New ‘Manager U at York’ program graduates its first cohort


Last week, as York students prepared for convocation, a ceremony of a similar sort was taking place for our York University managers.

On June 5, 42 newly minted graduates of the first cohort to take part in “Manager U at York” were lauded for participating in the program. Held in the York Research Tower, the event celebrated and acknowledged the group’s collective success, determination and commitment to their own professional development,” said Suzanne Killick, director of the Learning & Organizational Development, Human Resources.

“The University is very serious about leadership and management development,” said Gary Brewer, vice president finance & administration, during his opening remarks at the ceremony. “The Manager U at York program was created for all ‘people managers’ at York University and is part of Creating a Better Workplace.”

An overwhelming number of applications were submitted for the first cycle of the new program. “Confidential, Professional and Managerial (CPM) employees who have managerial responsibility, including hiring, managing and dealing with staff, are eligible for the program,” said Brewer.

Established in the fall of 2011, Manager U at York teaches the core competencies needed to be a manager at York University. Those enrolled in the program participate in workshops, group coaching and webinars that cover a variety of subject areas, including peer-to-peer interactions, management excellence, managing within the unionized environment, analytical thinking, team building and more.

“The program requires nine months to complete and runs from October to June, with one to two commitments each month that amount to about four hours of classroom time,” explained Laura Isabella, talent management specialist in Learning & Organizational Development.

The Manager U at York learning path

Above:  The Manager U at York learning path

“Each member of the Manager U at York cohort has a sponsoring manager,” said Isabella, “and many of the sponsoring managers attended the ceremony on June 5, presenting their reporting manager with a certificate of completion and a gift.”

Glenn Cumming, executive officer, York University Libraries, sponsored Judy Oliver for the program. Oliver works as an administrative officer in the Office of the University Librarian. “I want to express my gratitude to all of you, because I’ve watched Judy Oliver, who was nominated as one of the library’s representatives for the program, grow in stature during the time she attended the program,” said Cumming. “Judy is a long-service employee who has made a successful transition from the personnel coordinator position to the administrative officer position in the library. The skills she learned from the Manager U program helped her make a seamless transition to her new role.”

Joanne Nonnekes, executive officer in the Faculty of Graduate Studies, made a similar observation about Sharon Pereira, the faculty’s student affairs officer and graduate of Manager U at York. ‘This program has really empowered Sharon to take ownership of her area,” said Nonnekes.

Pereira agrees. “The Manager U Program has been an investment in my success at York.  I have enjoyed the program immensely and feel privileged and honoured to have been selected to be part of the first cohort,” she said. “I have grown professionally, personally, and I am more aware of what is available to managers and my confidence has exploded. The course curriculum was educational and diverse; going to class was truly a treat for me. I didn’t see it as an obligation or work; learning is a treasure. Having completed the program, I now have a tool box full of resources, support, mentorship, coaches, new colleagues and friendships that will equip me to be a better manager, leader and mentor, and ensure that my team is set up for success.”

“The leadership skills Monika Chewinski learned in this course had immediate application, and she has already demonstrated their value in working with our Organized Research Units,” said Donna Smith, senior executive officer, Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation.

The program has offered her some additional and unexpected benefits, adds Chewinski, who is the HR business partner in the Vice-President Research & Innovation Division. “The Manager U Program provided me with the opportunity to learn and understand different personalities, leadership styles; the ability to recognize different stages in the employee work cycle and an opportunity to learn how to deal with staff better,” she said.  “It also provided me with the wonderful opportunity to network, meet other managers from all across campus, and made me appreciate how much expertise and knowledge there is amongst York’s managers.”

Registration for the next cycle of the Manager U at York program begins this September 2012.

To learn more about the courses and core skills offered by the program, visit the York University Learning & Organizational Development website, and select Leadership and Management. To learn more about York University’s Better Workplace initiative, visit the Creating a Better Workplace website.