Although I was aware of the importance of First Nations relations to the success of businesses in British Columbia, prior to this extraordinary trip, I never had the opportunity to learn about what that relationship entails in such depth. As Patrick Michell – Kanaka Bar Community Liaison – puts it aptly, “relationships with First Nations should be viewed as business opportunities rather than impediments”.
Our excursion began at 9:30am on a fine Tuesday morning. The bus buzzed with continuous chatter and laughter – all the positive signs of an excellent adventure. Even though the bus encountered unexpected mechanical issues en route to our first destination, the bus load of aspiring and innovative leaders of tomorrow made the best out of the situation. In fact, some of the fondest memories were created during this “pit stop” where target practise was improvised with rocks and silly pictures (taken and provided courtesy of the talented Mohammad Nasiri) worth thousands of words were taken.
We arrived at the Nk’Mip Resort just in time for dinner. We were greeted with warm hospitality the moment we set foot in the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre. Mouth watering Indian tacos were on the menu that evening. Before we began, our head host Bob Etienne, introduced us to the tradition of ‘smudge’ – smoke from burning sage leaves were used as a purifier of surrounding energies. As Bob puts it, “water from the tap takes external impurities away whereas sage cleans from the inside out”. This proved to be an eye-opener for most of us and marked the beginning of the cultural learning journey.
The following days were filled with a fine balance between academic learning, cultural education, and bonding between classmates. Our first official day on the resort began with a presentation by Chris Bower – Director of Operation at Nk’Mip resort – who informed us about the history of the resort as well as the business opportunities and challenges involved with First Nation relations. Following breakfast, the group made its way into the desert attached to the resort for a session of rappelling. Walking perpendicularly down a cliff wall sure got all of us excited. Next on the schedule included a desert walk led by Bob who gave an informative lesson on how First Nations survived and navigated through the often-time unforgiving desert. The day wound down with a tour of the Nk’Mip winery topped off with a taste of delicious wine ranging from Pinot Blanc to Merlot.
The rest of the trip included a surface tour of the New Gold mine, tour of the Kwoiek Creek Hydro Project, and lunch hosted by the Kanaka Bar Indian Band where we had the opportunity to experiment with authentic First Nations cuisine, all of which were pleasantly informative and at times surprising.
That said, this First Nation cross-cultural trip provided the class with invaluable information necessary for doing business in British Columbia. Additionally, after interacting with First Nations and getting their perspective on challenges they have faced provided a high-level take away – one needs to be cognizant and sensitive to the indigenous population. This is true, as we have learned in Cross-Cultural Management, for expatriates on assignment in a location that differs widely in customs. This trip was a good opportunity for me to reflect on what I have learned so far in the program and ponder about delicate relations under a more informed and holistic way. You may wonder whether I would go on this experience again if I had the opportunity to. Heck yea, where do I sign up?!
Chamberlin Chang is a former Account Services representative at the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia. He is interested in business process improvement, change management, and strategy. Please contact Chamberlin via LinkedIn to learn more and/or discuss employment opportunities.
And the winner is… Beedie School of Business, Simon Fraser University (team Bora)! My heart stopped pumping blood for a second; we WON the HEC Sustainability Challenge! We are at top of Canada’s business schools! My phone went off like a bumble bee on caffeine after the announcement as my girlfriend, family and friends were all sending me congratulatory messages.
When we were first introduced as a team, we knew we could achieve something in Montreal. The four of us, Colin Knudsen, Erin Lane and Geordan Hankinson and myself are from completely different backgrounds, with vastly different skill sets. But we were well warned by our Cross-Cultural Management professor Mila Lazarova — if you can’t integrate your diverse skills as a team, you will come in last.
Before the case competition, we did some practice cases with Stephanie Bertels, a sustainability professor here at Beedie. She taught us the proper tactics to solve complex sustainability problems. She tore apart my PowerPoint and focused in on the core root of sustainability challenges. RISK! It is always about managing risks, she said. Apparently this was my job.
We received the case one week prior to the competition. The problem was a surprise as past cases usually involved mining or resource firms. This time it was Air Canada. Coming from a mining and consulting background, I had a lot to learn, FAST.
Days passed, evenings dragged on full of discussion. To biofuel, or not to biofuel? After much hair pulling and eye gouging we came out with a solid presentation in our hotel room minutes before the deadline. Monte Carlo simulations, in-depth biofuel feedstock suppliers and route analysis, and biofuel value chain modelling all incorporated themselves into our presentation.
