Evolving Telfer Executive MBA arms executives with skills for the new world of work

Greg Richards
Greg Richards is the director of the EMBA program at the University of Ottawa's Telfer School of Management.
Editor's Note

This article is sponsored by the University of Ottawa Telfer's Executive MBA.

As corporate leaders confront the disruption caused by new technologies, operating models and regulatory rules, the University of Ottawa’s Telfer Executive MBA program is arming its students with a new layer of insights as part of its award-winning business education offerings.

Rising executives and mid-career professionals now need to understand how  technical advancements, including artificial intelligence and cybersecurity impact their roles as  leaders both within their organizations and their industry at large.

The EMBA team is continually updating course content to embrace changes such as digital transformation, the emphasis on sustainability, and corporate governance and ethics. To accompany its flagship two-year degree program new diplomas, masterclasses, and microprograms are being created to offer continuous learning opportunities for EMBA alumni and current students. The evolution is part of a philosophy of ensuring that the EMBA curriculum stays relevant thus equipping participants with the skills needed to advance and grow in their career.

“Through the program’s six consulting projects that form an important connection to the business community, our EMBA students work on pressing issues that managers are facing and these experiences influence what we think about the role of executives and what they need to know to fulfill this role,” says Greg Richards, director of the EMBA program at Telfer. “We are committed to providing these powerful experiential learning opportunities for students at every stage in their career.

The new world of work

Although we cannot expect executives to become technical specialists, as companies continue to adopt new technologies and automated solutions – a shift accelerated by the pandemic – managers need a deeper understanding of these emerging tools, says Richards.

Executives in all sectors are facing challenges related to engaging teams virtually, adopting e-commerce platforms and understanding how to process online data, which can directly impact a company’s workflow. To help candidates tackle these challenges, the EMBA program now offers a digital transformation course, which explores business intelligence, AI and robotic process automation.

“We are at the point where tech is something that every manager needs to have working knowledge of,” says Richards. “EMBA participants need to understand how the new working environment we're in is going to impact what you do as a general manager.”

In addition, Telfer’s Executive MBA program is  arming its participants with insights into sustainability practices through a new course that examines sustainable supply chain management. The program has also infused conversations about ethics and governance in the accounting and corporate governance courses.

Reaching new executives

The program’s new course content offerings are part of a larger initiative to bring continuing education opportunities and professional development programming to Telfer EMBA participants and alumni. All of Telfer’s Executive MBA classes are being offered in hybrid fashion due to the pandemic, with the school ready to resume in-person learning as soon as health restrictions allow.

Through hybrid delivery of microprograms, masterclass seminars and short diplomas, EMBA graduates can refresh their skills and learn about new topics of interest including cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and government relations.

“If you graduated five or six years ago, there's been a huge shift in how things are being done relative to what was happening back then,” says Richards. “We want to help our graduates build on the knowledge they already have to help them better meet the needs of their organizations.”

These condensed programs can also earn the participants credits towards  a degree or diploma, acting as a stepping stone to continued education.

Telfer’s switch to hybrid delivery  during the pandemic has also offered participants living outside the National Capital Region the opportunity to enrich their leadership and management skills. The Executive MBA program is currently engaging students across Canada, including candidates from Nunavut, Saskatchewan and Toronto.

“Our investment in new technology adds to the experiential learning flavour of the program by incorporating experiences from various regions,” says Richards, adding that participants gain an added benefit by being exposed to issues affecting organizations across Canada. “There's a tectonic shift in how organizations are going to operate moving forward, and we will do whatever it takes to get our students ready for that.”