Canadian universities are discovering that alumni can be a valuable, two-way window in establishing a strong MBA program.
“Interacting with alumni gives the potential candidate a good idea if the culture or the program is a good fit or not,” says Wendy Ma, assistant director of MBA programs at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business.
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Niki da Silva, director of MBA admissions and recruitment at the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario says the same.
“It gives candidates so much more depth of the school and insight into the real experience of the program,” da Silva explains.
And vice versa, alumni also provide insight to the university when determining if candidates are truly a good fit for the program.
“We listen to alumni referrals of candidates because they certainly know what it takes to be successful in the program,” da Silva says.
At UBC, MBA graduates have similar influence.
“UBC alumni sometimes help out with the student recruitment process,” Ma says. “We have a strong network of relationships here and we trust our alum when they recommend potential applications.”
Ma says these relationships continue long after graduation and extend past the borders of the university.
“We see these connections establishing some very solid business contacts,” she says. “These relationships go past different industries and even across international borders.”
She believes it is this eclectic foundation of relationships that is the backbone of a good MBA program, harnessing diversity for a more valuable academic experience for the students.
“We have engineers who come to do an MBA, we have teachers who come do an MBA, we have lawyers who come to do an MBA, we have doctors who come do an MBA,” says Ma, who had a background in science when she did her MBA. “As a result, in the classroom, problems are analyzed with different lenses and different perspectives.”