From Washington, D.C., to the World: Georgetown Custom Executive Education Expands Across the Middle East through the WIn Fellowship Program
Georgetown McDonough’s Office of Executive Education team has over a decade of experience delivering programs on diverse industry topics around the world, including more than a dozen countries across almost every continent. Over the last few years, the team has expanded their corporate partnerships to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, including its most recent client success story: the Women Innovators (WIn Fellowship) program.
After a strong inaugural year of collaboration and partnership between Georgetown University and the Atlantic Council, the WIn Fellowship program officially welcomed three new cohorts of female entrepreneurs over the summer. This year, the program has expanded from one to three cohorts, including representation from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates. 86 rising women innovators and leaders make up each group hailing from the Middle East.
As part of this joint initiative, participants will take part in a year-long executive education program, including custom content and research tailored for the entrepreneurial journey, as well as mentorship through Georgetown Entrepreneurship. Additionally, they will have the opportunity to network with top business executives, government officials, and experts across the United States and MENA region.
The program includes four customized training modules, led by Georgetown McDonough’s Office of Executive Education and taught by renowned McDonough School of Business professors. Shye Gilad, a professor of the practice at Georgetown McDonough, served as the faculty lead during the program kick-off and is teaching the first course, Leveraging Lean Innovation Principles to Grow Your Business.
Passionate about leadership, innovation, and lifelong learning—Gilad is especially interested in encouraging women to pursue careers in the everchanging entrepreneurial space.
“Watching female entrepreneurs succeed is very personal to me. I actually lost my father when I was quite young, and my mom went to work as an entrepreneur. She ran a small business for many, many years and struggled so much trying to provide for her family,” Gilad explained. “I always think ‘If only she had these kinds of tools, or these kinds of mentors available for her. What else could have been different?’”
Gilad’s mother was of Yemeni descent and he knows firsthand some of the challenges that women in the Middle East face when seeking equitable entrepreneurial and leadership opportunities. He also believes that women are often underserved in entrepreneurial spaces and wants his teachings to provide inspiration that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.
“The most important thing that I want to get across to the entrepreneurs is, encouraging and developing a mindset that they absolutely can do this. There’s a bigger world out there that actually cares about them and wants to support them on their journeys. They don’t have to do it by themselves.”
While encouraging the cohort to keep a positive outlook when seeking out professional opportunities, Gilad also teaches the importance of lean innovation: an architecture of thinking for business startups that is formulated around the idea that the skills a startup needs are different from what is traditionally taught in business school.
Custom Executive Education at McDonough provides a platform to deliver this unique and forward-thinking style of education to the WIn Fellows. Gilad explained that Steve Blank, a highly regarded American entrepreneur, is one of the thought leaders and spearheaders of this unique concept.
“The idea of lean innovation is to learn quickly and conserve. Conserve our resources—including time and money—from the very beginning. The faster you learn, the quicker you can iterate and innovate, and the greater your chances are of being successful,” Gilad said.
Gilad looks forward to implementing what he’s taught in his own classes over the years, as well what he’s taken away from his personal entrepreneurial experiences, into the cutting-edge WIn Fellowship currriculum. At the completion of the program he hopes to have been an influential figure in the lives of the emerging women entrepreneurs.
“I get very energized by the idea that I’m really having an effect on these entrepreneurs,” Gilad said. “I can think back to many times in my life where I struggled and a good friend, teacher, mentor, or sometimes even a stranger did something or said something that helped me see a way forward. It can sometimes come down to one person.”
Elie Farhat, associate dean and chief of external affairs at Georgetown McDonough said the university’s partnership with the WIn Fellowship is a testament to the power of collaboration.
“The participants in this program are exceptional women entrepreneurs who are shaping the future of leadership and we are honored to be able to support them in their business journey,” Farhat said. “Here at Georgetown, we aim to prepare the next generation of global citizens to lead, solve new challenges, and to make a positive impact on society. We are proud of our WIn Fellows and we look forward to seeing their business ventures grow.”
The first workshop for Saudi female entrepreneurs was held this past summer by Atlantic Council’s empowerME Initiative, in collaboration with the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh and PepsiCo. The cohort discussed challenges facing women in Saudi Arabia and the importance of support, empowerment, and inclusivity in male-dominated entrepreneurial spaces. Additional workshops will continue to be held across all three cohorts throughout the fellowship.
Next spring, top participants of the WIn Fellowship program will attend a fully sponsored trip to the United States for two days of leadership training at McDonough. While in Washington D.C., the fellows will convene with U.S. business and government leaders coordinated by the Atlantic Council.
Read more about the 2022-2023 cohort visit to the nation’s capital.