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TRADERS FOR A DAY Testing the market value of education P.12

THE PUCK DROPS HERE Inside the buisness of hockey

AGENTS OF CHANGE AU community makes a global impact

CONVOCATION A look at this years grads

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P.26

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ACCELERATE YOUR MBA. A new option for undergraduate business degree holders.

FOR MORE INFORMATION on the Accelerated MBA: 1-800-561-4650 business.athabascau.ca/mba


CONTENTS

CONNECTED EDITOR

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THE PUCK DROPS HERE

to compete at the same level as the

athletes on the ice

Nathan Marshall

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LEARNING IN 3D

Student FAQs p.32, Student,

learner-centered experiences in an

Heather Bissonnette, Derek Drager, Shannon Oscroft, Deb Scaber, Jeremy Derksen

Alumni and Faculty Notes p.35

evolving online environment

MESSAGE FROM THE DEAN A word from Dr. Deborah Hurst

6 DEPARTMENTS Faculty Briefs p.6, Convocation p.30,

Jeremy Derksen

The business side of hockey needs

Custom education design delivers

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HIGH WATER MARK

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AGENTS OF CHANGE

In the aftermath of disaster,

Brandon Simmons restores hope

differences around the world

AU communities make real, practical

ART DIRECTION

WRITERS

PHOTOGRAPHERS Andrew Collings, Alexis A. McKeown, Ian Grant, Scott Goodwill, Kris Krug, Kelsey McMillan, Getty Images

DESIGN Michelle White

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TRADERS FOR A DAY Testing the real market value of

education

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EXECUTIVE SUITE A Seaworthy Venture

EDITORIAL BOARD Deborah Hurst, Chris McLeod, Farid Noordin, Jessica Scott, Deb Scaber, Shannon LaRose, Shannon Oscroft

COMMENTS & INQUIRES business@athabascau.ca

UNDELIVERED COPIES MAY BE RETURNED TO: Athabasca University Faculty of Business #201, 13220 St. Albert Trail Edmonton, AB T5L 4W1

Connected is Athabasca University’s Faculty of Business magazine for students, staff and alumni. All materials copyright 2015.

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MESSAGE FROM THE DEAN

Welcome to the Annual Faculty of Business magazine, Connected. I hope you enjoy reading about the amazing achievements of our students, alumni and faculty who are making significant inroads within business communities around the world. As of July 1 of this year, I accepted a fiveyear term as dean, Faculty of Business. I was previously your acting dean over the past two-plus years. In addition to this, I have had a 20-year affiliation first with Athabasca University’s MBA Program and then as of 2009, with the full Faculty of Business! When I reflect on the journey we have taken thus far, I’m so proud of what the Faculty has accomplished as well as energized and excited for what lies ahead. When Athabasca University launched in 1970, the first hurdles faced were to reach students within a few hundred kilometers. Then in 1994, we launched the world’s first online Executive MBA program, reaching students across much greater distances through early communication technology. Today, we continue to run strong and have in fact, recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of our innovative MBA. It’s amazing how fast and significantly technology has changed our world in that time, and in turn, how such changes have transformed both the way business and post-secondary learning are experienced.

Since our early days, the Faculty of Business and our student body have grown dramatically. We now have over 14,000 students from around the world studying with the Faculty of Business in our various programs ranging from undergraduate certificates through to doctoral level study. It shows how forward thinking AU was in the beginning and remains to this day. It also underscores how important our mission is to so many students. With our open, online, anywhere capability, we make educational opportunities available to people who may not have been able to attend traditional brick and mortar institutions. Maybe they live remotely, maybe they travel, personal and family schedules do not align – whatever the reason, making quality business education available to those who want it resonates very deeply with me. And AU has been living this mission for over 40 years. The way we learn is transforming. Over the last year, I’ve spearheaded and supported new collaborations to connect our business education with industry. One such collaboration is with the Business of Hockey Institute. This relationship resulted in an elite, graduate level stream of hockey-specific courses. These new hockey management courses elevate the business side of the game (more on page 16). For the first time in hockey’s history, there is a MBA program that provides

a hockey management specific stream to develop leaders in the boardroom, that complements what happens on the ice. Another exciting collaboration launched over the past year is with the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters. You can read more about our behind the scenes development process with our course development and production department on page 22. Of course, we continue to work with new prospective client organizations all the time. Please let me know if this is of interest to you! Our students and alumni across all of the Faculty of Business programs continue to make big impacts. Natalie Allport, a BComm undergraduate student, was a member of one of two AU teams to earn two of the top fifty spots in a worldwide trading competition with the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Our student teams spent a day learning about financial markets in the boardrooms of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange this past April (more on page 12). Thomas Schnare, a 2015 MBA graduate, used his MBA education and in particular, the entrepreneurship electives to launch a small-scale, innovate farming business in British Columbia (more on page 40). Our DBA student and alumni community is growing in influence. Global research


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Deborah Hurst / Ian Grant

on international issues such as Dr. Kerri Thompson’s dissertation on the recruitment and hiring processes of immigrant talent and DBA ’13 grad Richard Game’s research on Canadian enterprise expansion into international markets (more on page 26) are being recognized and published. Our faculty are also on the move! They are engaged in new initiatives to improve student learning in our programs, publishing books to improve business community, researching, publishing and presenting new papers on a variety of innovative business topics. To read more about our faculty accomplishments, go to page 38. I’m very confident about what we can accomplish over the next five years to push our Faculty of Business forward. Top among my priorities is earning international accreditation, enhancing our student experience and forging new relationships with businesses and professional associations. This is all in the name of sustaining and enhancing the value and relevance of all AU Faculty of Business degrees, for graduates past, present and future. I’ll be relying on a strong team to help reach our goals both academic and operational. The calibre of our staff is second to none, and we’re capitalizing on that by increasing our academic leadership

muscle within the Faculty. As faculty members assume new leadership roles, I hope you’ll welcome them and show them your support. With their help and yours, we are going to take our Faculty of Business to new levels. In closing, a warm congratulations to all of our newest Faculty of Business graduates – I am extremely proud of your accomplishments and we hope to see and hear from you at student and alumni events or in the news. We ask you to stay connected to us, your fellow students, alumni, and faculty and help us continue to enhance AUFB’s reputation through your incredible achievements.

Faculty of Business Academic Leadership We have expanded our Academic Leadership to focus on our three strategic priorities: enhancing student experience, further strengthening our reputation and forging new strategic relationships. Please join me in thanking my excellent colleagues in advance for their insights and hard work! •Tilly Jensen, associate dean, pedagogy and student experience

•Terry Beckman, associate dean, research and accreditation •Kay Devine, DBA program director •Anshuman Khare, MBA program director

•Eric Wang, program director, undergraduate programs •Tim Nerenz, LMD executive consultant

•Pamela Quon, chair, accounting and taxation academic department •Simon Sigue, chair, marketing, entrepreneurship and information systems academic department

•Jacob Musila, chair, economics, finance and operations management academic department •Janice Thomas, chair, organizational analysis academic department

•Michael Mauws, director, Business of Hockey Institute •Helen Lam, chair, MBA program admissions


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FA C U LT Y B R I E F S

Smallwood recognized for coaching excellence Academic coach Don Smallwood teaches what many perceive to be one of the most intimidating, driest subjects in business— Information Technology Strategy (INTS)—and yet he consistently earns high evaluation marks for his ability to engage students. In June, AU honoured Don with the Dean’s Award for Coaching Excellence for all his dedication. What’s his secret? “Think like a student, act like a practitioner,” says Smallwood, who graduated from AU with his MBA in 2000, and began coaching that same year. “I spent four years as an MBA student before I became a coach, so I studied what works and what doesn’t. Do you remain quiet or engage in conversations? If you engage, how much? What questions will most resonate and get the most interesting dialogues going? When I became a coach

I tried to build on the best of what I had experienced as a student myself.” Smallwood has also drawn inspiration from the practitioner’s perspective, as director of the Alberta Human Rights Commission. “Having to make decisions on human rights files,” he explains, “my first reaction is to suspend judgment and get curious.” “Everybody has something to offer… you have to find ways to make people feel comfortable and want to participate in dialogue.” Clearly, Smallwood’s efforts are being appreciated. Candidates for the award are nominated by students, who praise Smallwood for his “thought-provoking questions” and timely feedback. Smallwood was “a breath of fresh air,”

describes student Len Hoang. “He brought an innovative approach to his coaching methods to the course. His interaction with the students was very respectful, meaningful and impactful.” “Don’s attention to his students makes it feel like there is someone there… who cares about our learning and seeing us succeed,” states co-nominator Sapna Chawla. After 15 years of dedicated coaching, how did Don feel receiving the award? “I was very honoured and at the same time very humbled because I’m standing there in a roomful of worthy candidates.” In that single statement, all of Smallwood’s various roles—student, coach, practitioner—coalesce into one.

