JMSB’s tool kit for the complete executive
This August, Concordia’s John Molson School of Business (JMSB) welcomes the first cohort in its revamped John Molson Executive MBA (EMBA).
The innovative program goes well beyond the mastery of traditional academic subjects, offering students professional/leadership coaching, a health and fitness component created with executives in mind, and solid links to the business community.
Jordan LeBel is the program’s new director. LeBel has been a professor in the Department of Marketing since 2000; he also leads JMSB’s Luc Beauregard Centre of Excellence in Communications Research. In 2013, he was named a 3M National Teaching Fellow, Canada’s highest honour for university instructors.
We sat down with LeBel to discuss the EMBA program, its mission and what being a “complete executive” really means.
Who is this program for?
Jordan LeBel: The Executive MBA program is designed for people who already have considerable business experience — busy executives, entrepreneurs or professionals who are not free to study full-time and who’ve come to the conclusion that they need help to move to the next stage in their professional development. The convenience of having a once-a-week commitment fits with their busy schedules.
The program’s content is focused on developing students’ ability to think more broadly and strategically; it challenges them to step out of their comfort zone. After seven or eight years in the business world, it’s easy to get set in your ways, so you need to be challenged to think differently and to approach problems from a different angle.
That’s what the EMBA brings you. It’s giving you new tools and new ways of thinking that can help you meet new challenges and move on to the next stage in your career.
How is the John Molson EMBA different from other EMBA programs?
JL: Our program is unique in a number of ways. First, terms are organized along themes so that each course complements the next, and the themes tie together the notions presented in individual courses. Then, each semester is capped by an integrative course that allows for the assimilation and application of newly acquired knowledge in a real-life context.
For example, in the term themed around thinking globally, all courses, whether they be accounting or marketing courses, are viewed through a global lens, culminating in a week-long international trip filled with exchanges and meetings with other business students and leaders.
Even the first term, themed around mastering the fundamental concepts of business, ends with a real-life case study where participants get to work on issues the partnering company is currently facing. This year’s case involves TransContinental Media, and the company’s whole executive team, including the CEO, will attend students’ presentations in December.
Three important components support the delivery of the curriculum and add tangible value for participants: the Executive Connects Series, the Healthy Executive module and Leadership Effectiveness and Development (LEAD) Executive Coaching.
The Executive Connects Series focuses on networking and learning from accomplished individuals: we invite business leaders into the classroom to share their experiences, good and bad. Each cohort is assigned a champion — a well-respected business leader who will remain in contact with the group throughout the two-year program. The champion for the program’s first cohort will be Andrew Molson.
The Healthy Executive module is about learning how to sustain high performance at work while maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It also involves learning about the importance of healthy workplaces and acquiring tools, techniques and habits that you can pass on and share.
We have a chance here to educate future business leaders and not only sensitize them to the importance of work environments and habits that support healthy lifestyles, but to give them tools and techniques they can then implement and share at work, thereby creating a powerful ripple effect.
This module is delivered by a team of specialists from Concordia’s PERFORM Centre that includes experienced certified exercise physiologists, registered dietitians and Concordia’s Health Services health promotion experts.
What about executive coaching — what is that?
JL: This component of the program actually has many parts, and it’s spearheaded by James Gavin, a professor in the Department of Applied Human Sciences. He’s an expert in leadership and a certified Integral Coach.
In year one, starting at orientation, participants go through rigorous self-assessments designed to develop self-awareness, identify areas for improvement and help them set goals. The results of these tests are debriefed with and used by trained coaches to help participants develop their leadership abilities and skills. Personal coaches are there, alongside professionals from the PERFORM Centre, to help participants develop and implement a plan to achieve their personal leadership and health goals.
Coaching sessions intensify in year two, when coaches are there to help student teams with the challenges of completing their program and term projects — but also to help them plan for post-graduation life.
What exactly is the “complete executive”?
It’s really a holistic approach to developing future business leaders, based on the idea that these individuals are far from one-dimensional. What we call the “complete executive” is really an aspiration, and it rests on the premise that success in business doesn’t occur in a vacuum and is not independent of success in other spheres of life.
We also want to develop leaders who will be mindful of their impact on others and the environment. We help students assess their health, interpersonal dynamics and social support systems, and explore how these areas interact and affect their overall effectiveness and happiness and that of others.
You may be very mentally fit and intellectually savvy and get high grades, but you still need to apply all of this, and you still need to be physically fit to move to the next challenge in your career path, so it’s really tying different dimensions together and giving students the tools that they need to succeed.
JMSB is unique among business schools insofar as its curriculum and practices build on the community-focused values of our founding institutions and of John Molson, Andrew Molson’s great-grandfather, a successful businessman, a family man and a champion of community involvement.
It’s therefore no accident that our EMBA program is focused on the notions of doing well and doing good, of actionable and useful education and of the triple bottom line — not merely financial profits, but the human and environmental components as well. We aim to develop future leaders who will not only succeed in business, but who will also fulfill their many roles with competence, compassion and a strong ethical compass.
It’s really about integrating all these parts so that by the time you graduate with the John Molson Executive MBA degree, you’re really confident that you’ve got the well-roundedness that it takes to be among the next generation of business leaders.