Middle managers get ‘big picture’ at Schulich

In the course of her day-to-day responsibilities as a manager in the consumer card group at American Express Canada Inc., Noella de Souza rarely has the luxury of stepping back and contemplating “the big picture,” reported The Globe and Mail March 23. So when Amex hand-picked de Souza and two dozen other high-potential middle managers from its 3,500 employees to participate in its customized “distinguished leadership university” at York University’s Schulich School of Business, she embraced the opportunity.

At regular intervals over the past six months, de Souza and her cohorts, drawn from all functions of the company’s business, have immersed themselves in sessions on negotiation, business finance, project management, strategic planning, business communication, and leading and managing change. The course will conclude with the program’s graduates making their own recommendations on actual business strategies currently under consideration by Amex Canada’s senior executives. “It’s pretty intense and rewarding,” de Souza said during a break between classes in an airy lecture theatre at York. “It enables us to have a more strategic view of the company.”

One business traveller’s pet peeves

Whenever Joseph Palumbo of York University travels, he gets to the airport in plenty of time to “hurry up and wait” – unless he happens to be in Beijing, where the check-in and security measures are so efficient that he just breezes through, reported The Globe and Mail March 23 in a story about business travellers’ pet peeves. “In China, especially Beijing, my goodness, what a system! They have got probably 100 agents at the airport checking your ID, your visas and everything else. There is absolutely no waiting there whatsoever . . . you almost have a concierge service as you are entering the terminal,” said Palumbo, executive director of the Career Development Centre at York’s Schulich School of Business, in a recent interview. As with many business travellers, lineups and delays top the list of Palumbo’s travel frustrations.

New environment ambassador tailor-made for job

Gib Parent, 69, resigned as ambassador for the environment last October after maintaining a low profile for the past four years, noted St. Catharine’s The Standard March 23 in an editorial claiming the post has been used by prime ministers to reward political allies. “So far, the posting has been out of the public eye, and none of the ambassadors has done anything to distinguish himself,” said the Standard. “That could change, however, with the new environment ambassador, Karen Kraft Sloan. The former MP earned a master’s degree in environmental studies in 1990 from York University in addition to an honours bachelor of communications from the University of Windsor and a bachelor of administration degree from Brock. She seems tailor-made for the job, and perhaps she will be the one to make the position an effective instrument for promoting environmental awareness and advocating change.”

Writer expresses herself on stage

“Evil” is not a word most people are eager to slap on their resumes, but Victoria Curran isn’t like most people, reported the Richmond Hill Liberal March 22 in a profile of the York grad. “My first lead part was with the Fairview Library Theatre production of The Little Foxes, where I got to play the Bette Davis role,” she said while reminiscing about her decade-long career in community theatre. Her upcoming role as a cancer patient in the Richmond Hill Curtain Club’s production of the bittersweet comedy Marvin’s Room, won’t offer her much of a chance to revel in her evilness; in fact, quite the opposite. She acted during her years at York University, but studied English and creative writing to prepare for a career as a writer. Her graduation in 1987 with a BA in humanities was the start of a decade of “being a workaholic”, as she puts it, working her way as a writer and editor through various trade magazines.

On air

  • Prof. Elio Costa, program coordinator of Italian-Canadian studies at York, discussed Toronto’s social and cultural diversity, on OMNI TV’s “Studio Aperto” in Toronto March 22.