“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.”
“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.”
Marianne Hagen embodies the word, “celebration”. As the Alumni & Student Engagement Manager for the Faculty of Management, Dalhousie University, Marianne recognizes the strength of a vibrant alumni to forge links around the globe. Focused on showcasing Dalhousie’s many milestones, Marianne believes “alumni stories” give courage to new generations of students to explore educational opportunities. Dalhousie University has over 130,000 alumni worldwide. “We are proud of our traditions, our history,” Marianne said in a recent telephone interview with CFAME Connection. “Our graduates exemplify the values of innovation, diversity and academic excellence within the reality of an ever-moving and ever-changing global community.”
Marianne’s ties with the Centre for Advanced Management Education date back to 1999, when she assumed the position of Program Manager for the then, MBA (IT) program. Serendipity brought the MBA (IT) and newly formed OEGP program together in shared offices. Marianne noted, “I was truly blessed to work with Michelle and Morven; they are both fantastic people. All the distance programs were housed in the same area. Later, when the MBA (IT) program closed, I was asked to lead the team with the on-campus MBA program and have stayed connected to the MBA (FS) program ever since.”
Marianne shared her vision of creating engagement, sharing narratives and acknowledging contributions of graduates.
Engagement starts with students. Time devoted to meeting students and affirming their involvement in community events encourages active participation during their years as a student and in the years that follow their “walk across the stage” to receive their diploma. A connected student will turn into a connected alumnus.
Over the past few years, I have been privileged to facilitate a mentorship program linking business students with our alumni. The outcomes of this initiative have been truly gratifying. While we appreciate and value monetary contributions, it is my strong belief that our graduates have many ways in which to give back to Dalhousie University. A commitment to support, encourage and mentor a student fosters the human spirit and provides the seed for future benefits to society.
I am celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the MBA (FS) and have been following the events that are happening across Canada. There is more coming in 2018 when Dalhousie celebrates it 200th anniversary. This is an exciting time to be involved with Dalhousie. Please join us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. I enjoy hearing from our graduates.
“Gardens are a form of autobiography.”
Sydney Eddison, Gardening for a Lifetime: How to Garden Wiser as You Grow Older
A FYI Moment: The Halifax Public Gardens was formally established in 1867, the year of Canadian Confederation.
Wanita Fonseka, Vice-President of Operations for Meridian, walked across the stage in 2013 to receive her MBA (FS). A financial service professional with over 20 years in retail branch and corporate experience, Wanita identified with Dr. McLarney’s discussion on Marks vs. Scholarship. Wanita believes that sustainable results, whether they are work related or personal endeavours, are a consequence of creating a climate of trust, encouraging diversity of thought, and leveraging individual talents. Dr. McLarney’s words “the enormous obligation to get it right,” resonated, especially given the many priorities that mark our days.
“Getting it right,” noted Wanita in a telephone interview with CFAME Connection, “is more than a career responsibility. It is about balancing work achievements with personal successes, by engaging in a compassionate and generous community.” Wanita contends that career opportunities, family commitments, and life-long learning goals are compatible when we are surrounded by a supportive environment.
“I am delighted to participate in the “Marks vs. Scholarship” dialogue. A special thanks to Dr. McLarney and Irena Stropnik. CFAME Connection is a fantastic opportunity to connect and share experiences.
What is balance anyway? Does it mean distribution of yourself equally amongst everything that is included in work and life? It certainly cannot be so. If you are like me, you spend many, many, many hours at work without recognition for how quickly the hands on the clock are moving. Next thing you know, you are late for that Karate class that you promised you would take your son to, or forgot that you told your friends that you would call them back, or did not check in on your mother with memory lapse to see how she’s coping… and the list goes on and on.
There cannot be an equal distribution on a daily basis. What works for me may not work for you. What you place a greater emphasis on, I may not. What I do know is that I am surrounded by a support system that does not judge who I am, applauds me for what I do, challenges me to try new things, and will tell me that they need me when they feel I have drifted. It is a system that is made up of colleagues, family, friends (new and old), teachers (not just by profession), children, blogs, books, and articles. I find balance in reaching out to those in my support system and that means whenever and wherever. It means booking things in calendars so they are not missed, it means leaning on those event coordinators (you know who you are) that plan vacations, dinners, and impromptu get-togethers.
