Business Bites - Engaging with Industry

The University of Birmingham Dubai presents Business Bites, a webinar series to support businesses during the current COVID-19 pandemic, and the economic impact that it brings.

Delivered fortnightly, Business Bites are short, bite size webinars, featuring industry leaders and experts from a range of sectors including Construction and Engineering, Business, Law, Sustainability, Health and Wellbeing alongside leading Academics from the University of Birmingham. 

Our expert guests will discuss the most pressing issues their industries are facing during these unprecedented times, as well as their insights and advice. At the end of each discussion, there will be an opportunity for the audience to ask questions of our experts.

Anju Chaatwani

Early Years Educationalist, Dubai

“Thank you Professor Bryson and Sarah Bartlett for throwing light on the very pressing issues that industries are facing during these unprecedented times. Your insights and advice have helped me to evaluate the situation in a better way and I can understand how the trends of employment and working culture will change. Overall I enjoyed listening to wise words of knowledge and look forward to hearing more.”


Upcoming webinars

Stay tuned for upcoming webinars

 Business Bites podcasts

COVID-19 Pandemic and precarious Economies: Risk and Value in existing business models and the change required for recovery

COVID-19 pandemic impact and challenges for recovery in the Construction Industry

How can schools best prepare for the new academic year in light of COVID-19?

Issues being faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact on the Legal Sector

Will sustainable development survive COVID-19?

Issues being faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact on plans for Smart Cities

Previous webinars and resources

BUSINESS - COVID-19 Pandemic and precarious Economies: Risk and Value in existing business models and the change required for recovery

Professor John Bryson from the University of Birmingham Dubai and Sarah Bartlett, Director at KEKST CNC Dubai discuss the effectiveness of existing business models during the COVID-19 pandemic and the changes that businesses may need to consider during the post COVID-19 recovery period.

COVID-19: Risks, Rewards and Responsible Business blog post

COVID-19 research - a social sciences perspective

Webinar Feedback

Redha Al Redha

Regional Director, Institution of Civil Engineers, Middle East & North Africa

“Far more informative than any of the webinars I have attended recently!”


Kenneth Jones

Director of Education, Praxis, Dubai

“An interesting webinar with great guest speakers and some very useful food for thought, thank you!”

Meet our Experts

'John R. Bryson, Professor of Enterprise and Economic Geography, Birmingham Business School, The University of Birmingham

Professor John R. Bryson (BA (Hons) TCD, PhD Leic., FAcSS, FRGS, FHEA, FeRSA) has held research and teaching posts at the Universities of St Andrews, Cambridge, Wales and most recently at the University of Birmingham where he is Professor of Enterprise and Economic Geography. An economic geographer whose research focuses on understanding people and organisations in place and space and the ways in which place-based adaptation occurs including understanding barriers and enablers to adaptation. He has made significant contributions to understanding and explaining the complex ways in which production is organised through space and in place and via a variety of forms of enterprise. Much of his research has focused on developing an integrated approach to understanding city-regions. One of his cross-cutting research interests including understanding rapid adaptation during times of disruptive and radical change. This includes citizen-led end-user innovation, the development of alternative solutions including research on responsible managerial practices. 


'Sarah L. Bartlett, Director of KEKST CNC

Sarah is a Director at leading strategic communications advisory firm Kekst CNC. She has lived in the UAE for the last 13 years.

A seasoned reputation strategist with more than 25 years’ experience, Sarah has spent much of her career advising large corporations in Europe and MENA on corporate citizenship strategies designed to maximise stakeholder value. Projects have included the introduction of ‘sustainable coffee’ and capsule recycling at Nestlé Nespresso, ethical cocoa bean buying at Cadbury Schweppes, low-income community support strategies in KSA for a Saudi Aramco joint venture and, most latterly, involvement in Majid Al Futtaim’s recent announcement to commit to the eradication of single-use plastics from its entire business by 2025, a project she was involved with for almost three years. She has also advised a number of environmental NGOs and related government entities in the UAE and further afield.

