“Those who live by the sea can hardly form a single thought of which the sea would not be part.”
“Those who live by the sea can hardly form a single thought of which the sea would not be part.”
“We had a wonderful 20th Anniversary celebration in Vancouver. Thanks to our alumni and students for a great evening!!” Martine Durier-Copp
The 20th Anniversary of the MBA (FS) made the final westward stop on April 25, 2017. Martine Durier-Copp and Moragh MacAulay were warmly welcomed by enthusiastic students and alumni who came out to celebrate this significant milestone. It was a time to connect and share the opportunities that came from engaging in a demanding academic journey.
“Time is a game played beautifully by children.”
Over the years, technology and new ways of sharing and exchanging knowledge kept CFAME’s programs innovative and relevant. It has been exciting to look back at what we have accomplished, but it is even more rewarding to look forward to new on-line/blended learning possibilities that are waiting for us in the future.” Morven Fitzgerald
Morven Fitzgerald, Integrated Learning Coordinator for the Masters of Information Management and Master of Public Administration Management programs, was there from (nearly) the beginning of the MBA(FS). From its genesis to present day, Morven has been a witness to the remarkable transformations that have occurred at the Centre for Advanced Management Education (CFAME) within the short time-frame of 20 years.
I have been with CFAME since 1999,” Morven recalled in a recent FaceTime interview. “It seems so very long ago! But it all comes back with a fresh perspective, especially as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the MBA(FS) program. I tended to work in the background to facilitate and coordinate student activities and requests. I did not travel as much as Michelle; instead, I was engaged in creating and shipping intensive materials, plus receiving assignments by fax and getting them returned to students and support for whomever needed whatever.
Looking back, what we accomplished was remarkable. Delivery was through a formal web board that today we would call a “blog” (long before blogging was a term). Lesson notes were created to fill the gap created by no formal lectures in a classroom. Any electronic documentation was attached to the blog and viewable by all within the course. Private communication necessitated the use of external email. Assignments were returned by fax. As outdated as this sounds, it was well ahead of its time all those years ago.
In 1999, while I was engaged with the MBA(FS) students, in another part of the building, the Master of Public Administration (Management) students attended school every other Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. There was a two-week hiatus between classes for assignments and hand-ins, readings and research. There was a 3-hour exam at the end of each course. Unlike the MBA(FS) program there were no formal “lesson notes.” The sole means of communication at that time was email; the only classroom equipment were whiteboards and projectors (when they worked, if they were there). The on-campus MPA moved under the CFAME umbrella. With the final cohort of students due to graduate in a couple of years, new means of delivering the program were being explored in order to reach a larger, more diverse, audience. WebCT, a learning management system (LMS) software application for the delivery of on-line/blended education, was the next iteration in technology.
I was selected to bring the Master of Public Administration(M) program online with WebCT. Shortly thereafter, I moved the MBA(FS) program onto the same system as it had tested so well with MPA(M). The Master of Information Management was a natural addition to CFAME’s program.
The Centre for Advanced Management Education is known to respond to the ever-changing business environment by offering degree programs specific to the sector and the audience it will serve. In addition to the MBA(FS), professionals have the choice of an MBA that specializes in Leadership, Master of Public Administration (Management) and Master of Information Management.
Over the years, technology and new ways of sharing and exchanging knowledge kept CFAME’s programs innovative and relevant. It has been exciting to look back at what we have accomplished, but it is even more rewarding to look forward to new on-line/blended learning possibilities that are waiting for us in the future.
“The highest education is that which does not merely give us information but makes our life in harmony with all existence.”
“In 2014, my wife Cathy and I sold all of our possessions and moved to Africa with all we owned in two suitcases each.” Randy Coutts, Fixer. Builder & Operations Specialist
The class of 2003 was celebrating, basking in the “mission accomplished” feeling. The glow of walking across the immense stage to collect our diplomas was still fresh in our memories. We took turns at the podium to say thank you to our families, professors and the ever-supportive OEGP (now CFAME) team. There was even talk of a reunion in 2004, in a location where there was sun, sand & sea. It was a great idea, but we all knew that this night would never have a repeat. It was both an ending and a beginning. Or as T.S. Eliot wrote many years ago, “What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.”
Randy Coutts was in my graduating class of 2003. Now, fourteen years later, we reconnected over the phone and shared the stories that came after graduation. Randy’s interests center on social responsibility, international business and entrepreneurial endeavour. His message is “I’m an ideas guy, a coach, a student and a runner. If you want to change the world, give me a call.”
