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Haskayne School of Business: Developing entrepreneurs through unique venture creation

Haskayne School of Business
Image courtesy of Haskayne School of Business, University Of Calgary

“What they are doing is identifying problems and trying to solve those problems and innovate in that space.” – Derek Hassay, RBC Teaching Professor for Entrepreneurial Thinking at the Haskayne School of Business

What does it take to transfer your concept into a service or product that will change the world? How do you ensure your influence extends beyond the four walls of the classroom? What does it mean to turn the spark of an idea into a blazing business venture?

The Haskayne School of Business – founded as part of the renowned University of Calgary (UCalgary) – strives to embed entrepreneurial reasoning at the heart of its student experience. Together with the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the Haskayne School now provides an entrepreneurship and innovation option for graduate students enrolled in its reputed MBA program, allowing creative business minds to unleash their potential on a connected consumer world.

The purpose of entrepreneurship and innovation is to equip talented graduates with the fundamentals of entrepreneurial thinking, allowing them to become successful innovators in contemporary society. “What does it take to be a truly entrepreneurial organization?” asks Jim Dewald, Dean of the Haskayne School.

“I propose a motivational framework for entrepreneurial thinking that engages (1) opportunity identification,” he explains, “(2) a supportive entrepreneurial organizational culture, and (3) an ability to fulfil entrepreneurial initiatives. These three elements match the flow for a specific entrepreneurial action (which starts with an opportunity/idea, is nurtured within a supportive entrepreneurial culture, and implemented through an entrepreneurial process),” he concludes.

Haskayne School of Business, University Of Calgary

Image courtesy of Haskayne School of Business, University Of Calgary

These skills are very unique and ultimately help students stand out within their organization, and also helps advance their careers. The option offers two distinct course pathways, both of which provide practical, hands-on experiences that directly teaches students how to discover rewarding business opportunities, determine their feasibility, and structure a powerful business plan to guide the idea as it becomes a fully-fledged business venture. The two available options include Introduction to Entrepreneurship, and Venture Creation – a newly-designed course that engages teams in the development of a new and exciting business project.

“This course is about doing,” says Derek Hassay, RBC Teaching Professor for Entrepreneurship. “Concepts don’t resonate until they are real and in this course students gain critical thinking and become more well-rounded because they have to employ accounting knowledge, for example, even if they are ultimately heading into marketing,” he notes. “They become much more conversant with the market and understand demand a lot better. It’s theirs, so they are invested.”

To prepare for this elective module, MBA students are required to complete the entrepreneurial thinking course and mandatory independent project, specifically-designed to help them identify and research an opportunity. Then using entrepreneurial thinking, which predominantly refers to the capacity to identify marketplace opportunities and discover the most appropriate ways and time to capitalize on them, students comprehensively write and present results as part of their feasibility assessment.

Haskayne School of Business, University Of Calgary

Image courtesy of Haskayne School of Business, University Of Calgary

“The products students are working on aren’t ideas,” Hassay explains. “What they are doing is identifying problems and trying to solve those problems and innovate in that space. They learn the only thing worth something is action and many are forging new spaces,” he adds. “We have students working on virtual reality products or consumer products for moms and families.”

The course tackles topics like business models and the concept of value, with students honing and developing their ventures while Hunter Centre team provides support. But Centre staff serve as so much more than high-class teachers and pillars of encouragement – they also take the lead as inspiring mentors, counsellors, advisors and guest speakers, motivating every member of the Haskayne MBA and rewarding them with skills to advance their future careers.

For five decades, the Haskayne School of Business has played a major role in shaping the future generation of leaders who make a difference not just in Canada, but in the wider world. As a globally-recognized centre of excellence in business-focused education, with ground-breaking institutions like the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation helping to mould creative graduate assets, the School’s motivational and enthusiastic business culture serves as the ultimate preparation for ambitious students looking to progress their careers.

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