Get an advanced health designation Through a partnership with the Canadian College of Health Leaders, health care managers studying toward an Athabasca University MBA can now double their credentials. While working toward the AU MBA, students can apply and get credit towards the Certified Health Executive designation. AU students will also get a reduction in the CHE course fee. This partnership combines comprehensive business management knowledge to today’s most advanced health leadership practices.

While AU students still have to complete the CHE evaluation and final exam, they will receive credit for CHE’s LEADS in Action project and seven “MOC 1s” towards maintenance requirements. For more information, visit business.athabascau.ca/CHE.


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Minding the manufacturing gap For the last five years, the skilled labour gap has received lots of public attention in Canada. But in the manufacturing industry, the biggest HR challenge isn’t labour demand—it’s management. Nearly a quarter of Saskatchewan manufacturers are currently reporting management deficiencies, and that number could reach over 40 per cent by 2017, says Derek Lothian, vice president, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME). The numbers for other provinces are similar, he says. In a sector that already has its challenges—international competition, high comparative wages, lagging productivity and innovation—an anticipated wave of retirement at the senior management level could seriously handicap the industry. “We need to stay ahead of the curve,” says Lothian. “To develop and nurture those skills that are absolutely essential to success in manufacturing operations at a supervisory or management level.” That’s why CME (in partnership with Saskatchewan Polytechnic) launched its new national Manufacturing Centre of Excellence in Saskatchewan and engaged the Faculty of Business to design and

deliver new courses in manufacturing management. In a sector where skilled staff often rise from shop floor to management without any business training, the new Manufacturing Management certificate of completion trains managers in new business tools, cultivating expertise in such topics as supply chain logistics, safety management, human resources, financial decision-making, quality management and leadership. In keeping with the Faculty of Business’s proven online model, courses are short, flexible and paced. Because it’s online, coursework can be completed without losing costly time on the production line. “This is a one-of-a-kind program. Across the country there’s nothing else quite like it,” says Lothian. “This is knowledge that can be applied immediately, on the job, with networking and mentoring opportunities as well.” After a successful pilot in Saskatchewan in 2015, the MMC has now expanded nation-wide. New students can register for the 2016 year by going to business.athabascau.ca/mmc.

Accreditation An AU parchment comes with a certain status and recognition in the global business world. Soon that recognition will spread much farther. Under dean Hurst, the Faculty of Business is now pursuing international accreditation through the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). The process is long—up to as much as five years—but as a global leader in online business learning, it’s a move that makes sense. The focus of AACSB accreditation is on the quality of business education delivered by Athabasca University’s Faculty of Business. “Though students and alumni know and have experienced our quality and leading business programs, AACSB accreditation will provide external

validation that is recognized worldwide,” says Terry Beckman, associate dean, research and accreditation, who is leading AACSB accreditation within the Faculty of Business. AACSB identifies the best practices in global business education and incorporates these practices into its standards, which business schools must meet or exceed. While the Faculty is a member of AACSB, full accreditation will create new opportunities for the Faculty of Business to enter into new markets worldwide, for individuals who may not have heard about AU, but know it is of the highest quality because of AACSB accreditation. In 2006, Athabasca University became

the first Canadian public university to receive accreditation in the United States, through the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. This adds to a long list of memberships and accreditations that expand the reach and relevance of an AU education. Presently, the Faculty of Business holds membership, is accredited or recognized by Universities Canada, Canadian Network for Innovation in Education, Canadian Association for Graduate Studies, MBA Roundtable, Association of Commonwealth Universities, Inter-American Distance Education Consortium, International Council for Open and Distance Education and International Education Council.


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H I G H WAT E R M A R K

In the aftermath of disaster, Brandon Simmons restores hope by Je re my D e rks e n photo g r aphy Tow n of Hi g h R ive r / A l e x is A . McKe ow n


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Brandon Simmons at CPA Board Governance Case Competition / Alexis A. McKeown


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When flooding submerged the Town of High River, Alberta in summer 2013, Brandon Simmons was right in the thick of it. His office was evacuated, he nearly drowned in his car, his basement was flooded with seven feet of water and his personal finances were swept away in the deluge. In the stress of the recovery he discovered he had a heart condition and was rushed into emergency surgery with a heart rate of 260 beats per minute. Yet somehow, the Faculty of Business student managed to keep up with his studies and rebuild. With fellow students, he participated in the Chartered Professional Accountants Board Governance Case Competitions in 2013 and 2014, earning third and fourth place, respectively. Along the way, Simmons launched his own consulting firm and founded a charitable organization to help others affected by the High River disaster—all at just 25 years of age. Dr. Aris Solomon, associate professor, was Simmons advisor on the CPA competitions, in Simmons’s first year as an accounting student, and his second year, as a volunteer mentor. “Having done it before, his skills coming back as a mentor had improved immensely,” says Solomon. “He just gives, there’s no thinking about it. He’s just very generous.” Three years ago, Simmons was working as a carpenter and coming to the realization that his body wouldn’t be able to endure the heavy demands of the trade forever. Now, after uprooting his career and fighting through the floods, he’s back on firm ground, moving ahead and continuing to give back as much as he can. What was it like being caught in the flood? My office was right downtown, near the river. We could hear emergency vehicles rushing by and see the water rising out the window. The police told us they would evacuate us if the water crossed the road. Finally, it was time to go. When I pulled out of the parking lot onto the road, the water rose up to my windshield. My car just died. Water started seeping in under the doors. I couldn’t open my door. I had to keep jamming it. Eventually I got it open, and a guy with a big truck came by and pulled me out. I didn’t sleep for the next three days. Any time I closed my eyes I would see water rushing into my car. It was traumatic for a lot of people. It’s something you never forget. And that experience inspired your charity, Restoring Hope? You think you’ll understand how people will feel going through something like this. I remember helping out in Slave Lake after the fires there. But I didn’t understand that feeling of hopelessness, of thinking there’s nothing you can do. I remember rummaging through my stuff trying to save whatever I could. There really wasn’t much. I felt like I was in a trance when I went under our basement stairs and started cleaning out my baby stuff, my souvenirs, my school trophies, football jersey—and it’s completely destroyed. I was at a lady’s house the other day and her yard is filled with silt. It’s not covered by insurance so we’re going to help her re-sod it. Some people might think, it’s just a lawn; at least you have your

house. But it’s just a permanent reminder bringing you back to that day. A lot of our work has been sodding, helping people get back into their homes. We did a Christmas drive. We’re trying to give people hope again, trying to restore that hope after they’ve been through so much. Sounds busy—and yet you still managed to compete in the CPA Board Governance Competition. How did your experience play into your approach there? This year I brought a lot greater knowledge because it was on board governance and after the first competition, I ended up starting the charity. So I did a lot more research and hands on work in creating and actually running a board of directors. With Athabasca you’re generally coming from a working environment already, so I’ve already worked for years and I’m used to business meetings and things like that whereas for a lot of other students this is their first time presenting to CEOs. Up until then, it’s just theory. All of my teammates came from such different backgrounds and we all had experience. That’s why Athabasca does so well in competition. Meantime, you’ve been studying to transition from carpentry to business. How’s that going? I still miss the trades and working with my hands, but I love business. Now that I’ve moved on and done more with business, I couldn’t even think of going back. I love working with small businesses and trying to help them grow. Ultimately, at the end of the day, I don’t just want to work for someone else, I want to have my own company.

Simmons is going into his third year of studies in the Bachelor of Management program, and working to grow his business, Accel Consulting. His charity, Restoring Hope, can be found online at www.helprestorehope.ca. When he’s not busy with those pursuits, he loves spending time with his wife and his two young daughters.