One Acre Fund (OAF) allowed him to explore his core values and participate in creating entrepreneurial opportunities in Africa.
“In 2014, my wife Cathy and I sold all of our possessions and moved to Africa with all we owned in two suitcases each.” Randy recounted. “We travelled East Africa together for 18 months, spending a lot of time in Western Kenya, Nairobi and Rwanda, but also touching down in Burundi, Uganda, Ethiopia and Tanzania. We stayed in accommodations ranging from a dormitory style convent to fancy, world class hotels and logged enough air miles to get to the coveted “priority” status with our local airline. Along the way we had many adventures, saw many strange things and met people from all corners of this earth.”
One Acre Fund was my opportunity to combine my business skills, with my philanthropic mindset and a passion for travel. I had always wanted to join an international microfinance organization, but I also wanted it to be one that had an entrepreneurial spirit. OAF, which is a US based charity, runs most of its African operations under a social enterprise (SE) model, where they charge people a fair price for extraordinary value. I spent two years in charge of the finance function for this fast-growing social enterprise, where we went from an annual budget of $40M USD to $100M USD and from 200,000 clients to 500,000 clients across 8 East African countries. The implementation of a world class SAP Business One accounting system, the preparation to centralize all African finance functions to Kigali, Rwanda and the introduction of the first Financial Services Advisory team to our country leadership, were my greatest accomplishments.
I used virtually all my MBA (FS) teachings. Perhaps even more importantly than the technical skills I carried forward, Dalhousie instilled within me a sense of wonder and an appreciation for learning that did me well in this chaotic, incredibly fast paced and risk filled atmosphere. My greatest takeaway: Keeping my eyes and ears open, my mouth somewhat more closed and being open to possibilities and opportunities.
Changing the world begins with creating communities of learning wherever we go.”
“When we lose our myths, we lose our place in the universe.”
Halifax Public Gardens – Halifax, Nova Scotia
“I have a passion for learning. I want to instill positive learning in others. I accomplish this in my spare time by teaching for Sheridan College in their Faculty of Business. Many of my students are far more creative than me, inspiring me to continue to challenge myself and stay caught up ‘with the times’.”
Jim Spitali, Vice President Operations at Genworth Canada
Jim Spitali, Vice President Operations at Genworth Canada, has a stellar record within the financial service industry. His authentic and genuine leadership energizes team synergies, fostering a collaborative spirit. His numinous awards, including being named Top Forty under 40 by Business Link Niagara in 2014, demonstrate a strong commitment to helping others achieve their full potential. Jim is a part-time Professor with the Faculty of Business at Sheridan College and sits on the Board of Directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Niagara.
CFAME Connection caught up with Jim on one of his less busy days for a virtual interview to see how the MBA(FS) influenced his choices going forward.
“I chose the MBA (FS) program,” Jim said, “because I wanted to develop skills and knowledge that would help me become more strategic so that I could operate successfully at an executive level. I also wanted to further my education to a higher standard.
Many of the MBA assignments allowed us to apply real life examples into our learning. I found this to be quite helpful as I was able to take work that I was currently doing in my job and bring it to a more strategic level. There were also several classes and learnings that were fairly new to me; having now completed that learning I am more competent in my role as Vice President of Operations at Genworth Canada. Corporate Finance was an excellent example of this as I know have a much better understanding of financial statements and concepts.
For those who are considering taking the challenge of an MBA, I agree with Dr. McLarney. Don’t just do it for the letters after your name. Do it because you want to learn. An MBA takes a lot of time away from family and certainly minimizes your personal time. If you can turn this additional time into new learnings, you will appreciate it much more in the end and you will have an excellent sense of accomplishment when crossing that stage at the end of your journey. Its also important to have a strong support network. I couldn’t have done it without the support of Genworth Canada and my family.”
On the question of how to integrate creativity and achieve a “balanced” life, Jim acknowledged, “I enjoy basketball and when I quickly realized that I wasn’t talented when it came to dribbling a ball while also running…I decided to trade in my jersey for stripes! Fifteen plus years later, I continue to officiate basketball. I am very fortunate to be on the Ontario University Athletics panel of basketball officials and enjoy travelling to the many Universities across Ontario in my zebra stripes!”
So, what is Jim’s next challenge?
“Fatherhood,” Jim enthused. “I have now been a father for just over 7 months and I have the greatest respect for my fellow classmates that completed their MBA while having children. I’m sure I saved the next challenge in my life (of being a father) for the end of my MBA journey.”
“Perseverance is a great element of success. If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Grand-Pré, Nova Scotia