The American University of Bahrain (AUBH) held its executive experience program called ‘President for a Day’ in which a student takes over the role of Dr. Susan E. Saxton, AUBH’s Founding President. The program gives selected students a first-hand view of the skills required for managing a university or similar business. It was introduced during AUBH’s inaugural year in 2019 as part of its work readiness preparation and as a prelude to corporate internships that the students may experience as part of their academic program.
The ‘President’ for the fall 2020 semester was Ms. Atharie Al Salem, a multimedia student who is the University’s Student Council President. Ms. Al Salem experienced Dr. Saxton’s normal day in stakeholder meetings with senior staff and learned various management styles and collaboration techniques. She discussed program modelling options for AUBH’s proposed institutional partnership with the California State University, Northridge (CSUN), accommodated requests from an AUBH Board of Directors member, and received a surprise phone call from the U.S. Embassy Charge D’Affaires, Ms. Maggie Nardi—who called to thank AUBH for its support of Discover America Week 2020—which Ms. Al Salem said was the highlight of her day.
The idea was conceived by Dr. Saxton herself, who commented: “The ‘President for a Day’ program is a unique AUBH initiative, where students respond to real-time workplace conditions and build confidence in their time management, accountability, negotiation, communication, and problem-solving skills that are not only essential for high-performance employees of the future but are also valuable for a happy and successful life. By role-playing at AUBH, we give our students the opportunity to view the inner workings of their own institution and let them experience how it feels to lead in an environment they already know. I really enjoyed working with Atharie—she is bright and energetic, and clearly loves being at AUBH. She aptly worked with all the different constituents in my AUBH world and enjoyed getting a sneak peek at how we operationalize our unique style of education.”
Ms. Al Salem commented: “I had an amazing day with Dr. Saxton. From Student Council President to University President, it was an in-depth experience, and it was great for our relationship as President partners. Today, I learned the value of accountability, not only to myself but to my fellow students and our Boards, with whom I spoke on the phone as part of the day. I learned about different leadership styles, and realized that I am already a leader, and by believing in myself I can achieve anything I want.”
The ‘President for a Day’ program is part of AUBH’s mission to ensure students are prepared for the workplace of the future. The University provides its students with opportunities to realize their professional and personal goals through a rigorous and engaging, student-centric environment that fosters ‘learning to learn.’ AUBH aims to nurture career-oriented and employment-ready graduates, equipped with the skills and knowledge required to advance the economies and societies in which they operate.