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Retiring programs staff director, Larysa Gamula, reflects on her 30 years at Ivey

  • Dawn Milne
  • |
  • Jun 30, 2020
Retiring programs staff director, Larysa Gamula, reflects on her 30 years at Ivey

Larysa Gamula

After holding seven positions, working with 13 program faculty directors and seven deans, and watching more than 8,000 students graduate in her 30 years at Ivey, Larysa Gamula, EMBA ’99, is calling it a career.

I will miss the job and interacting with diverse and talented students and colleagues … But now I’d like to do something else with the next chapter of my life,” she said. “My goal for a long time has been to learn and experience something new each year. I have a bucket list of things I wish to do because I realize that, to quote Albert Einstein, ‘the more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.’”

For Gamula, who retires from her role as MSc Program Services Director today, that bucket list includes volunteering in the community, hiking, crafting, taking courses, or learning to play yet another instrument (she already plays piano and electric keyboard).

Either way, she’ll keep busy, as she always has at Ivey. Whether being involved with many program expansions or transitions, travelling internationally with students on study trips, or completing Ivey’s Executive MBA while working full time as director of Recruitment/Admissions and Program Services for the MBA Program, she has had a full and rewarding career.

A bit of history

Gamula joined Ivey in 1989 after working at Western University as an Academic Counsellor in the Faculty of Science. At that time, Al Mikalachki was acting dean at Ivey. She said she was drawn to Ivey because of its world-class reputation.

“I was intrigued by the business school. I thought they must be doing something right and I wanted to learn from this,” she said. “I was ready to take on a role that would give me the opportunity to grow in my career and develop management and leadership skills.” 

Roles at Ivey

In addition to her current role, Gamula has held a variety of positions, including MBA/MSc Program Services Director, HBA Program Services Director, MBA Program Services Director, and HBA/MBA Admissions Director. While in those roles, she was involved in some significant Ivey program milestones: the growth of the MSc Program, the move to a one-year MBA Program, and the expansion of the HBA Program.  

"Whenever there was a reorganization of the programs, I had the opportunity to move into rewarding roles that addressed the opportunities and challenges in the transformations of the HBA, MSc, and MBA programs,” she said. “There has been a lot of change, but it has all been change for the better.”

Notable contributions

Among other things, Gamula created the Academic Excellence Program (AEP), now known as the Advanced Entry Opportunity (AEO) Program, and the first HBA admissions scorecard. She also acquired Ivey’s membership in the Graduate Management Admission Council and was the first Canadian elected to its Board of Directors.

Memorable moments

Students in some of her graduating classes have called her their Mother Teresa or Chief Problem-Solver. Gamula also received the MBAA Outstanding Staff Contribution Award four times while MBA Program Services Director. As an Ivey EMBA alumna, she also experienced firsthand the strength of the Ivey Alumni Network, and still keeps in touch with some classmates.

“I was proud to be associated with Ivey because of the high quality of our faculty, the challenging curriculum, and the friendships developed with classmates that still exist today,” she said.  

Lessons learned

Gamula said she learned some of her most important lessons about life while at Ivey. Here are a few:

  • Remember to look on the bright side – Some days will be great and others not so great. Focus on the positive rather than the negative to change your frame of mind;
  • There is value in every experience – In work, as in life, we experience challenges and make mistakes. Don’t stress about the things that went wrong. There is value in every experience and you will learn and grow more from your mistakes than from your successes. Don’t be afraid to take risks; and,
  • Success is a team sport – Delivering an outstanding student experience is a cooperative effort between students, faculty, and staff.

“I’ve seen a lot of changes at Ivey,” said Gamula. “One thing has not changed: the strong commitment by faculty and staff to the strength and continued success of Ivey.”