Saturday March 13, 2021, by Ayman El Tarabishy, President & CEO, ICSB
Dear ICSB Family,
Anniversaries are a moment for self-reflection, for remembrance, and occasionally, a moment for change. Today as we pass the one-year mark of COVID-19 lockdown in the United States and the corresponding global fallout, we believe that this specific moment creates space for us to reflect, to remember, and to change.
At ICSB, we believe strongly in creating a more humane and sustainable world. This past year has shown just how enormous and difficult this task can be. But at the same time, the overwhelming resilience, strength, and love that people have shown as they navigate this enormously traumatic year, has been wondrous and humbling to experience. The spirit of the people is clearly and demonstrably behind these core concepts of human-ness and sustainability, and there seems to be change in the air. So, where do we go from here?
One year ago, the rapidly changing world forced us to reflect on what we believe in and what services and opportunities we offer. Pre-COVID, ICSB worked with more traditional forms of communication, emphasizing in-person conferences. We quickly realized flexibility and adaptability were the two main paths forwards, after we ensured the well-being of our employees and community. Over the past year, we’ve completely re-worked our operations by building out journals and other academic resources, and by prioritizing new digital infrastructure, including social media and a re-designed website. We transitioned away from focusing mainly on in-person collaborative conferences to a more decentralized and accessible approach, which created new and unique opportunities for traditionally marginalized actors to participate and grow within spaces that have traditionally been closed off to them. We look forward to continuing to grow and innovate as we meet and adapt to the challenges ahead.
There would be no opportunity for growth or innovation without you, our family, engaging with and challenging the material and resources we provide. This entire process is a collaborative effort, and we sincerely appreciate the support you have shown us as we iron the details out and begin to solidify a long-term approach towards business education and collaboration. In that spirit, this summer will mark the 2021 ICSB World Congress, where we will focus on and emphasize Humane Entrepreneurship as a foundational part of our future in the business ecosystem. This will mark the first major conference since the beginning of the pandemic and we look forward to incorporating the lessons we have learned throughout this past year, as we begin a new chapter in the fight for a more humane and sustainable world. We look forward to collaborating with you, both this summer and beyond.
Dr. Ayman El Tarabishy
ICSB President & CEO
Ayman El Tarabishy
President & CEO, ICSB
Humane Gone Mainstream: The ESG Generation Arrives
Saturday February 27, 2021, by Ayman El Tarabishy, President & CEO, ICSB
As we think about the coming months and the start of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are important lessons to consider regarding the global economy’s revitalization. This specific period of volatility will subside, but it will be replaced by a permanently shifting economic landscape in the face of climate change. Investors, specifically micro-small and medium-sized enterprises, have weathered the most challenging moments of the past year, but there is minimal safety net left. There will be an ever-increasing need to invest strategically and frugally, with magnified consequences for those who fail to adapt to emerging market trends. Therefore, the most important factors to consider are and will continue to be sustainability and frugal innovation.
How do we incorporate these ideals into the increasingly volatile business ecosystem? Morgan Stanley Investment team addresses this in a recent investment report,
“A holistic approach to sustainability—concerning disruptive change, financial strength, environmental and social externalities, and governance (also referred to as ESG)—helps us identify investment opportunities. The Global Opportunity Team has been investing since 2006 with continual evolution and innovation.”
This focus on ESG shows a significant shift underway that emphasizes human-centered (humane) investment and begins to change the emphasis on business development from quantity to quality. Finding ways to standardize these practices and create opportunities to expand at scale will be crucial in capitalizing on this emerging market.
However, the ongoing change within the business world cannot be confined to strictly environmental factors. We are on the cusp of an era that is pressured by younger generations with radically different ideas about the future than the people who have come before. The emergence of social media and the creation of “going viral” has permanently altered the business world’s fundamentals and how we relate to one another.
The increasingly prominent role that business schools play in university settings reinforces the coming generational shift and thought revolution. The rise of a new age of business ideas and the development of humane and sustainable investment strategies are inextricably bound to the explosion of business schools across the country, and the increasing role business and finance have in popular culture. Business found a way to go mainstream, and we’ve seen the consequences of this unfold, most recently with the Wall Street Bets and the un-traditional exploitation of the stock market by a group of individuals on the internet. The next step is finding ways to use the incredible grassroots energy and exposure to push humane, sustainable business and investment strategies instead of risky short-term stock blitzes. The education sector will have a pivotal role to play in discovering and standardizing methods like ESG.
These factors show that there is a desperate need for a new and innovative way of approaching investments. The individuals and businesses that can take advantage of these innovations will be positioned to succeed despite uncertain times ahead. Growing evidence suggests that ESG factors, when integrated into investment analysis and portfolio construction, offer investors long-term performance advantages. But people must be put in a position to succeed. I believe in creating space for like-minded individuals and businesses to collaborate on mutually beneficial ways of re-creating the business ecosystem in a more just and humane image.
Let us welcome the ESG Generation powered by Humane Entrepreneurship.
I have been anxiously waiting for you.
Ayman El Tarabishy
President & CEO, ICSB
Digital Distinction with Hybrid
Saturday February 20, 2021, by Ayman El Tarabishy, President & CEO, ICSB
If you ask the average entrepreneur what lessons or skills they have learned and developed over the past year, there is one answer that comes up again and again—ZOOM (a.k.a. flexibility.) There is no flexibility in the modern business world without a digital presence. The tools exist for small businesses to create an online, global platform that can work towards various societal needs with very few input resources. The future of education is digital and tying your business’s investment in digital presence to skills training or other educational opportunities is a smart, cost-effective way of growing your footprint.