Post announcement, we were invited to a late night dinner with the organizers that was utterly brag-worthy. Spanish wines and French fine dining nurtured our frayedbodies back to life after 100+ hours of anxiety ridden hard work.
Overall, we won a trophy, a mock cheque worthy of carry-on luggage status, a real cheque to pad the wallet with pride, a dinner to Le Local and a lunch date with SFU Beedie’s Dean, Danny Shapiro. Well done team BORA!
Andrew Lee is a former Economist at BHP Billiton and management consultant at Deloitte Consulting. He is interested in economics, corporate finance and strategy. For consulting opportunities, please connect him via LinkedIn.
March 6th-9th, Calgary, Alberta
by Andrew Simard
I had spent some of my youth growing up in Calgary before moving to Vancouver many years ago. Our team of Amir Kamyabnejad, Anu Natarajan, Betty Rooprai and myself stepped off the plane and into -10 C weather with everything still freshly white from the major snowfall the day before. It didn’t take long for all those childhood memories to rush to the surface! But the city had changed a lot since last I was there. And it was refreshing to see how it had developed all these years. The traffic lights were still sideways though. Soon enough we were settled into the beautiful Hyatt in downtown Calgary for the next four days, the cold weather far from our minds.
We had arrived to compete in the Haskayne 24-Hour Case competition. Representing the SFU Beedie School of Business, expectations were high, particularly as we had two teams place in the finals last year. The Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary was the host of the competition, with 16 teams competing this year from across Canada. There were two international teams as well, one from Ohio and one from Hong Kong. This is a unique event with the case competition surrounded by many other networking events and plenty of opportunities to get to know the other teams.
The case itself was unique as well. Rather than frame the exercise as trying to solve a business problem, the scope was deliberately vague right from the start. The ultimate challenge related to addressing the labour situation in the oil and gas industry in Alberta, and the skills shortage overall at the national level. Not standard case competition fare by any measure. Also unique to this competition, the case-writer participated in Q&A and attended many of the networking events afterward, so everyone had plenty of opportunities to talk about the case and the approaches they took. He cleverly didn’t really help settle any debates as any good case-writer would always tell you that, really, there is no right answer !
Our team did not advance to the finals despite logging a great many hours and a very late night. As we watched the finalist presentations however, we could certainly see many elements that had come out of our own work, a sentiment shared by all the teams we talked to. In the end, all the teams did a great job and the final winners from HEC simply did a fantastic job of organizing and presenting what was arguably one of the most challenging cases we had ever had the pleasure of tackling.
The gala awards ceremony was thankfully the next day after we could all catch up a little on our sleep. To help get into the spirit, Amir and I went to Lammle’s Western Wear a few blocks away. Picked up some cowboy hats and had a ton of laughs along the way. We were a big hit at the gala and the party that followed. Was a nice way to “top off” the whole experience !
Andrew is a self-employed computer programmer, designing complex systems for the commercial greenhouse produce industry. He is enrolled in the MOT MBA program at SFU Beedie and absolutely loving every minute of it! Follow Andrew on Twitter at @gnumatrix
“Be dee one who went to the Acumen case competition final.”
All bad jokes aside, I (farthest to the right) recently had the pleasure of preparing and presenting a strategy for Ziqitza health care ltd to a panel of Social Entrepreneurs at the annual Acumen case competition. This competition differs from most in that all cases revolve around a social enterprise, thus adding an added level of challenge to the task. My team of fellow MBAs Winnie So, Andrew Simard, and I (Mike Vandervelden) placed 2nd in what the organizer declared “The Closest Finals Yet”. The task was to provide a scalable strategy for Ziqitza to:
“Provide world-class ambulance service for all of India’s population, regardless of socioeconomic status”.
For us it all came down to “HELP”. We knew we had to provide something outside of the case that would be a real game changer, something that would make Ziqitza or 1298 (the emergency number they would use) synonymous with ambulance services. That’s when we came up with the Acronym “HELP” to teach people when to dial 1298.
