Skip to Main Content
Executive Education

Interview with The Ivey Academy's Mark Healy (part three)

  • The Ivey Academy
  • |
  • Oct 10, 2017
Interview with The Ivey Academy's Mark Healy (part three)

In the final installment of this three-part interview, The Ivey Academy's Mark Healy talks about Ivey's faculty, custom program capabilities, and how success is measured from a custom program perspective. 

Part one and part two of this interview can be found on The Ivey Academy blog

How do your faculty teams rate when compared to other executive education providers?
I think we’re clearly ahead of our competitors with faculty – it’s one of our competitive advantages. Only top-rated faculty at Ivey teach on our programs; it is considered a privilege here. It’s a combination of knowledge and practicality. On the knowledge side, do we have really smart folks? Of course we do. We have folks that are endowed with chairs, we have folks with big research grants, we have folks that run institutes and centres here – we have a Leadership Institute, an Entrepreneurship Institute, an Energy Institute, we have a Health Institute, among others, so we have professors with very deep research knowledge. But the practical side is more important. Coming back to the case writing piece – everyone here has to be in touch with industry, and everyone has to teach. At Ivey, teaching is a craft and it’s not an afterthought. The actual teaching load at Ivey is high, higher than at most business schools and the teaching is not academic teaching, it is very practical because of the case method. Our faculty are deeply in touch with the industry at all times, where they are retained to work as experts in those fields by companies because they’re current with the issues in those fields. 

Not only do we have the top-rated, experienced senior faculty – and we’ve talked about how they stay in touch with this industry – but we also bring in industry practitioners, we bring in consultants, experts, panels, and speakers of folks that are out there fighting the same battles as you are, day-to-day, every day. They have experience both in succeeding and failing, and they impart their knowledge on you.

Where are you able to deliver programs?
We have three different models of program delivery. From both an open-enrolment and custom academy perspective, we have a residential model. That means we have a complete, all-in-one retreat-style conference centre, custom-built classrooms designed for case learning, plus hotel, plus restaurant, plus bar, plus common areas, and that’s in London. We then have a non-residential option in Toronto. Our Toronto campus is located in the heart of Toronto’s Financial District. There are three classrooms and the facility has some conference hosting capability. We have a relationship with a hotel in Toronto for those participants that require accommodation, but it’s really a day model. And then from a purely custom program perspective, we can deliver anywhere. We have many examples of taking programs to clients or on the road, such as running an academy for more than 10 years for a company in New Brunswick where we do most of their work locally. We do some work with an oil patch company in Alberta where we deliver it in Red Deer. We do some work with a marine company in Vancouver, we deliver right in the city for them. We even do some work in Europe for a handful of clients. 

From an organizational or human resources perspective, what benefits will I get by having my team or employee group participate in an Ivey Academy program? Is the program content customizable?
I would start by asking myself, why would I go down the road of looking at a custom program in the first place? I do that because, for a cohort of people, which might be as small as 10 or 12, or might be as large as hundreds or thousands, there is a skill set and a core competence that I want to embed in those folks that I believe is aligned with my organization’s strategy and talent objectives. 

Ivey is a partner that can help achieve the alignment – Ivey does the knowledge transfer, but also gets to the behavioural change that you’re looking for. For instance, a client has a problem in that their employees don’t know enough about risk management or they’re not sophisticated enough when it comes to leadership. Our clients don’t actually want their employees to come back with more models, more formulae and jargon. They want their people to come back and behave differently, they want people to do their jobs differently, more competently, and they want them to be better and to be better leaders. The return on investment is a bit intangible and tangible at the same time. The intangible stuff is the confidence level of the folks you get back that you’ve put through. On a tangible level, you should see higher levels of engagement, higher levels of productivity, you should see fewer mistakes, less re-work and that should translate to actual bottom line results. 

