“The lessons learned will stay with us as we solve challenges in our own organizations and beyond,” writes Michael Rychlewski, MBA 2023.
The class of 2023 MBA closed out their MBA program with BRIICs--Building, Resilient, Intelligent, Infrastructure for Cities. Taught by Professor Romel Mostafa, Leading Cross Enterprise was the capstone course to complete the MBA program. One Hundred and Thirty Eight of us had the responsibility to bring the tools we gathered from the learnings of the MBA program to create smart infrastructure project ideas for cities across Ontario.
Teams in the Leading Cross Enterprise course flushed out high-tech solutions to solve real, big-picture problems, felt by residents in our province. The concept of smart infrastructure for communities was met with the importance of stakeholder consultation while bringing together the right people and mobilizing the right resources for public projects. The course allowed MBAs to analyze data points from the perspective of both the firm, public decision makers, and the residents of Ontario’s communities. To cap this capstone course off, four MBA teams with the most robust and well-constructed intelligent infrastructure plan were invited to pitch to Infrastructure Ontario’s senior managers at the Ontario Investment and Trade Centre in Toronto.
In addition to the friendly competition, students benefited from talented, industry leading guest speakers throughout the week-long course. The guest speakers, who are experts in their fields, offered insights that were from beyond cases and the classroom. Speakers hailed from a variety of sectors such as venture capital, energy, health, technology, and government administration. Topics ranged from the intricacy of global cybersecurity to developing the healthcare system in Ontario and the use of robots and AI in the construction industry. The MBA students had the opportunity to actively on these topics and develop their own actionable ideas for infrastructure challenges facing our cities.
Mahmood Nanji, Fellow, Lawrence National Centre for Policy and Management
Former senior government official, Mahmood, led a session on global infrastructure, providing a unique perspective on the importance of investing in smart infrastructure, and especially, how critical it is for places that aim to be world-class cities to do so. The session showcased success stories from around the globe and specific use cases of resilient, intelligent infrastructure that accelerated the economic opportunity of countries and its regions which implemented the projects.
Karli Farrow, Chief Executive Officer, Trillium Health Partners
Karli provided the MBA capstone course with an opportunity to look through the lens of a hospital executive upholding the processes and viability of the healthcare system during a pandemic. Karli’s session covered how Trillium Health Partners stood resilient in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and how the hospital leveraged technology, its human resources and novel strategy to overcome obstacles, and chart out an ambitious expansion plan for the future.
Hari Suthan, Executive Vice President, Advanced Utility
With a focus on energy, Hari went into depth on how cities may equip themselves with data and smart technologies, and how the private sector may support the massive undertaking of building resilient, intelligent energy infrastructure. The session covered recent advancements in cleantech and renewable and the implementation of these solutions.
Kelly Gillis, Deputy Minister, Infrastructure Canada
Calling in from the nation’s capital, Deputy Minister Gillis provided the MBAs with a snapshot of Infrastructure Canada’s mandate, its organizational structure and how federal government works with provinces and municipalities to deliver infrastructure. The Deputy Minister walked the MBA cohort through the funding processes and channels the federal government uses from planning to implementing infrastructure projects.
Ramtin Attar, Chief Executive Officer, Promise Robotics
As part of a real, tangible solution to the painstaking problem that is residential construction in Ontario, Ramtin showcased his company, Promise Robotics, and how the firm delivers efficient and reliable construction of homes through the use of robots and AI. Promise Robotics is expanding out across the country and the continent and MBAs got a look into just how Ramtin is shaking up the construction industry for the better.
Salim Teja, Partner, Radical Ventures
A veteran technologist, former executive at MaRS, and board member at numerous public and private organizations, Salim Teja took the Ivey MBA capstone course through the tidal wave of generative AI and how the technology will disrupt the world. MBAs engaged in thorough discussion on the topic, as Salim offered his knowledge and insights to what is unfolding in the tech industry, the broader impact across the economy, and the implication for public policy.
