Unique Learning Opportunities

Learning opportunities vary at the Ted Rogers School. Beyond lectures and textbooks, students have unique opportunities to expand their knowledge and skills through international trips, innovative classroom experiences, distinct workshops and projects and hands-on co-op work terms.

MBA students posing as a group during the Argentina trip, and two photos of the students sightseeing

Foreign affairs: Insights into international business

Ted Rogers MBA students have been known to go the distance for experiential learning, but a group of 23 MBA candidates went all the way to Argentina in spring 2023.

The International Experience Capstone (MB 8018), which was introduced in 2021, allows students to gain an understanding of a specific cultural, business, political and economic environment impacting businesses. Under the guidance of a Ted Rogers School faculty member, students work with a community group or business to transfer knowledge or solve a problem.

The capstone is the culmination of the students’ MBA studies, explained Dr. Donna Smith, the former graduate program director of the MBA program and faculty member who taught the International Experience Capstone course. It integrates everything they have learned over the program – from strategy to operations to sustainability – and puts it all together to find a solution for companies.

Read more about international business

In 2022, Smith and the capstone students travelled to Chile to consult with wine companies. In 2021, students studied the coffee industry in Colombia. In 2023, Argentina beckoned, where students consulted with fintechs.

Argentina has the second largest economy in Latin America, according to the World Bank. However, the country suffered serious financial problems in the 1980s, as markets collapsed, currency depreciated and prices rose. The country experienced a further economic crisis in 2018 and never recovered. Annual inflation reached 109 per cent in April and is forecast to reach 149 per cent this year.

In Buenos Aires, students met with their client company to understand and consult on a problem and where they needed help, explained MBA student Jessica Da Silva.

“Once we were there, attending meetings, understanding the economy and seeing how Argentina works, we were able to not only consult our clients to the best of our ability, but understand what’s happening within South America,” she said. “For the rest of the semester, we’ll be working on a consulting project to fulfill their problem and answer their specific questions.”

The international capstone trip broadened the students’ knowledge about Latin American business, culture and lifestyle.

The capstone course really challenges MBA students to devise solutions that are effective. “It’s much more challenging to do a consulting project outside of your own country, because there’s a lot that you don’t know,” Smith explained. “This year is particularly challenging because Argentina is experiencing extreme inflation. And, if you can consult under those economic conditions, you can do anything.”

“Once we were there, attending meetings, understanding the economy and seeing how Argentina works, we were able to not only consult our clients to the best of our ability, but understand what’s happening within South America.”

Jessica Da Silva,

MBA student

A convenient learning experience

A business student wanders into a Circle K convenience store, grabs a bag of Doritos and a Red Bull off the shelf. Up pops a box asking them to observe the pricing and shelf placement strategy. Task completed, the student takes the item to the cashier, and pulls off a VR headset.

This isn’t the same Circle K you shopped at as a child.

It’s a shopping simulation that undergraduate retail management students will be able to experience as part of an innovative, immersive virtual reality program aimed at helping them succeed in their careers.

Read more about the VR experience

“There are so many different advances that are happening in the ways that we teach,” said Dr. Janice Rudkowski, assistant professor at Ted Rogers School of Retail Management. “Virtual reality and immersive learning are grounded in looking at ways to continue to engage students and align what’s happening in the classroom with what’s happening in the retail industry.”

Rudkowski, who teaches undergraduate retail management courses, is the project lead on an eCampus Ontario funded project, Category Management Principles: An Immersive VR Convenience Store Learning Experience. The project, in collaboration with global convenience store chain Circle K, e-learning company Xpert VR and category management consultant Inez Blackburn, will implement VR technology into the classroom in the form of a virtual Circle K convenience store. 

It is funded by eCampus Ontario, a provincially-funded non-profit organization which supports development of online learning across the province and develops state-of-the-art courses and programs. 

Rudkowski and Leslie Gordon, director of proprietary brands at Circle K, decided on a convenience store simulation because it would catch the interest of students, help them develop their critical thinking and decision-making skills and put into practice core category management principles of pricing, promotion, product and placement. 

