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Awards for inspirational leadership at UOWD-Zayed collaborated AIB-MENA Conference

Thursday, 19 January, 2012

Keynote speaker Mirza Al Sayegh calls for new mindset to face ‘uncertain times’

The 2nd Academy of International Business (AIB) MENA Conference, which attracted more than 100 delegates from 24 countries and 89 universities, concluded on January 15 with the presentation of community development and inspirational leadership awards at Zayed University.

The event was held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Nahayan bin Mubarak Al-Nahayan, UAE Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, and President of Zayed University, as a collaborative effort between the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD) and Zayed University.

Mirza Al Sayegh, Director of the Office of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who was guest speaker, called for a new mindset in ‘managing uncertain times’, through innovative self-employment models and by launching small businesses.

“The state companies will be saturated in the near future, and will no longer be able to employ new people. We will need a new crop of leaders and entrepreneurs, with more tangible ideas on starting one’s own business, working from home or operating as freelancers,” said Al Sayegh.

Chris Colwell, a motivational speaker who became a quadriplegic following a sky-diving accident in 2003, in his keynote address on “Even Impossible is Possible”, related his own story on how he faced uncertain times.

“If you put your heart into what you dream about, anything is possible,” Chris told the delegates and students. “Just follow your dream, and move ahead with love and gratitude. Accept challenges and face them everyday.”

Mirza Al Sayegh presented the AIB-MENA Awards. This year, two new awards were presented: the AIB-MENA Ghaf Tree Award which went to Abraaj Capital in recognition of the firm’s commitment to community engagement and development, and the AIB-MENA Windtower Award for Inspirational Leadership was presented to Professor Rob Whelan, former President of UOWD, Professor John Seybolt, Dean, College of Business Sciences, of Zayed University and Frederic Sicre, Partner of Abraaj Capital.

Receiving the award, Frederic Sicre, said: “We are honored to receive this award, which highlights Abraaj Capital’s long-standing commitment to engaging with all our stakeholders, supporting the development of local communities, and in pioneering a new private equity model. This is embodied through the Abraaj Sustainability and Stakeholder Engagement Track (ASSET), which ensures that the community goals set by the firm work in harmony with our principal financial one.”

Reacting to the award, Professor Rob Whelan said, “I am proud to have been honoured by AIB-MENA as a mentor. It is always good to be in at the start of something big, and to be told that one has had a positive influence in mentoring and industry support. The development of the AIB-MENA Chapter certainly deserved support, as this initiative is undoubtedly fostering business research in this region and also industry-academic partnerships.”

"AIB-MENA, one of the youngest and most energetic chapters, has over the past two years tried to create a collaborative, interactive environment to encourage research and education in the field of international business,” said Dr. Melodena Stephens Balakrishnan, Associate Professor at UOWD and Chair of AIB-MENA. “This collaboration involved academic universities, the public and private sectors, assisted by many academic and professional volunteers."

The conference was held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Nahayan bin Mubarak Al-Nahayan, UAE Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research. The three-day event was a collaborative effort between the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD) and Zayed University.

Delegates at the conference discussed the current state of business in the MENA region, as well as priorities in areas such as education, research and organizational development. Additional issues that were addressed include sustainability, corporate governance, workplace spirituality, change management, entrepreneurship and globalization.