Originally posted by Scott A.E. Smith.
If you’ve read this blog before, or if you ‘like’ or follow the Dal MBA on Facebook or Twitter (@dalmba), you’re probably familiar with Jordy Fujiwara. He has been the leading voice of the program in the world of social media, including as the original author of this very blog.
In this space, he’s told the stories of so many people in the program, including those of nearly all his classmates in the Class of 2011. This was the inaugural class of the Corporate Residency MBA, which was launched in 2009, and the first to graduate from the program this past spring—which makes Jordy the first-ever Corporate Residency MBA alumnus to be featured here. And the first time anyone other than Jordy has told his story. So here it is.
Jordy Fujiwara grew up in Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia. He was quiet growing up—a surprise to anyone who knows him as the fun-loving, outgoing guy he is today—and considered himself a bit of a “nerd” as a youngster. He did well in high school, then went off to Dal to study Computer Science, which, even as a self-styled “nerd”, he eventually decided wasn’t for him and switched to Psychology. This became his major and he stuck with it for the next four years.
With the “real world” beckoning after convocation, and unsure of what to do next, he decided to apply for the Corporate Residency MBA program (which was just starting at the time). And the rest, as they say, is history.
Before we get into that, though, I asked Jordy to update us on what he’s doing now.
“I am working on full-time contract with the full-service communications company Colour Creative Persuasion. In short, the ad agency Colour. We do everything from PR to TV spots to social media training to radio and print. It’s a great gig. I’ve had like four titles since starting there… I’ve basically been put on an unofficial rotation term, filling spots where voids occur.”
He started off as Digital Community Liaison (read: Community Manager), handling Nova Scotia Tourism’s Facebook page and other social media platforms. More recently, he’s been working as an Account Coordinator on their Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation (NSLC) business. As an aside: the agency has just revamped their website (www.colour.ca)—check it out (and scroll down) to see Jordy’s photo along with his new title!
The work that Jordy is doing now for Colour is thanks in large part to what he chose to do for his residency in the MBA program. Rather than taking the well-worn path of working for a big, established company, he chose to blaze his own trail. He and classmate Randel Madell purchased a student-owned consulting firm called Coburg Consultants Ltd., and Jordy ran the business full-time for his 8-month residency. In short, he got to work for himself for 8 months!
“It was an interesting work term, different and arguably riskier than other folks’ because I wasn’t directly establishing myself with a company.
Our main contract was the Corporate Residence MBA social media campaign, which is the contract that kicked off this blog, incidentally. We also sold advertising spots on our reusable calendar product, called the Informer. And there were some market research gigs and fairly big business plan creation deals.
I used a lot of my time on the work term polishing my social media and digital marketing skills so I could emerge with a degree and a specific skill-set. I also met my primary contact at Colour during my work term.”
This kind of entrepreneurial residency proved to be “an amazing differentiator,” he says, but it was not without its challenges.
“At times, it was tough living with an irregular paycheque and knowing that it was all down to me and my business partner to make it a success.”
One of the best parts of the experience, he says, was writing this blog.
“Because of the blog, I was able to touch base with 90% of my classmates (100% of the “away” ones) during their residency. And not just a “hey, what’s up” touching-base, but a highly personal event—writing their Corporate Residency MBA story. This kept me connected to them in a subtle but ultimately very meaningful way. I had some insight into everyone’s residency, and they into mine. I grew closer to the whole class in a sense, which was very rewarding.
To describe it in more concrete terms, a lot of us are friends for life now. We felt like we’d all known each other for years and years just three months in. I would feel comfortable ringing up 90% of the class 10 years from now out of the blue and seeing if I could crash on their couch. I would go out of my way to help any of them, without question, ever. Through the fire and brimstone that the program throws at you, we all stuck it out and supported each other. We shared the bad times and we sure as hell shared the good ones, too. Not once did anyone really burn out or abandon anyone (at least, not in my experience). If you do this for 22 months straight, then you get a very strong bond.”
Reflecting on his own personal growth over those 22 months, Jordy likens it to a personal 180°:
“I came from a nerdy, quiet background. I entered the program as a passive kind of dude, and came out as this guy eager and hungry to network and start making changes happen. I was hugely, indescribably energized by my incredible peers.”
As for what else makes this program special, and why he would encourage someone to apply, he says:
“This program is set apart by simply being aware that the old MBA model is dusty and becoming obsolete. It was built on asking business leaders what they really wanted from an MBA program… and then actually implementing a program that delivers it. This attracts faculty and students who share that view, and breeds a curriculum that embraces self-awareness and corporate social responsibility.
I usually start my recommendation for this program by telling people that it changed my life. That’s usually a good hook.”