In Hollywood parlance, a meet cute occurs when two characters first cross paths, generally under quirky circumstances, en route to forming a relationship. And for Rotimi Owoade, his introduction to The University of Winnipeg’s Master in Management program was nothing short of a scholastic meet cute, coming at the moment he was least expecting. He had no intention of pursuing graduate studies. He was busy running his own moving business. He was content. But that didn’t stop him from falling head-over-heels for the program.
Owoade’s infatuation began when he was asked to act as a reference for a friend enrolling in the program. That led him to do his own research into what his friend would be studying. The next thing he knew, Owoade wasn’t a reference but an applicant. “I fell in love with the configuration,” he said.
What appealed to Owoade was the ability to not only learn modern concepts but put them to use. He was intrigued by the near-simultaneous classroom learning and in-the-field application. In addition, its resource-rich material had potential to provide Owoade tangible instruction which could help him implement immediate and impactful changes to his business. And none of these features are by happenstance. They are by design.
Real world application
Current professor of strategy and leadership and former Dean of UWinnipeg’s Faculty of Business and Economics Dr. Sylvie Albert explained that the desire throughout the program’s formation was to establish an environment which checked multiple boxes. The program had to offer full-time and part-time course loads, which it accomplished through one- and two-year streams, and seamlessly integrate with the lives of working individuals through in-class and online learning. As a business owner, Owoade has the capacity to apply what he’s learned instantly – “The power of decision is with me,” he said. “I can try things out because the bulk rests on my desk” – but those in alternate employment situations often provide the same feedback.
It’s about what’s happening right now: how we’re dealing with the pandemic, more online, globalization, instability, all those kinds of things that are the here and now that people need to learn about to better manage.
Dr. Sylvie Albert
Albert says students often tell her how relevant the program is: “They say, ‘All of this is great because we’re going through strategic planning or working through some leadership or efficiency issues and everything that you’re giving us right now and all the discussions we’re having, I’m bringing this back to the table. We’ve had all of these problems in our workplace, and I can see now how I can add to the discussion to fix some of those things using the tools that we’re learning.’”
The contemporary nature of course content has also helped Owoade in his business. Remaining on the bleeding edge is of great benefit to business leaders and entrepreneurs, and the relevance of Master in Management material has helped him utilize modern tools and ideas in his day-to-day business operation.
For instance, Owoade notes his use of Big Data, which he didn’t believe was relevant to his business before arriving at UWinnipeg. He quickly understood that wasn’t the case and found ways to incorporate data.
“Learning those things, I was teaching my team and we are making better decisions,” he said. “It’s helping us to know where we have issues. We can relatively easily identify what the problem is and know exactly how to deal with it.
It’s not just students who thrive on staying current, however. It’s a thrill, too, for Albert, who said it’s exciting to not be repeating material designed 30 years ago that may not be entirely pertinent today.
“It’s about what’s happening right now: how we’re dealing with the pandemic, more online, globalization, instability, all those kinds of things that are the here and now that people need to learn about to better manage,” she said.
Diverse backgrounds drive discussion
Aiding in this new-school mentality is an exchange of information born out of the approach to program acceptance.
Owoade has a more traditional business background – he has degrees in mechanical engineering, a Master of Business Administration, and spent 15 years working at banks, including eight as a bank manager, in Nigeria.
The program, however, is also targeted at those without years of professional and academic business experience. The Grad Studies, Qualifying Year program enables suitable applicants who have not fulfilled undergraduate requirements the opportunity to acquire necessary skills.
“We structured the intake to be flexible in accepting people that have arts and humanities backgrounds, science backgrounds, business backgrounds, different professional backgrounds, and that’s exactly what we’re getting,” Albert said. “We’re getting bankers, people in the insurance industry, in manufacturing, and in IT, and it’s such a wonderful mix. As soon as you put a topic out for discussion, you have all of these different perspectives in terms of how that works in different industries. It makes an incredible and rich experience for the students.”
And the resulting program is one which has created a unique and practical incubator for business leaders, a versatile setting where ideas about the past, present, and future of business can be explored, and a place where those in the business world can find the answers they seek today and put them into practice tomorrow.
“Since I’ve started this course I’ve been able to put many puzzles together, many pieces together,” Owoade said. “I can connect the dots.”
Applications for the 2022-23 Master in Management intake will open in early November 2021. For more information about the Master in Management graduate program, please visit the department website or contact Michael Breward, Graduate Program Chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org.