“We wanted the students to think about the decision-making that goes into those category management decisions,” Rudkowski said. “Why is this product promoted and this product is not promoted? Why is this product on sale and this product’s regular price? What is the strategy? Why is Red Bull sitting right next to Monster in the energy drink category? What promotions are happening in the store?”

This VR component was integrated into the Winter 2024 category management course, and available to all instructors at Ontario’s publicly funded colleges and universities through eCampus Ontario’s Learn Online Portal.

An Immersive VR Convenience Store Learning Experience

Slaight Competition participants posing for the camera as a team

Bear Workwear and Viable Ads win 2023 Slaight New Venture Competition

The Slaight New Venture Competition is an annual pitch competition hosted by Enactus TMU and presented by the Slaight Family Foundation. Each year, for the past 20 years, this competition has given Ted Rogers School students the opportunity to present their businesses for the opportunity to win $25,000 in startup seed funding courtesy of the Slaight Family Foundation to help bring their ideas to life and scale their businesses. In recent years, it has expanded to two prizes for one student presenter who identifies as female and one who identifies as male. Both options are open for students who identify as non-binary.

Six finalists made their presentations to judges Robert Gierkink (entrepreneur in residence, General Catalyst Partners), Braden Handley (co-founder and president, Inkbox) and Noura Sakkijha (co-founder and CEO, Mejuri).

The top three female-led ventures included Bear Workwear, Travel Buddy and Surf Beni. The top three male-led ventures included Fravi Sauce, Viable Ads and COIN. Finalists were given three minutes to present their pitch followed by a seven minute Q&A session.

The winners were Claire Chisholm (Entrepreneurship) for Bear Workwear, a clothing company for women who work in the skilled trades and Alejandro Domenech-Pereda (Global Management Studies and Finance) and Callum Maclean, (Economics and Finance) for Viable Ads, a digital mobile ad company.

Read more about Bear Workwear and Viable Ads

Bear Workwear

Claire Chisholm, a third-year entrepreneurship and strategy student, had been working in the skilled trades for 10 years and found it difficult to find clothing to wear at work, as most of the options were made for men.

While working a summer job in landscaping, she met a new colleague, Kate Chantler. Chisholm and Chantler co-founded Bear Workwear, a clothing brand designed for women who work in skilled trades. As female participation in trades increases, so does the need for workwear and equipment designed for them.

Bear Workwear’s clothing line is made with an understanding that women have different sizing needs and style preferences that vary from traditional industry standards. It addresses a gap in the market that leaves so many women buying ill-fitting clothing by offering a solution that provides function, durability and comfort, all while delivering exceptional aesthetic appeal.

“We’re confident that the clothing that we offer is going to provide professionalism and strong aesthetic appeal that women like wearing without compromising function and durability at work,” Chisholm said.

Viable Ads

Viable Ads is a digital out-of-home advertising startup created by Alejandro Domenech-Pereda, fifth-year GMS and finance student, and Callum Maclean, a fourth-year economics and finance student.

Over a few months of design and ideation, they came up with the idea for the V-Bag, a large, square refrigerated backpack – like an UberEats delivery bag – with real estate for advertising all over it. The V-Bag allows advertisers to dynamically display their advertisements. Data gathered from the V-Bag flows downstream to Viable’s interactive client dashboard – V-Dash – which calculates and displays key metrics, such as impressions, audience demographics and campaign performance rates.

Competing in the Slaight New Venture Competition was about proving themselves, Maclean said.

“We have all this traction and success with companies, but getting funding is just more validation that adds to our company résumé,” Maclean said. “When investors see this, as we get sort of closer and closer to the stage where we look at funding, it’s really important that we have credibility and Slaight was an excellent opportunity to build that.”

Executive Education offers health administration Mini-Masters to newcomer women

The Ted Rogers School’s Executive and Corporate Education program will facilitate a Mini-Masters program aimed at preparing racialized newcomer women for employment in health care.

The Foundations of Health Administration and Community Care Mini-Masters will be offered to 40 racialized newcomer women through the Sister2Sister Advanced Leadership Program, offered by Newcomer Women’s Services Toronto.

“We’re really excited about this. It’s really helping build capability that is so desperately needed,” said Frank Miller, director of Executive and Corporate Education.

