Goizueta helps Middle Eastern
women become business leaders





Students in a marketing class at the Goizueta Business School are calling out what they consider to be strong brand names while associate professor Doug Bowman scrawls them on the blackboard, trying to keep up with their rapid-fire suggestions. Most of the brands are American, despite the fact that every student in the room is a woman from the Middle East.

“What are the characteristics of a strong brand?” asks Bowman, and a lengthy and spirited discussion about Starbucks–the Emory incarnation of which the students know intimately–ensues. It’s obvious these twenty-plus women have become familiar with each other as well, perhaps because they have spent much of the past three weeks in each other’s company, attending the same classes, socializing and sightseeing, living on the same floor at the Emory Conference Center Hotel, and talking about business over Starbucks coffee.

Goizueta was one of two business schools in the country chosen to offer the U.S. Business Internship Program for Young Middle Eastern Women, a mini-MBA-style program during the month of August. The effort is part of the Middle East Partnership Initiative, created by the federal government to support economic, educational, and political reform in the Middle East.

Forty-two women, chosen for their promising business acumen and ambition, came to Emory from Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, West Bank/Gaza, and Yemen. Most hold bachelor’s degrees in a business-related field already, and many have work experience. They spent a month immersed in intensive courses on U.S. business culture and practice, leadership development, women in business, business law and ethics, entrepreneurship, and information technology before splitting off for three-month internships at Fortune 500 companies around the country.

Creators of the program hope the women’s time here will help them become not just successful business executives, but leaders.

“They really connected on the personal leadership component of the courses,” says Kelly Bean, director of executive education for Goizueta. “I think they have really grown a lot as individuals in terms of recognizing leadership qualities and how to manage those. They will go back and lead teams more effectively. We had infused the leadership emphasis into the entire program. I think they used the time away to learn about themselves.”

With just one week of coursework to go, the students had grown comfortable at Goizueta and a bit weary as well. “It has been very good to learn new things,” said Dara Abdulhadi of Jordan. “A little bit intensive. . . . We are in class from eight in the morning to eight at night. It’s very condensed.”

“This is a once-in-a lifetime opportunity,” said Reem Al-Ghanim of Saudi Arabia, one of three in the group wearing a scarf to cover her head. “All my life I have dreamed of having faculty like this, and most of them were really impressive. The site visits [to various businesses] have helped us learn so much about U.S. culture. We definitely learned the basics of business and gained a global perspective.”

Aside from the educational component, one of the most important aspects of the program was the networking the women were able to do with one another.

“The whole idea was to share experiences and cultures, even with the faculty,” says Al-Ghanim. “We have been learning from each other. I think we will definitely keep in touch.”–P.P.P.



© 2005 Emory University