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November 23, 2000 MBA increases competitive clout



Photo of Anthony Housefather

MBA student Anthony Housefather

by Jennifer Gearey

Concordia’s Master’s of Business Administration program picks up students with unusual job skills.

Take, for example, Tamara Medwidsky, international wrestling competitor. Medwidsky, who also has a graduate Diploma in Sports Administration. She says she’s simply planning for the future, when she can no longer compete.

Then there’s Anthony Housefather, president of Alliance Quebec, the English-rights lobby group. “The MBA program helps me be more effective in running a volunteer organization, as well as being a city councillor [in Hampstead].”

Mutsumi Takahashi, co-anchor of CFCF’s Pulse News, got her MBA five years ago. “The program is a bit like boot camp,” she said. “They throw so much information at you. I think what they’re doing is testing to see how much stress you can take, how well you can function under pressure. Their message is, if you want to make it in the corporate world, be prepared to work.”

Master’s of Business Administration program director Lea Katsanis says that she’s seeing more mature, work-savvy MBA students these days.

Only a few years ago, the average GMAT score was 560; these days, applicants to the program should have 600, and the average score is 620. (The GMAT is the four-and-a-half-hour Graduate Management Admissions Test, a standard measurement.)

Similarly, where the students once had three or four years’ work experience, they now have an average of six. “This means that there are more opportunities for peer learning,” Katsanis said. “They can network and learn from each other about businesses and industries that are different from their own field.”

This rise in standards reflects a Faculty-wide push to reach a market beyond Montreal. And students compare before they buy. “They talk to other people, and get on the Web,” said Katsanis, who is a Marketing professor. “MBA students are pragmatic. They’re looking at the job market, not at personal development for its own sake.”

The Faculty’s accreditation by the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business has a significant effect in the scramble for students. While the minimum admission requirements are an undergraduate degree with a GPA of at least 3.0, high Graduate Management Admission Test scores, and at least two years’ work experience, most now exceed that criterion.

Last year, 90 per cent of the Concordia MBA graduates were hired within three months, at salaries at least 45 per cent higher than they were making before going back to school.

There are 300 students in the program, fairly evenly split between male and female, part-time and full-time students. The MBA can now be completed in 16 consecutive months, although few students take that gruelling option.

The program focuses on workplace challenges. “Many people can identify problems, but then not be able to figure out what to do about them,” said Katsanis. “Figuring out what has to be done is not easy. Even more challenging is getting others to do what needs to be done.”

Photo of MBA staff

One of the MBA program’s great strengths is its staff. “You hear the most wonderful things from students about them,” says program director Lea Katsanis, seen here in the middle.

Rebecca Midgley, the Admissions Officer (far left), is “the first face that the students see,” Katsanis said. “Her office is full of photos of grads, and she still has students who come by to say hello. We’ll miss her when she retires in March.”

Lissa Matyas (second from right) is the new Assistant Director. As Katsanis says, she is “full of enthusiasm, and building strong links with student group, alumni and companies.”

Marlene Lloyd (far right) is the Student Affairs Coordinator. “After you get past Rebecca, Marlene takes you right through to graduation.”

Tracy Sutton, the department secretary (second from left), is “our valued traffic cop and problem-solver.”