First Stevie award in Egyptian Education for Women in Business

bronze steve winner

Dr. Amira El-Deeb

School of Continuing Education (SCE) celebrates another prestigious recognition of one of its thought leaders, Amira El-Deeb, who was awarded a Stevie Award for Women in Business in July 2020. Assistant Director of Career Development, El-Deeb, received the bronze award in the education category of the widely-regarded world premier business award. It recognizes the vital role of SCE in enriching and transforming the lives of diverse lifelong learners in Egypt and the region despite the economic challenges and the ongoing global pandemic.

Ever humble, El-Deeb insists, “this award is not mine. I consider it a recognition for the whole school that I am proud to represent. Perhaps my name is on it, but I am part of SCE and certainly not working alone. What was actually awarded as a result of the dedication of my talented 80 colleagues at SCE serving over 25,000 students of all walks of life.”

Her humility is perhaps her hidden superpower, allowing her to embody SCE’s lifelong learning values. Her school journey started in 1998 when she enrolled as a sales and marketing certificate student and later returned as a part-time faculty in 2008, and finally a full-time employee in 2010. By 2019, she had set her sights on becoming a leader in female empowerment and career development through education. She joined international associations and engaged with diverse experts in the field before long. She was invited to numerous speaking opportunities at the Women Economic Forum and the Women Future Conference, which granted her free access to compete for the Stevie Award.

El-Deeb credits Deutsche Bank, an SCE scholarship donor, to underprivileged talent, for being the first to require that at least half of the recipients be qualified females in career paths that remain predominantly male, like finance. She works with a variety of generous donors that fund scholarships for promising youth in underprivileged settings. In 2020, SCE scholarship awardees tripled despite the pandemic, effectively altering everything behind the scenes.

And this ongoing pandemic is deeply personal for Amira, “The COVID19 crisis was a very challenging time for us at SCE. Many suffered from the infection or lost beloved ones to it. I believe that having a shared goal during this difficult period was the reason for our recovery.”

Since the decision in March 2020 to suspend face-to-face classes, SCE has been on a mission to swiftly transition operations online. Ironically, Amira explains that as a teacher, she was skeptical of online learning. Still, now as an administrator, she found herself able to train the instructors and students in its benefits. A lesson she says taught her to be more open to accepting change because sometimes it becomes necessary, whether or not you are on board.

She also elaborated on the change happening for women in the Egyptian job market, and as a result, in society. She reflects fondly, “I was raised in the first generation of widespread working mothers. Mine was the first to open her own pharmacy in my hometown that I started ‘working’ when I was five years old.” It taught her the dedicated work ethic she lives by today and that as a female, there’s nothing she can’t do once she knows how.

Amira acknowledges the significant strides for Egyptian women over the past 20 years with increased representation in senior and executive positions, noting the numerous ministerial positions held by women. And now, from the predominantly female SCE, she passionately works to allow more women, especially those with financial constraints, to propel their careers and enhance the quality of their lives. 

“Because we use best-practice to design certificates according to the job market, we can have a high and impactful return on investment. For example, if a fresh graduate wants to enter the sales field. Did they study sales skills? Likely not. Remember, while academic learning is incredibly enriching, it is quite different from hands-on training for the market. I see this as a key value of SCE in career development. We complement academia and help in bridging the gap to ‘real-life.’”

Amira is adamant about sharing the credit for the prestigious award in her name and her gratitude. She acknowledges the SCE dean and associate dean as ‘the maestros’ behind the magic. Each team member in the career development department, all the instructors, committed to creating a productive learning environment even confronted with unchartered territory. She heartwarmingly thanks all her colleagues across units that overcame what may have previously seemed impossible feats in no time, from enabling the school’s admissions evaluation online or producing online admission tests to meet the new era's requirements. She also includes the generous scholarship donors and partners amongst the SCE family that “always make it so easy to want to go the extra mile(s).”

She closes by referencing the famous quote by Warren Buffet, ‘Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago’ and with a humble-brag attitude says, “That’s what we do here at SCE.”