Interview: Mary Harding on organizing the first Egyptian national rounds of the FDI Moot

Earlier in September 2019, Matouk Bassiouny & Hennawy hosted the first-ever Egyptian national rounds of the Foreign Direct Investment moot court. The Law Magazine had the privilege to have a word with the woman behind the show in terms of operations of the two-day long event.

WhatsApp Image 2019-09-17 at 17.53.53Q: Mary, it is our utmost pleasure to have the organizer of the FDI Moot Egypt National Round. Can we please start with you introducing yourself to the audience?

A: My name is Mary Harding, I am the Chief Marketing Officer at Matouk Bassiouny. While I am in charge of business development and marketing for all practice groups, I do have a soft spot for arbitration. My introduction into the legal field was actually through the arbitration department of Shearman & Sterling in Paris, where I worked for two years. When I first joined Matouk Bassiouny & Hennawy (the Cairo office of the regional Matouk Bassiouny Law Firm), I was initially hired to cover marketing for the arbitration department. Since then my responsibilities have expanded to cover the whole Firm.

Q: So, regarding the FDI Moot, and your background in marketing, how did commencing the FDI Moot in Egypt all come all together?

A: We were approached by the global organizers of the FDI Moot earlier this year. Christian Campbell, Associate Director of CILS, reached us out to us as they had been wanting to incorporate the Middle East as a regional round of the  FDI Moot. So far they have Africa, Asia Pacific, and South Asia regional rounds, but they had not yet reached us. Initially, the plan was to have an Egypt national round, which would feed into a Middle East regional round, but this year we decided to test it first just in Egypt. Hopefully, in the years to come, we will be able to expand.

Q: That sounds great already, so from your point of view do you think the FDI Moot, in general, is very crucial for legal studies, specifically in dispute resolution in Egypt? Does it really help that much?

A: I think so. As a business development/marketing specialist I did not study law and therefore have actually never participated in mooting competitions myself. That being said, I do think that investment arbitration is a particularly interesting subject in the field of international arbitration, so I do believe it is a great new mooting competition for Egyptian law students interested in arbitration.

Q: Interesting, what about the perception of this? Do you believe that the community of other firms, institutions in law and students themselves perceive this year very well?

A: I believe so. I have found that there is a lot of support in the Egyptian community, between law firms, legal institutions and, of course, universities, for all mooting competitions. I have sensed that there is a hunger among Egyptian students and firms to participate and develop mooting culture more. We were approached by a diverse range of individuals who were very interested in participating in this, so the drive is certainly there. For this reason, marketing really took care of itself. We initially only launched the marketing campaign through Facebook, and of course, reached out to a few individuals who we know have history and interest in mooting competitions, but then from there, the event took a life of its own. Usually with a new event that is unknown in the market you have to push a lot harder to gain traction and interest, but for the FDI Moot Egypt National Rounds, all we had to do was light a spark and it instantly caught fire – which was, of course, very nice for me as a marketing manager. It was really exciting and inspiring to see all the interest.

Q: Considering the vibes that we have already seen here, do you have a word of encouragement for those who are into this as both organizers and as participants in the FDI and mooting in general?

A: I think what is really exciting is that the FDI Moot Egypt National Round has a lot of promise to pick up and gain a lot more traction in the coming years. So to all who participated this year, Mabrook, for being a part of the founding participants of the debut of the FDI Moot Egypt National Round. I have a good feeling that this year’s event will inspire more people to join in the following years.

Q: Thank you so much, Mary, for this pleasant word of yours, and the effort that you put into organizing this is very apparent and best of luck for the upcoming years 

A: Thank you very much. We really appreciate having The Law with us this year.


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