Emirates Leadership Initiative Fellow
Harvard Kennedy School, MPP ’16
Lead, Middle East & North Africa, World Economic Forum
What specific leadership lesson did you take away from any of the co-curricular sessions or other activities while a CPL fellow?
My favorite sessions were those that focused on diversity—I really appreciated CPL's commitment to helping us become more thoughtful and inclusive leaders. It's easy for us to give lip service to the idea of diversity without truly engaging with ideas and perspectives that are different from our own. Even at HKS, diversity of ethnicity does not always mean diversity of experience, and so seeking out truly diverse views, and then acknowledging and engaging with those views, is a crucial part of being an inclusive leader.
Talk about the elements of the fellowship experience that were most meaningful to you.
The relationships that I formed through CPL were second to none; being part of a cohort of highly-motivated peers who were passionate about giving back to their communities was a source of inspiration for everything I did on-campus.
We were also very fortunate to have strong support from the CPL staff. For example, with their support, the ELI Fellows were able to found the Harvard Arab Students Association, through which we hosted a weekend retreat that brought together 50 Arab students from across Harvard to explore ways in which we could be better leaders in our own communities
How did your involvement in the Behavioral Insights Study Group, which brings together students from across Harvard who are interested in the application of behavioral science to policy challenges, prepare you for your current role/work?
I was involved with BISG in a number of capacities—as an attendee, as part of the organizing committee, and ultimately as an experimenter. I had a deep interest in the field of behavioral insights and behavioral science before HKS, but it was BISG that helped translate this into a tangible set of skills that I used both for my research and when applying for jobs
The near-weekly events helped me develop the content knowledge that I used when interviewing with behavioral economics firms. Through my work with the organizing committee, I was able to put together a semester-long workshop to teach students how to run Randomized Control Trials (RCTs), taught by the terrific Dr. Oliver Hauser. Finally, with Professor Max Bazerman as my advisor, I was able run my own RCT in the Middle East for my Policy Analysis Exercise (PAE). There, I ran a study testing whether we could nudge an insurance company's customers to be more honest by priming them with a Quranic verse printed on the registration forms.
In what ways did your experience at CPL and HKS help you get better at what you do?
My experience at CPL and HKS taught me one critical lesson that I remember as I work toward my long-term goals: "If not you, then who? If not now, then when?" This powerful lesson that Professor Marshall Ganz shared resonated with me, because it pushes us towards action and towards leadership. More than any technical skills I gained during my time at HKS, this powerful shift in mentality helps me remember the power of leadership and its necessity during difficult times.