Sarah has a fundamental belief that effective sustainability and social responsibility policies create significantly enhanced organisational health and longevity. She advises on the impact and linkages of such investments with the corporate reputation, the customer brand, the Employer Value Proposition, financing benefits and the organisation’s ‘licence to operate’ overall.

Sarah is a graduate in European languages with separate postgraduate qualifications in strategic marketing and boardroom leadership. She is currently studying for an MBA at a German university and has guest lectured at Zayed University and INSEAD. Sarah has a particular passion for the marine environment, which led her to qualify as a Marine Mammal Paramedic and undertake volunteer work with the Marine Conservation Society of Hong Kong.

CONSTRUCTION - COVID-19 pandemic impact and challenges for recovery in the Construction Industry

Professor Ian Jefferson, Professor of Geotechnical Engineering, Interim Deputy Head of College, Engineering and Physical Sciences, at the university’s School of Engineering and Ian Maund from Quantum Global Solutions, who is also the Chairman of the Chartered Institute of Building, MENA region and the Dubai hub discuss the current impact of COVID-19 and the challenges faced in the construction industry with insights into the longer term impact of COVID-19.

Meet our Experts

'Professor Ian Jefferson, Professor in Geotechnical Engineering, Head of Education in the Department of Civil Engineering

Professor Jefferson (BEng(Hons), DIS, PhD, FGS) is involved with teaching soil mechanics, geotechnical engineering and engineering geology at both undergraduate and postgraduate level at the University of Birmingham. In addition, he has teaching interests in waste management and sustainability.

His current research projects include: Loess soil stabilisation, Collapsibility in loess soils, Ground Improvement using stone columns, Assessment of improved ground using geophysics, Shear strength of glacial tills, Sustainability Assessments in urban Development, Sustainability in the geotechnical process and Sustainable urban redevelopment - Eastside.

'Ian Maund, Regional Director for Quantum Global Solutions

Ian Maund is the regional director for Quantum Global Solutions in the UAE. A multi-disciplined construction professional experienced in both contractual/commercial and project management. He has a career which features the management of major projects including two of the world’s largest new build hospitals. Having made the move to international projects in 2010 he has continued to use his experience in project delivery and programme management, to ascertain best practice in the region. Utilising a strong commercial foundation and an aptitude for contract administration, he now successfully leads teams in the management of claims and construction disputes for Quantum.

EDUCATION - How can schools best prepare for the new academic year in the light of COVID-19?


The Impact of Covid-19 on Education: A summary of evidence on the early impacts of lockdown, June 2020

Professor Colin Diamond CBE, Director of the Education Leadership Academy, University of Birmingham and Ambika Gulati, Principal at The Millennium School Dubai, discuss how schools can prepare for the new academic year with the current challenges facing schools, teachers and parents.

Meet our Experts


Professor Colin Diamond, Director of the Education Leadership Academy, University of Birmingham

Prof Colin Diamond joined the University of Birmingham School of Education in 2018. He has established the Education Leadership Academy (ELA), which was launched in 2019. The ELA teaches today’s and tomorrow’s education leaders and provides a range of learning opportunities from short, non-accredited sessions through to its flagship MEd in Education Leadership. Its programmes are co-designed and co-delivered with school leaders to combine the best of current practice with research.

Colin has worked in education leadership roles for many years including headship, director of education/children’s services, head of academies and free schools advisers for the Department of Education in England and Deputy Education Commissioner for Birmingham. His research interests include urban education leadership, equalities, diversity, and leadership for inclusion.


'Ambika Gulati, Principal, The Millennium School Dubai

Ambika Gulati has 20 years of experience in leadership positions of school education. Her journey has seen her holding several positions including Head of Department – Economics, Head of Professional Development and International Relations, Administrative Supervisor, Head of Middle School as well as Principal in schools in India and the UAE. Though she began her career as an investment banker, she soon realised that her passion lies in teaching and research in educational methodology and teacher education. Her zeal for making a difference in the lives of children led her to school education in 2000.