FAC U LT Y O F B U S I N E S S

Trading Floor Chicago Mercantile Exchange

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T R A D E R S F O R A D AY Testing the real market value of education

by He at he r Biss onne tte photo g r aphy C hi c ago Me rc ant i l e E xchange / Andre w C ol l i ng s

L – R: Natalie Allport, Anshula Ohri, Stephanie Partridge, Alexander Poulton in Chicago / Andrew Collings

At age 12, Natalie Allport and her brother were already ahead of their lemonade-selling peers. Seeing a niche in the sports industry, the pair made and sold agility ladders to local sports teams. “We would make them while we were watching TV after school or after we finished our homework,” Allport recalls. At a time when Nike sold the ladders for $100, the Allports sold theirs for $25. It only cost $12 to make the ladders. In the end, the entrepreneurial pair pocketed a few thousand dollars. For Allport, it was an early lesson on how raw materials, marketing and real

demand influence the value of goods. Since that early experience sports and entrepreneurship have remained consistent themes throughout Allport’s life. Currently, as an aspiring Olympian on Canada’s national snowboard development team, she is used to competing at the highest level. She never dreamed that she would one day be trading on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME)—but after answering a call for participants from the Athabasca University Faculty of Business, she found herself suddenly immersed in the real-life process of electronic trading. Each year, the CME Group (which

operates the exchange) hosts an international competition for business students, allowing them to gain firsthand experience in financial markets. “There is no better way to learn about commodity trading than through reallife trading on the real market,” said Allport, who also owns stock of her own. Founded in 1898 as the Chicago Egg and Butter Board, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange is one of the oldest and largest public trading venues in the U.S. When it began, the CME was a place for buyers who wanted to invest in real goods such as crude oil, wheat, corn, cattle and lumber—like the wood used in agility


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ladders. Through expansions and mergers, the CME Group now handles over three billion contracts each year, covering a wide range of asset classes including futures, options, equity and interest rates, as well as commodities. On average these contracts are worth over $1 quadrillion annually. Historically, these contracts would have been traded by open outcry—the classic method of trading seen in Hollywood movies, where traders wearing differentcoloured jackets crowd into a pit, making trades by shouting out numbers and using a complex system of hand signals. Over time, however, trading has evolved with technology. The CME shut down its futures pit on July 2, 2015. Futures will still be traded, but electronically. It’s a whole new genre in trading where stocks are bought and sold using mathematical equations that are preprogrammed into computers. The CME Globex is the first electronic trading system for futures and options. The Globex allows for trading to occur

23 hours a day. CME’s pioneering SPAN software is used by over 50 registered exchanges, service bureaus and regulatory agencies around the world. In the 2015 CME Challenge, 503 teams from 226 universities participated in a market simulation, which ran over four weeks and involved the same trading methods used on Globex. Teams had to determine what commodity to trade, develop their strategy and define trading parameters using SPAN software. For AU students used to online learning, working in a simulated electronic environment would prove to be an advantage in the competition. Unlike other teams that entered from traditional universities and met regularly throughout the competition, the first time Allport met her team face-to-face was when she arrived in Chicago. The team managed their communication via teleconferences, text messages, phone calls and emails. “The other teams thought it was pretty

cool that we made it all the way to the finals just by teleconferencing and emailing,” said Allport. “Especially because they were getting together all the time, or they had been friends prior, and they were doing a lot of work on it all the time.” “Our students are accustomed to working together on the basis of virtual communications,” explains Dr. Eric Wang, undergraduate programs director and academic advisor to Allport’s team. “That enables our student teams to function—share info, analyze data and situations, make trading decisions— effectively without meeting face to face.” While Allport agrees, she also identifies another key contributing factor. “Our academic advisors were active in almost every teleconference and played a vital role in our team’s success.” Allport’s team, Far and Wide Traders, consisted of herself and two other undergraduate business students, Alexander Poulton and Op Sihota. Allport


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source: Chicago Mercantile Exchange

had never met either teammate prior to the competition. Team Far and Wide used teleconferencing and decided to trade crude oil based on Poulton’s previous knowledge and interest in the commodity. In the outset of the competition, teams spent two to three sessions a week communicating with each other but by the end communication was daily. The trading platform only allowed one team member to log in at a time. Therefore, trading occurred individually in a scheduled timeslot. At the end of the four weeks, each team’s portfolio was evaluated. At stake was an invitation to Chicago to participate in the CME Group Day of Market Education for the top 50 teams worldwide. When results were tallied, Far and Wide Traders had maneuvered themselves into 28th place. MBA students Todd Boyer, Anshula Ohri, Tim Stevens and Stephanie Partridge comprised the second AU team, the AU Traders, which finished 39th overall. Prior to arriving in Chicago, AU Traders

teammates Ohri and Partridge had never met, but they connected instantly. “She immediately embraced me and I felt that I was with one of the family,” says Ohri. “Being part of the online learning environment does that. I think it is part of the culture of Athabasca University, and has also made me more open to immediately offer support and friendship to fellow students.” Meeting in person for the first time added to the excitement of the teams’ arrival in Chicago for the CME Day of Market Education, held April 10, 2015. Upon landing at O’Hare International, the students were whisked to Chicago’s downtown Financial District, for a conference breakfast, team photo shoot, a meeting with CME Group CEO Phupinder Gill, education sessions and tours of the CME facilities. In a city renowned for its worldly architecture influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, one of the most impressive spectacles for Ohri was seeing the hallowed inside

of the Globex trading platform. “There were giant screens all over the place, looming down from above, along the centre of the room and on corners,”she recalls. At the conference breakfast both AU teams sat with the CME Challenge first place winners, OzU Invest from Ozyegin University in Turkey. “Seeing all the teams from different places in the world and then discussing trading on an international level was eye opening,” says Allport. She was particularly impressed with the level of financial and trading knowledge of all the other students. Overall, the CME Challenge left Allport with an expanded sense of the world markets and her future career options. “It made me feel like there’s a lot more opportunities in the world,” she said. “And it gave me a good perspective of where business is going … and the global economy, things that I might not have been paying attention to locally.” For the former sports equipment mogul, it’s just one more rung on the ladder to success.


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THE PUCK DROPS HERE Hockey front offices need to compete at the same level as the athletes on the ice by D erek D r ager photog r aphy G ett y Image s / Ian Gr ant

Capology. RFAs. UFAs. Lockouts. This was alien language in the hockey world when Wayne Gretzky was rewriting the NHL record book in the 1980s. In 1994, when Dave Andrews became president and CEO of the American Hockey League – the penultimate rung of pro hockey in North America – this lexicon was just about to burst into the consciousness of hockey. In the ensuing 21 years, Andrews built the AHL from a 16-team regional league based in second-tier cities to a 30-team, trans-continental commercial rocket, considered by many to be the best run hockey league in the world. He’s widely respected, and a best practices leader in the business of hockey.


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L-R: Joe Pavelski (San Jose Sharks), Dave Andrews, AHL President and Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Mighty Ducks) / Getty Images


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“THIS WILL BE A BADGE OF HONOR FOR PEOPLE WORKING IN THE INDUSTRY, TO SAY ‘I HAVE MY EXECUTIVE MBA FROM ATHABASCA UNIVERSITY.’ IF I’VE GOT TO PICK BETWEEN TWO PEOPLE, I’M GOING TO TAKE THE PERSON WHO’S FINISHED THIS PROGRAM.” -BRIAN BURKE PRESIDENT OF HOCKEY OPERATIONS FOR THE CALGARY FLAMES

The business of hockey: a concept—no, a reality that has become as important as the game played on the ice. Enter Athabasca University’s online Executive MBA with hockeyspecific courses, which grew out of an innovative partnership between the Faculty of Business and the Business of Hockey Institute (BHI). The hockey-specific courses build on the Faculty of Business’s internationally acclaimed online Executive MBA program and focuses specifically on the issues, challenges, and opportunities confronting middle and senior level managers in a rapidly changing global hockey industry. This collaboration between AU and BHI is a creation of Edmonton-based player agent Ritch Winter, managing director (North America) 4 Sports & Entertainment AG, and Brian Burke, president of hockey operations for the Calgary Flames. Hockey was always a business at the NHL level, but after the 1994-95 lockout, the introduction of the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and the salary cap, that business now occupies as much air and space in Canadian sports media as game reports and the scoring race. Dave Andrews talks about the exponential growth in the business side of the game, both in the sheer volume of work and in its complexity. Hockey, whether pro or elite amateur such as the Canadian Hockey League (major junior), is part of the larger entertainment industry. As Andrews explains, the competition is now for the fans’ dollars and for their time, because they’re being bombarded from all directions by technology-driven media. Hence, he says there’s a high demand for expert revenue generators who can step into a hockey operation above the entry level. “The world is beating a path to that person’s door.”

