MY POSTS

Rarely I would take a picture, appear in a video, or even sit in a front row. I always thought those were less relevant. Mine has been more about deeds than words, more about impact than photo-ops. Through these posts, I thought I would share some memorable moments of the most recent years.

Opera and University

The first oil boom in the early 20th century left Azerbaijan with opera, ballet, women's college and alike. These accomplishments were the first of a kind in the entire muslim world. The second oil boom in the early 21st century has built a world-class university in Azerbaijan. Opera was one of the biggest legacies of the first oil boom. ADA University is one of the biggest legacies of the second oil boom.

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Tribute to Heroes

In 1992, I interpreted Lady Margaret Thatcher at a state dinner in Gulustan Palace in Baku. Some 24 years later, I got on a stage in Gulustan Palace and spoke as Senior Vice Rector of Azerbaijan's flagship university. More than 500 guests were in attendance. In less than 10 days, we had raised more than 1 million manats for children and spouses of those fallen in war to study in ADA University for free.

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100 Years of Thought, Enlightenment, Values

2018 Commencement Ceremony was dedicated to 100-year anniversary of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, the first one in the Eastern world. We emphasized thought, enlightenment and values that this nation had gained over the past 100 years. Portraits and spirit of Azerbaijan's thought leaders, such as Akhundov, Zardabi, Sabir, Uzeyir...were in presence.

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Dreaming Paper

In 2007, we were looking for an architecture firm in the US to design a new campus of ADA. Somebody suggested to write a brief paper and list all we want. I went home, wrote one as a wish list of a prospective student and called it a Dreaming Paper. İ sent it to some 20 firms. Having read this Dreaming Paper, every single architecture firm wanted to design that campus.

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Transformational Strategy for Comprehensive Change

In April 2019, I presented a case of change management at Ellucian Live in New Orleans. More than 8,000 university administrators from all over the world were in that conference. Majority of them had not even heard of Azerbaijan. Yet, we had come to this major international gathering of higher education to present ADA University as a success story. Not only in Azerbaijan, but globally. And they had come to hear about it and to learn from our experience.

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Organizational Culture: A Story of Okamura

Policies and processes are important. But it is the Culture of Excellence and Accountability which will define governance in any organization. Almost every day, staff present you with a problem and seek a solution. Not every solution turns out to be a straight line. Sometimes, I would come up with a solution which would be unexpected, yet, creative. Creativity of it would lead to learning. That, in turn, would help to create a certain mindset and culture in the organization.

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Citizenship and Social Responsibility

Anyone, who has a chance to design education, should design one to also cultivate citizenship. In no place this is so important than also in Azerbaijan. Education should extend beyond knowledge and skills, build new minds, new mentality and new generation of Azerbaijanis. A kind of citizens who relate to challenges of society, uphold interests of country, never stop serving public cause. For whom diversity, understanding our differences and accepting them is a core value firmly embedded in their identity.

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İdentity Defined by Core Values

Life is a journey. We all go somewhere. Destination is important, but it is the journey to that destination which counts most. We pick a luggage, fill in things along the road, and keep going. Things we put in that luggage make us into who we are. Our thoughts and deeds shape up our identity. When the earth under our feet disappears, we fall onto something we have created throughout that journey: our beliefs and our values. They lift us up and take us to where we belong. We belong where our identity rests. That is what we search through our journey in life.

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