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Joel Brown


MBA 2018, Ivey Business School

My time at Ivey has been the most rewarding and transformational part of my life. Never have I been pushed from all possible angles all at once — this is exactly what an MBA program should accomplish!

After graduating from the University of Waterloo in Chemical Engineering, I joined Canada’s largest oil and gas exploration, development, and production company, Canadian Natural (CNRL), within their engineering rotational program. The program provided me the opportunity to rotate through various functional areas and develop a holistic understanding of the company’s operations. The opportunity to design and commission a diverse range of projects, as well as optimize existing production assets, was deeply rewarding. As rewarding as it was, I wanted to do more. I found myself developing an intercity rideshare web service in my free time, as I found my frequent six-hour commutes across Alberta’s countryside tedious to do alone. My progress ultimately stalled, as I had no idea how to market such a service. At this point though, I realized I wanted to apply my knowledge and skillset to the business environment, which required developing a solid functional knowledge of business to have a deeper and broader impact. Pursuing an MBA was the opportunity to do just that.

When considering business schools, I sought out environments that would expose my inherent gaps in both knowledge and skill. While at Waterloo, I was most comfortable sitting at the back of the class, not contributing much, and learning most of the key concepts, mostly analytical in nature, after lectures were over. The Ivey MBA Program could not be more the opposite. Ivey’s small classroom size, strong emphasis on student contribution, and extensive curriculum all taught through the Case-Method provided the opportunity for a truly transformative experience. Since joining Ivey, all these aspects have far exceeded my expectations.

Given that I knew I was entering a program that would challenge me in areas of unfamiliarity, I had already feelings of both excitement and uneasiness before the program had started. In the first few days of the program, I was blown away by the calibre of my fellow classmates. They came from all around the world, had incredibly rich and rewarding life experiences, and instantly provided quality contributions and perspective to in-class discussions. This only made me feel more nervous, thinking: “Wow! I really hope I can be as impactful in my contributions, learning teams, and 24-hour reports.” I realized quickly though that everyone is nervous, and that each person has a unique set of strengths and weaknesses that he or she brings to the program. Ivey’s Case-Method approach provides students with the opportunity to share their own skills and knowledge so that regardless of the topic or degree of ambiguity, all students can excel.


  • BASc, Chemical Engineering, International Studies in Engineering (ISE) Option, University of Waterloo