Many will empathize with a decision to opt for family, says Schulich prof

Marriages of successful people today often have a “your time, my time” deal, says Professor Ellen Auster of the Schulich School of Business at York University, wrote the Toronto Star Sept. 29, in a story about life after politics written after Toronto Mayor David Miller announced he would not seek re-election.

Being mayor is a 24-hour-a-day-job, Auster points out, and for the past five years Miller, who is married to a lawyer, “has gone full out, from breakfast to late at night, working weekends.”

Miller’s daughter, Julia, has just entered Grade 9 and will have only four more years at home before university. “As the mother of a ninth grader and 11th grader, I am aware there is not much time left to have those special moments,” says Auster.

Whether a man will suffer later in his career for having taken time to be with his kids “depends on how you do it,” says the expert in strategic management. They need to give lots of lead time so that a succession plan can be created for the organization, whether it’s a business or government post, she says.

In a stressed-out world, many people will empathize with a decision to opt for family, she says. “Most people will say, ‘I get that.’ It’s the choice many of us would make if we had the courage and the opportunity.”

She agrees that leaving a job for family is an option only for people who can afford it. The compromise for most people, says Auster, “is to pursue a saner career path.”

Social media driving new business thinking

One of the most revolutionizing factors in the emergence of new business models, say experts, arises from the growing power of the Internet to connect business with consumer, wrote the National Post Sept. 29. This is particularly the case due to Web 2.0 technology, a.k.a. social media. “It’s given people a chance to group together in new ways they haven’t been able to do before,’ says Robert Kozinets, professor of marketing in the Schulich School of Business at York University. “That creates a lot of opportunities for new businesses and a lot of disruptions for older businesses.”

There’s a lot of knowledge out there and “companies are trying to harvest the benefit of that knowledge,” says Detlev Zwick, professor of marketing at Schulich. “It may be coming from customers or non-consuming experts, maybe scientists who work in completely different things, but when you encourage them in a certain way, they actually start working for your company even though you’ve never hired them,” he says.

“IBM Healthcare Canada is an example of this,” says Zwick. As well as offering technology solutions to facilitate data and knowledge sharing to the health-care industry, the company also employs “lead users, doctors who actually use the technology and services, through the use of discussion boards and bulletin boards, to connect doctor networks. It connects really smart people, who then help IBM improve the service, populate it and promote it.”

Politicians spar over funding for medical device centre

The National Centre for Medical Device Development has long been in the works in Markham, wrote the Markham Economist & Sun Sept. 28 in a story about politicking over its proposed funding.

The centre, which it is estimated would cost $100 million, is envisioned as a private-public world-class centre for research and development of medical devices and technology.

It’s already incorporated by a not-for-profit consortium of more than 30 companies and associations and its board of directors includes members from the town, IBM and York University. A Schulich School of Business study has indicated the centre would have a yearly economic impact of more than $20 million. It would create nearly 800 jobs, wrote the Economist & Sun.

Story on helping young athletes cites York research

That line isn’t well defined, but a York University study of athletes who dropped out of a sport and those who stayed in offered a surprising picture of when parents should push and when they should back off, wrote the Montreal Gazette Sept. 29.

According to lead researcher Jessica Fraser-Thomas, professor in York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science in the Faculty of Health, all the athletes in the study considered dropping out of sport. Those who did noted that their parents forced them to continue even as their interest waned. Whereas the children who chose to stay in sport, did so after exploring their options with their parents. Allowing your child the freedom to take an occasional practice off or to adjust their training schedule while still encouraging them to remain active seems to be a winning formula.

Is there an MBA for you?

The people who are best-suited to an MBA are goal-oriented, have come from academic backgrounds that lend themselves to business, have gone to work for a few years and have built a history and credentials, says Charmaine Courtis, executive director, student services & international relations, at the Schulich School of Business at York University, wrote the National Post Sept. 29.

“The MBA is an applied degree and if you haven’t been in the workplace, if you haven’t seen a manager make a really dumb decision, then you don’t know what’s going on in the classroom because you can’t apply it,” says Courtis. “The average age of MBA students in our school is 29. They’ve had a taste of the workplace and are honing and sharpening those skills and making themselves more effective when they leave.”

The key to deciding whether an MBA is for you comes down to understanding yourself, what you bring to the table, what you lack, where you are and where you want to be. Then, do your homework. “Sit in on some MBA information sessions,” says Courtis. “Start to meet people at the different schools to get a sense of what they have to offer. Does your temperament suit what you are hearing? It’s part of the journey – you have to do the research.”

Study examines why few ventures attract funding they need

Securing venture capital is a tricky proposition for entrepreneurs in Canada, wrote the National Post Sept. 29 . Only 3 per cent of Canadian ventures attract the funding they need. Why such a low success rate? Professor Moren Levesque of the Schulich School of Business at York University, with co-authors Andrew Maxwell, and Scott A. Jeffrey, point to eight critical factors that determine success or failure in a soon-to-be-published study in the Journal of Business Venturing.

They are: Adoption: Will target market customers buy the product? Product status: Is the product ready for market? Protectability: Is the product patented? Is it easy to replicate? Customer engagement: Does the product meet customers’ needs? Are customers committed to purchasing the product? Route to market: Is there a realistic marketing and/or distribution plan? Market potential: What size is the market potential for the product? Relevant experience: Does senior management have direct and relevant experience? Financial model: When will the firm begin to make money? Are they asking for sufficient investment?

Welcome to the mature, intensely competitive education market

Building brand and pointing up a distinct value proposition has become increasingly important for business schools in Canada, wrote the National Post Sept. 29 in an article about MBA programs that are basing themselves in Toronto’s downtown to be nearer their students.

The Schulich School of Business at York University moved to the Ernst & Young Tower in downtown Toronto 15 years ago this month for exactly that reason. During the day its Toronto location is used for its executive education classes and, at night, the MBA students move in.

“We are located in what was then considered North York. We knew that in order to serve the broader metropolitan area, we needed something in the downtown core,” says Alan Middleton, marketing professor at Schulich. “Queen’s has a Mississauga campus. Rotman has a Scarborough campus. So the notion of having more than one location in addition to doing distance learning is not new. It’s what markets do you serve?”

There are essentially three ways for business schools to grow in Canada, says Middleton: Increasing the number of programs and specialties you offer, expanding geographically and partnering with others. “That’s the way you battle against the maturity of the market. During the time we’ve been in Toronto, our brand went up significantly.”

On air

  • York Professor Andrea O’Reilly, director of the Association for Research on Mothering at York, spoke about the latest demographics indicating a mini baby boom is underway, on CBC Radio’s “Maritime Noon” Sept. 28.