The life of a team pursuing the Cornell-Queen’s Executive MBA
To make it easy for busy professionals in major cities to pursue its executive degree, Queen’s pioneered offering classes via high-quality, real-time, interactive videoconferencing technology in customized boardrooms in cities across Canada.
For CQEMBA, that model has produced an especially rich environment for students, who attend class with peers from throughout North America. “The participants represent a far more diverse group of industries and backgrounds than could possibly be the case if they all came from a single city or region,” says Danny Szpiro, assistant dean for executive education at Johnson and founding director of the CQEMBA program.
A professional in a software firm in Seattle, for instance, might have a chance to learn from colleagues who work on Wall Street or Toronto’s Bay Street, or in the energy centers of Houston and Calgary, he said.
Classes have grown increasingly diverse as CQEMBA has expanded its footprint. Members of the Class of 2011 attended boardroom sessions in nine cities in the U.S. and six in Canada. More recently, the program added Sacramento, San Diego, and Austin.
While broadening their knowledge and developing new proficiencies, students in the program may also make important contributions in the business world. That happens often during the Global Business Project, in which each CQEMBA team provides consulting services to an overseas firm or to a domestic firm with overseas operations.
“They’re solving a real-world problem or developing an entry strategy or expansion strategy for a company,” says Shai Dubey, director of the CQEMBA program at Queen’s. Teams have applied their knowledge and skills so successfully that some companies have come back to request more students to work on new projects, he says.
Students working on individual projects have also provided valuable services. Several years ago, as part of her project, a student from Calgary working for a major U.S.-based firm devised a plan to restructure some of that company’s operations. “She was asked to fly to headquarters to present to the executive team, because the project was saving the company tens of millions of dollars,” Dubey says.
Some projects spawn business startups. For example, building on his new venture project, Shawn Burns, MBA ’07 (CQ), founded Carbon Credit Corp., a successful Vancouver-based technology and consulting firm in the environmental sector.
In fact, CQEMBA has become a significant breeding ground for new businesses, Dubey says. “It surprises me, the number of people who have decided they have the entrepreneurial flair and have decided to go off on their own.”