So, why bother share a 2nd place experience you might ask? Well, because the take away from this competition equates to so much more then meets the eye. This competition was unique in the sense that Acumen put on a 4 session course spanning 5 months, in which they gave us tips on how to approach these types of problems. However, these skills go well beyond just case competitions, they are skills that can be applied to real world scenarios. In my mind, case competitions provide real word gut checks as to how we are applying our education. So although it took a few days for the sting of being so close to victory to dissipate, when I sit back and think about what we achieved, I couldn’t be more thrilled. One of the judges, an investment and financial innovator known for attacking poor strategy, not only used her Q and A time to praise our unique and innovative strategy, but also sought us out afterwards to inquire about our future aspirations. This praise alone made up for the bitter defeat, as it provided a real sense of confirmation that we’ve made substantial progress in our MBA journey.
On a more personal level, this experience has done wonders for me in terms of career development. Upon starting the MBA program at BEEDIE, I knew I wanted to get involved in a sector where I could use the mode of business to make an impact in society; I just didn’t know how I was going to do it. I started looking at different options outside of my original goals in hopes of building a circle of experience that I could tie together in hopes of applying it to an honorable initiative one day. Through a series of cases based on providing healthcare services to citizens in India, I was able to grasp what it takes to provide a sustainable business strategy revolving around philanthropic mission statements: I now believe I can achieve both simultaneously. This experience has not only refocused my objectives and introduced me to the exciting world of Social Enterprise, but I was also able to meet great people already working in this space. It’s opened a whole new world for me.
It is not until you fully immerse yourself in your opportunities, that you create the potential to become one of the Few Great Minds – Mike Vandervelden Beedie MBA
While we do, inevitably, have a lot of work to do here at Beedie, there is still some time for fun. As VP Social Events, it is important to me that we plan events that appeal to all of the students in the graduate school. We try to get together as a cohort every couple of weeks – even if it’s just for lunch at a new restaurant, dinner out, or a local sporting event. One of our most well attended events thus far was the Christmas Party, held at the Westin Grand in downtown Vancouver. We were able to mingle with professors, students in other programs, and enjoy a first semester completed!
Above is a group of us at a new Persian restaurant called Cazba. This lunch was organized by our MBA Rep, Negar, and a fellow classmate, Mohammed. Over 15 people came out to enjoy a fantastic feast.
Another thing that we like to do is to celebrate birthdays. With over 40 of us in the cohort, you can imagine that there are a lot of birthday celebrations! Usually there will be a lunch or dinner organized to celebrate birthdays every month, and this is a great time to get to know each other outside of class time.
While the MBA Program is, of course, challenging, there are many aspects to the program that make the long days of studying a little bit easier to get through. Making friends and spending time with your cohort outside of the classroom is not only enjoyable, but also extremely rewarding. The friends we make in social situations will become the network that binds us in the future as SFU Beedie Alumni.
That’s all for now!
Sophie is a full-time SFU Beedie MBA Student. With an undergraduate degree in Theatre and a passion for food and wine, Sophie has a diverse background of interests and skills. She is VP Social Events for the Graduate Business Student Association, and is an active ambassador for the MBA program. Tweet her @sophie_collins, and visit her food blog.
So, which do you prefer: giving feedback or receiving it? Actually for most of us, the answer is probably neither. Giving feedback requires us to risk upsetting someone with what we have to say; receiving feedback can make us feel hurt, defensive or angry.
I’m actually pretty good at receiving feedback but quite bad at giving it. Especially if it is offered in the spirit of learning or performance improvement, I like to hear what others think about how I’m doing. I want to improve myself and become a more valuable employee or team member.
In terms of how feedback fits into leadership, I learned today in a Leadership & Teamwork class that I tend toward the Affiliative Style of Leadership. Individuals with this kind of leadership style create climates where harmony reigns and where positive relationships are established. However, the downside of the Affiliative style can be a reluctance to address poor performance. In my case, I sometimes want harmony more than I want to address an issue with a colleague or subordinate. I don’t like taking the risk of hurting other people’s feelings. I want to be liked by everyone.
As I move through my MBA program, this is an area where I need to push myself out of my comfort zone. Great leaders have to hold those around them accountable and that means that I have to be able to provide intelligent, constructive feedback to those I work with. One of the strategies I can start with is communicating my expectations about the value of excellence. I strive for excellence in my own work and if those who work with me know this up front, it becomes easier (for me) to address performance issues within this context. If that doesn’t work, I can always apologize and ask everyone to just get along!
More on Six Leadership Styles.
