You may not think a farm in the Congo and recovering addicts here in Ottawa could have anything in common, but Telfer Executive MBA candidates Eddie Ukety and Laura Novitsky may beg to differ.
With the world finally reopening after a two-year pandemic hiatus, Ukety, who is currently a systems consultant with ADVA and Novitsky, a project manager with Providence Care, just returned from a one-week trip to Silicon Valley to tackle the second of their six consulting projects within the Telfer Executive MBA curriculum.
Hands-on experience like this is what drew Ukety and Novitsky to Telfer Executive MBA when they were looking for a graduate program. Holding previous degrees in the areas of STEM, each was seeking to add a business lens to their technical knowledge to help solve real-world business problems.
Halfway through their studies, they already have checked this off their list of achievements.
Slaying in Silicon Valley
The knowledge they acquired in the first half of their Innovation and Entrepreneurship course is how they survived being thrown into the ‘deep end’ of the disruptive landscape of Silicon Valley. Upon their arrival, they were expected to take what they had learned to “go interview people and ask the right questions,” said Novitsky. So that’s what they did.
Ukety’s team had been tasked with advising a tech company on the next phase of their business development. “We were able to take all those tools from class and apply them directly to our client,” said Ukety, “Our client was really happy that we pointed him in a new direction.”
Novitsky’s team helped a Japanese company conduct market research for expansion into North America. “We highlighted aspects of their prospective market expansion that were not initially on their radar,” said Novitsky. “In July, our client will actually be visiting the city/region that we recommended they expand into – they plan to implement our recommendations.”
Strong results for an initial foray into the entrepreneurial landscape.
This kind of hands-on experience builds more than skills. It also fosters an entrepreneurial mindset. The Silicon Valley experience forces students to embrace innovation and collaboration because around every corner there is a new opportunity. You learn that taking risks, asking the right questions, and forging business relationships can gain strong outcomes. Ukety, Novisky and their team members are returning home more than they left with; an innovative mindset and their new connections within the Valley.
Entrepreneurial roots inspire the seeds of innovation for their next project
What Ukety and Novitsky have learned from joining the Telfer Executive MBA community thus far will now help two non-profits at opposite ends of the globe create a better world.
Ukety is already using his consulting skills with his company to conduct a competitive analysis as the scope of his next project. What comes after that? He plans to focus on his global mindset by supporting a non-profit in the Congo called Cemadef, which incidentally is spearheaded by his mother.
The family connection is also in Novitsky’s DNA, who is following in her father’s entrepreneurial footsteps. This summer, she will be helping a new Ottawa non-profit whose mission is to support recovering addicts with personal training and functional fitness classes in a recovery community. She will help them with market validation and scalability as a part of her next project within the Executive MBA.
No one can innovate alone
Ukety says the value of being immersed in an entrepreneurial culture was “something I completely underestimated before I started this program.”
That’s why when you ask about their projects, Telfer Executive MBA students are quick to tell you about the amazing people on their team. “There’s that breadth of knowledge. A gentleman on my team in his mid-late 50s has 40+ years in the navy,” said Novitsky. “There’s not just professional experience, there’s life experience. It’s about knowing how to lead.”
In spite of the students’ diverse backgrounds, their entrepreneurial mindset brings them together. “There are a lot of like-minded people in terms of creativity,” said Novitsky. That could be why entrepreneurs create communities. They just can’t help themselves, it’s who they are. They need to create.