Spring 2010


A Celebration of Success

The Golden Age

Beyond Literary Bounds


What's Up With Downtown

From Inside AUC

Discovering A Foreign Land

Queen Rania Al Abdullah ’91 speaks at AUC, new Board of Trustees member appointed, PhD program begins, provost starts new lecture series, Arabic Web site launched


Professor Salah Arafa honored for environmental work

Ethar El-Katatney ’07 is the first Egyptian to win CNN’s African Journalist of the Year Award

Nevine Loutfy ’74 is the first woman in the Arab world to head an
Islamic bank

Gala El Hadidi ’05, ’07 is the youngest singer to join the Cairo Opera Company


Gihane Refaat, a graduate of the
Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Entrepreneurship and Leadership Center, recounts the lessons learned from the program


Doing WEL:
Lessons on Leadership

    I was overcome with shock and disbelief when I first learned that I was selected to be a participant in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Entrepreneurship and Leadership (WEL) program at AUC. It was a very gratifying experience for me. I have learned how to effectively put theory into practice as an entrepreneur, developed a network of businesswomen who could serve as friends and contacts, and saw myself developing into a leader in ways that I had never imagined.

    When I started running Bodyshake, a comprehensive health and fitness center for women in Cairo, my goal was to help women lead better, healthier and more active lives. Due to my background in the medical field, I was able to offers customers advice about healthy habits like diet and exercise with confidence and expertise. What was missing, though, were business skills that could help me promote my enterprise to interested customers, expand my services and implement general management procedures that would help increase my profit margins while keeping customers and employees satisfied.

    The WEL program helped fill this gap. It taught me how to think better when it came to business principles and allowed me to develop a strategy to improve the strength of my business. First, I needed to decrease expenses while maximizing my labor force so I decided to amend the working hours to reflect the times when most of my customers were able to come. Then, I started belly-dancing classes as a fun and exciting alternative to just pure aerobics. That turned out to be a hit! Now, after purchasing the vacant space next to my studio, I have begun offering dermatological services.

    Having successfully applied theories about innovation, operations, management and marketing that I learned in the program, I know my work is still not done. The world is constantly moving, and as a business owner, I have to make sure that I remain flexible to adapt to its fluctuations. Particularly now as the global economy struggles to rebound, the challenges facing businesses like mine are proliferating. To respond to that threat and ensure that I am constantly learning new strategies for my business, I keep in contact with other WEL participants from my cohort. We are able to share best practices and offer advice to one another.

    The WEL program not only made me a better businesswoman, but also gave me the confidence and support to be a real business leader. I want to stand as a role model for other women in Egypt and throughout the region to show them that we can be economically and socially empowered, and that we can put our competencies in many different realms to work. For me, that means transforming Bodyshake into the premier specialty center for body reshaping and health. Thank you Goldman Sachs, the WEL program, AUC and everyone who is helping bring my dream to life.

Gihane Refaat is a graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Entrepreneurship and Leadership (WEL) program. The WEL program is a joint partnership between AUC and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania with funding from Goldman Sachs Inc. to teach business management skills to women entrepreneurs.

Akher Kalam is an open forum for members of the AUC community.We invite you to share your thoughts on any topic of your choice. Submissions should be sent to auctoday@aucegypt.edu and may be edited for length and clarity.