Schulich people talk about ‘the big payoff’ from an MBA

Mona Mann is nearing completion of her MBA at the Schulich School of Business at York University, wrote The Globe and Mail in a Nov. 9 story headlined "The Big Payoff", part of a special section on MBA schools. Having worked on Bay Street for several years as compliance officer at ABN AMRO Asset Management, the 30-year-old calls the MBA "a segué" to her next career move, in a rotational program with RBC Capital Markets. There, she will be able to try out different roles in the firm that will get her out meeting clients, something she greatly looks forward to.

"I wanted a front-line role as opposed to a back-office role, and I honestly did the MBA to expand my business knowledge; from that process I realized there were so many skills that I could pick up still," she says.

Mann says her sacrifice to go the MBA route was to quit her job and relinquish parenting of her three-year-old son to her husband. The return on investment for her, she says, meant her previous salary of $63,000 a year will be replaced post-MBA by an RBC salary of $80,000 combined with a bonus that almost doubles that base rate.

"Schulich has given me the platform that I needed – it has been a trampoline I jumped on, and I just flew off. It was enlightening to learn that there was so much out there that I didn’t know," Mann says.

Ashwin Joshi, director of the MBA program at Schulich, says the benefits of an MBA are both tangible and intangible. He cites Forbes magazine’s biennial study on return on investment for MBA graduates, which he says compared solid data from dozens of schools.

"In terms of the tangible, it shows that in doing the MBA you outperformed the Nasdaq between the years 1993 and 2001. That’s pretty dramatic. The average rate of return is around 18 per cent," Joshi notes. "This is a pretty powerful statement, quantitatively, as to why one should take the MBA. Financially, in my mind, there is no debate."

But financial rewards alone should not be the reason for entering an MBA program, he adds. "What is it that happens to these students that allows them to command this premium? The emotional capital, intellectual capital and social capital are, for me, at least as important a draw," he says.

  • Forbes magazine prepares a biennial ranking of global business schools based on students’ return on investment – that is, their compensation five years after graduation from the MBA program, minus the costs of tuition and forgone salary while in the program, noted The Globe and Mail in a companion story Nov. 9.

The September 2007 report surveyed students who graduated in 2002. Among non-US two-year programs, York University’s Schulich School of Business ranked fourth, with a five-year "MBA gain" of US$65,000. The pre-MBA salary was measured at $32,000; the 2006 salary at $116,000.

  • In Canada, a growing number of schools list IMBAs on their course calendars, wrote The Globe and Mail Nov. 9. Bernie Wolf, director of the international MBA program at York University’s Schulich School of Business, says IMBAs are a logical response to the continuing shift toward a global economy.

"International MBA programs arose from a need for business people who were culturally sensitive, have spent time abroad and are interested in the international marketplace," Wolf says. "Over time, the global marketplace has clearly become more important – we see vast amounts of foreign investment, trade has increased, and manufacturing has increasingly segmented so that you end up having something produced in a series of places."

At Schulich, IMBA students must also be able to speak, with some proficiency, a language used in one of the geographic regions being studied in the program. This was no problem for York alumnus Seumas Graham (IMBA ’04), who had learned to speak and write Mandarin when he lived in Taiwan in the late 1990s. Graham says he was already quite proficient in his spoken Mandarin but was writing it using traditional Chinese characters.

Today, Graham runs the Shanghai operations of the Economist Intelligence Unit, a global company that provides country, industry and management analysis. "I’ve doubled my salary from 2002, which was when I was working as a magazine editor before I quit and enrolled into Schulich," Graham says. "If I didn’t have my IMBA, I don’t think I would have had this opportunity at all."

  • Among Canada’s 17 business schools with EMBA degrees, many are adding specialty programs, family-friendly social occasions, career coaching and other assistance in recognition that professionals who return to school lead busy, complicated lives, wrote The Globe and Mail Nov. 9.

"From the beginning, it is a matter of managing expectations so students know what they are in for," says André deCarufel, program director for York University’s Kellogg-Schulich executive MBA, rated No. 1 in Canada and 17th globally by the Financial Times last month. "It is a once-in-a-life investment," he says of an experience that, in his school’s case, costs $90,000 for an 18-month-long program capped at 50 students a year.

A point of pride for DeCarufel is that among his school’s most recent graduating class of 47 students, half made a job change, seven had babies, none suffered a marriage break-up and all but one earned an EMBA degree.

  • York University is an old hand at niche MBA programs, wrote The Globe and Mail Nov. 9. It established the first Canadian MBA in Arts Administration almost 40 years ago. Its focus was on developing people who could manage the business side of traditional arts organizations such as theatres and symphony orchestras. In 1983, that program changed its name to Arts and Media and expanded its focus to include "cultural industries" such as film, broadcasting, publishing and sound recording.

"Our students are fully qualified to work in any area that requires an MBA. They can focus on business areas such as finance or organizational behaviour. But they also have a specific expertise in areas of arts and media," says Joyce Zemens, director of the MBA in Arts and Media Administration in the Schulich School of Business at York.

Claire Gillis is in her final year of the two-year program at York. With an undergraduate degree in architecture from the University of Toronto, she says that her background differed from many of her fellow MBA students who have worked in the arts as performers or artists, and that she lacked any business training.

"I was really intimidated going in but I found that most of the other students didn’t have any business background either," says Gillis, 27. "We were immersed in business right from the beginning of our courses, and I was pleasantly surprised to find it wasn’t long before I was becoming competent in those areas."

York’s graduates not only manage arts organizations such as orchestras and galleries, but also work in record and film companies and cultural policy offices of government and arts councils.

Letter writing dirt biker cites York study

I live in Bolton and can count myself and my son in the Caledon dirt bike community, wrote Bill O’Neill in a letter to the Caledon Enterprise Nov. 10. There are quite a few of us. In general, as a community, we dirt bike riders find ourselves besieged of late with attacks against our sport.

Recent studies conducted by York University clearly show the health benefits of riding dirt bikes. Add to that studies conducted by the Ministry of Transportation which show riding dirt bikes as one of the safest off-road sports and you have what amounts to healthy and enjoyable sport. It would certainly be a real loss to those who enjoy it to have it taken away from them.