Balance is what you make it; and it has made all the difference in my life.
“Management is an art, but also a science, and as any science, it is informed by knowledge. Knowledge develops and grows, as we conduct more research. The way we teach management also evolves, and is based on current best practices, as informed by ongoing research.”
Martine Durier-Copp on CFAME’s Blended Learning Advantage
Come to our Open House on April 12, 2017 to learn about our blended learning/online program opportunities. Study part time while you work. For those who cannot make the Open House, we welcome you to contact us to discuss programs offered by the Centre for Advanced Management Education. We look forward to sharing the benefits of our graduate programs designed for working professionals.
“One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.”
Irena Stropnik MBA (FS) is Director & Team Lead, Optimization at Scotiabank with over 21 years of progressive experience in banking operations in branches, regional support, large processing units and most recently optimization projects. Her commitment to excellence energizes and inspires those who work under her leadership. Irena continues to practice and apply the strategic mindset that she developed during her tenure as an MBA student. Her response to Dr. McLarney’s recent post gives profound insight on scholarship within the context of business endeavours.
In reading through Dr. McLarney’s open letter to our alumni community, I couldn’t help but reflect and think back to my first days in the MBA (FS) program. Excited about pursuing something new and challenging myself, and then there was nervousness – was I smart enough, could I learn, how about the other students – would I be able to keep up with them?
As I made my way through my first course, I gained confidence in the fact that I could do the work and I could learn at this level. That was freeing in many respects as the ‘mark’ would take care of itself and I could then open my mind to actually learning – more than the theory, more than just answering assignment or exam questions, but actually learning and creating a better understanding of the world around me because of that learning.
For me, and for most people I have observed, applying a new theory is highly tactical when you first try to use it. But then as you gain more experience through working with it and applying it to the real world you gain a much deeper understanding of the theory and what it means…I love those moments when I can understand or explain something in everyday terms but knowing there are years of research and knowledge invested in the scholarly theory and in my ability to learn and apply that theory.
I was often surprised by some of my fellow students who only seemed to care about their marks and what course content would be on the exam – many didn’t seem to want to think about anything else. I suspect that there were many reasons behind this thinking and I don’t know if they realized that they were selling themselves short by not embracing the experience and the tremendous opportunity to learn both from our Professors and from their fellow students.
I currently lead a team that engages our business partners using Lean Six Sigma methodology – my Lean journey started three years ago and the learning continues every day. On the surface, the theory can seem quite simple and highly tactical so many try to run through our program, fill in all of the templates and drive out a recommendation as fast as they can. Once they’ve done that once or twice, they think they know it all and want to move on to another assignment. The challenge is that it’s not that straightforward and you can’t apply the exact same approach to every business. You need to understand both the intricacies of the methodology, but also of the business to really be successful. You need to think about the objectives of the engagement, how best to achieve those objectives and how to work with the business and communicate with them to be most effective – one of our goals is to help the business think differently about what they do and how they do it.
That’s a different level of understanding and application that takes years of practice, ongoing learning and a sense of humility and purpose where you always need to strive towards perfection (doing it exactly right) but knowing that you will never get there – to me, this is the difference between marks and scholarship.
“You’re invited. Bring a guest, meet alumni, students and the CFAME team, and enjoy wine, appies, prizes & gifts.”
It’s Vancouver’s turn to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the MBA (FS). Watch for Moragh MacAulay’s invitation coming out early next week and mark your calendars for April 25, 2017. This is going to be a great event.
“Just as the wave cannot exist for itself, but is ever a part of the heaving surface of the ocean, so must I never live my life for itself, but always in the experience which is going on around me.”
“My work was about creating new knowledge, defining my scholarship – not about getting an A.”