Read more about Mini-Masters

The Mini-Masters program is made possible through a partnership with Newcomer Women’s Services Toronto, which recently received $1.55 million in funding from the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development.

Through collaborations with Ted Rogers School and other post-secondary institutions, Newcomer Women’s Services Toronto has developed a training program to equip 230 newcomer women with employment readiness, career coaching and a paid internship that will propel their career advancement journey in Canada.

“In partnership with the top business schools in Canada and a network of employers from different industries, we will create pathways to labour market inclusion for immigrant women, and will support them in building purpose-driven careers,” said Sara Asalya, executive director of Newcomer Women’s Services Toronto in a release. “This invaluable funding allows us to reach out to those in need, provide essential services and bring about positive change in the lives of countless immigrant women.”

“Newcomer Women’s Services Toronto is thrilled with its partnership with Ted Rogers Executive Education to offer newcomer women in the health care sector work-integrated learning and access to a variety of support services that will enable them to access the labour market,” Asalya said.

The Mini-Masters will provide an introduction to health care management knowledge and skills in the Canadian context for newcomers to Canada. It will cover Canadian federal and provincial legislation and regulations, community care health models, health care project budgets, timelines, project plans, numerical analyses, in addition to policy and strategy.

The program’s classes will be held virtually over six Saturdays in a row, followed by four half-day Saturdays for a capstone project, meant to provide an experiential learning opportunity for the participants.

“In partnership with the top business schools in Canada and a network of employers from different industries, we will create pathways to labour market inclusion for immigrant women, and will support them in building purpose-driven careers.”

Sara Asalya, executive director of Newcomer Women’s Services Toronto

Dr. Choi (left) with student in a tub with ice

Dr. Ellen Choi (left) and student

Ice, ice baby: Reducing stress with cold water plunge

Dr. Ellen Choi had a unique approach to teach her Human Resources Management students about self-awareness, self-regulation and stress management: she invited them to wade into the lake at Toronto’s Ashbridges Bay in November 2022 with experts from Unbounded.

Empirically, cold exposure has links to reduced anxiety and depression, improved sleep quality and a number of other benefits related to metabolic rate, decreased inflammation and increased immune function. But the icy experience also provides participants with a lesson about facing challenges, pushing their comfort zone and working in teams.

Read more about the polar plunge

“Cold exposure has mostly been studied from a physiological and health perspective. Studies have found it increases serotonin and dopamine production, for instance, which has implications for mood,” explains Dr. Choi, assistant professor of organizational behaviour and HR management. “But, cold plunging also has implications for work and life because it invites us to embrace discomfort, rather than avoid it, and gives people the chance to transcend their own self-imposed limits.”

Dr. Choi wanted to include a cold water plunge in her Managing Interpersonal Dynamics and Teams (MHR741) course because the class covers topics such as self-awareness, emotion regulation, empathy, emotional intelligence, communication and conflict resolution. In addition to learning about the theory of self-awareness, self-regulation and stress management, she says taking “the plunge” into cold water in the great outdoors invites students to experience themselves and apply the lessons from class, moment-to-moment, in real life.

“I expect students will walk away from this with lived experience that they can do hard things when they put their mind to it,” she explains. “In a world where we avoid discomfort at every turn, I hope this gives them the confidence to engage with life’s challenges beyond the classroom.”

Screenshot of a Zoom meeting with participants of the Bootcamp initiative, including Omar Masri

Bootcamps go global to change the world

Five Ted Rogers School students – Omar Masri, Safia Mohamud, Jagroop Johal, Marisol Rivera and Faaizha Bakhtia – participated in a learning experience called “How to Change the World | February 2023 Bootcamp.”

The How to Change the World program saw two cohorts from Canada and Germany supported by local sustainability experts, stakeholders and a teaching team. The program was held virtually and “focused on positively impacting the complex sustainability challenges faced by communities around the world.”

As part of How to Change the World, students are assembled into small, highly-diverse, multi-disciplinary teams within larger cohorts, focusing on a challenge based on the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which include climate action, clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, gender equality and sustainable cities and communities among others.

