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A new vision unfolding at UNB’s Faculty of Management

by Lizabeth Lemon-Mitchell

Students come to university excited to learn and use their knowledge to make a difference in the world. Last semester, students in the fourth year of the BBA at the University of New Brunswick experienced first-hand how they can use their business knowledge and skills to have a real impact in their community. 

As part of their strategic management course taught by Dr. Ibrahim Shaikh, they worked on a project with the New Brunswick Association for Community Living (NBACL), a non-profit organization that works on behalf of children and adults with an intellectual disability and their families. The class was matched with NBACL by UNB’s Experiential Learning Office and FutureReadyNB. Throughout the project, students were treated like consultants and tasked to review the operations of NBACL’s community collections program and then make recommendations on how to improve the operation. 

“This project allowed us to test our problem-solving skills’” said Alexis Grant, one of the students in the class. “Getting a taste of how things work in the real life allowed me to discover a passion for business strategy I wouldn’t have otherwise.” 

According to Mike Mazerolle, NBACL’s Manager of Operations and Business, the project was a success. “It has been refreshing to hear the new ideas, approaches, and feedback from the students, which in turn were used to help NBACL grow.  It’s impressive to see the students use what they are taught in a hands-on environment with real life impact.”

UNB’s faculty of management has offered experiential learning options for several years, but this year, as part of its Vision 2025 strategic plan, it has launched an enhanced BBA program that will enable all students to benefit from the experience Grant describes.

In a new first-year course, Business Planning and Entrepreneurship, students wrote business plans for new ventures and used feedback from local business leaders and alumni to refine their ideas. Those with the best plans competed in a new separate track in the recent BMO APEX Business Plan Competition. In each year of the BBA, students will work on projects with local organizations to solve problems and explore different careers. To facilitate these changes, the faculty has created a new position for an Experiential Learning Coordinator.

Other aspects of the faculty’s Vision 2025 include more experiential and specialized graduate programs. A one-year Master in Quantitative Investment Management program launched in 2018 and combines coursework with an internship or research project so that students can apply their specialized knowledge to industry problems. The MBA program is being enhanced to involve more concentrations and experiential learning.

“Combining traditional classroom learning with the chance to test theories and ideas in the field helps students discover how they can use their knowledge to have a real impact,” said Dr. Devashis Mitra, dean of the faculty of management. “This experience helps them develop valuable skills and confidence in their abilities. The world needs people who are ready to take on challenges and solve problems.” 

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