech. The future of this city will be built on their innovations and their entrepreneurialism.
I see this every day in DeGroote’s classrooms; here in Hamilton, we have a spark of curiosity and a willingness to work very hard that runs right through our community.
How has COVID affected your programming? Have you developed new programming and lifestyle elements for the student? Have you adapted to help create the best student experience? What have you learned from student feedback?
We’ve learned a lot from the past 19 months.
As a business school, DeGroote had been delivering primarily in-class learning for more than 60 years. In just five days, we went entirely remote and have since then moved into a hybrid model.
We now have a new Teaching & Learning Services team helping our faculty members incorporate meaningful digital learning experiences into their courses where we know students will benefit most from them.
Our student services are for the most part now offered both virtually and in-person, but students have consistently told us they miss the on-campus experience. Nothing beats the in-person engagement – in the classroom, in libraries, across the campus. To that end we’ve brought back as many in-person services and activities as possible, with still more to come as we get closer to January when we expect almost everything will be back to prepandemic levels.
This is important to us. Their experiences in the classroom, with each other, and on our campuses remain our focus. Our students come first.
This article originally appeared in Perspective. Read full story.