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HBA student gets firsthand look at business while CEO for a day

  • Dawn Milne
  • |
  • Mar 5, 2020
HBA student gets firsthand look at business while CEO for a day

Mary Ann Yule and Jesse Zender

For HBA1 student Jesse Zender, being a CEO wasn’t just about business meetings and spreadsheets. He also rolled up his sleeves and made and served breakfast at a youth shelter and toured a recycling facility. It was all in a day's work as he experienced life as a CEO at HP Canada Co.

Zender was one of 20 finalists among more than 500 applicants across Canada selected for this year’s Odgers Berndtson CEOx1Day program. The program provides insights into what it takes to lead a major organization in today’s fast-changing environment. He job-shadowed HP Canada President and CEO Mary Ann Yule in Toronto on March 4. Their day included several business meetings, an all-hands meeting, volunteering at Youth Without Shelter, and a tour of eCycle Solutions.

A look at Jesse Zender's day with HP Canada


Real-life insights on business

Zender said it was a great opportunity to see a company through the eyes of a CEO.

“I saw the real-life application of the ‘General Manager's perspective’ that we learn at Ivey,” he said. “I now have a better understanding of how CEOs lead and evaluate the various divisions of their companies from a high level and how they bring people together to brainstorm ideas and solve problems.”

A highlight of the day was sitting in on a business cadence meeting with the executive team where he learned how executives evaluate trends, problems, and opportunities, and determine action items.

“As someone who is going into consulting, the key learnings that I had from the business cadence meeting about how executives manage their initiatives were really valuable,” he said. “I think having exposure to the inner workings of a large company like HP Canada and the day-to-day operations will help me to be a more effective consultant.”

An introduction to sustainability

A big part of the day was a focus on introducing Zender to HP Canada’s Sustainable Impact strategy, which includes both environmental practices and educating people about the importance of such practices. He even had a one-on-one meeting with Frances Edmonds, HP Canada’s Head of Sustainability, where he provided insights on what the company can do to make sustainability more important to the customer.

“They wanted to discuss sustainability in business with me, so I had exposure to both the core business practices as well as the sustainability practices that are so important at HP Canada,” he said. “It increased my knowledge of what companies are doing in this space – and what many companies aren’t doing – and where there are opportunities for companies to improve. We also focused on what needs to happen to drive this change. It inspired me to think outside the box and further my passion for both entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship.”

Follow the leader

There were also valuable lessons on leadership.

“The most important lesson was that leadership comes from the top, a message that is often in the spotlight at Ivey,” he said. “I saw Mary Ann get her hands dirty while volunteering, engage with colleagues throughout the company, and support her team of direct reports. She demonstrated the importance of living the company’s values and acting as a role model.”

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