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Executive Education

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

  • The Ivey Academy
  • |
  • Oct 3, 2017
Interview with The Ivey Academy's Mark Healy (part two)

In part two of this three-part interview, Mark discusses the uniqueness of The Ivey Academy experience and how the learning that occurs during a program is accessible to all, regardless of educational background.

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

What can I expect from an Ivey Academy experience compared to a generic one?
The way that we talk about the business is this: if you want management training in Canada – good management training in Canada – there are many options, many providers. There are universities that provide executive education, like us. There are consultancies, specific training consultancies and management consultancies that will do this kind of work. There are online training firms and training companies that do things through webinars and MOOCs. They are all solid, but the experience is going to be dependent on the category you choose and the provider within that category that you choose. If you think about world class university-based executive education, the differentiation being, generally, that you’ve got research backed content, it’s contemporary, and it’s well-backed by data from a global perspective – you’ve got four or five options in Canada. We’re on the list and we all know the other schools that are on the list. If you want meaningful, long-lasting, transformative behaviour change, we believe we’re the only game in town in Canada, and that’s what you could – and should – expect if you come and see us. You’re going to come out a different person, you’re going to come out a better leader and you’re going to come out a more confident business person because you’ve had the opportunity to actually practice new skills and not simply attain new knowledge while you’re here. 

Is The Ivey Academy experience going to be markedly different than my undergraduate or graduate experience? And if so, how?
It depends on where you went to school. The typical person who is here didn’t go to a business school and didn’t go to a case-based business school. This means they went to college or university and they were lectured at, for the most part. There were readings assigned, those readings were done, there were homework assignments, those assignments were handed in and done on an individual basis or maybe in small teams. The format of learning was largely unidirectional and lecture-or-slide-based. If you went to a business school and went to a case school, it’s still going to be different here because we take the experiential learning approach and extend it a lot.

The foundation of case learning is this: you prepare on your own ahead of time and then the 60 or 90 minutes or two hours spent in a room with peers is about highly engaging debate over the issues present in that particular business case, and all of the learning falls out of the debate.  The professor’s job is to actually facilitate a conversation in the room, where it’s a safe environment, people can contribute different perspectives, and they learn from one-another – not simply from the faculty member. The faculty member does provide some content, but that’s only about a third of a session. Two-thirds of each session is actually a conversation that happens in the room. And if you’re used to contributing, say in meetings, in this way, you’re still going to get a different experience here at The Ivey Academy because we take experiential learning further. We run simulations, both computer simulations and live simulations, we bring in paid actors, we run mocks and drills, and we practice in sessions so you get the opportunity to actually take what you’ve learned, break old habits and establish new ones while you’re here. 

If I didn’t go into university, am I going to feel overwhelmed as a participant in one of your programs?
No, absolutely not. More than half of our participants haven’t gone to university at all or haven’t attended business school. Our methodology is designed, intentionally, to bring learners along in a safe environment. You do not require advanced business skills, advanced quantitative skills, advanced math skills or analytics skills. It’s more about reading, digesting information, then coming prepared for a lively debate and learning from those around you. We understand why it can look like an intimidating environment, but we constantly have feedback from folks who haven’t attended degree programs or business school before. They say that their experience was the best three days they have ever spent; that it was completely different from what they expected.

So it’s not going to be purely academic and theoretical?
That couldn’t be any further from the truth. Our faculty members, what they are trying to do all day, every day, is draw out practical experience and practical learning that will help people break some old habits and establish new ones, habits that will help them actually change the way that they conduct themselves in their daily lives. You – as a participant – are going to impart your knowledge and lessons on others, and you’re going to meet and be in a class with lots of folks that are like you. Not only are you going to pick up the theoretical models – though the use of theoretical models is actually quite rare – you will also pick up things from folks that are just like you that will help you in your job day-to-day.

What does the composition of each class look like? Will my classmates be at the same level in their careers as me?
We are careful on the curation side about who we put together in the room, so, it’s not willy-nilly. You tend to have cohorts of folks that come from similar backgrounds but they come from a wide range of industries and firm sizes. If you’re a manager in the airline business, you might learn a lot from someone who is working in grocery or someone who is working in retail, who is consumer-facing, but deals with a different set of issues and is tackling problems from a different perspective. That type of learning always surfaces from the debate and the discussions generated in the room. Faculty members will not only say, “What would you do in this case, but by the way, if you’ve faced this problem before, what have you done? What worked, what didn’t work? Hey Grace, maybe you could learn from Bob? Bob has seen this before and he tried this and it didn’t work, but that learning will be valuable to you.” 

You can expect a range of perspectives, across industries, firm sizes, and different backgrounds but you’re going to get the learning from someone who you really respect and consider a peer. Our classes are typically 20-35 participants in total. 

It’s difficult for me to spend much time away from the office to focus on learning.  What steps does The Ivey Academy take to ensure that I can focus on the learning distraction-free?
Time management and focus are some of the core pieces of the Ivey model. First, readings and cases are distributed prior to each program so you’re not wasting time preparing while you’re here – you can dive right into the material. Most of our programs have a no cellphone policy during class; you’re going to check your phone at the door so you’re not distracted by text messages, calls and emails. We are starting to incorporate mindfulness training into work that we do, so there are some practical drills done at the beginning of programs just to help you to focus and concentrate better, which we all know is a growing problem. And then there are breaks that are built in to the program so you can go out and spend half an hour or an hour to deal with your life and your inbox that is mounting and piling up in the background. 

Part one and part three 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