You mentioned behaviour change – what changes can I expect to see in a program participant following an Ivey Academy experience?
If you think about the fundamentals of behaviour change – and the first step in any behaviour change is identifying the behaviour you’re wanting to change – you’ve got to codify it or classify it in an objective manner. Then you’ve got to break that habit and replace it with a new habit. So, how do you do that? You identify the habit, you get some coaching and some support and some objective feedback on it and then how do you replace it? You need to be informed or armed with new knowledge or new perspectives, and then you’ve actually got to go and do it. So the idea of practice is really important. Sometimes it’s easier if you think of the analogy of a musician or an athlete – if that person is going to go through a behaviour change, they’ve got to change their style of play. It’s the same process, but sometimes it’s easier to think about it in that regard rather than it is to think about management training, but it’s really no different. Identify the habit, get some feedback from a faculty member, get some coaching on how to change it, break it, and replace it with new knowledge and then practice through drills over and over and over, and that’s really the process we go through here. What does that lead to? It should lead to someone coming back to the workplace with more confident leadership skills, feeling more confident when it comes to applying technical skills, asking better questions in meetings, leading meetings more effectively – overall, being a more effective business person and a more effective people leader.

How do you know that behaviour change will stick with program participants?
On the corporate side and custom side, a lot of our clients will ask us how we know that the change will be long-lasting. The answer is threefold. First, we really believe in our methodology, we really believe we change people, through deep experiential learning and our environment. Second, we embed it in our organizations as part of every custom program, whether it’s a three day one-off or a multi-year academy across a series of pieces of subject matter for a company. We do so through action learning – we call it LEAP – Learning Embedded with Application and Practice, where projects are assigned to teams and they are implemented between and after modules to ensure that learning is actually embedded in the organization. The third piece we offer is executive coaching, to reinforce the behaviours that need to be changed throughout the program and afterward. Often we pair coaches with assessment tools. For example we’ll give a participant a 360 assessment or DiSC analysis, focusing on a certain set of behaviours, and the coach would work with that person on an individual basis, even after the program is long finished, to make sure those changes are sticky.

What sort of feedback do you get from participants once they have completed a program?
We hear things like, "it was fun, it was warm, I was really stretched – but I felt great at the end of the day, I felt different. I built a comradery with my peers while I was here." And we hear things on the service side like, "it was turn key, it was white glove, basically my program manager acted like a concierge and helped me with the non-learning part of the equation, helped me figure out how to get to my room and figure out what I should do with my spouse and my kids while I was here, planning a restaurant reservation." We take that service element seriously here.

Could you provide some examples of success stories that you have experienced working with custom clients?
Sure, I’ll share a couple. We have a client on the east coast of Canada that we’ve been with for over 10 years now. They have put 1200+ of their folks through our programs over the years. We’ve delivered a leadership program – which is a foundational program for their employees – a communications program, a finance program, and a coaching program. They track career progress and internal promotions, and essentially everyone who is in a leadership role there – approximately 150 leaders – they’ve all come through an Ivey program over the years.   

A newer example would be on the West Coast, we have a client in in Vancouver, and they’re like the dog that ran down the street and caught the pickup truck.  They were a company with approximately $50-million in revenue that then became a multi-billion dollar company almost overnight. They decided they needed to grow up, so we started with their senior team, their top team of seven. And we’ve now run five cohorts with 200+ of their managers through our program. They were so concerned with behaviour change, they mapped leadership and management competencies that were important to them, and we then custom built an assessment tool and measured everyone on an individual basis before the program started. We focused on the bottom three behaviours to change for every individual, assigned every individual a coach to interpret the results, and customized their learning path through the program. Then, post-program, there are two assessments, a month later and a year later and we, the provider, are measured on an index of improvement in the bottom three behaviours across all three employees. The performance of the index is part of how our performance is evaluated – but more importantly – that’s also how those individuals are compensated. It’s baked right into their performance model and their pay models.

Part one and part two of this interview can be found on The Ivey Academy blog


The Ivey Academy is ranked as one of the top Executive Education providers globally by Financial Times. The Open-Enrolment portfolio comprises 19 programs focused on core leadership, business acumen, and industry-specific skills. Open programs are typically three days to three weeks in length, and are held at both our Toronto and London campuses. Our Custom Academy business unit works with corporations, governments, and other NGOs and non-profits to design and execute development and training programs tailored to the client’s specific needs. Custom Academy programs are typically multi-cohort, multi-year endeavours, supporting executive, HR and L&D objectives, and run either at our Toronto and London campuses or globally based on client preference. All Ivey Academy programs are deeply experiential in nature, concentrating as much on behaviour change as knowledge transfer.


  • Executive Education