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Grad profile: Ayşe Dai‑Gammon sees opportunity in online connection

Posted by Erin Elaine Casey on October 15, 2020 in Students
(Danny Abriel photo)

For Ayşe Dai-Gammon, finishing her last three MBA courses entirely online during the pandemic lockdown offered an opportunity to build special connections. “COVID-19 made students and instructors more aware of each other’s life challenges,” she says. “Doing an MBA is a brave undertaking for working professionals at the best of times. COVID-19 took it to another level.”

“Many of my classmates had to support their kids’ homeschooling while trying to balance their work and MBA courses. I have deep respect and appreciation for my classmates and instructors for their resilience, adaptability and resourcefulness.”

It also highlighted what Dai-Gammon calls “bringing those sweet moments of life to our online coursework and video calls: newborn babies, family members, pets. It’s a very intimate experience and you establish deep relationships with classmates.”

Dai-Gammon graduates in October; in 2015 she was one of the first students to enroll in Dalhousie’s blended in-person/online MBA program with leadership specialization offered through the Centre for Executive & Graduate Education (CEGE).

“This program leverages the co-creative learning model, combining theory, award-winning professors’ expertise, and the diverse professional backgrounds of the students—all accomplished mid-career professionals. It really enriches and maximizes the learning experience.”

Helping employers and students connect

Since 2011, Dai-Gammon has been the employer development manager with Management Career Services in Dal’s Faculty of Management. She supports employers’ campus recruitment strategies and recent grad and co-op student recruitment needs. She is also the force behind the Dalhousie MBA Network on LinkedIn, created recently to help current students and alumni connect with and support each other. The private group already has more than 60 participants.

Dai-Gammon was born and raised in Turkey, graduated from Istanbul University School of Law, and had established a career as a corporate lawyer specializing in foreign investments before immigrating to Canada. She leverages her corporate experience to help businesses and organizations connect with Dalhousie’s impressive pool of talent.

Although she had always wanted to pursue a master’s degree, “I was really waiting for this degree, especially the leadership stream,” explains Dai-Gammon. “It goes beyond the traditional MBA course curriculum, challenging people’s paradigms and introducing complexity theory into strategic management. The program provides a solid foundation for personal and organizational boundary spanning, value creation and growth.”

“The program also challenges conventional ideas of leadership that glorify heroic and charismatic leaders. We had a lot of heated discussions because there are as many leadership styles as personalities! I believe there’s a leader in each of us, and you can evoke and motivate that leader that lives in every employee and citizen to make a difference.”

Flexible learning a plus

Although being a Dal employee was an important consideration in choosing the program, it wasn’t the only reason Dai-Gammon chose Dalhousie. The high academic standards, as well as the flexible learning model, were key. “Who has the luxury of taking two years off if you’re a mid-career professional with family responsibilities? The program is designed for busy working professionals so you can ‘earn as you learn and pay as you go.’ One of the advantages is not having a big tuition payment up front. You pay for the courses you’re taking and don’t need to quit your job to get an MBA.”

Wrapping up her degree as COVID-19 hit also gave Dai-Gammon a deep appreciation for Dal’s two decades of established expertise in online and blended learning. “The program was well positioned to make the necessary adjustments quickly without sacrificing educational quality. It didn’t have to happen overnight because the pieces were already in place.”

Dai-Gammon credits her MBA experience with giving her a new appreciation for quiet leadership. “We all have the opportunity to make a difference as who we are, where we are, right now. We don’t need to fit into a popularized leadership mould. In our quiet ways, we can initiate ripples for incremental change and progress that can lead to significant waves of transformation. This is a refreshing and powerful approach to leadership that energizes people to become progress-makers for organizational and social transformation.”