Those are external market factors; then there are the internal issues that drive a different kind of competition. Andrews says the salary cap and the CBA has forced NHL general managers to invest huge resources in his league, because “to compete in a cap system, you have to have young guys always moving up.” This cap system has produced a cutand-thrust of talent evaluating and negotiating within the NHL that no longer allows teams to simply draft the best players they can find and sign them to long term contracts. Every team in the league, from high value assets like the New York Rangers and the Toronto Maple Leafs to “poor cousins” like the New York Islanders, has the same CBAimposed limits to what they can spend on player salaries ($69 million in 2014-15, possibly up to $73 million in 2015-16). Nevin Markwart, BHI director and NHL player during the ‘80s and ‘90s, puts legs on Andrews’ “exponential growth” comment. “When I was with the Bruins in 1988, our entire team payroll was $3.6 million.” That amount might buy one second- or third-line forward in today’s NHL. As for franchise values, recent growth rates are equally breathtaking. Forbes magazine, crediting the new $4.6 billion Canadian media deal struck between the NHL and Rogers Communications, says the average franchise value has jumped 18.6 per cent in the past year alone. Craig MacTavish, another BHI director and former NHL player, coach and current sr. vice president of hockey operations for the Edmonton Oilers, sees the Rogers deal as a key accelerant for an already surging marketplace, describing the current NHL climate as “very dynamic.” Both Markwart and MacTavish hold Executive MBAs themselves, Markwart from Boston’s Northeastern


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Brian Burke / Ian Grant

University and MacTavish from Queen’s University. These two have a unique combination of hockey experience and business education, and like other BHI directors, they’re well qualified to provide AU with strategic guidance and content expertise for the hockey-specific courses within AU’s online Executive MBA. Dr. Teresa Rose, one of the program’s two curriculum coordinators and Dr. Michael Mauws, who led the initiative from the AU side, worked with Ritch Winter and Brian Burke to turn the concept into reality. Rose explains Phase 1 of the MBA includes six foundational courses within our online learning model. In Phase 2, the students complete four advanced strategic courses. The final course grouping includes six hockey electives, developed in collaboration with directors of BHI, which comprise the Hockey Management certificate of completion. Students who complete the Hockey Management certificate of completion receive not only their MBA from Athabasca University, but also a Certified Hockey Professional designation from BHI. The Faculty of Business’s distinctive asynchronous online model applies throughout the program. The final course— Managing Franchises Strategically—has a one-week residential requirement. All participants meet together in either Toronto or New York to present strategic plans to faculty members and senior hockey executives, and to meet league representatives and tour facilities. The other five hockey-specific courses cover a variety of hockey marketing and communications topics, but one among them stands out—Hockey Operations.

This course addresses the most arcane and important aspects of hockey management: capology – the science of projecting player salary budgets over years within the salary cap and negotiating player contracts to fit within the cap; the CBA and the different types of free agency it designates—unrestricted and restricted (UFAs and RFAs); traditional and newer methods of evaluating player talent—the old “eye test” versus advanced analytics and all they purport to divine about player performance. Sales and marketing are necessities in every business, but these arcana are key to running a successful pro hockey franchise. Note that the 2015 Stanley Cup finalists, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Tampa Bay Lightning, had two of the top three payrolls in the league, and also ranked among the top four teams with the least amount of “cap space” (room left before their player budgets crash into the ceiling imposed by the salary cap). This doesn’t bode well for either team’s ability to retain its stars for another run at the Cup within the next few seasons, unless, of course, they have those stars signed to long term contracts. While the GM’s role in today’s NHL still demands a highly skilled talent evaluator, Craig MacTavish explains the job is now just as much about “evaluating guys who can evaluate talent.” Understanding the importance of advanced analytics (detailed statistical breakdowns on player and team performance), balanced against the “eye test” (watching a player with and without the puck as part of the live flow of the game) requires a special kind of training, until now acquired pretty much solely through the “on-the-job” route. Add in the CBA, capology, contract negotiations—not to mention all the complexities of competing for a toehold


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in today’s overloaded entertainment market—and this is not like picking teams for your classic game of pickup pond hockey. Ron Robison, commissioner of the major junior Western Hockey League and BHI director, says there’s a real need for highly trained professionals who can step into senior level jobs even in his own league, but especially with NHL and minor pro franchises. He says these organizations have evolved from “hockey clubs into very sophisticated businesses.” Like Dave Andrews, Robison’s been running his league for a while now. Andrews reckons that average front office staffs in the AHL have tripled since he took over in 1994, from five and six persons then to between 15 and 20 now. For Robison’s WHL, which he’s been running since 2000, he estimates that the junior franchises have added three or four positions across the board, including marketing people, website and game day entertainment specialists and more senior management staff. So there’s definitely a demand for the program’s grads. But when are we likely to see these people hit the market? The first group of eight students began in May 2015. They’re all currently in Phase 1 of the MBA. The program will accept more students in September 2015, but the first full class won’t come in until May 2016, when the Phase 2, hockeyspecific courses will be ready to go. One of the first eight is Brett Barnes, a 27-year-old native of Penticton, B.C. Barnes is a bright, upbeat young man who played and refereed hockey into his early adulthood. His passion for the game drove him to find a way to make a living in it, and after selling hockey equipment for a while he turned to a sport management agency for his next career move. While working as a full time associate with the company, he is not only pursuing his Executive MBA with Athabasca University, but also following the process to become a fully accredited NHL player agent. So Brett Barnes won’t be knocking on the doors of pro hockey front offices looking for employment, he’ll be approaching players to represent them to those people in the front offices.


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He makes an astute observation about the socioeconomic strata most Canadian hockey players spring from in the 21st century. “A lot of players come from affluent backgrounds, and an MBA grad comes across with more credibility to them and their families.” Barnes says that his AU degree will afford him an understanding of the business of the game, and a professional legitimacy that will validate him day-to-day throughout his career. Brett Barnes is so committed to this degree that he is shouldering the tuition costs on his own, with the help of student loans. He is convinced that once he’s armed with the powerful combination of his player agent certification and his MBA, he’ll be able to pay those costs off quickly and Brian Burke agrees. Burke says, “This will be a badge of honor for people working in the industry, to say ‘I have my Executive MBA from Athabasca University.’ If I’ve got to pick between two people, I’m going to take the person who’s finished this program.” Another one of the first eight students is an Edmonton Oilers employee. Craig MacTavish says his organization is putting their staffer through the program as a “commitment to their professional development.” Barnes’s own timetable has him finishing his degree within two-and-a-half to three years; he’ll already have his agent certification by then. Imagine the audience he will demand in Toronto or New York during the residency week of the final course, proving his business acumen while networking with senior NHL executives as a player agent and the soon-to-be owner of an Athabasca University MBA.

For more information on please visit: business.athabascau.ca/hockey-mba @hockey_MBA Next application deadline: Feburary 15th, 2016


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LEARNING IN 3D

Custom education design delivers learner-centered experiences in an evolving online environment by Je re my D e rks e n photo g r aphy S cott G o o dw i l l / Ian Grant

Chad Fenrick, Ardel Steel / Scott Goodwill


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“IT TAKES A LOT OF RESOURCES TO MAKE ONLINE LEARNING HAPPEN BUT IT’S WHERE WE ARE, AND WHERE WE NEED TO BE.” -DR. TILLY JENSEN ASSOCIATE DEAN, PEDAGOGY AND STUDENT EXPERIENCE

Picture a modern production plant—a steel factory, for sake of argument. How do you imagine it working? “Our concept of manufacturing—you know, a factory floor with chips flying, oil sprays and sparks from welding, an assembly line with a bunch of people, chugging and noisy, hasn’t been the case in 20 years,” says Dr. Tim Nerenz AU academic coach, executive consultant of LMD programs and former president/ CEO of the Oldenburg Group, an American automotive and military defense manufacturer. A shift has occurred in the way things are made, a shift that reaches to the very core of society’s methods of production. Automation and 3D printing (or “additive” manufacturing) have “revolutionized” the industry, says Nerenz. “Between technology and globalization, the world completely changed between 1975 and 2000.” New technology is rapidly changing both the manufacturing plant and the post-secondary institution. And it will take a collaboration of both industries to prepare Canadian manufacturing for the future.

The single largest area of growing need in Canadian manufacturing isn’t labour, reports the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters: it’s management skills. The old way of promoting from within isn’t preparing managers to lead. “I’ve never been formally taught leadership. You get to a point where you know if you have the right skills but haven’t necessarily been trained,” says Chad Fenrick. The assistant branch manager at Ardel Steel trained as a draftsperson, then moved up into sales and eventually management. “You depend on staff to produce but if you need more of a supervisory staff or leadership role, you have to take them from that production side into leadership.” In an industry where every second of suspended operations can equate to tens of thousands of dollars lost, Canadian manufacturers needed a training solution that wouldn’t take frontline staff and supervisors away from the production floor. Online study was an obvious solution— but not just any cookie-cutter fix would do. Having pioneered the world’s first online Executive MBA program and being a leader in online education,

the Faculty of Business was a clear front-runner to help the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters bring manufacturing management into a new era. But what really made the institution stand apart was its approach to custom education development. Online delivery has transformed the post-secondary sector. Many institutions are still adjusting to the changes. MOOC, Moodle and OER are becoming standard academic lexicon, terms that were unknown a decade ago (and are still largely puzzled over by many). At AU, however, distance learning has been the model since inception. Being an early adopter of online learning has allowed AU to focus on ways to enhance its online offerings, including custom design for specific industries like manufacturing. “It takes a lot of resources to make online learning happen but it’s where we are, and where we need to be,” says Dr. Tilly Jensen, associate dean of pedagogy and student experience. “It requires a team effort. It’s very different from face to face teaching where the teacher provides all the course materials. With online, you need a content expert and a production team.”