Laura is currently a full-time SFU Beedie MBA Student. As a baby boomer in a class full of 20-somethings, she is enjoying the student life after spending 20+ years working in various healthcare and not for profit organizations. She loves to knit, to reflect on big ideas (and to write about them) and to stay super-fit. Tweet her @laurainbusiness.
by Kathy McKay
I have to admit that I wasn’t too sure about attending the MBA Games. Although I love to participate in events, I’m not the most social person out there, and as a first-year Management of Technology MBA with a full-time job I hadn’t really had much time to get to know my fellow students. So in the end that’s exactly why I decided to join the team: it seemed like a fantastic opportunity to do some networking within my school and among other schools. By signing up for athletic events only, I also figured that it would be a great chance to see what the academic competitions were all about without the stress of actually competing in them. Then, if I liked what I saw, I could go back next year and try them out.
And I will definitely be going back next year!
Before the opening ceremonies even began, the camaraderie and enthusiasm within, and between, the various schools was amazing. Although the floorball and volleyball teams I played on didn’t exactly set records, I had so much fun playing the games and socializing with the other team members that I honestly didn’t mind. The sports events provided an excellent way to break the ice and start conversations with people regarding their programs at school, their academic backgrounds, and their goals for the future.
After our games were finished I managed to watch the presentations in a few of the academic competitions. The benefits that could be gained from this experience were instantly obvious and I look forward to giving it a go next year. Developing the ability to think and perform on the spot is critical to excel in business, and the MBA Games certainly provides that opportunity. I also saw how it provides the opportunity to witness how other teams attack problems and to receive feedback on your own approach.
After taking part in the MBA Games I definitely feel a great sense of allegiance to the SFU MBA program, and I feel a greater desire to network and get to know my schoolmates more. In many ways that is what business is all about – getting to know people and learning how to work together.
by Laura Anderson
I’ve always considered the hour of 4 am to be a time when no one should really be awake. When my kids were young and they woke up during the 4 o’clock hour, I always felt a jolt of outrage – “don’t you know that everyone is supposed to be asleep right now!” That is certainly how I felt when my alarm when off at 4:30 am and I [literally] bolted upright out of bed. “Oh no!” The day had begun and I had to start getting ready for the Strategy Case competition at the MBA Games 2013, Hamilton, ON.
Other weary case competitors joined at the buffet breakfast, loading up on coffee and carbs…each team would need its strength to face a complex task, a wickedly short timeframe and worse, fierce competition from approximately 20 other MBA schools across Canada. The Strategy Case typically has the reputation of the being the “money team” – the team where a school’s best and brightness attempt to wow panels of judges with their brilliant analytical skills; seamless presentations and most importantly, advice for a company that will allow it to solve whatever problem the case itself describes.
The slightly old-fashioned school bus arrived at the front door of the hotel to drive us to McMaster’s Degroote School of Business’s new building – from an out of town perspective, we were in the middle of nowhere on a stretch of highway outside Hamilton. One by one each team was provided with a package of materials that we had just 2.5 hours to analyze. As a woman, I was certainly in the minority of participants. Although many teams had more men than women (some were all men), not a single team had more women than men – our team was no different. Our team had 2 of each: myself, a full-time MBA student was joined by Geordan Hankinson (MBA full-time), Winnie So (MOT MBA part-time) and Lucas Mitchell (a full-time MBA student who had finished the program but not yet graduated). As a group, we work together very effectively, without conflict or anger, arriving at decisions almost without effort. This, we thought, was a winning team. We would surely at least make it to the finals.
The case we analyzed was one that asked a slightly vague “how do we do better?” kind of question. With the 2.5 hour time limit on our minds, by the time we finished reading the case itself, we had to quickly arrive at a direction and run with it. The group settled on a logistics and streamlining approach and set to work on our presentation.
The difference between practice case competitions that might happen within our program and the MBA Games competition was clearly the volume of adrenaline pumping. Each of us paced the halls as we prepared to present, silently mouthing our speeches, perhaps praying or trying anything to calm ourselves down. In the end, the presentation went smoothly – no major slipups or missteps.
