The full-time MBA at Kingston, Ontario’s Smith School of Business has three big selling points. Firstly, it has a team-based approach designed to boost “cultural IQ,” with students divided into groups selected by behavioral psychology staff for their diversity. Fifty percent of course marks are awarded on the basis of their team’s performance. Each team has a dedicated coach and a boardroom-style room accessible only by them, where they do most of their work.
The second unusual feature of Smith’s 12-month MBA is that each student has four coaches: one who works with their team, one who helps with career development, another who is an executive coach, and finally a wellness coach to help with fitness, nutrition, work-life balance, or other issues they might need to address.
The third selling point? This MBA is a great way to land a job in Canada. Of the 80 or so students in the latest cohort, 60% are Canadian, meaning that the other 40% — who came from 14 countries in the 2017-18 intake — have an instant network in the country and insight into the culture on tap. It works: 88% of Smith School graduates get a job in Canada.
Smith’s MBA is zeitgeisty, but it is still evolving. The first six months of the course are spent on MBA foundations, while the second half is dedicated to electives, which are divided into streams: consulting, finance, marketing and sales, healthcare, entrepreneurship, and innovation. From next year, two others will be added: management analytics and digital transformation strategy. MBAs can also do double degrees in a Master of Finance, Master of Management Analytics, Juris Doctorate, and Master of Science Healthcare Quality, or they can get a Certificate in Social Impact or start their CFA, PMI, CHE, or CMC. Those interested in venture capital can work in a student-advised VC fund which invests some of the university’s endowed funds.
The focus on “leadership skills” seems to get results. Ninety percent of Smith MBA students have a job on graduation, and 97% get one three months afterwards.
Matthew Reesor, director of the full-time MBA program
Obviously, we teach all the core MBA technical skills, but we try to focus just as much on the “soft” or “leadership” skills, such as the ability to listen, communicate effectively, and manage conflict. Employers say that they value the ability to work with a wide variety of others, and our team-based approach is aimed to develop that skill.
Coachability is another trait that employers want, and the fact that our students work with four different coaches during their MBA means that they are very used to being coached in a range of areas. The very high level of employment and pay for MBAs three months after graduation proves that we are producing the student the workforce needs.
Student View: Laura Barrantes Monge, Costa Rica, class of 2018
I‘m an industrial engineer, and I’d previously worked in Canada, so when I started looking at MBAs it was on my list. At 12 months, it meant a lower financial investment than a U.S. MBA. Once I expressed an interest, I felt they gave me better information than a lot of other schools, and made me feel wanted.
The team-based approach means you learn a lot of soft skills, and I’ve realized that if you learn to work as a team you can get a much richer result. All my classmates have a particular strength, and all are impressive people. The small class size means you get to know everyone. Having so many Canadians on the course means they are more comfortable to start with, but as time goes on everyone finds their feet, and overall having such a deep knowledge about Canada is a super-valuable resource for those of us who want to get jobs here.