Following the Two-Day Transformation from Individuals to an Extended Family for the Class of 2016.
Individuals who were eager to learn about the exciting experience that lay ahead of them as well as meet those who would be at their side for the next twenty one months, walked into the Telfer School’s Centre for Executive Leadership on August 22, 2014. These individuals, many of whom had never met, did know that they held one common objective between them; each had made the decision to enroll in Telfer Executive MBA’s Class of 2016 and that August 22 marked the first day of their Executive MBA experience - Orientation.
Members of the newly minted Class of 2016 sat quietly within the room looking shyly around at their peers. One could see that they had many questions running strong in their minds.
• Who are these people that will become my close knit network over the next twenty one months?
• Who is on my working team and will I measure up to their expectations?
• And, am I making the right decision?
Welcome to Your New Normal
Sophia Leong, Director of the Telfer Executive MBA, welcomed the group with the statement ‘welcome to your new normal’. The room was very quiet for her introduction – but she had anticipated this and therefore was ready to ‘bring them out of their shell’ in real-time.
Their First Question Answered
Sophia clicked to a slide titled ‘Who Are You?’ and instructed each candidate to spend 1-3 minutes at the front of the Executive Classroom and reveal information about themselves- with one rule- do not discuss work. This is where the fun began. The next two hours were spent listening to stories told by each member of the class. This icebreaker exercise provided insights into the person's personality and background as well as generated conversation points for further discussions. Many of the Class of 2016, including the staff, were surprised to find that there were common themes between stories; who knew that so many of their peers would connect based on their fear of heights or that several had been involved in different but very interesting encounters with monkeys at some point in their life?
The wait was over! Following the morning's icebreaker exercise, candidates were introduced into their working teams. The teamwork component of the Program reflects the realities of the global economy where one often is unable to choose the members within organizational teams; these teams will continue to work together for duration of the program.
Candidates participated in numerous activities over the two days, learning how their individual styles would contribute to their teams' overall performance. In this 'forming' stage of their new Telfer Executive MBA teams, candidates participated in serious discussions about significant life experiences that have shaped each of them into who they have become today, their individual learning preferences as well as identify and examine how their personality preferences will affect the diversity within the team environments throughout their Executive MBA experience.
Over the next four months teams will be immersed into exercises and discussions of understanding and maneuvering through the remaining three stages of building high-performance teams. These exercises are deliberately positioned within the calendar to offer real-time application of their learning as respective teams actively experience the effects of each stage: forming, storming, norming and performing.
I Definitely Made the Right Decision!
The members of the Class of 2016 were showing their fatigue at the end of the intensive, two day orientation session, but smiles and laughter remained on each their faces. Regardless of how tired candidates were, they had plenty of positive insights to share on the transformational experience:
"I am happy to start! I am looking forward to learning from others and contributing to the success of the class."
"The past two days have been scary, intense, but already [it is] so powerful. This environment and atmosphere is welcoming and exciting."
"The orientation session reinforced my decision that the Executive MBA program is the right choice for me right now. "
"Today was the stepping stone to an exciting and life-changing 21 months."
"Orientation was very educational. I discovered many aspects about myself - some short comings and some agreed skills and advantages. Overall it was a fun weekend."
"The experience was like getting married. One felt 'excited, unsure, happy, loved and secured' all at the same time."
"It was fast-paced and exciting but put me at ease about what's ahead."
"A good impression that will last forever"
"It was exciting, with a great sense of anticipation of being part of something special and privileged."
"A dynamic experience that has already challenged and empowered my leadership responsibilities"
"An intense and high energy two days. I did not think that I could be able to connect with a team and peers in such short tim e."