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Strength in times of crisis

[photo]
The HR institute will regularly be hosting prominent figures who will deliver thought-provoking and inspirational lectures.

May 15, 2013—

The School of Business’s recently inaugurated Institute for Human Resources (IHR) organized a lecture entitled “Middle East Airlines: A Success Story.” The lecture was delivered by Dr. Abdo Bardawil, strategic consultant and chief administrative officer (CAO) of the national flag-carrier airline of Lebanon, Middle East Airlines (MEA).

The institute aims at involving students, academics, and business executives in an exchange forum and ongoing dialogue that bring business practices and university teachings together. It also offers a dynamic communication platform that fosters synergy, active learning, academic research, learning excellence, and practice-based knowledge sharing.

The presentation kept in line with the institute’s mission to keep pace with business paradigm shifts in global communities while highlighting the role of human resources as an essential part of organizational management. Indeed, Bardawil’s discourse underscored the importance of maintaining an unwavering sense of shrewdness in times of crisis, and the significance of making managerial decisions with aplomb.

In 1979, the San Francisco Chronicle published an article about MEA, labeling it the “airline that refuses to die.” MEA was 33 years old at the time. Now in its 66th year, the ordeals that the airline has endured have doubled, said Bardawil, but “the MEA saga is not an account of these difficulties, but rather, of the decisions and actions that its management has taken to overcome them.”

Bardawil explained that any given organization is an open system that interacts with a constantly changing environment, both politically and economically, thus shaping — or occasionally tampering with — its equilibrium.

“For an organization to thrive, it needs to be flexible and capable of introducing novel interventions whenever needed,” said Bardawil. “These interventions can be organizational development interventions — which include operational changes in focus, and modifications at the “action” level — or they can be organizational transformation interventions, which could mean changing the vision of the organization as a whole.”

In 1968, an Israeli attack on Lebanon left MEA 16 airplanes short, but what would have been a tragedy for any other airline gave MEA a chance to shine: within a mere 24 hours of the airline losing most of its fleet, it resumed its regular flights by borrowing aircraft from Morocco and Jordan. This incident also marked MEA’s embarkment on its most capital strategic decision regarding its fleet: to operate using only one type of aircraft, Boeing.

“Every misfortune can be an opportunity,” stressed Bardawil. “You have to be prudent and judicious — you can’t leave everything in the hands of fate.”

Dr. Philippe Zgheib, assistant professor of management and head of IHR, says he hopes the institute will continue to host such prominent figures who deliver thought-provoking and inspirational lectures. “More than anything, the institute aims to bridge the gap between business practice and academia,” he said. “And there is no better way to do that but to introduce our students to pioneering practitioners in the field of human resources.”

All pictures used in the story are courtesy of MEA website.
 


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