By Aaron Machado
“The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.”
These inspirational words by McDonald’s co-founder Ray Kroc are a catalyst for leaders and change-makers to bring about transformations in today’s world. It is with this in mind that 13 students from American University of Sharjah (AUS) took part in the Global Leader Experiences (GLE) program held at Dubai Port (DP) World April 5-8, 2015 to learn how to develop leadership qualities within themselves.
This four days international program, organized by the Common Purpose Charitable Trust, connects students so that they may:
- learn from leaders in business, government and NGOs
- discover how a city works and doesn’t work
- develop cultural intelligence as they learn from each other
- generate innovative solutions to present to city leaders
As an important skill that is required in today’s highly competitive job environment, developing leadership skills is a gradual process and requires an individual to introspectively cultivate essential attitudes, ideals and skills alongside detaching oneself from self-subversive patterns and thought-processes. The GLE program is an amalgam of internal and external development that encourages students to appreciate diversity, develop communication skills and invent ideas and propositions that will revolutionize the challenges presented to them.
“I believe that attending GLE has opened new perspectives for me on what it takes to be an effective leader in today's business world. The highlight of the event was interacting with eminent business leaders of the UAE— people whom you would not get to meet or have access to in normal day-to-day life. The informal way in which we could talk, ask relevant questions and receive highly useful answers was the highlight of my experience at GLE” said Ajith Roy, a freshman student at AUS majoring in finance.
The many prominent business leaders attending GLE included Andrew Francis, Director, DP World Institute; Jean-Louis Massaut, Global Director, Smart Cities Solutions, Cisco Systems; Kelli Dienhoff, Business Development Manager, MENA, Cass Business School; Sanjeev Gupta, Managing Parting, Emerging Markets Middle East and Africa, Ernst and Young; Gary Gibson, Business Development Director, Petrofac Training; and Arvind Raman, Director, Corporate and Investment, Societe General among others.
The program encourages participant to meet these eminent leaders in their communities and countries to learn how these leaders got where they are and to be inspired that they, participants, are going to be eminent leaders if they work hard and learn the right leadership skills.
"Common Purpose taught me that sometimes, in order to be a leader, you have to step back and be a follower. It's not all about standing in front of the group and barking orders, it's about doing what benefits your group as a whole, even if it means allowing someone else to take charge," said attendee Sarah Zoubi, an AUS student majoring in business administration.
“The students who participated thoroughly enjoyed themselves as they worked to develop their skills in resolving problems. One of the main objectives of Common Purpose is to help participants identify some social-economic problems in their communities and go through the process of finding sustainable solutions for these problems,” said Cheryl Ayogu, an adjunct faculty member at the American University of Sharjah School of Business Administration.
According to Ayogu, participants learned first hand how different public and private sector organizations work to solve (Dubai) city's problems. They visited different companies and participated in different excercises geared to building their leadership capacity. “The hope is that participating students will continue to apply the knowledge and skills acquired to solve the problems facing their communities and be great leaders where they are,” she concluded.
At AUS, we know that the lessons learned outside the classroom enhance the formal learning that takes place during a student’s coursework. We provide a number of ways for students to develop their leadership skills, from serving as officers in student clubs or organizations within the colleges, to workshops and activities offered by our Student Leadership Program. Find out more about how we help develop tomorrow’s leaders at www.aus.edu.