And we’re back! The winter break was a welcome opportunity to relax and recharge before starting the last semester of our MBA. Before getting back into the thick of classes, post-grad job interviews, and thoughts of the work to come, I wanted to reflect on my very first semester in this program and my experience with one of my favourite professors: Dr. David Stuewe. Last week I sat down with him to learn more about his time at Dalhousie and his other experiences.
Professor Stuewe teaches a number of MBA courses including Corporate Social Responsibility, Business Ethics and Sustainability & Introduction to Business-Government Relations. He brings a wealth of experience to the classroom, including 11 years as CEO of Nova Scotia’s Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB), and is an invaluable resource to students.
What do you think your professional experience adds to the MBA classroom?
Fortunately my past and current professional experience provides a base for my academic work in business-government relations and particularly the regulatory world. That allows me to offer the class not only an academic framework, but also insights on how it works in the real world. Having lived successfully through real organizational and financial challenges – including having cases worth millions of dollars in the Supreme Court of Canada – I am able to directly relate practice to theory.
At the WCB I managed an organization of 350 people which is now recognized as one of the leading Worker’s Compensation Boards in Canada. At Parks Canada, where I currently am on the audit committee, we are monitoring about $750 million to $1 billion in annual expenditures. Parks was recently given an increase in its capital budget of $2.8 billion. Those extra funds are requiring a change in organizational structure, and increased involvement by the organization within the private sector. That gives me the ability to link in the classroom conceptual issues with current practical developments.
How is ethics incorporated into your classes?
In business you will be exposed to issues that may appear relatively minor but that could lead you into a difficult situation. The CR-MBA, in my class, and others, is designed to allow the students to explore how good people can avoid ending up in bad places. In Ethics we start with understanding where laws originally come from – societal values that are the base level of behavior as codified through Canada’s governance structure. Understanding that framework is intended to help you avoid seemingly minor issues; issues that could lead to a slippery slope and you trying to save your own skin. We talk about how to deal with those situations in class.
What do you think of students coming to the program with limited work experience?
There’s a lot of learning to do, and the program is very intense, but the program is designed to bring in bright, energetic, and capable people. I say to others that we’re looking for future leaders and those future leaders are critical thinkers. We help them to develop their critical thinking by arming them with theory, tied to practical experience. Through in class discussions and assignments I find they learn very quickly from the wealth of experience possessed by myself and the other professors.
What do you do outside of work and volunteering?
I swim at least three times a week, play hockey in the winter and each summer spend a week in the Rockies. Last year with 10 of my buddies we celebrated our 32nd year of hiking in the Canadian Rockies.
Patrick Brousseau, a 1st year MBA, sums up Professor Stuewe’s value to students well:
“The best part about Professor Stuewe’s class is the amount of background in public service he brings. By drawing on his extensive experience, he is able to lend colour and context to our discussions.”
Aside from Professor Stuewe’s depth of knowledge and experience, it is the energy and enthusiasm that that he brings to the classroom that makes him such an engaging professor. My own cohort remembers his entertaining anecdotes (such as his hiking encounter with Norman the Bear) just as well as the class content and learning itself. If you have the chance to take a class with Professor Stuewe I encourage you to get to know him beyond just his lectures, as he possesses a fascinating wealth of knowledge and experience.
Note: Interview has been edited for length and clarity