As the years progressed, the popularity of and demand for an MBA swelled. By the mid-1970s it had more than 400 students enrolled.
Alan Hochstein, BComm 66, is a long-time professor in the Department of Finance of Concordia’s John Molson School of Business (JMSB). He directed the MBA program from 1988 to 1990. Hochstein explains that since most of the students worked full time, it presented a distinctive opportunity to bring in examples from their own business experiences to the classroom.
“That really made the challenge of teaching tremendous,” he says. “We were always analytical and theoretical but always doing real-world stuff.”
Hochstein adds that since its inception the program has never swayed from equipping students with the core skills — accounting, finance, marketing, strategy and human resource courses — needed to foster strong managers. “We never got away from the basic fundamentals and I think that is what differentiates what we do,” he says. “When students leave the program, the question is what they put into operation Monday morning when they go back to work.”
Keeping pace with the times
As the world of commerce has evolved at breakneck speed, the program has adapted to keep pace and meet the needs of the modern business student Two years ago, the John Molson MBA went through a major restructuring in an effort to make one of Canada’s top business programs even better. It was shortened from 57 to 45 credits, the equivalent of 15 courses instead of 19. The streamlined program allows greater accessibility to working and part-time students to get their diploma faster. Courses were completely redesigned to enable more integration between various topics. There’s now a greater number of elective courses, so students can deep dive into topics they deem relevant to their career path.
A schedule that has always being very flexible has become even more so. Almost every course offered can also be taken in the evening, so each student, whether working or not, can get the same experience.
“The majority of our students do not have an undergraduate degree in business, yet they need those management skills,” says Sandra Betton, associate dean of the JMSB’s Professional Graduate Programs, who oversaw the revision of the new program during her tenure as MBA director. “Roughly half of them know that the way their career was going is not what they want,” she says. “Then we have students who are in a career they love, see the progression they want but need the degree to take the next step.”
Top-of-mind issues relevant to today’s workplace, such as ethics, governance and sustainability, were also moved to the front of the curriculum. The mandatory Responsible Manager course kick-starts the program and sets the foundation for preparing students to become leaders conscious of the environmental and social impacts of business.
“Right from the beginning, they’re not just thinking about the bottom line,” says Betton. “They’re thinking, ‘OK, it’s not just about the shareholders. Maybe it’s the community, maybe it’s the employees.’ It’s about a bigger picture than just ‘what were my earnings?’”
Learning by doing
A major part of the MBA experience occurs outside the classroom, something that distinguished the John Molson MBA. Anne Beaudry, the program’s current director, points to the many hands-on learning projects with credit value available to students as a key differentiator.
Beaudry explains that today MBA students and those who will employ them are looking for experiential learning opportunities “where they can actually put their knowledge to the test before they graduate. You learn so much from these experiences,” she says.
Examples of the type of beyond-the-classroom programs where students can activate their learning in complex environments include the Concordia Small Business Consulting Bureau and the Community Service Initiative. Run like small-scale consulting firms, both initiatives expose students to activities associated with being an actual consultant.