2018 Top 50 Undergraduate Professors: Moataz El-Helaly, American University of Beirut (Olayan)

Moataz El-Helaly

Assistant Professor of Accountinng

American University of Beirut, Olayan School of Business

Moataz El-Helaly is the definition of a go-getter. He earned his Ph.D. at the young age of 28 and is one of the youngest professors to make our list of the top 50 undergraduate professors this year. The accounting professor has been at the American University of Beirut since 2017, where his current work is in Related Party Transactions. El-Helaly makes this year’s list mainly from the gushing reviews of his current and former students. They all seem to love his youth and energy in the classroom (and potentially making a somewhat dry subject like accounting more entertaining.

“He taught an accounting class that I was quite worried about due to my lack of math skills. However his teaching style was different from any teacher or professor I had taken a class with,” one student said. “He was friendly and tried as much as possible to connect with us as students in order to break the ice and tension within a classroom. His teaching style was of somewhat similar to edutainment, education and entertainment. He would explain something and then tell a joke or even explain something through a joke. Such a simple and unique method grabbed my attention and made me enjoy the class and the curriculum.”

Age: 32

Education: PhD in Management, Accounting, Aston University UK

At current institution since: 2017

List of courses you currently teach: Management Accounting

What professional achievement are you most proud of? Obtaining my PhD aged 28

“I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when” I found myself able to explain the contents of my undergraduate courses to my peer colleagues.

“One word that describes my first time teaching” AMAZING

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? I am currently working on Related Party Transactions and in a recent publication I showcase on how firms use Related Party Transactions and Earnings Management as substitutes.

What is your most memorable moment as a professor? Receiving the news that a lot of my students nominated me for this award.

Since you first started teaching, how has business education changed? I would say dramatically. The way in which big data, analytics and technology are changing the interface of the accountancy industry and business in general carries several insights on how we as professors need to look at ways for preparing students to the job market in a more advanced way.

“If I weren’t a business school professor, I would be “hopefully” a soccer coach.

“Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a professor”: Students are in real need of a professor who in tough times could act as a friend.

Name of the professor you most admire and why: Prof. Salim Chahine, Professor of Finance at AUB. He is a real role model with a great personality.

What do you enjoy most about teaching undergraduate business students? Thinking how much the information and skills I try to make them master could make a real difference in their lives.

What’s the biggest challenge? To make them really enjoy learning new material.  

What is the most impressive thing one of your undergraduate students has done? A lot of my undergraduate students received awards in national and international competitions and case competitions and I am proud of them all.

What is the least favorite thing one has done? NA

Since you’ve been teaching, how have students changed over the years? Although students have become generally smarter, but the challenge of focus and self-motivation is strikingly dropping, on average.

What does a student need to do to get an A in your class? Attend, focus and practice a lot.

“When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as:” Fair

If your teaching style/classroom experience had a theme song, what would it be? I like to move it move it

Using just one word, describe your favorite type of student: Hard workers

Using just one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Lazy

If my students can make use of what I taught them in their careers, then I’ve done my job as their professor.”

Fun fact about yourself: I love eating.

What are your hobbies? Soccer

How did you spend your summer? Relaxing and doing some work as well.

Favorite place to vacation: anywhere by the sea

Favorite book: Tuesdays with Morrie

Favorite movie and/or television show: Egyptian Movie “Elly Baly Balak

Favorite type of music and/or favorite artist: Mohamed Mounir

Bucket list item #1: Chocolate

What’s the biggest challenge facing business education at the moment?

Making it more relevant to real life

“If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this”: Experiential learning and business analytics”

“And much less of this”: Traditional long one-way communication classes and lectures

Looking ahead 10 years from now, describe what “success” would be like for you: Maintaining my reputation as a good teacher and publish more in reputable journals.

Students say…

“Dr. Moataz was one of the youngest professor and one of the most well known in the accounting department and the school of business. Further, Dr. Moataz has a unique way in teaching us, he always focuses on practicing the material which makes his classes very interesting, interactive and relevant to real life when doing an internship.”

“Dr. Moataz’s first priority was student’s understanding and engagement, he used to ask each and every student whether he fully comprehended the material being explained. He was engaging and knew most of us through constant questioning, that impacted us by grasping everything conceptually with a twist of his own techniques. His young nature allowed him to connect to us in a professional, yet humorous way.”

“He enabled me to fully grasp a subject I naturally had a difficulty with (financial accounting), and I managed to get an A in that class. He was always willing to help with whatever concerns we had and always managed to make every class beneficial and enjoyable. He did not only focus on mere textbook material but rather how we could apply our knowledge to the real world. On top of that, he made sure to make the class enjoyable and connect with his students.”