Meet Ivey’s MBA Class of 2020

Have no fear: Ivey MBAs are on the case…literally.

The Class of 2020 moved to the Forest City for a reason — and it wasn’t to hit Sunfest or the Covent Garden Market. No, Ontario’s Ivey Business School is revered for its mastery of the case method, with a commitment to the format that rivals Harvard Business School and the University of Virginia. Alexandre Netto, an FX sales trader, came all the way from Brazil to learn through hundreds of case readings and discussions at Ivey. Thus far, he notes, the program has more than lived up to its reputation.

“There is a lot of value in learning from actual business situations, applying theory and concepts with the guidance of high-level faculty, and exchanging insights with a class of talented individuals from very diverse professional and cultural backgrounds,” he explains. “It provides a broad range of perspectives that can be applied to all sorts of different industries and roles from a managerial point of view.”

Exterior of the Ivey School of Business

CASE METHOD REINFORCES THE PROCESS FOR MAKING DECISIONS

Ivey’s case method takes education back to its roots. Forget one-sided lectures and clear solutions. Case discussions thrive on the uncertain and ambiguous. That’s exactly what decision-makers face every day: unreliable data, speculative strategies, and shifting markets buffeted by ever-evolving technologies, regulations, and consumer expectations. With cases, Ivey MBAs pose questions and weigh alternatives and tradeoffs. These are high stakes scenarios where they often must choose between the least damaging options.

Such intensive preparation only makes the classroom experience more significant. Here, there is nowhere to hide, as faculty can cold call at any time. When Ivey MBAs step into the spotlight, they must frame their arguments – succinctly and persuasively – and defend them. Soon enough, they’ll be facing senior executives, business partners, and media members looking to pull any loose threads in their positions.

You could describe the Ivey case method as ‘simulations with safety nets,’ a place where MBAs can role play leadership at the highest levels, all while capitalizing on the diversity of experiences among classmates. Fletcher Courage, a Sommelier by trade, likens the case method to “drawing together discrete pieces of information into a cohesive picture.” It steels discipline and stirs the imagination. More than that, adds Andrew Newton, the Ivey case method is inspiring.

SUPPORTIVE ALUMNI WHO REMEMBER WHAT IT’S LIKE

“It’s amazing that every day we are learning new theories and applying them directly to real-world situations that we will likely one day face. It makes the learning immediate and way more fun because we can see how it’s directly applicable to our futures after Ivey. The learning is sticky, engaging, fun, and makes you want to come to class every day and do the work because it is enjoyable.”

It isn’t just the case method that brings Ivey MBAs to class. Ranked as the top MBA program in Canada by Poets&Quants, the Ivey Business School, based in London, Ontario’s Western University, is a one-year MBA program. This length enables students to cut opportunity costs and return to the workforce faster. That compressed format doesn’t mean that graduates miss out on those rich networks that provide guidance and open doors for students. That was one of the takeaways for William Nguyen, a 2019 graduate and Best & Brightest MBA who joined Deloitte Consulting after graduation.

The Class of 2020 at a summer park getaway

“I was also impressed with the generosity of our alumni. Before I was even accepted into the program, I had the opportunity to connect and speak with alumni and current students who were always willing to answer all of my questions and share some of their experiences. That same “give back” culture has been demonstrated over-and-over again throughout the program. During the recruiting period, alumni were donating their time, conducting mock interviews and case interviews, and giving feedback. Having this support system made the difference when applying for jobs.”

A LOOK AT THE CLASS OF 2020

This difference is also reflected in the diverse backgrounds of the Class of 2020, whose likes range from strategists to linguists to ordained ministers. Their experiences have colored why they enrolled at Ivey…and what they ultimately hope to someday accomplish. Take Prateek Chhikara. Think business school is rough? Before moving to London, he was a member of the Indian Army’s Special Forces, where the dropout rates ranged as high as 85%. Initially, Chhikara had his doubts but toughed it out to eventually emerge as an instructor in the Special Forces. While he held a degree in business administration, it wasn’t until a United Nations peace-keeping venture in Lebanon that he found his calling.