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Janet Thompson and Jan Thiessen / Ian Grant

To use a simple analogy, the AU course development and production department builds courses the way an industrial 3D printer does: blueprinting, refining materials, prototyping, casting, and finally, production. Sound simple? Hardly. From conception to completion, developing a typical course can take five to six months and half a dozen staff to create. Industry experts and academics—like Nerenz, in the case of the manufacturing industry—create the outline, but then it’s up to the course development and production team to flesh it out: sourcing reference materials, securing copyright, producing multimedia resources, designing the online interface and considering how to build in supporting exercises. “There’s project management, time management, editing, instructional design, creative layout, video and graphic coordination, working with the course authors… it’s a wide range of skills that you have to bring to bear on a daily basis,” says Janet Thompson, course production coordinator. “It’s almost like architectural design.”

In addition to creating and compiling materials, a key part of the process is considering how students will be absorbing that information and working with the material.

trends towards openness and social learning, people are making all kinds of connections and learning in different ways online, and those are opportunities for us.”

“You’re a proxy for the student,” says Jan Thiessen, course designer and editor. “You try to get into their mindset, and ensure their needs and circumstances are accommodated… trying to remain aware of the variety of situations students come from. They’re not usually traditional, post-adolescents going to school full time, they’re working adults with responsibilities so on the pragmatic side, things have to be clearly laid out and communicated. And then there are a wide variety of learning preferences.”

AU’s new Manufacturing Management certificate (MMC) of completion is an example of just such a process. With insights from Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters and industry veterans like Nerenz, AU staff crafted a oneyear program that rolls out in eight four-week installments, covering key manufacturing areas like supply chain, safety management, project management and human resources.

At the same time, the nature of those learning processes are changing with evolving technologies—especially in the online education environment. “Those walls of the classroom need to be a lot more permeable, we’ve got to be more comfortable with bringing the outside of the classroom in and giving students opportunities to do things outside the classroom that they can bring to their studies,” says Thiessen. “With

For managers like Fenrick, it’s been a revelation. “It was the first real education course I’ve taken in a number of years. It was a real eye-opener to me. The skills I’ve learned at Athabasca will help me become a better leader and a better manager, not only for my staff but for our business in general.”


MANUFACTURING

MANAGEMENT 8 COURSES, NO PREREQUISITES 10

FAC U LT Y O F B U S I N E S S

CERTIFICATE

FAST

FACTS

COMPLETE CERTIFICATE WITHIN 1 YEAR

Management Topic Areas: Quality Management

Financial Decision Making

Safety Management

Manufacturing Management

Human Resources Management

Project Management

Cross Cultural Leadership

Supply Chain Management

=$

Qualifies for Canada-Provincial Job Grant $2,955 Investment

business.athabascau.ca/mmc

Online, no time spent away from work

Study with students from across Canada


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AGENTS OF CHANGE

AU community makes real, practical differences in global market by Je re my D e rks e n

For Dr. Janice Thomas, the language of business is international. This came to life while sitting in a boardroom with a group of Chinese senior executives in 2007, watching the CEO present in Mandarin. Despite the language barrier, Dr. Thomas’s background in project management and her academic studies enabled her to interpret the numbers, graphs and images even though they were presented in Mandarin, and gain insight into the company’s current state.

For Thomas, exchanges of this sort are invaluable. “Changes to industries happening very far from here are going to have impacts for our markets that we can’t even conceive unless you’ve talked to people from other parts of the world,” she asserts. If anyone truly appreciates the global nature of business and academics, and the interplay between them, it’s Thomas. The director of AU’s Project Management Research Institute has traveled the world gathering information and insights from 65 different organizations for her

research into project management’s universal relevancies. “It always surprises me just how similar we are all around the world, how similar the organizational challenges are we’re trying to deal with and how much there is to learn from everyone,” muses Thomas. “Sometimes when you get out and actually start working with people on projects in China, Russia or Brazil, you quickly find out that the challenges people face are very similar.” While Thomas’s work is remarkable in its


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extensive international reach, engaging global perspectives and working with colleagues across the world is typical of the faculty and doctorate students at Athabasca University, says Deborah Hurst, dean, Faculty of Business. “One advantage of our distributed learning environment is that it’s quite natural for us to reach beyond the physical borders of traditional classrooms,” says Hurst. “We have students living in Singapore, the Arctic, Australia and beyond. Our academics can collaborate with other researchers

and visit sites around the world, and still stay connected with their students and coursework at AU.” Dr. Thomas’s insights into the universal nature of project management are good news for collaborative-minded managers. But on the flipside, she says, “I’m also struck by how big and different some of the challenges are, and how insular we can be if we don’t get out there and talk to different people in other countries.” Joy Romero, vice president technology and innovation with Canadian Natural

Resources Ltd, stresses the importance of that dialogue. “Whether you’re acquiring commodities or selling into other regions, you can commit flaws if you don’t understand the intricacies. We need to be culturally respectful.” Romero, an AU MBA alumna, is now chairing the Faculty’s new Business Leadership Advisory Council that the Faculty established to gain insights into how to better engage with industry. The council is comprised of business executives whose work gives them regular international business exposure.


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WE DEAL WITH VENDORS, SUPPLIERS AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPERS FROM AROUND THE WORLD, AND OUR EMPLOYEES ARE FROM AROUND THE WORLD AS WELL.

At CNRL, being globally conversant is a necessity. “An oil fields project is an international event,” Romero describes. “We deal with vendors, suppliers and technology developers from around the world, and our employees are from around the world as well.” In that respect, AU is already hitting the right criterion. Graduate students at AU get worldwide business exposure simply by virtue of the AU learning experience, says Romero. “In my classes, we would start assignments in one time zone and go around the world over a 24-hour span, and then turn in the assignment on Alberta time. That process we used as students is the exact same practice as in business.” DBA students and AU faculty members carry that international focus one step further. Of late, research and learnings from the Faculty of Business are having impact in various fields that are equally relevant at home and abroad. With the growing demand for professional expertise in Canada’s knowledge economy, the movement of professional immigrants across international borders has become a

major issue. In her successful 2014 dissertation, “Recruitment and selection of immigrant professionals in Canada,” Dr. Kerri Thompson examined the process for recruiting and hiring new immigrant talent. Her research drew on three multinational companies recognized among Canada’s Best Diversity Employers. By analyzing discrepancies between the recruitment goals companies set and the selection methods they use, Thompson’s study provides practical steps to help Canadian employers reach their hiring goals. While Thompson studied how employers attract international talent into Canada, fellow academic Dr. Richard Game set out to understand how small and medium-sized Canadian enterprises (SMEs) can successfully expand into the international marketplace. In “SME Internationalization: The influence of attitude on the decision to commit to advanced market entry modes,” Game concentrated on leadership attitudes and how they impact on an SME’s foreign market strategy. His findings are useful to SME leadership and to government agencies supporting SME internationalization.

And that’s just a small sample of the AU’s growing influence. (You can learn more about how AU students and faculty are contributing to business around the globe on pages 36-39.) Recently, Dr. Thomas’s research into project management was celebrated on a worldwide stage by the International Project Management Association. The IPMA recognized Dr. Thomas for her “rigourous, multi-method research that integrates innovation and project management… that makes a real, practical difference in the world.” Research and innovation that makes a real practical difference in the world— there’s no better testament to the value that the AU business community delivers.


