Ryerson offers only program of its kind downtown

leyla emory/for metro toronto


Roman Brailovski is earning his MBA with a specialization in retail and commercial development at Ryerson University.

“Location, location, location.” It’s real estate’s mantra and a key component of Ryerson’s new MBA specialization in retail and commercial development.

Ideally located on the business blocks of Bay Street, The Ted Rogers School of Management offers its students a lesson before they walk through the doors: Ryerson’s address is its first selling point. It’s the only program of its kind offered in a downtown core.

From there things get more specific. Building on the University’s Centre for the Study of Commercial Activity, one unique feature of an MBA in retail and commercial development is its emphasis on combining geographic and business techniques.

Learning to analyze geographical information is an important part of the retail industry, says Wendy Cukier, associate dean academic at The Ted Rogers School of Management. “Big retailers like Wal-Mart would spend a lot of time analyzing the demographic information, in a particular neighbourhood, average income, growth development, etc., before they would make a decision on where to locate their operation ... Students learn how to use those very technical tools.”

Of course let’s not forget the age-old adage, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” There too Ryerson has capitalized on its assets. Known for its career-oriented education, professors of the program are experts in the industry.

Dr. Michael Brooks is one of those assets. “He has a PhD but (as head of one of the largest real estate associations) he also has unparalleled real estate connections,” says Cukier.

For current student Roman Brailovski this was a huge selling point. “There was a great response from last year’s class,” says the 24-year-old. “They said the instructors are really phenomenal.”

Halfway through his first and only year — students with a relevant four-year bachelor degree can finish the program in one year — Brailovski agrees. “It’s been a great experience,” he says. “There’s a great emphasis on practicality as well as a broad and strong academic component.”

It’s a combination of theory and practice that Brooks incorporates into his three-hour class. “The first hour Michael lectures,” Brailovski explains, “the second hour we have a discussion of some sort and the third hour is usually allocated to industry speakers. These are top executives we’re talking about, CEO’s and executive vice-presidents. You really get to hear first-hand what this industry is all about.”