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Ivey alumni come together for inaugural Lifelong Learning event

May 5, 2023

EMBA alumni and Ivey faculty at the Lifelong Learning event in Toronto

EMBA alumni and Ivey faculty at the inaugural Lifelong Learning event at the Donald K. Johnson Centre in Toronto

Ivey Executive MBA alumni had a chance to revisit the classroom setting and learn from each other about navigating uncertainty at Ivey’s first Lifelong Learning event in Toronto last weekend.

The session, entitled Navigating Uncertainty: Leading your organization and the people within it to embrace the unknown, brought together 39 Executive MBA (EMBA) alumni from a range of class years spanning two decades for a live case on the CAAT Pension Plan, with Derek W. Dobson, CEO and Plan Manager at CAAT Pension Plan.

Hosted by EMBA Faculty Program Director Mary Gillett, HBA ’82, MBA ’02, the event was a pilot for a new format of learning modules to help alumni gain new knowledge and skills at every stage of their careers. This format includes a live event with a real-time case presented by the leader, with dialogue facilitated by Ivey faculty. It’s putting into action a pillar of the Ivey Next strategy: to create an ecosystem of lifelong learning programs to elevate individuals’ and organizations’ development.

Meeting the needs of today's leaders

Martha Maznevski, PhD ’94, a professor of Organizational Behaviour and faculty director for Lifelong Learning at Ivey, is leading Ivey’s development of learning and coaching experiences for alumni. She led last weekend’s session with her colleague, Mark Zbaracki. She said there was a lot of positive feedback from alumni and they particularly enjoyed getting a chance to "flex their learning muscles the Ivey way.”

“Leaders need to learn faster than the rate of change in the environment, and Ivey’s Lifelong Learning strategy is about helping alumni on that path,” she said. “We were excited by the energy at the event, and look forward to building out more Lifelong Learning pathways.”

Maznevski said the format worked particularly well for the topic of navigating in uncertainty. The discussion focused on the CAAT Pension Plan’s disruption in the traditionally conservative pension industry, implementing innovative products and services – while achieving top of the league performance – to achieve their vision of retirement income security for all Canadians. CAAT’s Derek W. Dobson spent the day with the group, sharing firsthand how the organization managed tensions among various stakeholders and how his own leadership has evolved in step with the new strategy and opportunities.

Some key takeaways included the importance of managing shifts in power, providing clear direction while empowering new approaches, and embracing creative tension.

Denisa Balla, EMBA ’19, Vice President of Strategy and Growth at PUSH Media, said she enjoyed the chance to revisit the Ivey experience and looks forward to future sessions.

“I came back to Ivey for this event not knowing what to expect, but also missing being in an Ivey classroom setting, ready to be stimulated, challenged, and inspired by ideas, alumni, and faculty. And this one-day pilot program did just that,” she said. “It intersected very well the EMBA classroom experience with relevant leadership topics and a live case study presented by the company itself with the collaboration of the faculty. I am very thrilled about the prospect of this program in the future and look forward to coming back.”