Monday, 10 May 2021

The kids may be struggling, but covid has been a boon for executive education

K-12 and university students have struggled to juggle in-person and online learning since the pandemic broke out, but executive education is booming. Programs that teach leadership and management skills to aspiring managers and execs have seen a burst of popularity even as the pandemic brings with it new uncertainties. Conversations about digital transformation, automation and upskilling that have accelerated due to covid’s impact on the world of work seemingly have executives looking to adapt, perhaps making these courses more important than ever before.

Executive education in Egypt has been making business (and gov’t) sense: When it comes to executive education in Egypt, we found that beyond being succession plays and getting senior management ready, executives tell us programs here have actually had an impact on how leading companies do business. The government appears to also have recognized its importance and hopes to put its most talented through it. Today, we look at what executive education is, its main players in Egypt, and how it can help transform large local companies in terms of production capacity, internal innovation, employee retention, and succession planning.

What is executive education? Executive education refers to academic, post-graduate programs that enable executives, business leaders or professionals to enhance their business acumen and skill set. Usually, these programs mesh practice and theory based on different sectors or professional areas to help individuals improve their employability, and companies retain and develop human resources. The ultimate aim is to transform industries and sectors through research-based education, by working with the individuals within them.

Why do people do it? For an individual, executive education is an investment to improve one’s employability, Associate Dean of Executive Education at AUC Ghada Howaidy says. For companies, executive education is usually about succession planning, talent retention, but most crucially, internal innovation, according to representatives from Ezz Steel and Amoun Pharma.

Executive education here is offered by a few educational institutions. These include the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, which set up shop in El Gouna, in partnership with the Sawiris Foundation for Social Development, and is offering programs in 2022. The Sawiris Foundation had awarded the school USD 6 mn in 2019, which was part of a USD 24.1 mn grant to the university to improve education in Egypt. ESLSCA Business School offers European business certificates in Egypt through executive education professional programs (as opposed to sectoral).

Arguably the the most established program is at the AUC School of Business. The Executive Education arm was founded in 1977 and boasts over 25 programs with 4k graduates. It is ranked 67th in the Financial Times Executive Education Open Enrollment listing in 2020, up from 74th in 2019 — the Arab world’s sole entry. Its open enrollment programs include diplomas in sectors, such as in healthcare and real estate development, as well as professional tracks, such as banking and finance, marketing, and people management, Howaidy tells us. Enrolled participants range from junior to C-level executives, with a majority from middle and senior management. Individuals can apply for the AUC’s programs, based on their needs and level of experience. Companies, on the other hand, can partner with the school to create a customized program for their employees.

Talent retention and succession planning were major takeaways for Ezz Steel: One company that partnered with AUC for tailored executive education programs was Ezz Steel. The partnership dates back to 2003 and has had over 500 participants so far, in a bid to enhance business acumen among employees. This has tremendously helped with succession planning across managerial levels and talent retention, corporate HR and organizational development director Karim Hamdy tells us. Today, the company’s turnover rate stands at 1% among 10k employees. Ezz Steel is currently also working with the Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology (E-JUST) for a technical education program, in which 25 people are enlisted.

Amoun Pharma saw a 35% increase in productivity, thanks to a graduation project: Amoun Pharmaceuticals partnered with AUC for a two-year program, which ends with a graduation project presented to the company by the participants. One of those projects helped increase equipment efficiency, which increased productivity by 35% during covid, director of HR talent at Amoun Pharmal George Youssef tells us. While only 60% of Amoun’s workers were able to work during the pandemic due to safety restrictions, one of the participants of the executive education programs came up with an idea on how to optimize the equipment efficiency during production periods. Thanks to that, Amoun was able to increase its monthly medication packs production to 20 mn from 18 mn, with only 60% of the human workforce.

Government is also turning to executive education for the next crop of civil servants: The AUC School of Business Executive Education arm has been partnering with ministries on projects to upskill and develop human capital. “We partnered with the Planning Ministry and King's College in the UK to offer a training program for government employees who will be moving to the New Administrative Capital,” Howaidy says. The “Leadership for Government Excellence” project had 120 participants. Another project with the ministry focused on mastering business skills for entrepreneurs with 100 participants.

Your top education stories for the week:

  • Exams: Non-essential exams for non Edadiya / Thanaweya Amma students, who attend grades 4-8 and 10-11, can be taken from home.
  • University rankings: Some 31 Egyptian universities made it to Times Higher Education’s Impact Rankings, with Cairo University being among the world’s top 100 universities for the first time.
  • Medical education investment: Nile Misr Healthcare, a USD 380 mn fund, is looking for portfolio companies in Egypt in fields such as medical education.

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