James Price, Telfer’s Executive Director, Development & Community Engagement, and the Telfer community engagement team are leading Telfer’s Smart Money campaign in support of our Vision for a Better Canada, the most ambitious awareness and fundraising effort in Telfer history. Just hours before we ignite the Smart Money campaign, he found a few minutes to explain what the campaign will achieve, what it’s going to do for Telfer and Canada, and why, of all possible moments, now is the time to make this happen. Every alumnus or citizen who wants to see a Better Canada can play an important part.
So, what’s at the heart of Telfer’s new Vision?
We feel that business has a critical leadership role in addressing some of the big challenges facing the country, whether it be social, economic, or financial. We are generating new knowledge, insights and practice through research, and most importantly applying that to developing young management students and mature management leaders.
And how does the Smart Money campaign fit in?
It’s a focused five-year effort to make smart and strategic investments in the future based on research, experiential learning, and program renewal.
Why is research-inspired teaching such a big part of the campaign?
Research creates new insights and translates into a better classroom experience, the thing that matters most. Our student evaluations show that our best researchers and practitioners are our best teachers - they’re constantly bringing in new ideas, new challenges and new case studies - and they're on top of the new knowledge within their communities of practice.
It also leads to better business practices
And not only for students, but for executives. As it relates to our vision and four themes, that means initiatives to implement new business practices around better inclusivity in the workplace; around structuring a family enterprise to support the next generation of enterprising leaders; around integrating sustainability into business decision making and reporting to shareholders, and around rethinking healthcare systems to be more effective and deliver better care to patients.
You mentioned family enterprise – that's important to the Canadian economy
It is, and we have an internationally recognized group of researchers and practitioners leading our efforts. We're building a whole next generation education program for family enterprises.
‘Next generation’ education for enterprising families – is that unique, as so often we focus on the family business itself or the patriarch/matriarch of the family business?
We’re focused on the next generation, the people who may or may not move into the family enterprise. We are looking at questions like what do these children and grandchildren do with the family wealth to create new but often related, enterprises? We’re looking at it more broadly than just the single business.
What are the three major thrusts that you mentioned for the next five years?
Number one is experiential learning: our Dean believes that it's through real life experiences that our students are going to truly unleash their potential. This is why we want to add an experiential component in every program and learning offering. And we want to integrate this in the student experience as much as possible. Competitions and clubs are great for that and we’re really strong there, but we want that experiential component where it matters most.
The second thrust is the research-informed teaching we spoke about earlier.
As for the third thrust, right now, post-pandemic, is the big renewal opportunity for Canada. So our new Dean has signaled a complete renewal of our programs - and the fundraising campaign will allow us to innovate across our undergraduate and graduate programs.
We’re also planning to build brick and mortar Telfer infrastructure?
Yes, where it makes sense. For the Thriving Organizations and Societies Lab, we have a major initiative to refit and build a state-of-the art lab that can actually look at workplace dynamics, how people work with stress, leveraging one of the strongest groups of occupational and workplace psychologists in the country.
A few people have commented that the Vision seems to have come about as a result of the pandemic
The work to develop the vision actually preceded the pandemic. We had gone through a collaborative process leading into our recent 50th anniversary to determine our areas of strategic impact. Looking back and looking forward, we realized that contributing to a Better Canada has always been part of the School’s DNA. And now the Vision also answers the call to ‘build back better’ that needs to happen in Canada.
Look at the Vision’s health pillar and the pandemic response: much of the issues are operational issues, and logistics issues. Or the Vision’s happiness pillar: The workplace now is transformed. Teams have been physically disconnected for a year. What does this mean for workplaces, teams and employee wellbeing?
And of course, there’s systemic issues around equity, diversity, inclusion. Our professors have been committed to this type of research for a long time, but recently we’ve gained a lot of attention around work that demonstrates how marginalized groups have suffered more than others during the pandemic, and any type of economic rebuild needs to keep them at the core.
We can't ignore any of it. The time is now, and we’re committed to all of it.
To an alumnus who wants to get involved, this is about “build with us” versus “we’re the best, give us money”?
Absolutely! We’re a very good School, we know where we want to go, but we need your help. This Vision and campaign are ambitious. Five years from now, everyone's going to know we're a top school — but we can't get there without you.
There are so many ways to give to all this
And every gift matters. Yes, we need transformative gifts that can help us build these Institutes and help us recruit new chairs and senior leaders. But as we build those centres, we need to grow our already strong team and amplify their work. In recent years we've had excellent recruitment and our faculty is a modern, motivated group — and every single dollar helps us continue to recruit even better.
Here’s another way your money can work: our institutes aren’t ivory towers. We bring in executives-in-residence, so our professors can work hand-in-hand with practitioners, linking research and teaching to the world of practice. By contributing to our Better Canada Impact Fund, you help advance this work and make sure it is connected to better pedagogy for students and better practice.
And with our commitment to experiential learning and the student experience, your contribution to the Telfer Nation Fund will help us accelerate and expand these unique opportunities for all students across all programs.
What are the different giving channels?
You can give to the Telfer Nation Fund which is all about experiential learning and improving the student experience, or the Better Canada Impact Fund, to support innovative research and its application to teaching and practice.
Any amount of support - one hundred dollars, one thousand dollars or a million dollars — it’s all going to be put to work in an extremely smart way. It’s all about getting Telfer, getting business, and getting Canada where we want and need to be five years from now.
This really is the time to start
In every way.
It’s ambitious, essential, and hugely important for Canada and Telfer, so why not take a minute to learn more about the Smart Money campaign.
Excerpts from an interview with James Price