Students explored Sustainable Development Goal 13, which urges action to combat climate change and its impacts. They focused on Scarborough and brainstormed ideas for solutions, transformed their ideas into proposals, engaged with experts and partner organizations. Finally, they presented their ideas to the judging panel, who identified the best overall, the most creative and implementable ideas.

Jagroop Johal, a fourth-year business management student, also took part in the learning experience over Reading Week.

“When we were coming up with a solution, their perspectives were really interesting to hear,” she said. “As a business student, I’m very focused on strategy and implementing it and my team members were a lot more focused on the technical side, on the feasibility. So that was really eye-opening and a great experience just for me to have as well.”

She said they wanted to raise awareness and, “remind people that every action you take has a direct impact on climate change and you have the power to change that.”

Screenshot of a Zoom meeting with participants of the Bootcamp initiative

Heal the world: Developing solutions to global health care problems

Health Services Management (HSM) students collaborated with peers around the world on developing solutions to global health care problems.

Students participated in a Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) program with students and professors from universities in the United Kingdom, Finland and India. They discussed the challenges faced in emergency departments in each country and their differences in approach to these challenges.

The COIL program runs for four months during the semester and was based out of Coventry University in the United Kingdom. There was no cost to the Canadian students. The COIL program gave Ted Rogers School’s Master of Science in Management (MScM) students an opportunity to explore cross-cultural comparisons, interim HSM director Dr. Pria Nippak explained.

Read more about the COIL program

“For us to have this capacity to be able to collaborate with other universities and particularly with students from those universities and have our students interact with them, was exciting,” she said. “The goal of this particular exercise was for them to troubleshoot or solve a particular health care problem that plagues all of us.”

Working through the COIL program gave MScM student Devi Santhikumar a shared understanding of global health issues. Issues like staff turnover and emergency wait times weren’t limited to Canada. “We understood that we weren’t the only ones experiencing certain issues. Those issues occur the world over, and we were able to devise solutions to the problems as a team,” she said.

“I found that, with all of the global health issues we have, working collaboratively with other health care providers and policy makers was exciting,” she said. “We were able to learn from our challenges and what works in other countries, and we could implement it in our Canadian context. Using technology and social media to share our expertise and information was a very effective way to work collaboratively with other teams regardless of borders.”

Pria Nippak

Dr. Pria Nippak, Associate Professor | Interim Director Health Services Management

Housne Begum

Dr. Housne Begum, Instructor, Health Services Management

“The goal of this particular exercise was for them to troubleshoot or solve a particular health care problem that plagues all of us.”

Dr. Pria Nippak


ProfBot Your Personal Digital Tutor

ProfBot is your new study buddy

Students may soon have a new study buddy to help them prepare for exams, an AI tool named ProfBot. Entrepreneurship professor Dr. Sean Wise developed ProfBot, a new AI-powered chatbot, to assist undergraduate students during exams by providing accurate and reliable information curated by the professor.

ProfBot is designed to help ease some of the stress that students face during exams by providing them with an effective way to prepare for exams. The technology is the result of extensive testing to ensure that it is accurate, reliable and effective. ProfBot was designed explicitly to minimize bias and misinformation. It is currently available to undergraduate students at the Ted Rogers School.

Prints and a revolution in office technology

A group of Business Technology Management students helped implement mobile printing at the City of Brampton as part of their ITM 900 capstone project, which made it possible for City staff to submit a print job from their phone or tablet to any Canon printer connected to the Brampton network.

Dominic Ziobrowski, Arun Eladias-Juban, Ammar Idrees, Varleen Sasan and Gabriel Nitch, under the supervision of instructor Bachir Chehab, were tasked with leading the development, implementation and launch of an innovative technology project.

Through the students’ project, mobile printing was made accessible to approximately 6,500 employees at 80 locations in Brampton, from City Hall to recreation centres and community centres.

Four students posing for a photo at the Brampton printing studios

Ammar Idrees, Dominic Ziobrowski, Gabriel Nitch and Varleen Sasan

Ted Rogers School of Management, Toronto Metropolitan University

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The content of this report covers July 2022-August 2023.

In April 2022, the university announced our new name of Toronto Metropolitan University, which will be implemented in a phased approach. Learn more about our next chapter.