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MBA Showcase 2020 challenged students to address EDI issues

Nov 25, 2020

MBA Showcase

Ivey’s MBA students got an inside look at the challenges leaders face in trying to promote and execute strategies related to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) during a three-day virtual event called MBA Showcase 2020.

The event, which ran Nov. 23-25, gave the students a variety of complementary learning experiences intended to help them engage with their EDI beliefs and identify potential pathways to addressing EDI issues and challenges. It included an alumni panel session on personal and professional EDI experiences, educational workshops focused on gender and race, and discussion of a recently released Ivey case on inclusion concerns in a post-secondary educational setting. It also included a case competition where student teams analyzed a case on a professional sports team’s challenge to address intolerant fans’ game-day behaviour. Four finalist teams advanced to a final round where they presented their analysis and recommendations to a panel of external judges.

Raising awareness of EDI perspectives

The goal of this year’s MBA Showcase was to advance the students’ sensitivity and awareness of EDI perspectives and actions.

“In business, as in life, all individuals irrespective of their observed or unobserved distinctive characteristics should feel welcomed, valued, and a sense of belonging. Alas, that is a view easier said than accomplished,” said Associate Professor Larry Menor, MBA Program Director. “This year’s MBA Showcase aims to raise awareness and educate students on EDI. It will hopefully allow all participants to become more mindful of their particular personal views and professional defaults when it comes to grappling with EDI issues and challenges.”

Alumni panel on EDI experiences

A highlight of the event was a panel session where students had a chance to hear from four Ivey alumni about their EDI experiences and receive advice on dealing with EDI challenges. Panellists included Lisa Dymond, MBA ’06, Head of Talent Strategy and Operations (Canada), BCG; Louisa Greco, EMBA ’03, Partner, McKinsey & Company; Fenton Jagdeo, HBA ’16, Chief Operating Officer, Faculty World; and Shanti Suppiah, MBA ’10, Senior Manager, Analytics and Reporting, RBC.

Here is some of their advice:

Trust your gut
“I always believe in leading with authenticity … We learn at school that we should be numbers-driven, we should understand all the repercussions, we should be strategic about life. That’s great, but then there’s your gut. And if your gut tells you something – that’s your emotional response to it – then you should be acting on it.”

Fenton Jagdeo

Have empathy
“It’s hard to speak up. I myself struggle with it. It’s really about approaching it from a place of empathy. Sometimes when you speak up, people don’t even realize the way they’re acting.”

Shanti Suppiah

Be an ally
“There’s a really important role for the listener … It’s very exhausting when it is only the communities who are the victims in these situations to always be advocating for themselves. And that is the point of allyship … Think about the role that we can all play in advancing these issues.”

Lisa Dymond

Act swiftly
“Don’t debate for days [about] should we do something – have a conversation. Just get your foot in and have a conversation. Once you have facts, you can decide what the range of actions is that you’ll take. If you look at the number of events and injustices that have transpired over the last year, one of the biggest areas of criticism is: Why did you take so long? Twenty-four hours is a long time. Two days is a long time. One week is a long time. So act swiftly.”

Louisa Greco

Takeaways from MBA Showcase 2020

There were many lessons for the MBA students. Here are some of their takeaways:

“The past days’ activities have stirred many conversations that were earlier deemed uncomfortable. It’s commendable to see a genuine willingness from Ivey to acknowledge the gravity of the issue and encourage honest and open discussions. I personally feel solutions to such deep-rooted societal challenges cannot be brought about by an institute, organization, or a bunch of people. It is very much a collective process. Real change takes time, but that doesn’t mean that no change can happen in the meanwhile. It starts with laying the seed of ‘wokeness’ and empathy, which was done incredibly well in these workshops.” 

– Tara Choudhary

“As future leaders in business, EDI is an increasingly important subject that drives innovation and collaboration in the workplace. The alumni panel and workshops taught me the appropriate language to use, the difference between intent and impact, how to understand and divest on my privilege, and the meaningful ways I can be a better ally or intervene as a bystander. There is not one key takeaway from these two days, but rather a culmination of lessons that hopefully contribute to us creating a more humane community.”

– Mondira Chowdhury

“Learning about equity, diversity, and inclusion and how we can further these important issues should be a lifelong endeavour. I am grateful that Ivey created space for our cohort to engage on these topics and hear about our peers’ experiences. Character and competency are equally important and we must always remember to have compassion for others.”

– Marjan Hatai

“The MBA Showcase's EDI theme is important as it presents a platform to listen and learn from different perspectives and hold ourselves accountable. I saw it first-hand by listening to and learning from my group members during our group assignments as well as from my classmates during our class sessions. Moving forward, I believe it is important to recognize, listen, and acknowledge such topics and take collective action to create an inclusive environment, not just at the workplace, but also within our personal lives and our communities.”

– Sab Sankaranarayanan

Meet the MBA Showcase judges

The MBA Showcase judges come from a variety of fields and have experience with EDI initiatives. Most of the judges participated in the alumni panel session and some also serve on Ivey’s EDI Advisory Council. Thank you to this year’s judges:

  • Louisa Greco, EMBA ’03, Partner, McKinsey & Company;
  • Shanti Suppiah, MBA ’10, Senior Manager, Analytics and Reporting, RBC;
  • Fenton Jagdeo, HBA ’16, Chief Operating Officer, Faculty World; and,
  • Pamela Marchant, VP & Head of Marketing, RBC Global Asset Management.

And the winners are...

Congratulations to the winning team, Team 19: Kyle Boynton, Colin Etienne, Caroline Garrod, Marjan Hatai, Alanna La Rose, Noah McColl, and Wasi Mesbahuddin. 

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