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CAAD student tackles youth development through design management
Juggling university studies, professional internships and a brand-new start-up is all in a day’s work for Haneen Asfour, a third-year design management student at the College of Architecture, Art and Design (CAAD) at American University of Sharjah (AUS).
The Jordanian student first joined AUS in 2017 with aspirations to work in fashion marketing and pursued the Bachelor of Science in Design Management for the opportunity to work across both the design and business sectors.
“I’ve always been interested in business innovation and I think design management really is at the heart of that,” said Asfour.
“There is a misconception that design management is all about branding. There is so much more to it than that! Design managers are problem solvers, and really the only ones who can bridge the gap between business and design—two sectors that often clash,” she said.
A recent study released by global consulting firm McKinsey confirmed that organizations committed to design and the execution of design principles gained 32 percent more revenue and offered 56 percent more total returns to shareholders, particularly those in the medical technology, consumer goods and retail banking industries. This data confirms the growing demand for skilled design management graduates in the workforce.
The design management program offered at CAAD starts with a full year of foundational design studies, where students receive a solid grounding in design practice and design thinking.
“In my first-year foundation studies, I learned how to think and behave as a designer. As I moved into my major studies, I really saw the connection of how design thinking and business practice can work hand in hand to solve strategic business problems,” she said.
With a strong emphasis on building entrepreneurship skills, CAAD primes design management students with the skills they need to establish their own businesses, formulate business plans, develop marketing strategies and establish the right teams for the job.
Last summer, Asfour identified a gap in the market for youth development and used her design management training to find a solution through her new start up, Level-Up DXB.
“As a young person in Dubai, I noticed that there was nowhere I could go for personal development to learn from experts and expand my skill set in practical areas such as public speaking, digital marketing, financial literacy and time management,” she said.
Level-Up DXB provides personal development opportunities in the form of workshops and seminars for youth, collaborating with leading speakers and educators to provide guidance and mentorship in today’s competitive market.
“Our vision is to educate and create a powerful generation of youth, with the aim to help them advance their skills and give them the tools to successfully achieve their goals,” said Asfour.
Design management is an expanding field with strong demand across a wide range of industries and sectors. Design managers use the skills of a project manager, designer and strategist to create business solutions, enhance user experience and meet business objectives.
CAAD graduates have been consistently successful in securing roles in leading design firms, businesses and government entities throughout the region, maintaining CAAD’s reputation for producing high-quality professionals who are workplace ready upon graduation.
“CAAD students are well prepared for professional practice. From our foundation year, we are constantly exposed to critique—both from peers and faculty. We are taught how to present to a client, deliver ideas in a professional manner, how to meet deadlines, and how to produce work of the highest standard,” she said.
“In my own experience of working as an intern for Landmark Group, I found that I was able to quickly function as a member of the team, adapting to new software and delivering projects from day one on the job. I feel that CAAD has set me up to work professionally and confidently,” she said.
With less than two years to go until graduation, Asfour is still eager to pursue a career in fashion as a brand manager. In the meantime, Level-Up DXB continues to roll out events to support youth development with the support of three of Asfour’s fellow AUS students.
“As a design management student, I find that CAAD continues to drive home the need to think and behave as an innovator. I’m looking forward to seeing what I can achieve before I graduate,” she said.
For more information about the Bachelor of Science in Design Management at the College of Architecture, Art and Design at American University of Sharjah, visit www.aus.edu/caad.