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The 21 month experience has begun for the Class of 2018. Candidates met for the first time as a whole group on August 19th for a two-day intensive, but fun, orientation session.

Sophia Leong, Executive Director of the Telfer Executive MBA, welcomed everyone to their new normal, and removed the tenseness from the classroom by having several candidates reveal what their first impressions and feelings were of starting the program.

She then turned the floor over to recent graduate, Julie Lupinacci, who provided a candidate overview, based on her experience, of what to expect with 21 months.

Follow on our past success of breaking the ice exercises, each candidate had two minutes to introduce themselves and tell a funny antedote. The next hour was spent laughing at each other's personal experiences. The fun began here as the cohort began to gel.

Candidates then met their new teammates and under the instruction of Professor Miles, completed a team exercise. The impact of this one hour exercise is phenomenal, many candidates were positively surprised about the depth of information that their teammates revealed about themselves. It felt as though they had known each other for a great length of time, while others commented that they now knew their teammates better than they knew some of their long-time colleagues.

Special guest Dr. Viren Naik, EMBA 2015, joined the class for the lunch and as a recent graduate he provided advice to the Class of 2018 through 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 you 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.

Candidates spent the afternoon and continued Saturday morning participating in numerous activities and learning how their individual styles would contribute to their teams' overall performance. Professor Dana Hyde also walked them through an ‘action learning’ exercise to fully understand the importance of being prepared and the impact of individual, team and cohort level contribution to the learning environment through the case study and simulation methods.

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