Harold Simpkins connects students with an evolving workforce
Harold Simpkins brings the wisdom of his years in the business world to the classroom. He wanted his marketing students in the John Molson School of Business (JMSB) to have the same perspective, so he got his department involved in the early years of Concordia’s co-op education program.
- It’s not circumstances that determine our path, but how we respond to them.
- Find the job you love and you’ll never work another day in your life.
- Expect resistance when introducing change and try harder.
Things that drive me
- My parents. Both overcame enormous barriers.
- My students. I’m impressed with how they respond to the challenges I create.
- Encouraging my students to become the best they can be.
As the academic director of the JMSB’s marketing co-op program, he helps students complement their education with practical experience. Students alternate between classes and paid work terms. Many of them finish school with job offers from their co-op employers. In fact, former students who participated in the program are now senior managers hiring the next crop of co-op students.
Giving his students workplace experience is just one of the ways he has helped them gain the advantage over the competition. Back in 2004, Simpkins, a senior lecturer in the marketing department, co-developed one of the university’s first online courses and an accompanying text with his colleague Jordan LeBel. Distance learning allows people with full-time jobs and other responsibilities access to an education they might not get otherwise.
Now, 1,500 students sign up for Marketing Yourself each year. Budding entrepreneurs, artists, professionals and job seekers learn how to identify their career goals and reach them. A new edition of the pair’s companion book is set for publication.
“As recently as 2006, there was very little about social networking and nothing about LinkedIn,” Simpkins says. “Today these are indispensible tools for building personal and professional networks.”
Delivering courses to the workforce, and the workplace to students, are two of the ways he helps his students succeed. He also provides them with opportunities to expand their contacts.
“Feedback in class is one thing, but from marketing professionals — that’s something else.” For the past two years, teams of his MBA students created campaigns to promote the Association of Quebec Advertising Agencies’s trade mission in New York City. The association paid all travel costs so the students could implement their campaigns and meet international marketing communications leaders.