“I remember walking into the meeting room, realizing I don’t know anyone. But we started working immediately and we worked day and night.” That’s AAU Business sophomore Zakia Mudaqiq’s account of the first time she met her team to discuss their research project for UNICEF.

Their mission was to help UNICEF understand the charity values, behaviors and contribution prospects of female expat business leaders in Prague. The cooperation marked the 50th student project at AAU.

Zakia admitted that it wasn’t easy for her to work with strangers before, but said the intensive program really pushed her out of her comfort zone and enhanced her communication and teamwork skills.They interviewed businesswomen in Prague and listened to their thoughts on doing charity.

It’s my first time solving a real-life problem outside the classroom,” said Zakia. Her experience was made possible with the help of the Center for Applied Research (CAR).

CAR was established in 2012, and since then has been a platform for research projects and related activities connected to AAU. It has successfully facilitated dozens of student projects, several corporate research projects and organized workshops and academic events.

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CAR’s Founder and Director Peter Bolcha, Ph.D. recalled his university experience when he was still a student.

My personal experience inspired me to make education more useful and applicable,” said Peter. “The way of teaching and the classroom experience at my university appeared to me often very detached from the reality, and from everyday business and politics. Our projects at AAU are meant to motivate students and to improve learning outcomes, while engaging both the students and the instructors deeper into the education process. Last but not least, our projects bring valuable outcomes to the clients and the society.

In June 2017, the International Consulting Program (ICP) connected Zakia and her team with UNICEF via a research project.

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We want to find out how Prague’s community of businesswomen wants to be approached by the charity, in which way they prefer to contribute, and which charities they are already involved in,” Zakia elaborated on her team’s research project.      

UNICEF works in over 190 countries around the world to help children survive and support their development, from birth to adulthood. The work of the organization is funded solely by voluntary contributions, with 90% of every dollar spent goes to helping children. UNICEF Czech Republic has been a part of the National Committees since 1991, which deal with the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the activities of UNICEF, educational and training activities and the mobilization of funds for programs to help children around the world.

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Zakia says she looks up to these women as role models who managed to find balance in their career and family life. Taking inspired from these talks with expat businesswomen, Zakia even came up with a way to do charity in her own country of Afghanistan.

As of the Fall 2017 semester, AAU students can work on research projects for UNICEF when taking courses such as “Strategic Marketing and Planning” taught by Dan Fiala MBA. Projects with other clients run also in other courses, especially in the areas of PR, media and marketing.

Other notable partners of AAU are such as publishing house Verlag Dashöfer, car-washing company Automycka, gas company RWE Group, startup incubator StartupYard, and communication agency Medibay.

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Publication date: November 13, 2017