My Morning Routine: Sherif Kamel
Sherif Kamel, dean of the School of Business at AUC: My Morning Routine looks each week at how a successful member of the community starts their day — and then throws in a couple of random business questions just for fun. Speaking to us this week is Sherif Kamel, dean of the School of Business at AUC, a top private business school in Egypt.
I’m Sherif Kamel, dean of the School of Business at the American University in Cairo and president of the board of governors of the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt.
I see myself as the CEO of an enterprise that should work hard to always be innovative, competitive, agile and adaptive to local and global changes, to better serve its community both on and off campus. This is how business schools around the world should be operating in this second decade of the 21st century.
My colleagues on campus now call me “SK2.0” because my first spell as dean of the AUC School of Business was from 2009-2014. On a day-to-day basis, I follow up on the execution of school strategy in terms of ongoing academic programs, oversee new projects and initiatives, interact with faculty, students, staff, and alumni, and cultivate the school’s relationships with its corporate partners and business associates in Egypt and globally.
I receive almost 600 emails a day, and much of my daily commute is spent responding to them. I usually go to sleep well after midnight, so I wake up around 8am and usually have breakfast at home before heading to the AUC New Campus. I also read a selection of newspapers, including the FT, the NYT, Enterprise, and Al Masry Al Youm, as well as reviewing work-related documents that require my input.
Days that are New Campus-free are usually the most productive. If I’m attending an AmCham committee meeting or an event, or have other school-related commitments off-campus, I’ll often go to my downtown office afterwards. This enables me to spend at least three more hours in the office rather than commuting back and forth across greater Cairo.
I have never had a mobile phone — although I have lived and breathed technology management for over three decades. Even so, I feel the notion of working hours no longer exists. Interacting for work — whether in person or by responding to messages — is a non-stop process.
Reading has always been an integral element of my daily routine. My library at home has over 3,000 books in areas including history, arts, leadership, architecture, innovation, technology, business and economics, in Arabic, English and French. I’m a passionate collector of books about Egypt, especially sociopolitical and historical aspects of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. But I still find it difficult to enjoy electronic books; the likes of Kindle and Nook are simply not for me.
Recently, I’ve enjoyed reading 21 Letters on Life and its Challenges by Charles Handy, Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution by Klaus Schwab, and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari.
Innovative platforms and experiential learning are set to transform the education space at large. The role of the professor is becoming more that of a facilitator. And learning is increasingly taking place through ongoing conversations in class and online, with the key being how to derive value from the wealth of readily accessible knowledge and move beyond what is already available.
Business schools need to be flexible and embrace disruption. The future of work and the practice of management will be transformed by emerging innovative technologies including AI, VR, robotics, and the Internet of Things. Business and management education will need to focus on critical and design thinking, creativity, discovery, people management, communication and complex problem solving. Increasing digitization will also impact many basic administrative and managerial activities.
I see many complementarities between AUC and AmCham and my roles in each. In many different ways, both organizations are active advocates and promoters of Egypt, and they reflect the voice of the private sector, which I strongly believe is an integral building block for inclusive growth.
Lifelong learning should never stop — no matter one’s age, other commitments, or how much we know (or rather, think we know). Both formal education and everyday experiences are great sources of learning, but remaining open to different ideas is crucial. Some of my most important learning experiences have come from people, and I believe that one should always be ready to learn from the elderly as well as the young. Being able to offer a unique perspective has nothing to do with age.