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A look back on the first year of Ivey’s Accelerated MBA

  • Communications
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  • Dec 1, 2020
A look back on the first year of Ivey’s Accelerated MBA

The inaugural AMBA class together for residence week at Spencer Leadership Centre in January 2020.

In November 2019, Ivey welcomed its first cohort of students to the new Accelerated MBA for Business Graduates program, a 12-month, while-you-work, blended learning MBA for working professionals with an undergraduate business degree. The 44 students in the inaugural class got to know each other in person at a week-long session at Spencer Leadership Centre last January and have continued to have an amazing journey together.

We spoke with four Accelerated MBA (AMBA) students – Andrew Mannella, Anika Mehta, Jeremy Miao, and Kaitlyn Veitch – about their AMBA experience. Below they discuss highlights of the program, how they stayed connected with their classmates during COVID-19, and how the AMBA prepared them for the next stage of their career.

Andrew Mannella, MBA '21 Candidate 

Andrew Mannella had been researching MBA programs at various schools just as Ivey announced its new AMBA program. He said he immediately knew he had found the right fit.

“My search for the right program stopped pretty quickly at that point, with the AMBA format checking all the boxes for me,” he said.

Mannella said the accelerated one-year format appealed to him as did the fact that he could do the program while he worked. He said he also liked that the Ivey case method was still central to the curriculum. He entered the program hoping to move up to a senior leader position in his organization, and succeeded in achieving that goal.

“I looked at the AMBA program as a catalyst for me to achieve that next promotion since it was focused on leadership essentials skills, a strategic view of disruption and innovation, and creating a global leadership mindset,” he said. “All three of those facets prepared me for thinking like a future senior leader at my company, and, fortunately for me, I was able to receive the promotion I was looking for just as the program was wrapping up. I wouldn’t have been able to advance to the next level if it weren’t for the lessons learned in the AMBA.”

But one of the biggest highlights of the program for Mannella was the friendships he made and he liked that the cohort-based approach kept all 44 students together from start to finish.

“We spent a week together in London for residence week, and it was hands-down one of the best experiences of the program. We worked hard and played hard, and after starting the week as strangers, we left London as friends,” he said.

Mannella said he bonded with his classmates after class during games of ping pong or over drinks. And even when COVID-19 put an end to those social gatherings, the students found alternative ways to build relationships in a safe and responsible way. They organized after-class socials via Zoom, including a trivia night, and golf games following physical distancing protocols.

“The most lasting takeaway from my year with Ivey will be my classmates and the relationships we’ve built,” he said. “These will be lasting friendships, not simply ‘network connections’ for my contact list. The people truly made the Ivey experience worthwhile for me.” 

Anika Mehta, MBA '21 Candidate

Anika Mehta said she enjoys her role as Senior Consultant at CGI and didn’t want to take a year or two off to do her MBA so the format of the Ivey AMBA was the initial draw.

But since going through the program, she has found many benefits beyond just the flexible format. She said the lessons she has learned on the importance of character and empathy are especially important as she progresses towards more senior roles in her career.

“This program has opened my eyes to, not only the type of leader I want to eventually become, but also the type of person that I want to be,” she said.  “I see a change in myself in every interaction that I have with my team.”

And although the classroom lessons were valuable, Mehta said she also learned a lot from her classmates.

“Knowing the calibre of the people that come from Ivey, my expectations were high, and our cohort did not disappoint. Over this year, I've learned so much from my peers, and I would say much of the program value comes from the discussions and connections that we make with each other,” she said.

Mehta said she formed friendships during some in-class sessions early in 2020 and continued to engage with those friends virtually throughout the duration of the program.

“I'm lucky to say I've made some truly amazing friends this year, and I know that we're all eager to see each other's careers flourish over the years,” she said. “I know we will continue to stay in touch for years to come, as we progress through our professional and personal lives.”

Jeremy Miao, MBA '21 Candidate

The hybrid in-person/online structure of the AMBA appealed to Jeremy Miao because it offered him flexibility in managing his work and school schedule throughout the year.

He said he enjoyed meeting and learning from like-minded business professionals coming from vastly different backgrounds, disciplines, and experiences, and appreciated that students rotate to different learning teams throughout the term so he had a chance to engage and work with most of the students in the class. The students even organized virtual class game nights and trivia nights to stay connected throughout the year.

A highlight for Miao was participating in a program with Pathfinder Leadership Associates during his AMBA residence week, where he learned core leadership and team-building skills through grueling physical exercises led by members of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Miao said he also liked that the program emphasized emerging themes in business, such as globalization and innovation, as well as core business disciplines.

“We took on a more global and entrepreneurial lens in business, learning what it takes to succeed in the global marketplace amid uncertainty, emerging trends, and a constantly evolving global landscape. It also focused on the people aspect of business, teaching us the skills we need to lead and manage both teams and individuals,” he said. “Despite being an accelerated program, the course load was full and demanding, teaching me valuable and practical skills to work in a managerial capacity and take my career to the next level.”

Kaitlyn Veitch, MBA '21 Candidate

Kaitlyn Veitch was drawn to the AMBA format because the balance of in-person and online learning allowed her to go to school while she worked. She said it was exciting to see her classmates apply concepts learned in the program on the job in real time.

“I enjoyed witnessing the tremendous growth our cohort experienced throughout such a short period of time. The fast-paced program challenged us academically, professionally, and personally,” she said.

Ivey’s case-based learning helped her to expand her knowledge by exposing her to a wide array of complex business problems. She said she also became more mindful of her time, which has helped her in her career.

Since Veitch lives in Halifax, N.S., she said she was initially worried about staying connected with classmates from a distance. But her classmates made an effort to stay connected and support one another, particularly when the program transitioned to virtual sessions due to COVID-19.

“The support for one another throughout a challenging year was incredible,” she said. “For example, our learning team emphasized the importance of rhythm and made a point of meeting regularly regardless of how much we had to cover and all classmates ensured their cameras were on in meetings to connect with one another.”

Veitch said AMBA faculty members also took feedback and ideas from students to innovate the program throughout.

“This really helped to ensure our cohort was getting what we needed out of the program. With this being the first year for the program and the implications of COVID-19, flexibility became very important,” she said.