Unfortunately, our best efforts were not enough to move us to the next round. Ten out the 20 teams were eliminated in the first round and we were among them. No finals, no glory, no fame. But each of us felt proud to have given our best effort and in the end, that’s all each of can do. If each of us were to asked the question “was it worth getting up at 4:30 am?”, the answer would surely be “absolutely.”
by Richard Loat
The Olympics were built on the values of Citius, Altius, Fortius. Throw an MBA slant on it and you get - Learning Today. Changing Tomorrow. Leading for a Lifetime. Heading to Hamilton for the 26th iteration of the MBA Games, the organizers took a step towards further personifying those very values with key additions to the games. With all participating schools faced with academic, athletic and spirit challenges, McMaster acknowledged something else about MBAs. We are fortunate to have a skillset which will allow us to change the world we live in and we have the ability to do that in the business world, but also outside of it.
Jim Henson once said “My hope still is to leave the world a bit better than when I got here.” Being involved in the MBA Games provided me an opportunity to move toward Jim Henson’s truism. As part of the lead up to the Games, each team was given a Community Service Challenge. The team was allowed to pick any charitable organization in their local community and expected to log at least one hour of community service for each member on the team. As someone with an unwavering philanthropic streak, it was exciting to see the MBA games harness the power of over 650 MBA students from across Canada, to not only compete on an athletic and academic level, but to make their communities a better place with the skillsets they have.
SFU Beedie was certainly up for this challenge and wanted to not just fulfill the minimum requirement but to exceed all expectations and make a true difference in the community. It was a special thrill to have the Beedie MBA and MOT MBA cohorts use the charity which I founded, Five Hole for Food to help host a ball hockey game as a way to log hours for the MBA Games. Five Hole for Food is an annual coast to coast tour playing hockey to support food banks across Canada and North America.
Shutting down Jack Poole Plaza in front of the Olympic cauldron, a Winter Olympic legacy, the cohort capped their community involvement leading up to the games with an effort that saw our ball hockey game mobilize the community to raise over 500 pounds of food for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society. To see what this event was all about, check out Global TV’s coverage of this event.
Beedie’s exceptional philanthropic efforts were enough to finish third, out of 22 teams, in team community service hours with over 210 hours contributed, falling just shy of the teams that finished in first and second. With all philanthropy though, we need to look at who the true winners are. In all, the 22 attending schools of the MBA games contributed over 2,000 hours towards more than 45 different organizations in their communities. To be known as a school that leads the way in community involvement is something I will not only be proud of, but something I want to build on for next year’s games!
Crowded in a room at the Beedie School of Business in late October, we waited in anticipation for the first meeting with regard to the much celebrated MBA Games. This competition takes place in January over an entire weekend where students from across the country come together to compete in spirit, athletic and academic events. This year, the games were in Hamilton at the DeGroote School of Business. We were all so excited to get started and when the team captains announced the requirements for the spirit events, we all got to work.
You see, so much preparation behind the scenes goes into these games. For my part, I was grouped with Danielle Friesen and Andrew Simard and we became responsible for creating a video entitled “What Makes a Good Leader”. We had no further instructions from the organizing committee so we just ran with it. This video, along with volunteer hours in our community needed to be completed before the start of the games and would count toward our spirit points.
The amount of hours spent thinking about the concept, developing our ideas, organizing filming sessions and editing the content were countless. However, what a great experience! The final result was spectacular and everyone’s hard work paid off as all team members came together during the final day of filming to create what will forever be remembered as the “SFU Balloon Wall”.
We presented the video, as did all other schools, during the opening ceremonies for the MBA Games on Friday January 4th. It was impressive to see how everyone had interpreted the tagline “What Makes a Good Leader”. Some schools opted for a more comedic approach while others stuck to a very formal definition of leadership. There was so much cheering and excitement in the room with over 600 students dancing and cheering and just having a good time. The energy was palpable and I knew I had made the right decision in participating in these games.
With all the hard work and dedication that goes into doing this MBA program at Beedie, this felt like the perfect reward. A chance to let loose, meet new people and create friendships that will last a lifetime. So many stories came as a result of this weekend together in Hamilton. Some of which you may have heard, some which may have been censored…hahaha. But one thing is for sure, no one ever regrets participating in the MBA Games!
At the end of the games, during the closing ceremonies, all winners from each category were announced. Unfortunately, our video submission did not make top 3, but we had so much fun creating it that we still felt like winners. What a weekend. What an experience. Now it’s time to get back in the routine and hit the books once more!
by Kathleen Ong
It’s true: do what you love. It’s been a year since I graduated from SFU’s full-time MBA program and I’m starting to think that everything happens for a reason.