COVID-19 and the resulting changes to the day-to-day operations of millions of people worldwide have accelerated this shift towards digital infrastructure and technological competency. At ICSB, we believe that this transition to a more global and digitally connected environment provides opportunities for all small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and sustainable entrepreneurs to increase their knowledge and to network through a collection of digital conferences.
We want to emphasize that while the potential value of digital conferences and the broader expansion of technological advancement, we believe that in-person conferences and opportunities to meet and socialize remain the most ideal for a robust exchange of information and perspectives. However, in a world that continually asks us to adapt, we must continue to be ready to do so.
One of the main attractions for a digital conference is location neutrality. Conferences can be hosted from wherever, and it becomes exponentially easier for distant parties to attend events that would ordinarily have been very difficult in regular times. This approach also centers on disabled actors and other parties that require a different set of accommodations. When we say we want to build a more equitable and just world, these are some of the smaller, more complicated things we have to pay attention to.
Additionally, a digital conference’s environmental impact is a fraction of the average ecological costs that come with long-distance travel and other amenities of an in-person function. We must emphasize sustainability and consider expenses that we have historically ignored.
While this age of digital conferences and events is relatively new, there are ways to maximize your event’s effectiveness. As Lawton (2020) writes, some of the key considerations include:
- Timetabling of speakers should be optimized to account for the different time-zones in which speakers and participants are located.
- Presenters should be taught how to use the software before the conference, including optimizing their environment, lighting, positioning, and digital broadcast clothing.
- Audience participation via asking questions and voting in polls is essential to keep the audience engaged and scrutinize presented material.
- Technological failures are distracting and time-consuming. There should be a dedicated team assigned to troubleshooting and contingency plans when the issue cannot be resolved.
- Decide how recorded content will be made available and whether this will be restricted to registered participants or open to a broader audience.
The details will change according to the specifics of certain events. Still, we believe a foundation that emphasizes preparedness, audience engagement, and technological competency is a definite beginning as we continue to evolve our practices to meet the times’ challenges. Additionally, we believe incorporating these strategies will create a special and unique experience that does not merely look to replicate the features of a traditional, in-person event. Digital conferences and circumstances are individual and offer their own set of pros and cons. We believe we must lean into these challenges if we want to continue to succeed.
Welcome to the ICSB Hybrid World Congress in Paris, July 12-17.
Lawton, A., Harman, K., & Gupta, A. (2020, July 19). Lessons learnt transitioning to a Digital conference during the COVID-19 pandemic. Retrieved February 14, 2021, from https://adc.bmj.com/content/early/2020/07/19/archdischild-2020-319560
Ayman El Tarabishy
President & CEO, ICSB
Centering Innovative Solutions for Tangible Change
Saturday, December 26, 2020, by Ayman El Tarabishy, President and CEO of ICSB
In conjunction with last Saturday’s Reflection on the importance of Research with Impact, this week’s Reflection challenges us to think about ways to implement innovative solutions that focus on providing explicit, material benefits and resources to those who need them most.
Here at ICSB, we strive to be a useful and impactful resource for MSMEs and other individuals looking for an informed, educational, and empathetic analysis of the current business ecosystem. We believe that our focus on Humane Entrepreneurship and our emphasis on empowering atypical actors in the current business environment provides a blueprint for the future while maximizing potential and sustainability in the present.
However, in general, educational resources and knowledge can only be valuable if they result in real, tangible changes to our day-to-day realities. The rapid advancement of technology and the explosion of the digital economy have multiplied how businesses and entrepreneurs can make an impact and translate their knowledge and lived experience into positive social improvement.
This advancement of technology and the opening of new economic frontiers is an encouraging sign for us to believe positive change is necessary and inevitable. Our increased data capacity has led to an explosion of innovative ideas and solutions to problems that have plagued businesses and investors for decades while empowering those atypical actors that have been overlooked for far too long.
We must make sure data do not freeze us. Too often, businesses and entrepreneurs become consumed with collecting and analyzing data in the hopes of crafting a “perfect” solution to the diverse set of challenges we face. The sheer size of the digital sphere has overwhelmed those in power with information.
Is this cautious approach not in direct conflict with the very spirit of entrepreneurship?
The people who take the risk to pursue their passions and interests in the hopes of improving their communities and lives cannot afford to wait for the perfect situation or the right numbers to illuminate the way. Conditions are not always ideal, and the enormous benefit of MSMEs is often felt by those caught up in challenging circumstances. Life is about being bold, trying new things, and pushing forward despite the protests of those around you. Progress is impossible otherwise.
At ICSB, we believe that tying ‘Research with Impact’ to the practice of sustainable and bold innovation is the only way to move toward progress consistently. Just as our research means little without action, we must be sure that our efforts are backed up by proper, people-centered research that emphasizes transparency, accountability, and communal involvement. The relationship between studying the problems and working on solutions must be firm and flexible.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the benefits of acting quickly and confidently in the face of an overwhelming obstacle and the consequences of pretending that the obstruction does not exist. Putting ideas into practice and providing marginalized, atypical actors with actual institutional power is the only way to ensure the long-lasting impact we make. For too long, those in power have tried to pay lip service to equity and diversity. In the face of our modern-day challenges, talking the talk is no longer good enough from the pandemic to climate change. Together, we must face the challenges of the future head-on and walk towards a better world.
This is why I write to you about the business’s practical side for our last Saturday Reflection of 2020. As we are propelled forward into a new world and a new year, let’s be sure to center the real and actual work of entrepreneurs and small business owners. Through the ICSB Marketplace, a featured program at the 2021 World Congress, we hope to empower this tangible action towards supporting the needs and desires of entrepreneurs because it is here where real entrepreneurship flourishes.
Ayman El Tarabishy,
President and CEO, ICSB
Deputy Chair, Department of Management