Jordan Hirtle caught up with Andrew Frazer a few days after he was elected president of the Dalhousie MBA Society for the 2013-2014 term. The interview focuses on Andrew’s thoughts about the MBA program so far, his residency and his future role as president.
Andrew is originally from Mississauga, Ontario, and moved to Nova Scotia to do his BBA at Acadia University where he majored in marketing. He is a three-time recipient of the Academic All Canadian Award as well as many other awards. Apart from academics, Andrew played football for over four years at Acadia, was captain for two years and is now involved in all types of sports at Dal. He recently obtained a corporate residency position with Scotiabank Global Banking and Markets as a credit risk analyst.
First off, why did you choose Dalhousie to do your MBA?
I decided to apply to Dal’s Corporate Residency MBA (CRMBA) program to further my academic success and to get real work experience. This was essential. I also enjoy the east coast culture, and the faculty made me feel welcomed and wanted during the application process.
So you’re the new president, congratulations! Do you plan on implementing any changes?
When I become president in May 2013, I plan on giving the Society a very clear direction, making sure that all different aspects of the executive are working towards the same goal: to make the CRMBA program recognized nationally as one of the best MBA programs. There are a few ways I plan to achieve this, including developing strong case competition teams to compete nationally, and leveraging alumni relations to create excellent job opportunities for residencies as well as for graduates. These strategies are all about developing the CRMBA brand, which will in turn open doors for students starting their careers.
Can you define leadership for me? What do you think the CRMBA has done to accelerate your leadership skills?
My definition of leadership is a delicate balance between personal humility and professional will. It is more than just always being a leader; you must also know how to be a good follower. I get the most gratification from allowing others to step into leadership roles and helping them to excel. I find this exciting, and really enjoy watching my colleagues and peers succeed.
CRMBA classes such as Personal and Professional Effectiveness (PPE) have made me more aware of why I lead the way I do, and why others lead the way they do. This has allowed me to see different leadership styles and perspectives, and what works for some people and what doesn’t. PPE has also enabled me to better understand where others are coming from, and the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace. The program has many opportunities for everyone to be put in leadership positions and gain valuable experience, such as being a first-year rep in the MBA Society. I currently hold this position and it has given me valuable insight into the structure of the MBA Society and how it is operated. I really believe this will aid me when I take over as the new president.
Is there a major difference between how much you will be making over the 8-month residency compared to your most recent job?
My most recent job before the program was as an account services coordinator at an ad agency in Toronto. The pay increase is approximately 2:1 for the 8-month period. Even more important to me, however, is that I was able to meet so many employers, which has helped me decide where my career aspirations lie. For me, I now know that it is in capital markets or global asset management.
You have an undergrad degree in business. What are the main differences between that and business at the master’s level? Can you speak about the teaching?
I would say the differences are in the expectations of our working knowledge of subject matter. It is a lot higher at the graduate level. It is not enough to just know definitions, or what the textbook says; you need to understand how and when to apply your knowledge on a practical level. So the biggest thing is application.
The faculty at the Rowe School of Business are exceptional in their abilities to be flexible to students’ learning needs. I also appreciate the level of accountability that the professors expect of us. They hold us to a high standard, which enhances the classroom environment and increases our ability to learn from one another. The engagement factor of professors really facilitates my learning, but it’s not just me. That’s one thing I’ve heard from a lot of students.
What do you like most about the CRMBA program that you have not already mentioned?
I like the fact that the people coming in to the program are from diverse backgrounds. I expected 80% of students to come from some variation of a business undergrad, but there is such a wide variety of undergraduate degrees. It really helps when we are working in teams to get different perspectives. The fact that we have about 20% international students furthers the variety of experiences we can learn from.
How has Management Career Services (MCS) facilitated your program experience?
MCS has been an integral component of my experience since the start, especially since career management is such a key component of the program. Their ability to coach and mentor in areas of professional development that we haven’t necessarily been exposed to previously has been extremely helpful. The mentorship program that they offer with alumni has helped a lot in terms of learning about potential opportunities. My mentor was able to give me in-depth insight about the corporate world and is helping me prepare for my residency.
Thanks for your time, Andrew. Is there anything else you would like to add about your experience so far?
I have made some of the best friends I will ever have here at Dalhousie. Not only am I building life-long friendships, but I’m also building a life-long professional network. I believe this is one of the strongest assets of the Dal CRMBA program—that we will be able to go into our careers and always have this network of friends who double as successful professionals.