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Is studying an MBA worth it?

Industry meets academia to give UCW students hands‑on experience

Screenshot of a zoom call with UCW student and faculty participants

University Canada West (UCW) has always put a focus on equipping students with practical applied skills by bringing real work experiences into the classroom.

UCW works hard to provide students with this experience through internships, networking opportunities, the Career Development Centre, applicable skills and real-life case studies.

The University is always looking for new ways to incorporate the most up-to-date information, technology and skills into its courses. In the fall of 2020, UCW partnered with Riipen, and so far, the partnership has been a success all around.

Riipen, which was established in Vancouver in 2014, brings industry and academia together with real company projects. Projects with real businesses and organizations are embedded directly into the course curriculum or completed as remote internships.

Dr. Gelareh Farhadian, MBA Marketing, Strategy and Entrepreneurship Department Chair, said many textbook case studies typically used in business courses are outdated. And up-to-date studies are usually based on large organizations, like Amazon or Shopify.

“In reality, most students will work for small to medium-sized corporations,” she said. “Riipen helps us bring real-world business examples into the classroom, giving our students the hands-on experience of working with an organization.”

Most of the companies partnered with UCW classes are smaller – 80% have five or fewer staff while the other 20% have between 11 and 20 employees.

“Immersing students in these real-world industry projects equips them with work-ready skills. It’s much more practical than just looking at a case study,” Dr. Farhadian said.

So far, nine different MBA courses have incorporated a Riipen client project and students, faculty and participating businesses were all asked to complete a survey at the end of the course.

The partnership has been well received by students – 80% of those who completed the survey said they were satisfied with the experience.

Many students said that it helped build their confidence and gave them a better perspective on working in North America. Students commented that the experience gave them a better understanding of the business environment and helped develop their research and critical thinking skills.

“It was a very positive experience,” said one student. “The best way to complete [my] last subject and last semester.”

Another commented, “The learning process was great… I learned a lot from working on this project. This project broadened my knowledge.”

The participating businesses also benefitted from the partnership.

One business owner said, “The students were so engaged and motivated to take part in this project that all of our calls were so rich and their questions challenged me in many ways, where I even changed certain aspects of our strategy through our brainstorming sessions.”

Another said, “After an initial presentation from my company to the 12 students, they then broke into four groups of three. We held bi-weekly class time over Zoom to discuss any questions that they had. At the end of the semester, we received a visual presentation from each group. I was very impressed with the end results.”

Another commented that “The students were insightful, genuinely cared about my business' wellbeing, and challenged premises that they felt were weak. It was a joy to work with them.”

Riipen is just one of several partnerships that brings the latest technology and business expertise to UCW’s Master of Business Administration program.

UCW collaborates with digital leaders such as Riipen, the Digital Marketing Institute, Salesforce, Tableau and IBM Design Thinking to keep students updated on upcoming technological trends.

 

Published on May 10, 2021.