FLEXIBLE

RELEVANT

GLOBAL » DBA » MBA » UNDERGRAD

business.athabascau.ca


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C O N V O C AT I O N

Celebrating the graduates of 2015 by D eb S c ab er photog r aphy Kels e y Mc Mi l l an

The Faculty of Business graduates of 2015 worked hard to achieve their degrees, and we celebrated with them the weekend of June 13th. AU welcomed three new Doctors of Business Administration, 170 Masters of Business Administration, 115 Bachelors of Management, 86 Bachelors of Commerce and 16 Bachelors of Administration for a total of 390 graduates to the alumni community. Festivities kicked off on Friday night, with a welcome reception for Faculty of Business grads and their families at the Westin Hotel in

Edmonton. For some, this was their first time meeting their professors and AU staff that have supported them along their journey. Saturday morning, the grads and their families boarded buses and made their way to Athabasca for convocation ceremonies. Back in Edmonton that evening was the annual Faculty of Business Gala Dinner and Dance. Graduates were greeted with a champagne reception, and enjoyed time with their families and invited guests.

FROM TOP LEFT TO RIGHT 1. EMMCEES MERRI LEMMEX, MBA ’08 AND AUFB’S DIRECTOR, MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS, CHRIS MCLEOD, MBA ’12. 2. MBA GRADUATE ARLENE PATTERSON WITH HER FAMILY. 3. BACHELOR OF COMMERCE GRADUATE JILL SPENCER WITH BACHELOR OF MANAGEMENT GRADUATE YOLANDA ALARCON (L TO R). 4. MBA GRADUATE RITA KARMAKAR’S SON AT THE CONVOCATION GALA. 5. DBA GRADUATES GOLNAZ GOLNARAGHI AND MARK MORPURGO (L TO R). 6. MBA GRADUATE CARMEN YATSCOFF, BACHELOR OF ADMINISTRATION GRADUATES, SALMA DAMANI AND KIMBERLY DOLHAN (LEFT TO RIGHT). 7. MBA GRADUATE OMARI FERGUSON WITH AUFB’S MANAGER, CORPORATE RELATIONS AND MBA ’14, JESSICA BUTTS SCOTT. 8. MBA GRADUATE DAVE LIDDELL ADDS HIS NAME TO THE BOARD CELEBRATING THE GRADS OF 2015. 9. ASANI WOMEN’S TRIO LEAD THE GRADUATES INTO THE CONVOCATION CEREMONY. 10. DBA GRADUATE GOLNAZ GOLNARAGHI, HIGHEST GRADE POINT AVERAGE GIVES THE ADDRESS TO THE CLASS. 11. FACULTY OF BUSINESS CONVOCATION PROCESSION. 12. MBA GRADUATE CAPTAIN THOMAS SCHNARE AND HIS WIFE HENNY AT THE WELCOME RECEPTION. 13. ST. CRISPIN’S TRIO. 14. MBA GRADUATE KIM POIRIER (R OF SHIELD) AND HER EXTENDED FAMILY. 15. BACHELOR OF ADMINISTRATION GRADUATE ROBIN WIEBE RECEIVES HIGHEST GRADE POINT AVERAGE AWARD FROM AU PRESIDENT (ACTING) PETER MACKINNON AND FACULTY OF BUSINESS DEAN DEBORAH HURST. 16. MBA GRADUATE RYAN CHIN WITH HIS MOTHER ZELIA SMITH AND ACADEMIC COACH GLEN COLTMAN AT THE WELCOME RECEPTION (L TO R).


FAC U LT Y O F B U S I N E S S

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U N D E R G R A D U AT E Q U E S T I O N S

1

Is there someone I can call when I have questions about my course content? Yes, your first point of contact for all student support is the Faculty of Business Student Support Centre. A team of undergraduate student advisors is available to address your administrative and technical needs. They will immediately refer your academic queries to the appropriate academic expert.

3

Hours: Mon - Thu – 8:30 am to 8:30 pm MST Fri – 8:30 am to 4:30 pm MST Sun – 4:30 pm to 8:30 pm MST Telephone: 1-800-468-6531 (Canada/U.S.A.) Email: business-support@athabascau.ca

2

Web: Click the “Student Support Centre Request Form” link found within your online course site.

Can I complete a full degree at Athabasca University? Yes, at Athabasca University, you can complete a university certificate or degree. The entire program can be completed online. Barriers of time and/or location are removed at AU since you can work at your own pace from the convenience of your own home.

4

How do I apply to become an AU student and what are the requirements? AU has year-round enrollment with courses starting every month. You must be 16 years of age or older to enroll. Before you can start registering for courses, you must apply to become an AU student. AU’s application is integrated with the ApplyAlberta application and transcript transfer system. There is a non-refundable application fee and an evaluation and transfer of credit fee (please refer to our website for current fees). Once you complete the application process, you will be issued a student ID number. This ID number is your User ID for logging into my AU, our student portal. You only have to apply once. When you receive your student ID, you can register for courses as often as you like.

Can I transfer credit from my prior education into a degree at Athabasca University? Yes, credit from an accredited college or university is eligible for transfer credit towards a degree at AU. To determine whether or not your prior education is transferable, please visit our online transfer database can be found on the diploma to degree page of our website.


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EXECUTIVE MBA QUESTIONS

1 2 3

I don’t have an undergraduate degree, can I still apply? Yes, if you have 8 years of experience you can still apply If you have an approved designation and 5 years of experience you can also apply.

management to the MBA. professional management

What do you mean by “management experience?” Management experience refers to the experience of managing people, projects or budgets, or any combination of the three. We don’t insist that applicants have the title “manager,” but they must have this level of experience.

I have a three year undergraduate degree, can I still apply to the Executive MBA program? Yes, we accept any three or four year undergraduate degree from an accredited university along with at least three years of management experience.

4 5

How much can I expect to spend on books and software for the Executive MBA? Tuition fees include textbooks and our learning environment software. The only additional costs are travel and accommodation associated with the in residence elective. For current fees please visit our website.

How many courses do I have to take at one time? Our program is designed to be taken one course at a time. All online MBA courses are “paced,” meaning there are scheduled start and end dates, and assignment deadlines within each course. All courses are eight weeks long (with the exception of some ten week electives) with a two week break between courses. There are longer breaks in the summer and over the holiday season.


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DBA QUESTIONS

1 2 3

Do I have to write the GMAT? Yes, the GMAT or GRE is a requirement when applying to the DBA program. It is a provision set out by Campus Alberta Quality Council.

My master’s degree is not an MBA, can I still apply to the DBA? Yes, however, it is important that your master’s degree contains some coursework that focuses on business fundamentals. Interested students without an MBA may ask the program director to review their transcripts (with a $250 transcript evaluation fee) to assess whether the background preparation in management is sufficient to enter the DBA program directly or whether you will need to take some MBA courses in preparation for the DBA.

Is the DBA program 100% online? Nearly. For the first three years of the program, up until the dissertation stage, students come together for a week in September in Edmonton, AB. New students get familiar with the requirements and expectations of the DBA program and current students partake in their annual research workshop.

4

5 6

What is an acceptable area of study when completing my doctorate with Athabasca University? Any topic that is relevant to management practice is an acceptable area of study.

How does the dissertation work if I live outside of Alberta and my supervisor is in Alberta? All communications can be carried out at a distance using our learning environment and related communication technologies. A supervisor can be located anywhere in the world.

I have completed some doctoral courses at another university. Do you accept transfer students? Yes, each transfer student is evaluated on an individual basis with a $250 transcript evaluation fee. Students must also make the case for how their courses are equivalent to AU DBA courses and credit will be given toward courses that are deemed to be equivalent to those offered in the DBA.


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STUDENT & ALUMNI NOTES DBA Rosalie Hilde, DBA ’13, was elected treasurer for the Critical Management Studies Executive Board of the Academy of Management. Mark Morpurgo, DBA ’15, successfully defended his dissertation “Beyond Competency: The Role of Professional Education in the Development of Meta-Competencies,” becoming the ninth graduate of AU’s DBA program. Golnaz Golnaraghi, DBA ’15, and colleagues Dr. Ginger Grant and Dr. Anne-Liisa Longmore, presented their paper “On becoming you: Creating a transformational learning culture in business education through critical reflection” at the ESADE Spirituality and Creativity in Management World Congress, in Barcelona, Spain. Golnaz and co-author Sumayya Daghar had their paper “Likes, hashtags, and retweets: Critical discourse

analysis of Muslim women’s identities on social media” accepted at the CMS 2015 conference in University of Leicester, UK. Margaret Law, DBA ’15 along with Dr. Kay Devine presented their paper “Employee disengagement: The case of librarians” at the 2015 Western Academy of Management Conference in Kauai, Hawaii in March, 2015. Stefanie Ruel, MBA ’11 and DBA student, presented her paper “Intersectionality at work: The case of Ruth Bates Harris and NASA” at the Administrative Sciences Association of Canada (ASAC) 2015 Conference in Halifax, NS. She will also be presenting “A ‘FIERY, FIGHTER, BITCHY’ ‘HARLEM PRINCESS’: An archeo-geneological enquiry into intersectionality” at the Academy of Management (AOM) 2015 Annual Meeting in Vancouver, BC. Both papers were authored in collaboration with Dr. Albert Mills and Dr. Janice Thomas.

