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Exuberance fills the room at HBA Welcome Gala

Sep 1, 2023

HBA1s cheered on by HBA2s as they enter RBC Place London

HBA1s cheered on by HBA2s as they enter RBC Place London

The 778 students who make up the HBA Class of 2025 began their life-changing journey together with a glimpse of what’s ahead, as they were introduced to the program and its people at today’s O-Week Gala.

Students were greeted with an electric energy from over 200 HBA2 O-Week leaders, faculty, staff, and alumni, cheering them on as they entered RBC Place London. The breakfast event included a section reveal where the students were introduced to the members of their individual HBA sections so they can get to know each other before heading into O-Week activities and classes. The students were also welcomed by HBA Faculty Director, Nadine de Gannes, HBA ’09; Director of Student Experience, Derek Worden; HBA Association President, Prabh Malhi; and Ivey Dean Sharon Hodgson.

Nadine de Gannes gave an emotional, heartfelt address to HBA1s, sharing personal stories of family, sacrifice, and her time as an HBA student. 

"I know these days will be busy for you, but I hope that when you show up in your HBA classrooms, in your teams, and when you meet another person, you will know that there is a world within them, a world that is not visible to you," said de Gannes. "Park your assumptions until we have those moments that we can come to know each other, so that we can really engage in those fantastically fierce debates and discussions. We are not here to coalesce around one identity – we are here to celebrate the multiplicity of identities."

Dean Hodgson told the students they are joining Ivey at an exciting time. In addition to celebrating the School’s 100th anniversary in 2023, Hodgson said Ivey is very much looking into the future and is focusing on the critical issues facing businesses today and tomorrow.

“The critical issues that we focus on are top of mind for boards, CEOs, entrepreneurs, government, and community leaders. The three issues you will be immersed in throughout your learning are, Canada’s Place in the World, the Evolution of Work, and Sustainability,” she said. “You'll have discussions about these critical issues both inside and outside of the Ivey classroom. And I promise you, when you graduate, you will have a point of view on how to have an impact on these issues. They will empower your leadership as you move forward.”

How to survive and thrive at Ivey

The students also heard a keynote address from John Bayliss, HBA ’99, Executive Vice President and Chief Transformation Officer at Walmart Canada.

John BaylissAs he reflected on his time as an HBA student 26 years ago, Bayliss offered the HBA1s five tips on how to not only survive, but to thrive at Ivey. 

  1. Just raise your hand. Bayliss gave the example of being in class with his peers and feeling hesitant to speak up and intimiated that his views didn't align with those of his classmates. Bayliss raised his hand, asked a question, made his points, and receievd nods of approval from his professor and classmates. "And then it clicked," said Bayliss. "The risk in my head that I would sound silly was far greater than the reality."
  2. You're going to get out of this experience what you put in. "When you're thinking about your courses and your career, don't always settle for things that are natural and easy for you," he said. "Make sure you're always making one or two bets in areas where you want to learn, because if you don't feel stretched, you're not learning."
  3. Recognize when to refresh and reframe. Bayliss told a story about the ups and downs of group work during Ivey's infamous 48-hour report. "When I feel anxiety and fear growing, it's time to step back. Go for a walk around the block, go for a run, shoots hoops, have coffee with some friends, blow off some steam. Because sometimes, when you feel backed into a corner, hammering through is not the answer. You have to know when to refresh and reframe."
  4. Run your race. Bayliss, who is an avid runner, learned the lesson of needing to run your own race the hard way during the Boston Marathon where he veered away from his original plan and training team. "Ego got the better of me and it took me off my path," he said. "I saw somebody who I thought I should be, but I didn't appreciate their story. During your time at Ivey and in your career, you're going to see your colleagues succeed in ways that are amazing, but please don't let their goals and their success take you away from yours."
  5. Have a mission. Bayliss has advised businesses around the world, and the truly great ones have a mission, he says. Bayliss referenced Bruce Henderson, Founder of BCG, who often quoted Archimedes' famous quote: Give me a place to stand, and a lever long enough, and I will move the world. "Bruce saw BCG as that place," said Bayliss, encouraging students to write down their personal missions to keep themselves grounded. 

Bayliss closed his keynote by reading the last stanza from his favourtie poem, It Couldn't be Done by Edgar Albert Guest:

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
      There are thousands to prophesy failure,
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
      The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
      Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
      That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.


HBA O-Week will continue through to September 9 with a variety of fun-filled activities, including the Ivey Olympics, a bootcamp, and a beach day. HBA1 students will also participate in a values workshop focused on cultivating learning spaces that are respectful, innovative, and collaborative. There will be a session on how to prepare for and participate in case method-learning and how to work effectively in teams, and students will be introduced to co-curricular activities, well-being and health promotion supports, and career management. See the full schedule.