3 Leadership Lessons from Ivey’s MBA Leadership Day

Ivey Business MBA Leadership Day

At Western University Canada’s Ivey Business School, leadership is a regular part of the curriculum. In fact, part of Ivey’s mission is to equip its MBA students to become global leaders. In the context of this mandate, each year the Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership hosts an MBA Leadership Day. This year, the class of 2018 heard from four, senior Canadian leadership in a conference setting. The event also included a panel discussion, a LIVE case, and a keynote presentation.

The Speakers

  • Barbara Stymiest: former Executive Vice-President & Chief Financial Officer at BMO Nesbitt Burns, Chief Executive Officer at the TSX Group and current board member of several public companies including Blackberry Ltd., George Weston Limited, and Sun Life Financial Inc.
  • Michael Rolland: Chief Investment Officer at OMERS Private Equity
  • Jon Hantho: Chairman of the Board at Life Labs, former Chief Executive Officer at Maxxam
  • Linda Hasenfratz: Chief Executive Officer at Linamar

Beckie Thain-Blonk, an ’18 MBA candidate at Ivey, was one of the students in attendance at the event. In a recent blog post, she shared her three key leadership takeaways: humility, listening, and selflessness.


Through the case discussion, attendees learned about how important it is to be endeared to your team. No matter if you have good intentions or not, if you don’t take the time to build relationships up front and listen to your team’s feedback, you’ll lose sight of the real goal.

“Building relationships requires active listening and a healthy dose of humility,” Thain-Blonk noted. “The lesson was very clear: remember that relationship skills and humility are important in both the highs and lows of your career.”


The second lesson for Thain-Blonk came during the panel discussion when Barbara Stymiest talked about being a manager and earning her first board chair position at Ernst & Young. Drawing on examples from her career, Stymiest told attendees that the first leadership lesson she learned was to “listen first.”

“Stymiest emphasized the importance of a leader speaking last,” Thain-Blonk wrote. “She highlighted that, as a leader, if she spoke first, the room would orient around the direction she initially provided.”


The final lesson was learned throughout the entire event as each speaker agreed that “leaders focus on others.” They categorically stated that an individual only becomes a leader when they stop focusing inward and start focusing on others.

“A leader is not born when they become a CEO or are appointed to lead a team,” Thain-Blonk added. “Instead, a leader is defined by an ‘others orientation,’ and that can start today, regardless of who the individual is or what position they hold.”


About the Author

Kelly Vo    

Kelly Vo is a writer who specializes in covering MBA programs, digital marketing, and personal development.

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