Reliable tools for complex issues

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 May, 2012, 12:00am


As a Canadian, Andrew Bishop knew the Richard Ivey School of Business to be the leader in his country, famous for its case study methodology. Still, he wanted to be sure before signing up for its Executive MBA programme.

'I participated in the corporate finance class for an afternoon - test drive before you buy - and was sold. The learning from that one afternoon was incredible,' says Bishop, the executive director and regional head of HR for Asia Pacific, India and the Middle East for the Reinsurance Group of America.

Bishop always wanted to learn, grow, and embrace change. At age 22, he left his native Calgary to backpack around the world. He ended up in Japan 18 months later, where he started to build a successful HR management career and learned the Japanese language.

Currently based in Tokyo, Bishop appreciates how the Ivey Asia EMBA programme's schedule and location allowed him to fly in regularly without disrupting his job. 'The schedule... is well thought out.'

Bishops says the programme modules on international finance, analytics (modelling decisions) and strategic management provided him with the ability to weigh risks versus opportunities when looking at complex problems. 'You learn how to look at large amounts of data, size it up concisely, and develop a decision-making model to tackle complex problems,' he says.

Bishop has already applied his newly acquired skills in his job. 'Our biggest asset is our human capital, and the business tools studied at Ivey were ready to use immediately. Analytical decision modelling, project management, and the application of change management theory are great examples,' he says.

'Studying the language of business, accounting, finance and strategy - these are skills you can take into any job with you,' he adds. 'Being able to discuss complex issues, analyse data and apply the correct decision-making model is critical to our competitiveness.'

The interaction and friendship with classmates from diverse backgrounds are unexpected highlights of the Ivey Asia EMBA. 'Each person brings his or her expertise and experience. This allows you to take very different perspectives on complex problems.'

While it excites him to implement directly the theories he has learned, he also acknowledges some frustrations. 'You have many new tools you want to use immediately, but your organisation, position, or boss may not be ready yet. You need to look for the opportunity and let the appropriate people know about the new challenges you are seeking,' he says.

Bishop is an Ivey scholar, being in the top 10 per cent of his class in each course module. He credits his supportive superiors, who appreciate the extra hours he is putting in to develop himself will ultimately benefit his organisation. And, of course, there's his sympathetic spouse, who 'became an even greater fan of Ivey after meeting all my great classmates and professors.'