Experience Schulich

As regular readers know, I’m considering taking an MBA and have even gone so far as to take my GMAT and register a decent score.

With that in mind, I was very excited to be offered a chance to “Experience Schulich“, one of Canada’s top business schools, this past weekend. Along with a few hundred other prospective MBA students, I made my way to the Keele Campus to hear the dean speak about his mission at the school, hear a panel of alumni discuss what Schulich had given them, sit in on a few mini-lectures and meet with some of the faculty, including an admissions tutor.

Here are some of my observations and thoughts from the day:


The school puts a huge emphasis on strategy – not strategy as many agency folks know it, but at a corporate level. Speaking to the marketing professor we discussed his class’ approach and how it pertained to the “four p’s” (product, price, placement, promotion). As an agency guy, I know a fair bit about the last one of those, but not much about product development, pricing and distribution. The prof said his class sat above the four p’s and took into account segmentation, positioning and targeting of the markets that organizations should be “in”. For instance – whether Nokia should be a mobile phone or Wellington boot manufacturer. Should EMC make store hard copies of data (office furniture) or digital information.

This really hammered home the difference between corporate strategy and what I’m calling, for want of a better phrase, executional strategy.

In the past, I’ve called for PR and communications to use the information we gather, and generate, to help organizations redefine their product offering. Now I can see that I wasn’t going far enough.

Where the Internet should sit in the organization:

While the Internet was once a communications owned space, the Web 2.0 movement is moving it out of the communications department’s remit and into which ever department owns the corporate strategy. This is a huge shift and one that is going to be hugely beneficial to my (our) industry – how can we use communications, and the full feedback loop social media provides us, to drive organizational strategy? Mind you, we’ve been saying this for years.

Dean Hovarth:

Schulich’s dean gave a wonderful speech that extolled the schools virtues and that really connected with me and some of the things I’ve been thinking about. I’m paraphrasing here but the dean said something that both inspired and scared me:

“Delivering programs based on based successes will [ultimately] lead to failure. Innovation now drives business.”

It inspired me by giving me license to constantly propose innovative programs to my clients and colleagues; scares me because I’m not sure I can change my way of thinking to truly stretch myself as a consultant and bring innovative thinking to every programme.

“We are moving from a shareholder model to a stakeholder model”

CSR is certainly moving managers’ decision making rationale away from “what is good for the organization and its owners (shareholders)” into “what is good for the community”. Again, the feedback loop provided by public relations can really help shape an organization’s strategy in this space.

“No one has enough information to make an informed, strategic decision about business critical matters.”

Big, Hairy, Audacious Decisions now need to made not in isolation, but in conjunction with a cross-functional team, with every member bring their unique perspective to bear on the problem in hand. Because we work in a global marketplace, our decisions will have ramifications far beyond our geographic borders and, as such, these decisions need to made in context.


“If you want something done, give to a busy person”

Apparently eMBA (executive MBA) and part-time MBA students respond better to last minute emergency students than full time students. Which pretty much mirrors what happens in the workplace. People who are always busy seem to find a way to just get things done.

There was also an I-banker VP on a panel who casually mentioned the entry requirements for one of his MBAs was 125 hours a week for two years. I’m hardly work shy, but even I have to admit that that shocked me a little bit.

So, a bit of a garbled blog post but, I think, some very interesting thoughts that are worthy of more discussion.

4 Responses to Experience Schulich

  1. […] Experience Schulich – Ed Lee ponders going the MBA route, and finds some new ways to focus business thinking. Like marketing strategy that considers segmentation, positioning and targeting of the markets that organizations should be “in.” […]

  2. June says:

    Hello bmby,
    I came across your blog while researching about “green PR” in Toronto. I find it encouraging that a strong MBA program like Schulich incorporates CSR into their program. Do you think there is supply (by PR agencies in Toronto) and demand for CSR focused PR services in the market today?

    Expecting to graduate in the next few months with a major in Environment and Business, I have some government public consultation and in-house communications experience. But I’m wondering if there is even a “green PR” industry in Toronto for me to try to break into?

  3. Elizabeth O'Grady says:

    June, you may want to look at The Green Group . I have no experience with them, but I came across their site while surfing recently.
    Best wishes in your job hunt,

  4. […] media gave us to move above the four p’s of marketing and into the space above that, the market identification and business strategy space. I still believe strongly in this, and the reason is social listening, manifesting itself in […]

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