Dal knows its business

Faculty of management named most innovative in Canada by European CEO magazine


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Faculty of management students study and socialize in the Rowe atrium. (Photo: Katie Rankin)

People in the faculty of management never really considered it innovative, says JoAnne Akerboom, the faculty's executive director of external affairs.

So it came as a surprise when the faculty was named the most innovative business school in Canada by European CEO magazine. Subscribers nominated the school and voted it the winner.

The faculty got the award for its "unique configuration," says Akerboom. Four schools are situated in the same building.

Since 2005, the Kenneth C. Rowe Management Building has housed the schools of business administration, public administration, information management and school for resource and environmental studies.

Blurring borders

The faculty encourages interdisciplinary study with a course called management without borders which all graduates must take, says Akerboom. Students are put in groups with members from all four schools and have the opportunity to look at the same issue from several disciplinary perspectives.

The groups work together with an outside organization or company and present their work to the organizations at the end of the semester.

Samantha Reid, first-year master of information management student, says she likes how, unlike some other Canadian schools, her master's in library and information studies degree isn't solely focused on libraries and books.

Akerboom agrees and says the program understands we live in "a knowledge-based economy, not industrial."

Libraries aren't the only buildings that need to be organized, she says. "The rest of the world needs to be organized."

Reid says it's the customer service side and the social skills the faculty teaches, along with the technical training, which will be useful in the real world.

Akerboom hopes the award encourages more collaboration amongst the schools.

"Before we did much of the work in silos," she says. "People are much more
excited to work together."

Real-life differences

Working together when people have so many different backgrounds can also present difficulties, says Akerboom.

"In the past sometimes you get friction between people from different perspectives," says Akerboom. This course is an "opportunity to step back and see the effectiveness of understanding."

Working with students from such a variety of post-secondary and graduate programs is "very challenging," says Reid. Everyone has "different expectations and different work ethics."

She says the course helps portray what real-life in the workplace will be like. "You're never going to be put in a box with people who think the same way you do," says Reid.

Finding common values

Peggy Cunningham, dean of the faculty, was overseas last week, accepting the award in front of the London stock exchange. She says in the news release about the award that the school focuses on "values-based management."

The faculty of management is still trying to figure out exactly what that means, Akerboom says with a laugh.

"Right now this means having all our students graduate to lead with integrity and make change," she says.




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