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It is the annual kick off to the end of summer. The newly minted members of the Class of 2017 started their Executive MBA experience on Friday August 21st with two intense days of orientation activities at the Centre for Executive Leadership.

Two Minutes in the Spotlight

This was the first time that these 38 individuals had come together as one class. Sophia Leong, director of the Telfer Executive MBA, took very little time before helping them to break the ice. Each candidate had two minutes in the spotlight to introduce themselves- without mentioning work. We heard many stories including that of off-beat vacations and vacations going that didn’t go as planned as well as learned that some people crave a need for speed (and subsequent speeding tickets). There were tales of youth pranks, jokes and crazy stunts including a late night dry-ice experiment. We also learned a new dance move called ‘scoop the ice cream’ and were provided with fair warning of  bears' attraction to peppermint essential oils.

The ice breaking exercises continued as Candidates were introduced to their new teams and spent the morning getting acquainted and learning about each other’s backgrounds.

Top 10 tips

Special guest Dr. Viren Naik, EMBA 2015, joined the class for the lunch and as a recent graduate he provided un-filtered and candid advice to the Class of 2017 – his top ten tips.

  1. Your professors are normal people who are here to help you succeed. If you are struggling with the material or deliverables, reach out to them as an individual or as a class.
  2. Procrastination will “kill you”. Part of this transformation is learning how to manage multiple deliverables. You will know about deliverables and deadlines well in advance, don’t leave them until the last minute.
  3. Perfection is the enemy of good enough. Make sure you consider the 80/20 rule (
  4. You are all type A personalities – but let go of focusing on marks as validation of your learning. Success will be based on your effort, your client’s satisfaction, and pride in your product … not the mark your receive. This is about the learning experience.
  5. Collaboration goes beyond within your team. Collaborate between your teams. Your class as a whole should be considered one “big” team.
  6. Collaborate beyond your class. Talk to second years and the alumni network. Use them for ideas and when you are confused about expectations.
  7. “Just because other teams are doing it – doesn’t mean your team needs to.” Don’t look to the deliverables and processes of other teams for validation of what your team should be doing. Every team will figure out what works best for them.
  8. Read ahead and participate in  the big class discussion. 2 hour 15 min classes are long and can be painful if they are only a one-way passive lecture. Turn the lecture into an active-learning situation and time will be of the essence.
  9. You will gain weight. The Freshman 15 (lbs) still applies to the Executive MBA. The food is always around and finding time to exercise is tough. Make time and stay healthy.
  10. Even though you are immersed in the transformation, do not lose sight on the really important things in your life – yourself, family, and friends. School should always come second when these needs arise.

Collaboration and Community

These points were validated the following day when Class of 2016 Class President, Wendell Brown, joined the class for lunch to provide his own advice to the group regarding Wendell's first year experience with the Program.  On the way back from Saturday's lunch at the Sheraton, candidates began to see the underlying message about the importance that collaboration and community will play in their Executive MBA experience. They began the process of setting up their own social network between their peers. 

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.

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