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MSc · Youmi Mary-Anna Dickson

My First 90 Days at Ivey: Youmi Mary-Anna Dickson

Jan 19, 2022

Raptors photo

From Scientist to Strategist in 90 Days

I was no stranger to Ivey when I enrolled in the MSc in Management program this past September. I earned a degree in Medical Science and Biology and Diploma in Practical French at Western University and completed many rounds of the Richard Ivey Building as a Campus Tour Guide (Ivey tours were my favourite - it's nearly impossible to get lost). Nonetheless, many – myself included – were surprised when I decided I wanted to go to business school rather than medical school, but my logic was sound: I wanted to help more people than I could see as a physician in a clinical setting.

There was no turning back once I had concluded that business and technology would help me reach a broader audience, but I was struggling to find a graduate program that would prepare me for this rather massive leap. I learned that Ivey had recognized the need for such a unique program and created the MSc in Digital Management just one year prior.

Youmi and 4 other classmates on a zoom call together
Above: Winning my first case competition at the Ivey Digital Leadership Conference with Team Five Alive!

I admit that uncertainty reared its head a few times as I made my transition from science to business but a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. It's no secret that many of the things I love about science make the average person cringe and when I arrived at Ivey, theories replaced laws and the seen replaced the unseen. Studying the imperceptible required tireless effort and unrelenting attention to detail and I learned the hard way that thinking like a scientist wasn’t always the best choice.

Some days, I felt a great deal of cognitive dissonance as a fierce battle reigned on inside my head between the heavily favoured scientist and the underdog strategist. I admit that for some time, the scientist was winning by an embarrassingly large margin. The past 90 days demanded as much learning as unlearning and Ivey’s case study method helped me get the floundering strategist up on dry ground.

Youmi and her friends at a golf course

Above: Meeting some of my new classmates at a local golf course (my swing is still a work in progress…)

From my perspective, Ivey’s mission (which I still know verbatim from my tour guiding days) and the case study method are inextricably linked. Developing leaders who think globally, act strategically, and contribute to the societies in which they operate is no easy task. But the case study method means that you are accountable for your own learning. Simply put, you get out what you put in.

No two cases are alike. In preparing for each class, I adopted the perspective of a decision maker, forcing me to think critically about diverse issues in unfamiliar contexts which allowed me to experience the challenges faced by managers first hand. I’m certain that this practice is what makes Ivey students exceptional leaders postgraduation and I am grateful for the growing confidence I have experienced through lively in-class discussion and debate since entering the program.

Youmi and her friends standing on the stairs in the Ivey building

Above: Putting on the ol' Campus Tour Guide hat to show some friends around!

I enrolled at Ivey in part to benefit from the diverse experiences and perspectives of my classmates. A typical day at Ivey sounds like a setup with a missing a punchline. Case in point: a scientist, an engineer, and an economist walk into a classroom… My experience at Ivey has been nothing short of collaborative and working with unlike-minded peers is valuable beyond measure – if two heads are better than one, 60+ heads must be priceless.

Youmi and her friends near a Christmas tree

Above: Ugly Christmas Sweater photo with my DM classmates - best post-class purchase of the semester.

As a business leader, your decisions will be challenged and what better way to prepare for the inevitable adversity you will face than by practicing among peers, and more importantly, among friends. I had little exposure to business when I began the program, and my goal was to acquire the necessary knowledge and tools to succeed as a business leader. While I can confidently say that after 90 days, I am well on my way to achieving this goal, the relationships I have built and the many ways that I have been challenged to grow and learn are immeasurable.