A two-fold career in academia and the banking industry was at the core of achievements that earned the Lebanese economist Salim Chahine the prestigious Kuwait Prize in the field of economics and social sciences. The prize is one of five recently announced by the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences in various fields.
A professor of finance at the American University of Beirut’s Olayan School of Business, Chahine is the founder and a former executive director of AUB-Innovation Park and currently serves as third vice-governor of the Banque du Liban, Lebanon’s central bank.
Chahine started his career as a financial analyst in the pipeline and oil industry in Europe. He later worked as a consultant for prominent European and Arab banks and financial institutions while kicking off a career in academia.
Holding the two portfolios, he helped establish bridges between the academic sector and corporate world.
“Coming from the industry and being in academia at the same time, I could help my students better define their career plans and facilitate their introduction to the job market,” Chahine told Al-Fanar Media.
“It also helped the corporate sector understand what is happening in academia and the way they could handle their recruitment strategies while introducing their businesses to students.”
Announcing the award last month, the Kuwait Foundation noted Chahine’s “outstanding research on topics related to finance and banking, including entrepreneurial finance, venture capital and corporate governance.”
Founding an Innovation Park
After returning to Lebanon 17 years ago, Chahine joined the American University of Beirut as professor of finance and director of the M.B.A. program. He acted as interim dean of the Olayan School of Business for three years, during which he founded the AUB-Innovation Park, also known as I-Park, an achievement that is dear to his heart.
“Bringing businesses within the academic fold was an amazing experience,” Chahine stressed. “We were able to launch a wonderful adventure hosting startup companies and innovative ideas from AUB’s community, including students, faculty members, and alumni.”
“Bringing businesses within the academic fold was an amazing experience.”Salim Chahine
A professor of finance at the American University of Beirut
“The venture also aimed at encouraging other universities in Lebanon and the region to push further this entrepreneurship idea. It is not only about doing business, but it is also about having that critical thinking on the needs of our world and the way we should be developing our future.”
Some of the ideas incubated at I-Park became successful stories with global reach, including companies established in Germany, the United States and the United Arab Emirates.
Chahine was appointed third vice-governor of the central bank in June 2020, a job that carries serious challenges as Lebanon is experiencing its worst economic and financial crisis ever. (See a related article, “For Many Universities in Lebanon, Survival May Be at Stake.”)
“We are doing our best to support the country and the people within the current political and economic deadlock,” he said. “I hope that we will soon have a (functional) government to carry out the required reforms. Then we can really show how monetary policy-makers can help rebuild an effective and sustainable system that is unfortunately suffering today.”
Lebanon has been run by a caretaker administration since former Prime Minister Hassan Diab and his cabinet resigned in the wake of the Beirut port explosion in August 2020. (See a related article, “Beirut Blast Cripples an Educational and Cultural Capital.”) Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri was nominated in October but has failed to form a new cabinet so far due to the political divisions between the country’s rival leaders.
“Sometimes we did agree on things, other times we differed, but always in a professional way. … What I like most about Salim is his approach to things and the way he assumes his responsibilities.”Fadi Osseiran
A banker and former professor of finance at the American University of Beirut
Chahine holds a Ph.D. in finance from the Aix-Marseille University and two master’s degrees in financial engineering from Kedge Business School in France.
His research on topics related to finance and banking, with a special focus on conflict of interest in the decision-making process in the private and public sectors, has been described as outstanding and has earned him several awards, including the A.H. Shoman Foundation Award for the Best Young Arab Researcher in Economics, Banking, and Financial and Management Sciences.
He has published more than 50 articles in top academic journals, including Review of Accounting Studies, Strategic Management Journal and Journal of Corporate Finance. His research has been presented in leading international conferences such as the National Bureau of Economic Research in the United States and the European Finance Association.
Fadi Osseiran, a banker and former professor of finance at the American University of Beirut, said he cooperated closely with Chahine in both academia and the banking sector.
“I learned a lot especially about economic research. Day-to-day interaction was always very interesting and I was always looking forward to our meetings.”Rida Fayyad
Aِِn AUB graduate who assisted Chahine in his research
“Sometimes we did agree on things, other times we differed, but always in a professional way,” Osseiran said. “We mostly have the same way of looking at things because we come from similar professional backgrounds, but what I like most about Salim is his approach to things and the way he assumes his responsibilities.”
“He is a great person to deal with and humble enough to know that despite his big knowledge he still has a lot to learn.”
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For Rida Fayyad, an AUB graduate who assisted Chahine in his research, “working with him was a most positive experience.”
“I learned a lot especially about economic research. Day to day interaction was always very interesting and I was always looking forward to our meetings.”