I spent the last year in Toronto working in the fashion industry. I found my first job post-MBA in an elevator. Don’t under-estimate the power of lending a helping hand and what can happen with a little bit networking.
This fall I moved back to Vancouver and something big happened: I met the start-up industry.
Start-ups are a thing of mystery, a figment of imagination if you will, for many people. Do they have any funding (exclaimed my mom) and what do you mean you work in a communal office (said my dad)? It’s quite exhilarating when you look at the growing tech and start-up industry in Vancouver and hear about the city’s recognition south of the border.
I just joined the team to manage the marketing and social media for a fashion tech start-up called Wantering. Working on a small team with so much to do and never enough time is like running in the wind. Nose in my computer and fingers flying across the keyboard at 140 characters at a time, I’ve found this sweet spot where work feels like hard work, but I love it nonetheless.
This is where I feel my MBA has come into full potential. Can you multi-task and jump into anything and everything at the same time? Can you work with small teams and communicate in an organized fashion? Can you sit back and think, be creative and find a strategy that has value? Can you demonstrate what a strong work ethic looks like?
I’m reminded so much of Professor Michael Parent’s strategy simulation game that my class played at the end of the program. As a single person player, control all aspects of a business (CEO, COO, CFO, CTO, and CMO) through a simulation on the computer. This hard, hair-pulling, stressful simulation game has come a long way to remind me what it’s like to hit the ground running with your hands in multiple pots.
The value of my MBA lies in how it’s helped me to become a more well-rounded person. I feel like I have a better understanding of the business environment and how I can contribute to the team. It might be cheesy to say, but I’m doing what I love and I hope that you do too.
Kathleen graduated from SFU’s MBA program in 2011. She’s a frequent flyer, all-day tweeter, and incessant shopper. Find her working at Wantering, a fashion tech start-up in Vancouver, which scours the web to find the latest fashion trends tailored to your personal style and delivers them straight to your inbox. Tweet her @itsmekathleeno.
Joanna Kipp and Geordan Hankinson, co-presidents of the Net Impact Segal Chapter for the 2013 school year, recently had the great opportunity to travel to Baltimore to participate in the 2012 Net Impact Conference.
I have always been fascinated by the intersection of business with the complex social and environmental issues that confront our cities and countries. The Net Impact Conference brought together many bright minds who are using innovative business models to address some of the most difficult problems confronting our societies.
What I enjoyed the most about my experience at the conference was the opportunity to engage with professionals who are profoundly solutions oriented. Net Impact brings together people from a range of backgrounds who have spent a good part of their lives not just identifying and talking about problems that need to be solved, but actually trying to solve them. As attendees at the conference, Joanna and I had the opportunity to hear a wide array of such creative minds in the various workshop and speaker sessions held throughout the weekend.
My favourite of these sessions was one entitled the Five Levers of Social Change facilitated by Aaron Hurst. Aaron is the president and founder of the TapRoot Foundation, an organization that connects business and legal professionals (offering their services pro bono) with small not-for-profits who are serving their communities or protecting the environment in innovative ways. Aaron has written extensively about the most effective ways to move the dial on any particular issue (be it social, environmental or economic) and he has distilled this into what he dubs the Five Levers Framework (for more detail read his excellent series on the Stanford Social Innovation Review).
For his workshop, he brought together business professionals from a variety of organizations and firms who are applying each of the five levers in a unique way. In the mix were Lisa Nitze, managing director at Mission Measurement, whose firm uses data and statistical analysis to help nonprofits better deliver on their missions. Robert Kaplan, Senior Manager of Sustainability at Walmart, spoke to us about the ways that Walmart was using policy tools to reduce carbon emissions from its supply chain. Aaron Schiller spoke to us about the way his organization, Causes.com utilizes disruptive technology to change the way that people raise awareness of global issues, and ultimately impact public perception of a given issue.
Though the five individuals that spoke were all from unrelated organizations and were all actively involved in effecting change through applying one or two specific “change levers”, the workshop did a great job showing us ways that all five of these levers could be applied to effecting lasting change whether the issue is environmental stewardship, education reform, or more effective impact measurement. It was also a unique look at the ways in which non-profits and for-profit businesses can partner to achieve common goals by sharing strategy, and complementing each other’s skillsets. In addition to this workshop, I was able to attend many learning sessions on impact investing, and business ventures in developing markets, all of which I found immensely valuable.
