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O Sophia Leong, Executive Director, Telfer Executive MBA TTAWA’S VIBRANT, DIVERSE economy has been sparked by the start-up of many new local small businesses whose owners have ambitious growth plans. Candidates and graduates of the Telfer Executive MBA (EMBA) program offer valuable hands-on, practical experience to assist those entrepreneurs cut to the chase in pursuit of their goals.

“They don’t waste time doing things that are not necessary. Especially when you’re looking at start-ups and small businesses, when you have constraints in terms of head count and time, they need to be extremely focused on what they do best. Individuals from our program know exactly what their clients’ value proposition is. They know exactly which target or customer segment they need to go after,” stresses Sophia Leong, executive director of the Telfer Executive MBA program.

The Telfer Executive MBA experience is also invaluable toward helping clients develop an effective strategy for getting their products or services to market, and do so with a sense of urgency, which is vitally important for a small business start-up. Although the business fundamentals to be applied are the same regardless of the client’s size, at times larger companies have more bureaucracy to deal with. “The benefit of small companies, one would hope, is there are not as many layers, so it allows for faster execution of the strategy,” says Leong.

The work that Telfer EMBA candidates and graduates perform is exacting and demanding, but also rewarding and exciting, such as when skills are applied to help a small business expand their global presence, as many businesses in the NCR and across Canada aspire to do.

Ottawa-based VideoShip Enterprise Ltd., which builds and supports content delivery systems, as well as customized video workflow tools for the broadcast and cable industries, credits Telfer Executive MBA candidates with helping to accelerate their ability to penetrate the large Chinese market.

In trips with VideoShip executives to Guangzhou in 2015 and then to Shanghai and Beijing in 2016, the Telfer people made valuable connections with the government run China Central Television and several other high-profile Chinese media organizations on behalf of VideoShip. This has led to participation today in a key strategic partnership that provides authorized media and entertainment video content delivery to and from China, explains Colin Grimes, VideoShip’s vice-president of business development.

“VideoShip greatly benefited from the capable and effective Telfer [Executive MBA] teams we worked with, as well as a positive influence from Sophia Leong. They were integral in forging business connections that we now rely on to support a new product line in an expanding new industry for us,” adds Grimes.

In 2017, several Telfer Executive MBA candidates traveled to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for their international business project, to assist a Canadian environmental remediation company, Nelson Environmental Remediation of Edmonton, which uses technology to remediate soil on site rather than cart contaminated soil away, explore new opportunities and make new contacts in that country.

The business client was so impressed with the quality of the work performed, including a detailed report that documented market opportunities, and assessed the regulatory environment in Malaysia, that it asked to work with Telfer EMBA candidates again in 2018 to explore similar business opportunities in Vietnam. That trip, to Ho Chi Minh City, took place last April.

Leong keeps the program current on what matters for organizations by working with an advisory board consisting of key Telfer Executive MBA alumni members with global connections. “This gives us visibility in terms of what matters in this context, especially from the senior level strategic and leadership perspective. From there, every year we’re tweaking 20 to 30 per cent of the program to consistently stay connected to what the market needs in terms of skill sets and competencies. We’re preparing our candidates for now and the future,” she stresses.

The Telfer Executive MBA program has been chosen top of its class in the world for two straight years by CEO Magazine.

“The way this particular program is delivered is different compared to other Executive MBA programs around the world,” says Leong. “We focus on the application and the practical aspects of business management, strategic management and leadership. We definitely lay a strong foundation when it comes to different fundamentals, but then very quickly pivot by leveraging six business consulting projects to make sure our candidates remain practical, relevant, and globally-oriented, for the clients we work with.”

The result: a hands-on program that goes well beyond theory and strategy to, at all times, keep highly accomplished candidates who already have a solid track record of business credentials focussed on solving real business issues and on capitalizing on business opportunities.

“They roll up their sleeves and work directly with our Canadian clients as if they are part of the organization,” says Leong.

The Telfer Executive MBA program typically has between 32 to 36 candidates at a time who, by day hold a variety of senior positions, including chief executive officers, directors, vice presidents, and managers, and who range in age from about 26 to 65. To further ensure diversity and enrich the Ottawa economy, the program allocates roughly 60 per cent to candidates in the private sector, 30 per cent in the public service, and 10 per cent in not-for-profits.

The program is 21 months long, with the six business consulting projects—described by Leong as “our secret sauce,” ranging in length from six to 12 weeks, capped by an international project that takes between six to eight months to complete.

“We layer on the skill sets, the tools they can use and the leadership behaviour that are conducive to their successes. When they graduate from our program it is with the full realization and comprehension that there is nothing they cannot do,” says Leong.

The confidence, skill and know-how that Telfer Executive MBA candidates and graduates possess are translating into positive results for Canadian companies striving for international growth. That is good news for the National Capital Region’s already thriving local business sector.

This story was created by Gordon Group and is featured in Capital Magazine’s Fall/Winter 2018 issue.

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