Ambika’s forte is in pedagogical transformation and inspiring her team to make shifts in their practice. She has worked with significant government educational organisations such as NCERT, National Institute of Open Schooling and CSBE in India. She has authored books for Economics at the plus 2 level of CBSE. She joined the GEMS family in April 2017 as the Principal of The Millennium School, Dubai.

 Ambika graduated with a university rank from St Stephen’s College, Delhi University. Subsequently she completed her Masters from St John’s College, University of Cambridge. In 2012, she received the gold medal for her M.Ed from the University of Delhi.


LAW - Issues being faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact on the Legal Sector

Stuart Walker, partner at Afridi & Angell Dubai and David Holloway, Barrister and Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Birmingham, discuss the impact on the legal sector during, and post COVID-19.

Meet our Experts

'Stuart Walker Partner, Afridi and Angell

Stuart Walker is a partner at Afridi & Angell. His primary practice includes general corporate and commercial, employment matters, financial services regulation, corporate finance, and mergers and acquisitions. He advises clients on all aspects of employment law including the recruitment, hiring and firing of staff, the deployment of personnel between multiple locations, preparing employment documentation, reviewing employment contracts, and reviewing and drafting employee handbooks. He also advises clients on compensation and incentive schemes, and on the enforcement of confidentiality and non-compete clauses.

Prior to joining Afridi & Angell, Stuart was a solicitor in the banking department of a leading law firm in London. Stuart is qualified as a solicitor in England and Wales. Stuart has lived and worked in London, Hong Kong, New York and Dubai.


'David Holloway Barrister and Arbitrator and Senior Lecturer at the University of Birmingham Dubai

Barrister specialising in international trade law and international commercial dispute resolution practising from Outer Temple Chambers (London, Dubai, Abu Dhabi).

Over 20 years' experience of advising clients involved in international trade and dispute resolution and of appearing as counsel before the English courts (at all levels) and in proceedings before international arbitration tribunals. Called to the Bar of England and Wales in 1996. Registered as a foreign lawyer in Hong Kong (2018). Registered with the DIFC Court, Dubai 2019.

Arbitrator, listed with various institutions in Asia and MENA regions including CIETAC, SCIA, THAC,CAA,DIFC/LCIA.

Legal academic teaching and researching in the areas of international trade and international dispute settlement. Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Birmingham (UK/Dubai). Previous faculty appointments in UK, Hong Kong and PRC.

SUSTAINABILITY - Will sustainable development survive COVID-19?

Webinar Feedback


Wahida Rais

Assistant Professor, Department of Education, Eram Girls Degree College, India

“Your webinar today was extremely informative and knowledgeable.”


ARLI Progress Update

Recycling eggshells

Recycling carpets

Alternative Raw Materials with Low Impact (ARLI)

More information and Case Studies can be found here:

Meet our Experts

'Peter Braithwaite, Director of Engineering Sustainability, School of Engineering

Peter is a Charted Engineer, Environmentalist and Resource and Wastes Manager, who has had a varied international career in the construction industry and the built environment. Over the last 25 years, Peter has lead the development of a number of sustainability tools and frameworks, including SPeAR®, Arup’s highly successful sustainability assessment framework.

In 2008 Peter was appointed Head of Sustainability for the Olympic Delivery Authority Delivery Partner to lead the sustainable development strategy for the £8bn London 2012 Olympic Park. All sustainability targets were successfully achieved and the programme was delivered on time and within budget. He has also provided sustainability expertise to a number of other major programmes including Masdar City (UAE) and Qatar 2022 World Cup.

In recognition of his advanced technical and innovative work in sustainable development, Peter was conferred as Honorary Professor in the School of Engineering at the University of Birmingham, in 2006. He joined the Academic staff in 2012 to initially concentrate on research into the future of cities, with particular emphasis on energy and wastes. He is currently leading a 3-year collaborative research project, ARLI, which identify waste streams or other materials that by innovation can be transformed into higher value materials for the construction industry or other application. The project is also looking at process improvements to aid low-carbon production of materials and is positively contributing to the concept of the circular economy.


