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A New Era for the MBA at UBC Sauder

The new Professional MBA at UBC Sauder School of Business provides the flexibility and work-life balance that today's professionals are looking for

For today’s aspiring professionals looking to accelerate or reposition their careers, an MBA is an obvious choice. But the high cost of living in Vancouver, including its overheated real estate market, can make it unfeasible for many to put their jobs on hold for a full-time program.

Add to that the demands of our “always switched on” work environment and it’s increasingly tough to achieve a work-life balance, says Michael Daniels, assistant professor in the Organizational Behaviour and Human Resources division at the UBC Sauder School of Business. He says that thanks to advances in technology, there has been a “blurring of the boundary between work and home. Even though people are working fewer standard hours, they are always on call and work intensity has increased considerably over the past 20 years.”

As a result, there’s a push from prospective students for part-time MBA options that offer a more effective use of their time. Some business schools are stepping up and adapting their part-time MBA programs to meet the specific needs of professionals by reducing and optimizing in-class hours and developing more efficient learning opportunities that empower people’s work, rather than conflicting with it.

“Business schools have been carefully researching the changing nature of the business world, listening to students and adapting programs accordingly,” says Liz Starbuck Greer, assistant dean at UBC Sauder’s Robert H. Lee Graduate School.

Beginning January 2018, UBC Sauder will offer the Professional MBA (PMBA). Starbuck Greer explains that the program is an evolved version of the school’s successful Part-Time MBA based on the feedback of students and the business community. The majority of the 24-month program runs on weekends only, translating into minimal time off work and the ability for applicants to maintain and finance their lifestyles. They also get summers and holiday seasons off to allow for more family time. The only time away from work is focused in three intensive week-long “residencies,” which allow the class to bond, focus on leadership development and sharpen business strategy and teamwork skills.

“Being able to fit the program around my work and home life was essential in my decision to choose the Part-Time MBA at UBC Sauder,” says Raj Mander, who was promoted to sergeant in Centralized Operational Services at a local police department after graduating last year. “For MBA students, investing time and money on top of their already demanding jobs demonstrates a career commitment that can be attractive to any hiring manager.”

Starbuck Greer says the new Professional MBA builds on feedback from students like Mander and other working professionals looking for programs that use their time more efficiently. She also notes that the format is designed to enable all students to deliver the most impact on the job. “The Professional MBA allows students to draw on the skills they learn on weekends and use them the moment they return to the office each Monday. They have the tools they need to bring real strategic value to their employers and the power to accelerate their careers.”

Catherine Dallaire, a current Part-Time MBA student, agrees. Since undertaking the program at UBC Sauder, she has moved from being an asset management consultant at a reputable engineering firm to manager, infrastructure advisory, KPMG Canada.

“The training you get in the workplace, when there is training, is focused on competencies specific to your specialization. To get a broader step change in your business potential you have to go back to school,” says Dallaire. “For me, being able to fit my MBA studies around my current role brought my career to the next level in terms of better understanding clients’ needs and learning how to better position them for the future.”


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