Inter‑program teamwork in management
Jenny Baechler, Management Without Borders
Six years ago, Jenny Baechler, associate director of the Corporate Residency MBA program, joined a team working on an innovative new graduate class called Management Without Borders. The class is offered to students enrolled in any of the course-based graduate programs within the Faculty of Management: business, public administration, information management, resource and environmental studies, and marine affairs.
“This innovation was initiated to enhance the integration between these different cultures of management, [and to] break down some of the silos that naturally appear there and help create a stronger management graduate,” Ms. Baechler explains.
Learning from the trenches
One key component of the class is the group project, which provides students with practical experience they can draw upon after graduation. The class is split into groups of five (with no more than two students from the same school per group). Each group works with a host organization or business in the region on a real project, with deliverables, timelines and desired outcomes. Students gain leadership, project management and conflict resolution skills from this “live project” work, as well as the opportunity to hone their professional management skills.
“When you’re being innovative, it has to be okay that not everyone loves it. You have to have thick skin and persevere,” Ms. Baechler explains. It is also helpful to view the innovation as part of an evolving process with continuous assessment concerning which elements are truly effective for learning.
Thus, adaptations are important. For example, although the class was originally offered to first-year graduate students, this year’s class, which will focus on the theme of collaboration, will be offered as a second-year core class for most participating students.
“We hope that by making it a second-year class, the students will have already developed core skills relevant to their profession and can instead focus more on the integration of skills, knowledge and varying perspectives, as well as the profound learning that comes from complex, interdisciplinary team environments,” says Ms. Baechler.