Schulich AIF project advances experiential education for IMBA students

When considering changes to the International Master of Business Administration (IMBA) program curriculum, Schulich School of Business Professors Atipol Supapol and Ingo Holzinger turned to the program’s alumni for their thoughts and ideas on experiential education opportunities.

With support provided by the Academic Innovation Fund (AIF), Supapol and Holzinger organized a conference in 2012 to bring alumni back to the University to hear about the changes and give them an opportunity to contribute their ideas. “The alumni network will be important in providing professional mentoring for the students and connecting those students to the professional world,” says Holzinger, the associate director of the IMBA program.

schulich_atriumeventProposed changes to the IMBA program will see students interacting at networking events

“The changes are happening on a program-level rather than in an individual course,” says Holzinger. “Essentially, we're trying to connect the classroom experience with managerial practice, the larger community and the students' professional and personal development.

As part of their studies, IMBA students focus on developing advanced proficiency in a second language and a specialized knowledge of two global trading regions. They gain first-hand knowledge of the social, political and economic forces at play in their region of focus by participating in a 12-week IMBA work term. The AIF project is supporting the integration and redesign of the curriculum to incorporate experiential learning. “Four of the key components are integrated management experiences, professional development, a work term and a community project,” says Holzinger. His goal is to have the new curriculum approved in time for the start of the fall 2014 term.

The changes are innovative and speak to the specific needs of the program’s students. As an example, Holzinger says the professional development course is being designed to develop the students’ professional skills and knowledge that will facilitate their career development in the short- and long-term.

“The proposed new course will start with an assessment of the student’s strengths, interests, reward values and cultural preferences.  The results will aid in recommending suitable career options,” says Holzinger, who sees personal development throughout the course as supporting students’ progress towards achieving the knowledge and skills necessary for career entry and/or career progression. Progress will be supported by monthly check-ups with the course director, in-course learning offered through workshops and community-based learning provideD by seminars.

“The workshops are being designed to provide students with the skills necessary for effective professional development, to instill a desire for learning and personal growth, and to help develop a demeanor that is ‘polished’ and ‘poised’,” explains Holzinger. “Workshops will be experiential and cover topics such as networking, building business relationships, and developing their personal brand and communication skills.”

Seminars will allow students to interact with senior-level executives, including alumni and other experts from various types of organizations and organizational functions.  “This allows students to put into practice the skills acquired throughout the course,” explains Holzinger. “Topics covered by each speaker will be career-related and include leadership styles, work-life balance, personal branding, negotiation skills and personal experiences based on their careers.  Students will be expected to research each speaker prior to the seminar and actively participate in the seminar. “

While taking this course, students will be looking to secure a work-term placement, another integral part of the program. The professional skills and knowledge developed in the course will be applied immediately in the placement search.

“IMBA students typically come into the program because they want to advance their knowledge and skills, and their careers,” says Holzinger. “They come from various backgrounds, and have at least two years of full-time work experience. “

“Introduced more than 20 years ago, the Schulich International MBA was one of the world’s first globally oriented management education programs,” says Supapol, director of the IMBA program. “As we strive to enhance our school’s standing as one of the world’s leading IMBA programs, support from York’s Academic Innovation Fund is helping us introduce community partnership and integrated management experiences, as well as career development and coaching, to the IMBA Program.”

What will success look like?

“The ultimate success of the initiative can only be measured by the career success of our future graduates,” says Holzinger. “We hope to develop graduates who have the capabilities and attitudes to make significant contributions to the performance of their organizations and the well-being of society.”

By Jenny Pitt-Clark, YFile editor

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