'Karl W Feilder, CEO, Founder & Chairman, Neutral Fuels

Karl pioneered commercial production of net zero biofuel in the Middle East in 2011. Today, Neutral Fuels is the largest group of cleantech fuel facilities in the GCC and his direct actions to mitigate climate change have resulted in over 15 million tonnes of CO2e savings. He has advanced the way fuel is delivered and used, pioneering Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to optimise waste and fuel management to save customers time and money.

 Karl’s entrepreneurial tech innovation was recognised in 2019 when Neutral Fuels was awarded a place on the Mohammed bin Rashid Innovation Fund Accelerator (MBRIFA), adding to the many other accolades he and his company have won. In 2020 Neutral Fuels became the first company to be awarded a Certificate of Conformity by the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (ESMA) for its biodiesel quality standard.

An award-winning serial entrepreneur, Karl has built and sold five companies (the first to Microsoft and the last to DHL) and led two more to IPO. His global perspective has been developed through conducting business in 46 countries.

Karl mentors entrepreneurs across industry and was the first Adjunct Lecturer at the Masdar Institute in Abu Dhabi. He has worked as a Catalyst at Hult International Business School in Dubai and San Francisco, coaching start-ups and inspiring entrepreneurs to design real sustainability into their businesses.

Karl holds a B.Eng. (Hons.) in Industrial Engineering and German language, an executive MBA, and is writing his PhD thesis on psychological profiling of start-up teams.

He is an international conference speaker and the lead vocalist for Dubai-based classic rock band Sandstörm.

SMART CITIES - Issues being faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact on plans for Smart Cities


Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers - Civil Engineering

Growing sustainable infrastructure with sustainable finance

Meet our Experts 

Sabih_Gatea_Khisaf.jpg Photo

Dr Sabih Getea Khisaf, Head of Engineering Middle East and North Africa, Hyperlook Transportation Technologies Inc

Sabih is a Chartered Civil and Structural Engineer with over 35 years' experience in the design, engineering and project management of major projects in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. This includes the project management, project engineering, design, construction and maintenance of highway structures, ports, airports, railways and other civil engineering projects. He has advanced knowledge of construction industry, regulatory standards and design criteria pertinent to the civil and structural engineering disciplines. 

With Sabih currently working as the Head of Engineering on the exciting and innovative hyperloop project between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, he has a unique insight into the planning and execution of smart cities.


1christopher-rogers (May 2016 HS).jpg PhotoChris Rogers, Professor of Geotechnical Engineering, School of Engineering, University of Birmingham 

While Chris holds the title of Professor of Geotechnical Engineering - engineering of the ground and everything buried in it - he would describe himself as a civil engineer in the broadest sense. He gained chartered engineering status on the basis of his experience in industry before embarking on an academic career. He chairs the Institution of Civil Engineers' Research, Development & Innovation Panel, with research interests in infrastructure systems and future sustainable, resilient and liveable cities. 

Chris' research into sustainability began nearly twenty years ago, when he led a cross-disciplinary consortium exploring sustainable urban regeneration. This coincides with his tenure as Editor of  Engineering Sustainability, a journal that pioneered a more profound understanding of the contribution that civil engineering can make to urban sustainability. He has led on multiple projects including the highly multi-disciplinary  Urban Futures research consortium and the Liveable Cities programme grant, during which time he served on the Lead Expert Group of the UK Government Foresight Future of Cities project. These initiatives combined in using further extreme scenarios to explore how we might deliver aspirational futures free from current constraints.

More recently, Chris is a core member of the UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC). UKCRIC is a major UK initiative underpinned by a capital grant of £138m from the Government matched by the 15 collaborating universities and industry. He leads the new £28m National Buried Infrastructure Facility that is being constructed on campus at Birmingham and is helping to establish UKCRIC's Birmingham Urban Observatory. His particular role on UKCRIC's Coordination Node is Director of Research Integration, in which he is leading research on how to embed into all that we do a movement towards trans-disciplinarity, breaking down the disciplinary, practice and governance silos that get in the way of truly effective engineering outcomes.



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