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5 Canadian Business Schools Leading Innovation In MBA Programs In 2018

B-schools add artificial intelligence and blockchain to the MBA curriculum

By  Barbara Coward

Fri Jan 12 2018

It’s not surprising that a country which invented ice hockey would be on the cutting-edge of graduate management education.

After all, it was the legendary Canadian NHL player Wayne Gretzky who once said: "I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it’s been.”

Over the years, the great hockey pioneer has inspired countless business pioneers including Steve Jobs and Warren Buffett. In the face-off of 2018, business schools across Canada are also taking a cue from ‘the greatest hockey player of all time.’

Here’s five Canadian business schools leading innovation in MBA programs in 2018:

1. Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto


Rotman has been on the forefront of innovation for some time. Six years ago, Rotman launched the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL), a pioneering accelerator program that links students with prominent entrepreneurs and angel investors. There’s nothing like it in the business school space.

“Our Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) attracts science-based, massively scalable ventures with particular focus on artificial intelligence and quantum computing,” says Tiff Macklem, dean of Rotman.

“These ventures are typically in the transition phase from pre-seed to seed-stage funding and the MBAs help them try to make this crucial transition. In the first five years of the CDL program, CDL ventures have generated $1.5 billion (CDN) in equity value.”

In 2018, Rotman will continue to innovate with new classes in machine learning and blockchain as well as new second-year electives on designing for equality and nudge economics.

“And starting with the full-time class of 2020, there will be further important changes in the curriculum, including the introduction of electives to the first year of the program,” says Tiff. “This will allow students early in the program to select courses closely aligned with their career goals.”


2. Rowe School of Business at Dalhousie University


The Rowe School has also launched a Creative Destruction Lab, bringing the total to five business schools in Canada.

“CDL-Atlantic is the most exciting thing that’s happened since I’ve been at the school,” says Dan Shaw, director of the corporate residency MBA program at Rowe. “While finance and management consulting were the high value jobs of the 1990s and 2000s, technology seems to have the most in-demand positions today. Technology is the sexiest field for MBA students.” 


3. Faculty of Business and Economics at the University of Winnipeg

sylvie - winnipeg

The University of Winnipeg will focus on innovation with more courses in information and communications technology.

“The expansion of the digital economy is changing jobs and requiring more emphasis on understanding systems, technologies, and data,” explains Sylvie Albert, dean of the Faculty of Business and Economics at the University of Winnipeg. “As more processes become automated, our graduate programs will need to align more closely to understanding the interaction and the most efficient use of machine and humans, to non-repetitive process management, to data management and analytics, to blue ocean strategies, and to the development of entrepreneurial and innovation cultures.”


4. Levene Graduate School of Business at the University of Regina


There’s plenty of innovation beyond technology, too. The University of Regina will be launching an MBA in Public Safety in the fall of 2018.

“Regina is one of Canada’s public safety hubs,” explains Marci Elliott, assistant dean of the Levene MBA at the University of Regina. “I’m keen on this program because it is niche, we’re located in a hub of expertise, and public safety is a growing area given mounting environmental and terror threats.” 


5. Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University


Desautels will be launching a new course in fintech to support changing employer needs.

“Companies are increasingly demanding,” says Isabelle Bajeux-Besnainou, the school’s dean. “On the one hand, at the very top of organizations, they expect us to deliver broad thinkers who will be able to move up the corporate ladder facing this increasingly fast changing world. On the other hand, they want people that are ready to function in their entry-level position, irrespective of what it is.”

And it’s the speed of change that’s especially exciting. “What took 20 years to happen in the past, now happens in a mere few years, sometimes months,” Isabelle continues.

“We have historically been working at the frontier of knowledge. The world just lives closer to that frontier today."