MBA Kathy (Shworak) Francis, MBA ’00, is now a digital marketing measurement analyst at the City of Calgary. In her new role she designs and defines digital measurement practices for the city. Tim Cleveley, MBA ITM ’01, became senior manager with the Atco Group, with responsibility for day-today vendor governance activities. Richard Babich, MBA ITM ’02, graduated with a PhD in Business Administration from Northcentral University, Arizona. Richard conducted research into the Canadian petroleum industry for his dissertation: “Relationship between employee retention and total rewards of extrinsic and intrinsic benefits.” Lennore (Popadynetz) Huddleston, MBA ITM ’02, joined Canadian Western Bank in April as a senior project manager, business readiness.

Ed Zynomirski, MBA ’02, is the newly appointed vice president, corporate distribution at ECHO Inc. He oversees the operations, sales and marketing efforts of ECHO’s distributors across North America. Subhash Sharma, MBA ITM ’03, became principal at Bronte Bay CPA Professional Corporation specializing in mentoring business growth, development optimization and building social capital. Sanjay Shukla, MBA ’03, is now a hospital sales representative for Leo Pharma Inc. in Edmonton, Alberta. In his role, he is promoting an anti-thrombotic product used in oncology across Alberta. Duc (Duke) Tran, MBA ’03, is now vice president, engineering, seaboard, with Weir Oil and Gas in Houston, Texas, as of March 2015. Scott Savage, MBA ITM ’04, is now managing partner at Logixsource Consulting Ltd. He also teaches project management at Humber College.


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STUDENT & ALUMNI N O T E S (C O N T I N U E D )

Joshua Caplan, MBA ITM ’06 is the new senior proposal manager with Motorola Solutions, for communications systems supporting first responders and the commercial sector. Kathie Aldridge, MBA ’07, has taken on the position of business analyst at Secure Energy Services Inc. The company provides integrated solutions throughout the lifecycle of oil and gas exploration. Dr. Glenn Berall, MBA ’07, received Athabasca University’s 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award, in recognition of his accomplishments in medicine. Dr. Berall is a world-recognized pediatrician specializing in nutrition, in particular childhood obesity, feeding difficulties and developmental conditions of nutrition. The former Chief of Pediatrics/Medical Program Director at North York General Hospital is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (Paediatrics) and currently serves as an assistant professor in nutrition, nursing

and pediatrics at the University of Toronto. Allan Danroth, MBA ’07 celebrated over 25 years in the power and natural resource sector. He is now president of Snubbertech Ltd., which engineers and manufactures rigless and rig assist technology. Rob Drew, MBA ’07, is now vice president, manufacturing operations at Forestry Equipment of VA (FEVA), which has been building trucks for over 30 years, specializing in bucket trucks, chip trucks, specialty units and chippers. Kathleen Martin, MBA ’07, is now a project manager with TransCanada, as of March this year. Michael J. Martin, MBA ’07, business and technology consultant with IBM, completed his third graduate degree, a Master of Education in Education and Technology from the University of Ontario, Institute of Technology. He also holds a Master of Arts in Communication and Technology from the

University of Alberta. Kent Verlik, MBA ’07, is a new director in the Alberta Safety Codes Authority, where he is tasked with ensuring ASCA process and activities align with the council’s mission and vision. Erik Durand, MBA ’08, became manager, customer services with Volkswagen Financial Services. Russell Permann, MBA ’09, was promoted to chief operating officer & executive vice president with Taiga Building Products in Calgary, Alberta, an independent wholesale distributor of building materials. Teresa Hein, MBA ’09, is now director, transportation planning with Maple Leaf Foods Inc. Teresa has been in food production for many years, formerly with Nabisco and Kraft Canada. Eresha Fernando, MBA ’10, is the new vice president, finance with the Sawridge Group of Companies, stepping up from her prior role as director of finance.

Dave Shepley, MBA ’10, is now AVP, disability operations with Manulife. Dave has been with Manulife for just over eight years. Adrian Tucci, MBA ’10, has accepted the position of director of sales and alternate channels with Pitney Bowes, responsible for leading the Canadian inside sales and alternate channel organizations. Ramon Perdigao, MBA ’12, became the program manager of Minacs Marketing Solutions in Oshawa, Ontario. John Windsor, MBA ‘12 has accepted a new role as director, commercial and asset management with Northland Power Inc. Rhonda Choja, MBA ’13 is now vice president, enterprise risk management with the Libro Credit Union in London, Ontario, after many years with the TD Bank Group. Jan Reischek, MBA ’13, received Athabasca University’s 2014 Rising Star Award. A senior vice president of ICUC, one of the world’s largest social media


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services organizations. Jan focuses on social strategies for clients who, at last tally, included one out of every five Fortune 100 companies. John Vandenberg, MBA ’13, was promoted to assistant deputy minister, energy, with the Government of the Northwest Territories. He was previously director of the petroleum products division. Ali Juma, MBA ’14, is now executive director of Algoma Family Services in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, a dream of his for the last 24 years. Paul Coke, MBA ’14, is chief operating officer at O2xygenation Inc, and vice president, client services at Lift & Shift Inc. Joe Keunen, MBA ’14, moved south to Bullhead City, Arizona, as the new general manager of Eagle Motorcycle Rentals LLC. Steve Lambert, MBA ’14, has been named CFO of McCormick & Company in London, Ontario, a company that markets and distributes seasoning mixes, spices,

condiments and other products. Kunnal Sharma, MBA ’14, joined the Ministry of Transportation Ontario as a senior procurement advisor, making the move from Manitoba Lotteries Corporation. Dale Blyth, MBA ’15, was featured by The Globe and Mail in its article “Custom-tailored schedule provides students with valuable flexibility” (May 28th, 2015), highlighting how Dale was able to apply his learnings to his workplace.

UNDERGRADUATE Val Billey, BMgmt ’09, is now executive assistant to the Director of Legislative and Corporate Services for the Town of Westlock. Nicolas Dunk, BMgmt ’07, began his new job as product manager for Dyaco in February. Jason Kujath, BComm ’10, is now a tax lawyer/ associate with Dentons in Calgary, Alberta. He practices all areas of tax law including tax litigation and corporate tax planning. Neha Jain, BMgmt ’12, is the new assistant marketing manager at Access Communications Cooperative Ltd. in Regina, SK. Mitali Chakroborty, BComm ’13, became the assistant controller at the Whissell Group of Companies. Jakub Kropacek, BMgmt ’13, recently became a senior account manager, Equipment Finance Group, with Canadian Western Bank. Shawn Haider, BMgmt ’14, is the new medical

education coordinator with BioPed Clinics, a company that aids individuals with foot and lower limb biomechanical problems. Natalie Allport, BMgmt student, was featured in The Globe and Mail article “Custom-tailored schedule provides students with valuable flexibility” (May 28th, 2015). Allport is pursuing a degree while chasing her dream of becoming a professional snowboarder. Jason Nixon, BComm student, was featured in The Globe and Mail article “The average undergrad getting an online degree is older.” Jason explains why he chose to pursue his degree online through Athabasca University and how it fits into his work and home life.


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FA C U LT Y NOTES Hussein Al-Zyoud, PhD, assistant professor, economics and student Carolyn Leblanc had their paper “Cooperatives: An investment in democracy and economic growth” published in The International Journal of Civic, Political, and Community Studies. In March 2015, Dr. Al-Zyoud published “An empirical test of purchasing power parity for Canadian dollar – US dollar exchange rates” in the International Journal of Economics and Finance. Clarence Byrd, MBA, professor, accounting, has had his text “Canadian Tax Principles” adopted by the CPA for use in their Advanced Certificate in Accounting and Finance. The text is now used by the majority of Canadian universities and colleges. Mihail Cocosila, PhD, associate professor, management science and e-Commerce, has published a new paper “How important is the “social” in social networking? A perceived value empirical investigation” in Information Technology & People.

Kay Devine, PhD, program director, DBA, along with new AU DBA graduate Dr. Margaret Law, presented their paper “Employee Disengagement: The case of librarians” at the 2015 Western Academy of Management Conference in Kauai, Hawaii in March, 2015. Dr. Jason Foster, former academic coordinator, who is now assistant professor in the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences along with coach Dr. Albert J. Mills and colleague Jean Helms Mills, received honorable mention for the 2015 Fritz Roethlisberger Memorial Award for the best article published in the Journal of Management Education ( JME) in 2014. The trio teamed up for their article “Shades of red: Influences of the cold war on Canadian and US textbooks”, which examines the difference between American and Canadian textbook treatments of economic policy as influenced by politics, and the impact that had on students and the North American culture of management.

