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Is there a better way to run a company? Mary Ann Beyster says yes

  • Communications
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  • Sep 26, 2014
Is there a better way to run a company? Mary Ann Beyster says yes

Ivey Associate Professor Ann Frost (left) asked questions of Mary Ann Beyster. The Q&A-session was moderated by Ivey Lecturer David Simpson, Executive Director of the Pierre L. Morrissette Institute for Entrepreneurship and Director of the Business Families Centre

What better way to learn about the benefits of companies offering shared ownership and social impact as part of their strategies than to watch how they’ve progressed.

That’s why Mary Ann Beyster, executive producer of the documentary film We the Owners: Employees Expanding the American Dream, screened the film to Ivey faculty, staff, and students on September 24. She also participated in a panel discussion about employee-owned companies after the showing. The event was hosted by Ivey’s Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership, Pierre L. Morrissette Institute for Entrepreneurship, and Business Families Centre.

The film highlights the journeys of three employee-owned companies: New Belgium Brewing, Namasté Solar, and DPR Construction. It shares their stories of founding companies, expanding locations, preparing for succession, hiring during rapid growth, and addressing layoffs. It also showcases their lessons learned about ownership and leadership.

“Being a leader is incredibly difficult if you hold back information and try to tell people what to do,” Beyster told students during the panel session.

She stressed that openness and collaborative leadership are particularly important elements of employee-owned companies.

“There is a lot more defining how employees can take a problem and move on to a solution,” she said.

We the Owners has also been screened at more than 50 universities in the U.S. and internationally, leading academic conferences, business conferences and private sessions, and seven film festivals.