Michael, thinking back to your adolescence was there a particular job you dreamed of doing when you grew up?
I have always wanted to be in the military. I was fascinated by the history of the World Wars and my family’s contributions in Western Europe, particularly at Passchendaele and Vimy Ridge. I also admired how these events shaped the Canadian identity and culture, and as I matured how it shaped Canadian foreign and defence policy. I was also attracted to Canadian military culture of promoting strong leadership and high-performance teams, comradery, and responsibility. The dynamic and unconventional operational environments in which the Canadian military operates was also attractive for requiring leaders to be both scholars and war-fighters; agile, innovative, strategic in every tactical decision, as well as able to effectively leverage the strengths of his or her team.
Is there a particular leader who has inspired you? What qualities do you admire about this person?
Much of what attracted me to the military was embodied by General Rick Hillier during his tenure as Commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan in 2004 and as Chief of Defence Staff between 2005 and 2008. Hillier did not pull punches, he was straight-forward and demanding of both his troops and his government, expecting only their best under every circumstance. He also embraced those he was in charge of and won over those he needed to work with to succeed in his mission. Hillier was strategic in every engagement, lived by example, acted out of moral courage, thrived under pressure, accepted failure and remained perpetually optimistic. Hiller made the tough calls, and did so with the respect of those around him.
There are many compelling reasons to undertake an Executive MBA Program. What is your goal for the Telfer Executive MBA Program?
My goal is to incorporate lessons learned from my professional military experiences at home and overseas with that of the Telfer Executive MBA to refine my executive aptitude and assume an ever-expanding role in promoting Canadian interests and prosperity abroad. The Telfer Executive MBA fully embodies leadership, teamwork, and cross-cultural collaboration - three absolutely essential ingredients for me to succeed in my aspirations. The ability to learn new skills in the classroom and apply them at work the next day is a very exciting concept and I believe this model will allow me to significantly raise my competencies in addressing strategic business challenges and opportunities effectively and efficiently. All in all I expect the Telfer Executive MBA to be a game-changer, setting me on a trajectory for success much earlier in my career than I could ever have expected—and that is truly exciting.