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Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership

MBA 2017 - A Class of New Leaders

  • Kathryn Tang
  • |
  • Apr 1, 2017
MBA 2017 - A Class of New Leaders

Kathryn Tang, Ivey MBA 2017

About the Author: This March, Kathryn Tang received the Stacey Muirhead Capital Management Ltd. Prize for demonstrating exceptional promise in understanding and applying value investing concepts and techniques, as well as the MBA Outstanding Contribution Award for significant overall contribution to the MBA Class of 2017.

It feels bittersweet as I write this last blog with one more day remaining in the MBA program.  Reflecting back, I know that professors, staff, alumni, and my classmates have made a huge impact on this journey. 

Having never seen a balance sheet before coming to Ivey, I was excited at the prospect of gaining a completely new business tool-kit.  However, along the way there were times when I was unsure of whether I could rise to the challenge. 

With its reputation for a challenging workload, Value Investing was an especially intimidating course that I considered.  I was attracted to this philosophy, the investing community that our Professor, George Athanassakos built, and the ongoing discussion this group sustains.  However, without any prior experience in finance or investing, I was afraid that I would not be able to keep up.  It was with the insight and at the encouragement of my friends Tim and Kyle that I found the confidence and motivation to tackle what felt like a meaningful challenge.  With a drive to learn everything I could, value investing became an all-consuming venture for the duration of a month.  As I expected, the first portions of this course presented a struggle.  Fortunately, my teammates Hasan, George, Ankur, and Bhanu were incredibly generous with their time to engage in a discussion so we could all follow along and contribute.  By the end, I felt proud of how well we functioned as a team, and gratitude that they shared this experience with me.  You see this generosity extends beyond the classroom as well, where our student leaders continue to devote their time to building a strong community.  They make up the fabric of this experience are an integral part of our success as a class.  Their passion to help others succeed is something we will carry forward.

Throughout the last week, we talked about the Global Business Environment ('GLOBE') with Tony Frost as our culminating module (i.e. Frost Week).  Here, we saw the importance of effective leadership and governance, which often dictate the form and viability of businesses.  We explored the difficulty of balancing motivation and ethics by examining the incentive structures that led to Dieselgate at VW and scandal at Wells Fargo.  Similarly, the value investing philosophy emphasized the quality of management as a significant determinant of shareholder value.  As investors, we should be willing to pay a premium for management that is not only competent at operating a business and allocating capital, but also one that is transparent and trustworthy.

In value investing, success necessitates unique insight, emotional awareness, and strength of will because it often requires a commitment based on a divergence from popular opinion.  This is much akin to leadership where the path to pursue the next revolutionary idea can be lonely or terrifying.  To succeed, we not only need the confidence to stand behind great discoveries, but also the humility to take a step back when we venture outside of our field of expertise.

As aspiring business leaders, we often look to adapt to the ever-changing rules of our industries.  However, I think we also have the power and responsibility to build more effective businesses and communities.  By giving a bit more than our share, leaders can set an example of generosity within their circles of influence and inspire others to do the same.  This is a small but necessary step to build an effective culture so that you can achieve exceptional performance.  As bourgeoning professionals, we frequently look for mentors to facilitate our growth.  Just as importantly, we can adopt an ownership perspective to mentor others so they can grow in their leadership capacity.  This is not only a meaningful way for us to give back, but it improves employee engagement, retention, and performance.

As one chapter ends, another begins.  The MBA Class of 2017 has come together this year to lead each other to become a better version of ourselves.  With an ear to our external environment, an openness to engage those around us, and newly sharpened toolkit, we are ready to lead.