E-MBA program could boost leadership skills, says industry expert

For those in IT seeking to beef up their leadership skills, University of Fredericton’s new online executive MBA program could be beneficial, according to the head of a Canadian association of IT professionals.

The executive MBA, which focuses on leadership and relationship management skills, is set to begin its inaugural term this fall. The Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS) is just one of many associations of IT professionals that have received bursaries and scholarships for the new program.

CIPS President Stephen Ibaraki said that because of the wide-ranging role that technology plays in most businesses, IT pros would be wise to look at shoring up their business management skills.

“IT is embedded in every aspect of an organization and the business elements are a critical part of that,” Ibaraki said. “There is research to indicate that the professional needs of the future would be somebody that has business and industry core knowledge, as well as a service-oriented attitude, interrelationship, communication and technical skills. Increasingly, organizations are finding that these skills are in high demand and a graduate program in business will help a person enhance those areas considerably.”

And according to Glenn McInnes, president and director at the University of Fredericton, increased popularity of management degrees in leadership, as well as the changing world of today’s business, led to the creation of the program.

“Overall, the demand for MBA programs is increasing and we’ve identified the area where there’s the most demand, which is relationship or soft skill-based MBAs,” McInnes said. “Today, business is all about relationships and how to give people the knowledge to manage that way. The students we’re looking at will be 35 to 45 years old and wanting to broaden and deepen these business skills because they are moving up in their careers.”

Ibaraki said the focus on the established industry professional is what makes the program particularly attractive. With its 8,000 members in various stages of their professional careers, Ibaraki believes CIPS’s partnership with the university will bring a great benefit.

Because the program is aimed at existing industry pros, McInnes said the online environment will gives students the opportunity to complete an MBA program without disrupting their business and personal lives. He also said the program will give professionals working outside the major cities a chance at getting university quality education.

“This will help people who can’t access the traditional universities because they may live in Bathurst instead of Fredericton, or Renfrew instead of Ottawa,” McInnes said.

And for prospective students who have concerns about the online school’s faculty, Fredericton’s Vice-President Don Roy says the program looked for professors with industry as well as classroom experience.

“If they’re teaching leadership and resource management, they’ve had to work out in the field because these executives have a lot of practical experience and they won’t stand for a theoretical-based approach,” Roy said. “Plus, we have professors with degrees from Stanford, Harvard, Northwestern and Vanderbilt. So, we’ve had no problem at all getting very high-end faculty who are excited to teach online.”

Members of ITAC and CATA will also be eligible for bursaries to pursue the e-MBA.

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