Dr. Carolan McLarney, Professor
Faculty of Management
International Business was my opening MBA (FS) course. In my first e-mail to Dr. McLarney back in 1999, I asked how would I know whether I was on track with my studies. Rather than highlighting “marks”, she suggested that I give voice to my ideas, solutions, arguments, which were to be based on solid research and objective analysis but tempered with humanity and compassion. It was a liberating answer.
Fast forward to 2017, I asked Dr. McLarney to recall her advice on the importance of scholarship. She graciously agreed to share her thoughts in an open letter to our alumni community.
I first want to congratulate everyone who has made CFAME Connection a reality. This is a great opportunity for our alumni community to share knowledge and experiences.
Rebecca shared with me the email below that I had sent her in the early days of her first course: International Business. As I read what I had wrote to her I began reflecting on my time here at Dalhousie as an educator, researcher and scholar. I have included both the original email and my current thoughts on “marks vs. scholarship:
From Fall 1999:
“A discussion on marks vs scholarship really struck a chord within me. Not for the obvious reason, my profession, but rather I was reflecting on my days as a doctoral student.
When I had made the decision to pursue a PhD. I really had no clue what I was getting myself into. I remember my conversation with David, my Managing Director, centered on my desire to teach. He said I could stay with the firm and teach part-time if I wanted to, or I could pursue a doctorate and come back and consult and teach. So, for me I had a wonderful safety net in my toolbox as I entered my PhD. Once I entered the program, it quickly became evident to me that completing a PhD had nothing to do with teaching and we were told very early on to drop that dream. My office mate Ed, who now is my writing partner also wanted to teach, so we became this little band of undercover teachers. All these years later Ed and I still write and still teach with passion and commitment.
Being a doctoral student is a terrifying but freeing experience. An MBA does not prepare you in any way for a PhD. It is never about marks or assignments. When I started, the course syllabus was often a list of 50-70 books, 300 articles and this sentence “On (insert last day of class) you will submit a journal ready article”. It was expected that you would then submit that article the next semester to the journal you had chosen. It was a daunting experience, but one that was the best training as a researcher. My work was about creating new knowledge, defining my scholarship – not about getting an A. That was a major paradigm shift for me.
My hope for MBA students is that they will experience a “shift” when they engage in their studies. And for a vibrant alumni community I send out this reminder: that we are continually challenged by measurement systems. Instead of reaching for the mark, reach for a greater prize: scholarship. That choice has made all the difference in my world.”
Fast forward to Winter 2017
“I am now 25 years into my career as an academic and the one thing that I know is that you never finish anything completely. This may seem strange, but for me I feel I am a “practicing academic”. No lecture or paper is ever perfect; they can always be improved.
My teaching has evolved, and hopefully improved, to address the ever-changing student body. When I began teaching in the MBA-FS program the majority of the students knew of a life before the internet, today the majority know of no life before Google or Amazon (not the river). When I began, students in our program “faxed” their assignments into the OEGP office, today everything is done through our learning platform Brightspace. I have had to adapt and to adopt new ways of teaching and connecting with students. What has not changed is my belief in the power of ideas, the written word, and setting aside time to think. I always start the intensive for capstone course with this: “What I want this week to be is a time for reflection, a time to think about the past number of years you have spent in the program, and time to ponder the challenges and great opportunities that lay ahead.” This is what I hope for our Alumni, that you have continued to carve out time to think. Time to sit with a problem, an issue, an idea. Time to let your thoughts percolate. Time to let your mind wander.
When I look at my research over the years, I also see it has evolved. My early days were spent trying to get parts of my dissertation published. My dissertation was the largest research project I had ever completed. It was also the worst because it was the first. Today, and three dozen articles later, and I can say I am better. I am better at articulating my ideas, better at structuring research studies, better at reaching my intended audience. My doctoral supervisor once said to me that I was entering the most wonderful profession, “They are going to pay you to think, to write and to disseminate what you find.” He was right, but what he failed to tell me was the enormous obligation to get it right. So, I continue each day to “practice”. To think and re-think an idea. To write and re-write and re-write, again, a paper. To present paper after paper until my ideas are heard.
To all of our students and Alumni, I want to encourage you to continue to practice all that you learned in your time with us. Always take the time to reflect and appreciate all of your accomplishments.”