Aside from these excellent workshops, we had the opportunity to meet many other chapter leaders from different schools across North America, and interact with other students each trying to find creative ways to apply the business skillset to solve complex issues. We are both excited to take our experiences and lessons from the conference and share them with our own chapter here at Segal.
Joanna Kipp and Geordan Hankinson, co-presidents of the Net Impact Segal Chapter for the 2013 school year, recently had the great opportunity to travel to Baltimore to participate in the 2012 Net Impact Conference.
When I arrived in Baltimore for the 2012 Net Impact Conference, I didn’t really know what to expect. Sure, I had downloaded the app and decided which sessions to attend – but nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to experience. In the two days I spent attending keynotes, breakout sessions and social events I learned more about how business can be used for positive impact than I ever imagined possible.
I have been thinking a lot about how I can use my own future business career for good for a while now, even before starting the MBA program at SFU. Before the conference, I thought that the key to achieving my career goal of working in environmental sustainability had to start with getting a job with these exact words in the job title. Otherwise, my job wouldn’t allow me to make a difference, right? Wrong. A recurring and eye-opening theme of the Net Impact conference that really hit home with me was the fact that you don’t need to have sustainability in your job title, you can bring it to any job that you do! This concept was particularly impactful coming from two accomplished and inspiring speakers, Kurt Kehne (CFO @ UPS) and Jean Sweeney (Vice President of Environmental, Health, and Safety Operations @ 3M). In addition, Joaquin Duato (Worldwide Chairman @ Johnson & Johnson) said that every company needs champions for sustainability. So even if it is not part of your official responsibilities, you can (and should) incorporate sustainability as an overarching theme in your work.
After hearing this, I have to admit I felt a little relieved. I have really been able to expand the range of options for my post-MBA career, and I’ve begun to think about what I can do to be a champion of sustainability no matter where I end up working.
With this new idea planted in my brain, I attended a number of smaller, more personal sessions over the next 2 days. The conference was great in that it really allowed you to personalize your experience and tailor the sessions you attended to what you were most interested in. I also had the chance to meet with some of the panel speakers and some like-minded students that were in the same position as me with respect to feeling overwhelmed by career choices. It was empowering to connect with these people and hear their thoughts on choosing a career in environmental sustainability.
In the closing keynote session, Net Impact’s President Liz Maw left the audience with a challenge: do you have the courage to lead us – rapidly – into a new world of responsible and sustainable solutions? Will you take a risk and challenge the status quo? After attending the conference, my answer to these questions is a definite “yes”.
My learning experience at Impact99 HR Summit 2012
By: Lydia Liao, MBA Candidate
Engagement Through Social Media
The Impact99 HR Summit, in conjunction with the MIS course in my MBA program at the Beedie School of Business, has helped me understand how I can better use social media to promote an organization’s own personal brand, as well as my own brand image. I learned how to promote myself to my future employers, what questions to consider before launching onto a specific social media platform, and what ideas I need to keep in mind when using these powerful tools.
One of the learning pod sessions at the Summit, Five Pillars of Successful Engagement Strategy, focused on engagement through social media. The session discussed a range of tactics, from listening to those you follow, to discussing, meeting and connecting with your followers, either face to face over coffee, or virtually over Skype. Building, expanding and deepening these relationships has great potential, such as the possibility of helping you land your dream job, or increasing incentives to manage a problem when a mistake occurs.
The final keynote speech, Leading change in a technological workplace, focused on the tools required to bring social media to the workplace. Since there are still many people who are resistant to this, it is important to be flexible. Tools which can help you deal with such a scenario include using coaching questions, such as “what would it look like if we did X”, or “if we did Y, what would we create?”
Both of the keynote speakers at the Summit discussed how HR professionals can bring social media initiatives to their CEOs by utilizing language that a CEO would use. One theory suggested using statistics to illustrate how the social media initiatives proposed would translate into savings on both money and time, and what results would be achieved through implementation of these initiatives.
Ultimately, the Summit demonstrated why social media is here to stay, and that we must learn to be flexible and adapt to its presence, as well as use it in alignment with our business strategies. In the end, if you do not have a social media presence to promote your own company’s brand image and values, you risk allowing others to say it on your behalf and lose the advantage of being able to control what is being said about you.