Dr. Eman Nasr was recently appointed the Dean of Academics for Yorkville University’s British Columbia – a promotion that comes just four years after she first started working for the school as a part-time course developer.
“In a short period of time, Yorkville gave me the opportunity to really demonstrate a lot of that I otherwise would not have been able to demonstrate,” said the B.C. Campus-based Nasr, whose dual promotion this summer also included her appointment as the Curriculum Manager for Yorkville’s Bachelor of Business Administration program.
Born and raised in Egypt, Nasr’s early mind for mathematics was something that initially led her to pursue a career in engineering. But after earning her Bachelor of Electronics Engineering from the American University in Cairo with Highest Honors, Nasr quickly re-enrolled at the school – this time in pursuit of her Master of Business Administration – all the while juggling her studies with full-time work as a software engineer at IBM in Egypt.
“That was a very tense two years, because I had two full-time things going on – my full-time MBA and also full-time job at IBM,” Nasr explained. “During that same time, I was also preparing for immigration (to Canada) and for marriage.”
To further complicate things during an already-hectic time, Nasr also found her MBA studies much more fulfilling than first expected and decided a change in career course was required.
“When I started my business studies, I realized I loved it: I loved the planning, I loved the strategy thinking…and it also satisfied, to a huge extent, my love for math,” she explained of her decision, noting that her duties at IBM likewise shifted from engineering to business analysis.
After immigrating to Canada shortly after graduating with her Masters, Nasr began studying towards her PhD in Business Administration and Management at Wilfrid Laurier University.
Immediately after graduating with her doctorate in 2014, Nasr received an offer she couldn’t refuse from Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates, where she worked as an Assistant Professor of Operations Management at Zayed University until 2016.
“I was really successful in the UAE – it was during those two years that I got my first serious publication out, I refereed programs for the ministry, and I got a 100 per cent evaluation from students in one or two of my classes,” she said of her time there.
It wasn’t until relocating back to Ontario, however, that Nasr discovered a new home for herself at Yorkville University.
Starting off as a part-time developer of a Business Analytics course in 2016, Nasr’s potential as a future leader for Yorkville’s British Columbia Campus was quickly recognized by the university’s now Dean of Student Success, Dr. Deirdre Pickerell.
“If I had to name someone as my coach to my transition to leadership, it’s Dr. Pickerell. I was an academic, I was a professor who was doing well with teaching, and I was having a promising future in research – but my transition to leadership, the credit goes to her,” Nasr said of Pickerell, who first pegged her to Chair of the BC BBA program in 2017.
“When I moved to BC, there were just eight students (enrolled in our B.C. program) and when you’re starting that small, you’re kind of doing a bit of everything – you’re the person who’s hiring, you’re the person who’s developing, you’re the person who’s helping the students, you’re this and you’re that…
“It was really an incredible opportunity to build and demonstrate skills in a wide spectrum of academic areas and departments…That was the time I started really thinking about a career in academic leadership…and it really was Dr. Pickerell who saw that in me.”
While the Chair job was just a part-time position, Nasr said she knew a work-related move to B.C. would be worthwhile, because she saw potential in Yorkville – and in her future with the university.
“I wasn’t looking at the job as what was stated in the contract, I was seeing it with a different lens. I was seeing into the future, and I saw a future for me at Yorkville.”
“I proved myself right as I progressed – starting from a developer, to core faculty, to program chair, to associate dean, to interim dean, to now become the Director for the national BBA, and also the Dean of Academics – in less than four years.”
For Nasr, the biggest reward of her success at Yorkville University has been in her newfound ability to make positive change for her faculty and students.
“I think that’s what everybody aspires to – you see how things should be, and depending on who you are, you may or may not actually be able to do something about it. Being an executive and being able to push a change that I think is important, that’s all the reward I need,” she said.
“That is why we’re all here – it’s not about positions or titles, it is absolutely about achieving that mission of leading academic programs that change lives, just like my education has changed my own life.”