As the licenced operator of the world’s largest functioning nuclear plant, Bruce Power LP provides more than 30 per cent of Ontario’s electricity.
Since its founding in 2001, the Tiverton, Ont.-based company has grown to more than 4,000 employees and has constantly been on the lookout to innovate its processes, recently partnering with engineering startup Nuclear Promise X.
That commitment to improvement has also held true with the company’s leadership group, with Bruce Power enjoying a long-standing relationship with the Ivey Business School at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ont.
All of the company’s leadership development runs through Ivey. But while the school took care of the executive education portion, Bruce Power would have to go elsewhere for things like talent assessment or corporate retreats.
So Bruce Power welcomed the recent launch of the Ivey Academy, a one-stop shop for all facets of executive education, if for no other reason than the familiarity between the two organizations.
“It would be nice to be able to [undertake executive education] with someone who knows us really well and knows a lot of our leaders really well and knows what our issues are, because in the classroom they learn so much about our business,” says Cathy Sprague, Bruce Power’s executive vice-president of human resources.
The launch of the Ivey Academy, in the university’s 70th year of providing executive education, is an attempt to place everything a company would need under one umbrella, with Ivey transforming some of its existing relationships with external vendors into organized partnerships.
As a result, a company such as Sigma Assessment Systems will provide talent analysis tools, while partnerships with the likes of Harvard Medical School will see the school provide targeted, industry-specific programming.
While the Ivey Academy is calling itself Canada’s first one-stop-shop executive education experience, other players in the sector say that it’s simply what the market is looking for. While others may not be launching an entirely new brand, they are still looking to provide comprehensive, full-service learning experiences.
“To be honest with you, it’s kind of what we’ve all been doing,” says Stephanie Hodnett, the executive director of executive development programs at Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.
Ms. Hodnett points to Rotman’s access to things such as the Leadership Development Lab, the Self-development Lab and even the Creative Destruction Lab, for startup enterprises, as all helping to provide strategic insights.
“I would say that sort of one-stop-shop idea is exactly how we think,” she says. “We’re extremely integrated with the school and the university, which means that all of the labs and events and the access that we have … means somebody can walk in here and really receive a range of help.”
For Ivey, it was about picking third-party vendors that it trusts, and who would blend seamlessly into the executive-education journey. Mark Vandenbosch, Ivey’s acting dean, says executive education is increasingly about a continuing journey, rather than a specific event.
“We’re not the experts at everything,” says Dr. Vandenbosch. “So … let’s figure out who are the people that we believe are up to the standards that we preach … so that when you put the parts together it’s more of a journey than a set of interactions.”
By having Ivey co-ordinate the whole experience, clients are also provided with a seamless experience. That way they don’t have to deal with clashing ideologies or philosophies.
“We hope that by putting this together, this sort of idea of seamlessness is actually meaningful,” says Mark Healy, executive director of the Ivey Academy. “Because we keep the true line running through the entire process.”
At the end of the day, Ms. Hodnett at Rotman adds, it’s much like seeing a family doctor who is based within a large hospital. While a patient is always going to want to see their doctor, they also want access to all the other specialists and expertise available in other areas of the hospital.
“What you think about in executive education is that you have a limited window to provide as much impact as you can,” Ms. Hodnett says. Executive education courses and programs typically run from just a couple of days to a couple of weeks. “So obviously the more services and the more helpful you can be to both organizations and individual professionals, the more tightly woven you’ll be with them and the more impact you’re going to have.”