Tilly Jensen, CPA, CMA, EdD, associate dean, pedagogy and student experience, receive funding support from the Chartered Accountants Education Foundation of Alberta (CAEF). Dr. Jensen is using the funding to transition traditional textbook resources to an Open Educational Resource (OER). OER will provide undergraduate business students significant annual cost savings resulting from using a ‘free’ resource vs. a publisher’s textbook. “Students everywhere will have free access to quality, current, web based course resources 24/7.” In addition, OER provides a platform for course materials to remain current, as accounting content updates can be implemented immediately. The dependency on materials produced by publishers is completely eliminated. Kam Jugdev, PhD, professor, project management and strategy, published an article in the Management Research Review entitled “The relationship between project management process

characteristics and performance outcomes” with co-authors Dr. Gita Mathur (San Jose State University, California) and Dr. Tak Fung (University of Calgary). This contribution is part of Kam’s research program on project management as a source of competitive advantage. In November 2014, Dr. Jugdev presented “The ‘F’ in group work: Managing the free rider problem,” at the Athabasca University Collaborative Research Forum, hosted by the Faculty of Business. Dr. Jugdev also presented a paper on “Limitations and implications of Project Management Institute’s organizational project management standard: A content analysis” at the Administrative Sciences Association of Canada, where she served as track chair/facilitator for the Management Education Division. Anshuman Khare, PhD, program director, Executive MBA, released a collaborative book in July 2015 “Managing in a VUCA World” with colleagues Oliver Mack, Andreas Krämer, and


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Thomas Burgartz. This book examines volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) and addresses the need for broader knowledge and application of new concepts and frameworks to deal with unpredictable and rapid changing situations. The premises of VUCA can shape all aspects of an organization. The book is available for purchase from Springer US. Helen Lam, PhD, professor, human resource management, had two articles published towards the end of 2014; “Defined benefit pension decline: The consequences for organizations and employees” was written with colleagues Ebony DeThierry, Mark Harcourt, Matt Flynn and Geoff Wood and published in Employee Relations. “Digitalization and promotion: An empirical study in a large law firm” written along with Marion Brivot and Yves Gendron, was published in the British Journal of Management. Thomas Mengel, PhD, academic coach, presented his paper

“Engaging students and communities in online project management teaching and learning” at the Dalhousie Conference on University Teaching and Learning. He also moderated a panel topic, “Fostering community engagement at the college and program level – Integrating perspectives from Renaissance College (UNB)”. In June 2015, Dr. Mengel moderated “Entrepreneurship education for social, technological and business impact: ­The case study of UNB in a global context” at the Deshpande Symposium of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. While there, he presented his paper, “Teaching social entrepreneurship in the context of undergraduate leadership education at Renaissance College”. Dr. Simon Sigue, PhD, professor, marketing and Dr. Pierre Wilhelm, PhD, assistant professor, business communications, presented their paper, “Structure variables,

influence strategies, and social satisfaction in supplier-retailer relationships” at the Collaborative Research Forum in November, 2014. Dr. Sigue has been appointed the new editor of the International Academy of African Business and Development (IAABD). Dr. Sigue has published extensively in highly regarded marketing and management science journals, and also serves on the editorial board for several prestigious journals. Houda Trabelsi, MSc, academic coordinator, and Dr. Mihail Cocosila presented their paper “Mobile payments in Canada: Perceived opportunities and challenges of contactless near field communication (NFC) payments” at the Administrative Sciences Association of Canada Conference in Halifax Nova Scotia. Mrs. Trabelsi was also the track chair/facilitator for the Management Education Division and participated in the Business Technology and Management (BTM) panel discussion and presented an overview

of the AU initiative with BTM program. Colleen Wright, BA, CPA, CMA, academic expert, accounting, has been awarded the 2015 President’s Award for Tutoring/ Mentoring Excellence. The President’s Award for Tutoring/Mentoring Excellence is awarded annually in recognition of excellence for outstanding instructional service to students at Athabasca University


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EXECUTIVE SUITE: A S E AW O R T H Y V E N T U R E by Je re my D e rks e n photo g r aphy Kr is Kr ug / He nny S ch nare

Cable Bay Farms on Galiano Island, British Columbia / Kris Krug

Mist lifts off the verdant forests of Galiano Island, unveiling the pastoral scene of farmland by the ocean. More than fifty years since farmers last tilled this land in earnest, small-scale crop cultivation is resurging amid the fertile, humid forests. It took an unlikely combination of seafaring entrepreneurism and Athabasca

University-inspired innovation, but Captain Thomas Schnare and his wife and business partner Henny Schnare are restoring sustainable food practices to their small corner of the West Coast, one step at a time. “I’ve always been sort of an adventurer,” explains Capt. Schnare, a tall, sturdy built man with dark hair and naval

carriage. “Deep sea for 12 years, I was on tankers, icebreakers in the Arctic, then B.C. Ferries, and so I just continued on with academic entrepreneurship with Athabasca University.” Upon retiring from B.C. Ferries in 2010, the Schnares decided it was time to stake a new claim. Thomas began studying towards his MBA at AU, with


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Captain Thomas Schnare leading the way on his tractor / Š 2015 by Henny Schnare - henny.ca


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THE BIGGEST THING ATHABASCA DID WAS SHOW ME HOW TO SEE OPPORTUNITY WHERE THERE’S A LOT OF AMBIGUITY AND USE THE BUSINESS TOOLKIT TO FOCUS ON DEVELOPING OPPORTUNITY WITHIN THAT FOG.

the notion of starting a business in farming or fishing.

fog. So, they decided to go for it and in 2012, Cable Bay Farms was born.

Most of that harvest goes straight to farmers markets around the island.

“I travelled the world, Antarctica to the Arctic, the Pacific, South America, Africa, and I realized there was one common denominator: any time there was an economic downturn there was one similarity… everybody in the city was skinny and mean, and everybody in the country was fat and happy. And it didn’t matter where you went in the world.”

“One of the most difficult nuts to crack in the agricultural industry was how to make small-scale farming profitable,” Schnare says. So he and Henny set about working it out. “[The island] had hundreds of thousands of acres of arable land, but all of our expertise went south 50 years ago… so through statistical analysis, I realized there was a huge opportunity in servicing the agricultural sector as a contract planter.”

At the same time as things were taking root at the farm, the Schnares launched another venture in commercial fish processing. “Our family has been fishmongers in Canada since 1752, out in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia,” explains Schnare.

But it wasn’t until Schnare heard AU associate professor Ana Azevedo lecture that all the pieces fell into place. “I listened to her lecture on new venture development, and I realized, that’s where the opportunity is.” “When you’re putting a new venture together and doing something totally new, you have to learn how to collect all the resources and operate that in a fog,” he says. “The biggest thing Athabasca did was show me how to see opportunity where there’s a lot of ambiguity and use the business toolkit to focus on developing opportunity within that fog.” Being a seafaring man, Schnare had plenty of experience navigating through

Through some creative research, the Schnares developed a planting method that can lay down up to 3000 plants an hour, with a 100 per cent success rate. Cable Bay now holds the contract for the Gulf Islands with the largest transplant operator in North America. “We provide a model farm, and contributions on crops, on small to medium sized acreages utilizing older technology, but with newer technology put into it.” The Cable Bay system enables small farms to increase yields by 30 per cent while reducing water use by a minimum of 70 per cent, allowing farms to cultivate crops at a 100 to 300 per cent return.

The new West Coast chapter of the clan, —Schnare, Hynick, Crouse and Sons— has developed special product lines in smoked salmon fillet and cold smoked tuna loin, and is reporting 300 to 500 percent growth year over year. Two launched businesses and three years later, Schnare graduated with his MBA in spring 2015. “It’s quite a journey,” he admits. “But when you’re having a hell of a lot of fun and making money at it, it’s not a lot of work.” “A lot of the time somebody else is doing the work. I’m just sitting on my tractor.” The lifelong adventurer has sailed some stormy seas and seen some exotic places, but it’s clear that there is nowhere else he’d rather be.


Taking your degree online is not a solitary experience. Get connected to your AU Faculty of Business student and alumni network... it helps keep you motivated to complete your degree and builds your professional network.


AU CONNECTED Issue 2 (Digital Edition)  

Connected is Athabasca University's Faculty of Business magazine for students, staff and alumni.

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