“I saw first-hand the atrocities and hardships the locals in the area faced,” he writes. “I would often find schools and roads closed due to terrorist threats and I observed the impact it had on the psychology and the economy of a country. I opted for the Special Forces upon my return to India to play a more proactive role in fighting global terrorism. I wanted to leave a palpable impact on the society and didn’t want to see any more children deprived of education or patients denied their treatments due to the fear of terrorists. I was fortunate to serve in the anti-terrorist establishment and safeguard the rights of the citizens.”

Shirin Ahmed’s rite of passage came as a college student in Uganda, where she worked in the countryside for an international development organization. Long on enthusiasm and strapped for resources, Ahmed quickly discovered that she could make little difference. Rather than give up, she chose to open up and listen to community members so she could develop more “small-scale initiatives” to improve healthcare in the community.

“Those three months challenged my traditional thinking on international development, as I realized that an understanding of challenges and the solutions all lie within the local community,” she explains. “If we want to further sustainable improvements, it is our responsibility to listen to those around us and co-create solutions with them. Since then, I have devoted my life to social impact but in a way that allows me to learn from others, appreciate the diversity in ideas, and work directly with those affected by adversity.”

Interior of the Ivey School of Business

For Chau Vu, her moment of truth came when she helped bring a business to life. Heading operations for the XLE Group, she oversaw finance, human resources, and training for the launch of the VBA – the Vietnamese Basketball Association. It was an arduous process, but one whose impact gave her purpose – and an epiphany.

“[The] VBA truly shapes the youth of Vietnam, building personality and changing the lives of many young adults through sport. VBA is now an excellent entertainment platform for families to gather on the weekends and one of the most-watched and followed events in Vietnam. VBA also gives me a strong sense of personal fulfillment and I know that if I want to change lives, I must continue my journey of learning.”

BUSINESS INFORMS MEDICINE FOR ONE SURGICAL RESIDENT

Logan McGinn is actually pulling double duty at Western University. A “professional student” and aspiring entrepreneur, McGinn is entering her fourth year as a plastic surgery resident. For her, business school is a means to make an impact on the system early in her career.

“Previously as a nurse – and now as a physician – I have had the unique opportunity to view our publicly funded medical care system through different lenses,” she notes. “Although divergent at times, one common theme was apparent: the underrepresentation of frontline workers within the leadership team making organizational decisions. I decided to pursue an MBA to build the business and leadership skills required to have a seat at the table with management and bridge the gap between our leadership and clinicians.”

Communication is the best way to influence these decisions – and Ivey’s combination of case methodology and hands-on learning has enabled McGinn to sharpen her messaging since her arrival. I have noticed how much more comfortable I have become giving oral presentations,” she admits. “Coming to Ivey, I have been pushed through class contribution, class activities, and presentation assignments to really grow in this domain. I have had one-to-one coaching focused on presentation skills, both on stage and in the boardroom. These opportunities have truly made the difference in my ability to articulate my ideas with better clarity, confidence, and executive presence.”

WHAT CLASSMATES SAY ABOUT THEIR PEERS

Such opportunities are only as good as the classmates who surround the. Here are some observations that the Class of 2020 have made about their Ivey peers:

Ivey Classroom

“Ivey brings together people who have lived and worked around the world and across many industries. The small class size allows us to build meaningful connections with each other while the group projects and case discussions bring out the varied perspectives of each individual to enrich our learnings. There are often times when we disagree with each other. However, those “devil’s advocates” and “push-backs” add to the richness of the discussion.”
Shirin Ahmed

“Community is something that is incredibly important to me, and we have that in the 2020 Ivey Cohort. It gives us a sense of belonging, purpose, and togetherness. I also think community describes the other amazing qualities that we see in the 2020 cohort: drive, fun, and familial. We are each other’s friends, family, support group, and we all push each other to be and do our best. It’s a good level of competition: we push each other, but we celebrate each other’s successes and help each other through the other times. We’re never competing against each other, so it’s a truly supportive and high-performing environment that is also fun. It’s truly incredible.”
Andrew Newton

“The Ivey MBA class of 2020 is the most generous collection of humans I have ever met. If you need help with the program, moving, or anything really, someone is always willing to volunteer their time and knowledge to help.”
Fletcher Courage

Go to Page 2 for in-depth profiles of 12 members of Ivey’s Class of 2020.