Originally posted by Jordan Fujiwara.
Ben Goldberg of Halifax, Nova Scotia, is quite sure what the differentiating aspect of the program is for him. Though this Mount Allison grad (BA, Major in Commerce, Double Minor in Environmental Studies and Geography) had plenty of good things to say about our Corporate Residency MBA, he wanted to point out one thing in particular.
“For me, it’s been the PPE!” Ah yes: PPE is one of the most common Three Letter Acronyms you’ll hear as a student in the Corporate Residency MBA. It stands for Personal and Professional Effectiveness. It is a unique and invaluable component of the entire 22-month adventure that threads its way into everything we do. You could consider it a class… but really it’s roughly 2-3 hours a week of time spent working on soft skills and development. “PPE has given me a toolbox of things I use every day,” says Ben. “I’ve learned about myself, formed a better picture of who I am and what my strengths and weaknesses are. I’ve learned how to manage expectations and provide productive and constructive feedback.”
So what exactly goes on in PPE? It’s a vast suite of different exercises or learning modules that touch on a lot of things that a typical, dry, academically-obsessed MBA might miss. We’ve done simple things like practicing writing personal journal entries and taking 10 minutes a day to reflect on our goals, actions, thoughts and feelings. We’ve engaged in more than one thorough psychological test and have been both impressed and creeped out by the accuracy of some results (then we learned about what the results meant and how to apply them in the business place and our everyday lives). We’ve done workshops that covered topics from dress code to handshake etiquette, from conflict resolution to management hierarchy process flow simulations. And much more (and when I say much more, I mean it… that’s not a “much more” where there was just one more thing I didn’t mention. We had PPE once a week for six months while at school. To list all the stuff we did would monopolize all of Ben’s story and then some).
So what else does Ben like? “I came from a small undergrad of 2,300 people at Mount Allison. I was a little nervous coming to Dal and being in an environment with 15,000 students; I was afraid I’d just be another student number. But I’ve been so impressed with the personalized service I’ve received from everyone involved in this program – support staff, administrators and professors – they’re incredible.”
“A year ago I didn’t know what I wanted to do… I took a hodgepodge of classes in undergrad. I’ve found that the program was able to combine all my interests into one and really supported me in going outside the MBA mould.” Ben had his sights set on the consulting firm Stantec from the very beginning. They have a big presence in North America and a large focus in sustainability and planning consulting. Ben is spending his corporate residency as a Strategic Management Consultant in the Sustainable Development practice area at the Stantec office here in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
Like a lot of other positions we’ve seen in this first round of corporate residencies, Stantec had no problem tossing Ben right into the role: “In the first week of work I was asked to put together a proposal for a massive U.S.-based company. Over the past four months I’ve been involved in the whole process… the back and forth with the proposal, us eventually winning the contract, and now we’re starting to work on the actual project. It will be complete before I leave.” How cool is that? To see something you started grow and come full circle? I believe Ben said “very.”
I asked Ben if he had any pearls of wisdom to impart for those reading his blog. After quietly collecting his thoughts, he said: “In my mind there’s a big difference between building connections and building friendships.” He went on to distinguish between simply meeting someone (maybe exchanging business cards, engaging in small talk) and actually getting to know them and building genuine camaraderie. There’s more value in creating a friendship versus just ‘knowing’ someone. It might seem obvious, but I’ll bet it’s often overlooked when we learn about ‘networking.’ “When I decided to do my MBA I expected to make connections, but never dreamed I would build the lifelong friendships I now have.”
On top of all these things, Ben is also leading the local Net Impact chapter, ‘a global network of leaders who are changing the world through business’, along with another one of our students, Jocelyn Ball. We’ll meet her later this summer, but for now, see you next week!