Q&A with BC Ferries CEO Mike Corrigan

An MBA was key in Mike Corrigan’s path to the helm of BC Ferries.

Mike Corrigan, CEO, BC Ferries | BCBusiness
Pro-hockey player-turned-CEO Mike Corrigan scored his MBA at UVic.

An MBA was key in Mike Corrigan’s path to the helm of BC Ferries.

Mike Corrigan is a company man, rising through the ranks of BC Ferries before being tapped last December to take the reins from retiring CEO David Hahn. A native of Timmins, Ontario, he completed a bachelor’s degree in business at the University of Western Michigan before setting out on his career. It wasn’t until he had a few years of experience under his belt that he felt he would benefit from an MBA. Today at age 50 he reflects on the path that led him to the top spot at BC Ferries, and how his graduate business degree helped him get there.

What made you decide to go into an MBA program?
It was mid-point in my career and I felt that it was a great launching pad to the second part of my career. In my case, with my undergraduate degree I was just really beginning to get into the business world. Almost everything I learned during my undergrad was on the theoretical side. This was my opportunity to merge the theoretical with the practical.

Was it beneficial to get a foothold in your career before going back to graduate school?
I actually think that’s critical. I know some people go right from an undergraduate to a graduate degree program, but I don’t see how they would gain anything from that. Your mind can only absorb so much from a theoretical standpoint, for me at least, until you have to work from the practical side and apply what you’ve learned. Then the lights start to go on.

Was business always an interest for you?
Yeah, I always knew that I would end up in business. The unique thing about me was I was a professional hockey player first. I ended up signing a contract with the Detroit Red Wings, so I didn’t go back to school for my undergrad degree until I was in my early twenties.

How does an MBA help you as president and CEO of BC Ferries?
Well, as you get further into the business world it’s probably more difficult to answer that question. I think for me a big part of an MBA program was the strategy side of it, strategy and organizational design. Especially when you’re going through the amount of change that we’re going through at BC Ferries, it’s important to understand things from that standpoint. Because my undergrad was in business I had already picked up a lot of the core stuff like accounting and economics and finance. The big things for me were in the management skill side of the equation and the strategy. Leadership was another big part of it as well. So I would say the big three for me were strategy, leadership and organizational design.

Why did you choose UVic’s MBA program?
I was very happy with my experience at UVic; for me being in front of instructors and having that dialogue was extremely important. Some people like the e-learning side, but for me it was about being in class. And of course, the fact that UVic is here in Victoria certainly helped. But that being said, there’s a lot of other options for people taking MBAs in Victoria. I found UVic to be perfect for what I was looking for.