For Leila Baghdadi, the sky is the limit. After participating in a 2012 International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) focused on entrepreneurship and women’s issues, Leila helped establish a partnership between the Tunis Business School, where she teaches, and the World Trade Organization Chairs Programme (WCP), where she is a newly-minted Chair.
Leila’s exchange helped focus her career path and enhance her natural leadership abilities. “Before the IVLP program, I never considered [becoming an] entrepreneur. I understood, thanks to the IVLP program, that I can actually create more opportunities [by] being more entrepreneurial. I decided to become a research entrepreneur, seeking grants from different stakeholders and establishing a regional research center on trade and development issues.”
In 2014, Leila’s proposal on behalf of the Tunis Business School was selected for the prestigious World Trade Organization Chairs Programme (WCP), along with six other universities from different countries. The WCP, launched in 2010 as a pilot capacity-building project, aims to enhance knowledge of multilateral trading systems among academics and students in developing countries through instruction and outreach activities at research institutions. Universities awarded a WCP Chair cooperate with their counterparts in the Programme through research, shared lectures, and academic exchanges.
The 2014 Chairs were selected from 77 proposals received through a competitive process led by the WTO Secretariat with the support of the WCP Advisory Board. Leila will serve as a Chair of WCP for the next four years. Her vision is to develop a regional trade network of researchers, policy makers, and business leaders who work together to develop clear policy recommendations. Additionally, she intends to create a degree in global affairs at Tunis Business School and increase public awareness about international issues.
Furthermore, as a direct result of her IVLP project, Leila invited two U.S. delegations to Tunisia, establishing cooperation between the Tunis Business School and the University of Michigan. Prior to her exchange, establishing a cooperative agreement between universities may have seemed daunting.
Each month, the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ (ECA) Alumni Affairs Division, which supports program alumni as they build on their exchange experiences, recognizes one outstanding alumnus or alumna. Leila Baghdadi is this month’s outstanding alumna, and her work will be recognized throughout July on the International Exchange Alumni website, ECA’s official alumni website which serves more than one million Department-sponsored exchange alumni worldwide.