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MBA Orientation 2019

l-r Bijan Mandal, Amie Mandal, Melissa Skrobiak, John Skrobiak, Dean Mitch Fields

Orientation is a defining moment in every student’s life, being excited and scary at the same time. Students from around the globe made the leap of faith and found themselves at the Odette School of Business to commence a 2-week orientation, as they start their MBA Program.

Orientation fosters the experience of making new friends, unforgettable memories and to become familiar with this new place they will call home for the next 14 months. During their orientation students discovered the fundamental skills to succeed, academic regulations, faculty resources and support services available.

Throughout the 2 weeks students would learn how to effectively use library resources and manage the research process, work through a case analysis, introduction to courses in accounting and finance, exchange opportunities, and the art of a persuasive presentation.

Orientation was peppered with guest speakers. Keith Cross, MBA ’82, former Managing Director and President, RLG International. His message to the incoming MBA’s was spot on! You never know when you meet someone and they present an opportunity/advice that you need to act on. Odette gave me opportunity. Odette gave me confidence. Odette was a key component in preparing me for my business career.

 Ryan Kane, MBA ‘05, Corporate Finance, Ilitch Holdings, shared with the class to always be prepared. He recommended four pillars, timing, opportunity, relationships, and risks – you need to be prepared for each one of these, always, so you can capitalize on them at any moment. He explained that opportunity is often presented, not created, when that happens you need to be prepared so you can capitalize on it. It takes mental toughness to be a strong negotiator – thinking through and always being prepared.

He shared a story how cool it was to fly in his bosses private jet, but then he realized there “was nowhere to go – two straight hours of being in the hot-seat”, something he was thankfully prepared for, but still a tough introduction to flying in a private jet.

Dr. Richard Peddie, BComm ’70, Best Selling Author, Speaker, Director, City Builder, former president and CEO of MLSE, shared what it takes to become a great leader, whether at the corporate or community level, is a life-long journey. He also shared his passion for the environment. He quoted Greta Thunberg “no one is too small to make a difference”, which also happens to be the title of her book.

New this year was a meditation workshop provided by Dr. Kent Walker, MBA Program Director. He explained that they’ll have the rare opportunity to not only further their knowledge of business management, but also knowledge of self. He encouraged them to take pause at times, to feel grateful, not only for the success they will inevitably encounter but also the difficulties and the opportunities. To rise above them as you repeatedly demonstrate to yourselves that you are capable of more than you realize.

They will have the opportunity to gain real-world experiences in both the for-profit and the not-for-profit sectors. There was a live case component to this year’s orientation. The Downtown Windsor Community Collaborative (DWCC), Hugh Carpenter, shared his story growing up with addiction, jail time, prostitution, rape, drug dealing, detox, stealing, living in group homes, running away. Repeat. This was a story not for the faint of heart. They heard of the underlying insecurity and trauma’s impacted by deep inner wounds and how, with much hard work, Hugh was able to turn it around and how something positive came out of it. Today, 20 years sober, working as a peer support worker with The Initiative: Glengarry Neighbourhood Renewal, overcoming complex trauma, free from addiction behaviors, healing in relationships, plugging into healthy communities, he is a friend and mentor to the residents.

Executive Director, Bob Cameron, challenged the students to come up with solutions to four target areas for the DWCC. Divided into groups, and with a two hour time limit, each group picked an issue to tackle from four pillars that need to be addressed. Empowering Food co-operative - historical problems with food banks as a dehumanizing dependent experience; Recovery Transition Space – using one apartment as an emergency space; Bicycle Club – building relationships, encouraging health, environmentally friendly, hobbies deter addiction; Fundraising Event – raise $5,000 to launch one of the above three ideas, design and implement the event to support food or Bicycle cooperative. They needed to come up with a strategy, and a power point presentation, on how they would implement and execute the solution(s) to support their choice of the four pillars.

At the end of the 2-week Orientation a celebration took place known as The Dean’s Dinner.  The dinner was a great opportunity to spend time with new friends, network with faculty and staff, and make new memories, prior to the start of classes on Monday.

At the Dean’s Dinner, The Sue Skrobiak Award was introduced for the first time to the students, named in memory of long-time Graduate Secretary, Sue Skrobiak. The Skrobiak Award will be given annually to a recipient who has positively impacted the Odette School of Business MBA Program for a sustained period.

Students were always at the heart of Sue’s attention, so an annual bursary will be given to a deserving MBA student – like Sue, that rare individual who combines leading performance with an abiding commitment to the Odette MBA and to the broad group of people it touches.

The Sue Skrobiak Award for Excellence was developed in consultation with her husband John and daughters Amie and Melissa.

“No words can express the devastating loss our family has endured,” explains John Skrobiak. “This award will be a constant reminder to us and others of Sue’s contributions, efforts, care, and kindness that she exhibited throughout her life and her career. We are honoured and humbled that Sue’s name will live on through Odette, the MBA program and in our family’s hearts forever.”