Carol Stephenson is the Dean of Richard Ivey school of Business, at the University of Western Ontario in Canada. The Dean stands for change and her leadership has stirred the transformation of its MBA program into an intense 12-month learning experience with a retooled, case- based curriculum and a focus on cross-enterprise leadership. She is also leading the Ivey community in putting the university at the forefront of the internationalization trend in higher education.
Stephenson says the atmosphere of a close-knit community is what sets Richard Ivey apart from other business schools. She recently spoke with Brain Gain’s Pooja Prakash about Ivey’s culture and how applicants can demonstrate the qualities of leadership and innovation Ivey is looking for.
What kind of students Ivey is turning out?
Well, our school is known as a school of leadership. If you ask anyone they will immediately say Ivey produces leaders. We take pride in that and our curriculum is based on that as well. We are also known as a school that is just not going to produce functional specialist. So, for example if you want to be the best hedge fund manager in the world Ivey is not the place you should come. If you want to be a leader though and you want to understand the impact of all of the functions on the business Ivey is the best place to come. We call it cross enterprise leadership and that is having the ability to understand that what you are doing in a particular business unit has an impact on other business units or other countries around the world. We ensure that our students learn through cases that a decision is more than just one particular function; we are renowned for producing leaders.
What sets Ivey Apart from other premier institution?
Well so much of what we do is based on our case methods. We are the largest producer of business cases in Asia and second largest in the world after Harvard.
Our curriculum and teaching style is not about reading a case study and using it as a teaching tool, it’s getting our students to participate and taking on the role of a leader in the case- having to analyse the situation quickly, make a decision and most importantly know how to execute on that decision. Our students are trained through the case methods to think, act and lead which is what make them stand out in a group.
I hear from businesses that when our students arrive and they are with a group of students from different business schools our students stand out because they have this ability and confidence to be able to make decisions quickly, come up with plan of action, defend their plan of action and then actually execute on it. At Ivey teamwork reigns and students leave with a large network.
What is a profile of students at Ivey?
“At Ivey, teamwork reigns and students leave with a large network.”
I know some schools will just look at marks to draw a line and say okay the cut off is 90% but we don’t do that. We go further. In our students we do not singularly look for academic grades, certainly it’s important to know how they have done academically but we also look at what they have done from a leadership potential ; what clubs have they run, have they ever been president of the student council., have they ever coached sports. We look at what they can do in the future from a leadership perspective and as a result get students that are quite diverse, quite well rounded, and ambitious and posses’ great leadership skills. Again coming back to the case method, a lot of learning at Ivey is done through your contribution, your participation, your past experience.
Another thing that might be different for us is that in our MBA program most of our students have work experience; we have a requirement of at least 2 years of work experience but on an average they actually have more than that so it makes for a very interesting discussion because they bring their own work experience into the learning environment.
What advice do you have for anyone applying to Ivey?
“in our MBA program most of our students have work experience; we have a requirement of at least 2 years of work experience”
Before applying, the best advice we can give candidates is to focus on ensuring they are confident about their “fit “with the Ivey experience. The Ivey community is comprised of exceptional people who are looking to accelerate their leadership skills and achieve extraordinary career success. Our programs are designed for high achievers who excel in a practical, engaging, and dynamic classroom environment. Beyond admission requirements, candidates should understand what criteria are most important to them and ask the right questions when evaluating programs. Candidates should research schools online, talk to students, alumni, and staff, and attend events to investigate and evaluate programs to determine where they “fit” best.
Are you seeing growing interest from South Asia at Ivey?
“Our programs are designed for high achievers who excel in a practical, engaging, and dynamic classroom environment.”
Absolutely. The South Asian region is now our second largest candidate demographic of both applicants and admitted students (Canadians domestic students’ make-up the largest population.) We are very excited about the calibre of candidates we are seeing from the region.
What is the tuition for the MBA and Executive MBA programs and can you also talk a little about living costs in Canada?
MBA Tuition is CAD 78,500 for our one year full-time Program. EMBA Tuition is CAD 90,000 for the 15 month Program.
The cost of living in Canada is very reasonable, particularly in a University town like London, ON where Ivey is located, when compared with other options like New York, or London, UK. Living costs like rent, transportation, etc. are more affordable for our students in London, ON than most of the cities they come from. Typically we suggest that students use the proxy of CAD 100,000 for one year in the Program (including tuition, casebooks, cost of living, etc.)
Does a higher education degree from a Canadian university put a person on a fast-track to citizenship?
Individuals interested in pursuing Canadian citizenship are required to meet the residency requirement (3 years) as part of the overall process. The time spent in the Ivey Program (and possibly additional time working in Canada after graduation) certainly helps this requirement. In addition, successfully completing a post-graduate degree helps with the application process as it strengthens the individual`s educational background. Ultimately, there are a variety of ways to pursue citizenship, and as much as a degree from Ivey can help with the process, pursuing graduate education should be driven by a motivation to achieve career success and develop skills.