John Hewie, Chief National Security Officer, Microsoft
As smart infrastructure is deeply integrated in network techology, there is potential risk to the integrity of the infrastructure if it is compromised by bad actors. John provided the MBA audience with examples of brutal cyberattacks, the effects those attacks can have on communities and government systems, as well as the ways in which organizations and individuals can limit the risk of cyberattacks.
Some Key Insights
The tangible lessons learned from the Leading Cross Enterprise course sessions were plentiful. For me, as a recent graduate and tech entrepreneur myself, however, three lessons stood out from the speaker sessions:
- Entrepreneurs can solve real problems in our society
Ramtin Attar and his firm, Promise Robotics, is proving that with using cutting edge robotics technology and deep learning, his firm can rapidly expedite construction projects. As we know, there is a massive gap in the large demand for housing which is squeezed by a short supply. Ramtin, an entrepreneur that understands technology, understands the business problem he wants to solve, understands how he’s going to take this his concept to reality, and understands how to drive action, is delivering real results. While the technology that Promise Robotics uses is incredibly complex, Ramtin found an opportunity to build a business that proving to be not only financially successful but also have a positive impact in Canada and elsewhere, and in the process, demonstrate the importance of moving the world forward to provide people with affordable homes efficiently.
- Canada’s AI story
Salim Teja, Partner at Radical ventures, told the MBA cohort about Canada’s fascinating AI story. “For 30-40 years,” Salim noted, “while there were lots of ideas, the field never matured… largely because the approach that was taken in traditional AI was rules-based”. Then came the deep-learning and the success of algorithms using deep learning, initially in image recognition problems demonstrated through the ImageNet competition in 2012. Salim explained, “that was when the world started to pay attention [to AI].” This initiative blossomed the “proliferation of talent” starting in Toronto and growing across the world, driving deep learning innovation. Salim made the case that, if, “Geoff [Hinton] and his cohort who were inventing the field could come from Toronto, why couldn’t we as a country invest in developing more talent so that we could drive the field forward and help power this innovation in a substantial way?” Along came Pan Canadian AI Strategy, and then the creation of various organizations, such as the Vector Institute, MILA, and AMII – all mandated to catalyze talent development and promote local innovations and in the process, a new generation of start-ups would spun out utilizing this technology. Salim advocates for the incredible opportunity of AI technologies in Canada. “I always felt like the most exciting opportunities that I wanted to pursue weren’t in Canada, they were somewhere else,” But that changed now. “The world is paying attention to what is happening in Canada… we’re punching way above our weight.”
- Advancing healthcare with technology
Karli Farrow, President and CEO Trillium Health Partners, explained how the hospital network is leveraging technology to change the way our healthcare system handles patient delivery. With 1.7 million patients per year, the Trillium health system is looking to AI to bolster patient care in the Peel region. Karli explains how an AI generated model, reflecting a patient’s care, maps the road to recovery: “…this is the target discharge date, this is what you have to do to achieve that date, right up to the CEO, we will be able to see where we missed those targets. It’s all generated by an AI model that can take the complexity of each unique patient.” This session within the LCE capstone course proved a case how AI and other deep technologies will reinvent organizations, reinvent industries, and will also push society forward, in this example, enhancing the patient experience and wellness in Ontario healthcare system.
The Leading Cross Enterprise course allowed our 2023 cohort to step out of the business manager role and broaden the perspective by incorporating views of multiple stakeholders in our society. The capstone course took a different approach to learning, gathering our skills honed from MBA courses, soaking up new concepts from course sessions and guest speakers, all with the goal of tackling problems that face our communities. The course provided an opportunity to be a leader at the community level, building resilient infrastructure as means to solve real problems that hinder quality of life, as well as productivity and competitiveness of our businesses and citizens. The lessons learned will stay with us as we solve challenges in our own organizations and beyond.
The Lawrence National Centre is grateful for the Canada Life Research Fund for supporting the Capstone course.