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Grad profile: A leader grows as a learner

Posted by Suzanne Bowness on October 21, 2021 in Alumni & Friends

Joe Collura says his career advancement happened in tandem with his progress through Dalhousie’s Master of Business Administration with specialization in Financial Services. When you consider that his current role is vice president of strategic partnerships for multinational bank JP Morgan Chase & Co., it seems that the degree has had a positive impact. Responsible for managing the bank’s strategic channel partnerships in Canada, Collura leads a team of vice presidents and works closely with other top executives. 

Already entrenched in his profession, Collura found the flexibility of the blended/online MBA program was a real draw given his need to balance a busy work and family life with moving his education forward. “The way the program is built was perfect. It allowed me to learn what I needed, and to allocate the required time because the course content, deliverables and online sessions were provided in advance. It was very convenient,” says Collura. He also enjoyed the intensive in-person learning units as a platform for bringing the subject matter together and a culmination of the course. “There was always good dialogue. Being able to process the course material with other classmates and witness their struggles and strengths, was invaluable.” Collura’s two favourite courses were Strategic Leadership and Change and International Business, both highly relevant to his role.  

Dedicated to the banking field, Collura started his career with 11 years at RBC, where he held various positions as an individual contributor as well as management roles, which spanned sales, operations and employee development leadership. He then shifted to the Bank of Montreal for four years before moving to Meridian Credit Union, where he took on even more focused roles as a senior manager leading various strategic initiatives in both business banking and retail lending. 

Collura was at Meridian when started the MBA in 2016. He recalls that he immediately started to apply skills and especially new ways of thinking from his courses directly to his work. Those overarching themes from the MBA included embracing a data-driven approach, and focusing on relationship building as a route to success in everything from international business to organizational strategy. “The MBA really helped expand my thought process and approach. I'm thankful for that,” he says. 

What Collura loves about his field is the opportunity to help others, both as a leader and in terms of the clients he serves. “I am grateful for the opportunity to develop and guide. This also extends to business owners and a consultative approach around payment acceptance, which not only helps address immediate needs but also introduces new ideas and concepts to expand their business,” he says. 

While Collura is already at a senior level in his career, he says he can still see himself moving up as an executive. Even though the road ahead is even more challenging at this level, he says that working his way through the MBA helped prepare him. “It really will be a culmination of all the things I was lucky enough to learn along the way: I need to continue to be thoughtful in the way I am communicating, mindful in how I’m presenting business cases, and diligent in representing data-driven decisions in a way that resonates. The MBA has expanded my mindset, introduced me to new concepts and helped strengthen my engagement at all levels,” he says.