Awesome Community Business Projects

[Editor's note: Recently, I left my job at the UBC's Sauder School of Business (pictured above, my leaving is pictured below) for a job with UBC Career Services. Last year, Sauder launched the Community Business Project, an experiential and service learning course that is part of the curriculum for the Masters of Management program. I know all about it because I collaborated with some very awesome faculty members, students, non-profit leaders, and the school's administration to build it. It combines my most favourite things: education, community, service, innovation, and young people. BA 511 (that's the course code) is totally my baby - and I'm so proud of Sauder's students and faculty for making it happen. This is the second year of the projects, it's in the beta stage and, on Monday, May 9, 2011, I was lucky enough to take-in the students' final presentations for their Community Business Projects (CBPs). Needless to say, even though I've left Sauder, the Community Business Project is in good hands when students like the ones who presented on Monday keep enrolling in the MM-ECM program].

Dear MM-ECM Class of 2011.

The Community Business Project presentations that you delivered on Monday were fantastic and they made me proud to have worked with you all. From the crisp and clean slides to the discussion of your learning outcomes to the humour, wit and style with which you presented, I watched them all with compelling interest – hey, I didn’t even check Facebook for a whole two hours!

Knowing that you’ve all been working hard on your presentation skills, it was a giddy pleasure to see so many of you apply Ivan’s lessons to your work. While all the presentations were very good, a few of the groups really achieved something close to Presentation Zen with your work. Very well done, Emily, Stanley and Aaron, who worked with the BC Lung Association – your Prezi deserves a special shout-out.

Other highlights included several teams transcending ridiculous technical difficulties and one group even gave my father-in-law a shout-out! Smooth.

Over the past five months you have learned what it takes to be community-builders as well as how to work as a team to deliver business solutions in the real-world. With professionalism, grace and tact you addressed some of the challenges that working as part-time volunteer consultants (during a busy school year) for a non-profit client can bring: massive scope, unclear expectations, unrealistic expectations, not enough time, not enough trust, and overzealousness. You delivered difficult information in a positive way. You provided clients with recommendations that some of them might not have wanted to hear, but definitely needed to hear and, if implemented, can improve their enterprise.

And then there’s the learning. The very important reflective element of service and experiential learning. Your presentations showed a holistic comprehension of some pretty serious local (and beyond local) issues (mental health, lung disease, affordable housing, trees, corporate perceptions of art, and many more). You ‘get’ social enterprise. You worked as a team for a long, long, long time and, for the most part, you worked well together. You managed a client relationship. You set and (more or less) achieved deadlines. And you did it all while rockin’ your finest Sauder attire. Most importantly, many of you had your eyes opened to a part of the world that you might not have seen without the CBP experience. As you know, these skills will serve you all very well in the real world of work.

MM Candidates from the ECM program, I thank you for realizing the potential of the Community Business Project. Good luck in the future and be sure to enjoy the journey!

Kind regards,

John Horn

[Editor's note: here is a list of the organizations that were clients of the 2010-2011 CBPs:

  • Asia Pacific Gateway Skills Table
  • Vancouver Art Gallery
  • Common Thread Co-operative
  • BC Lung Association
  • Canadian Mental Health Association
  • Strathcona Dental Association
  • Vancouver Native Houseing Society
  • YMCA Vancouver
  • The Children's Foundation
  • PLAN.ca
  • Evergreen
  • Vancouver Economic Development Commission
  • Journey Home Community Association

If you know of an organization that might be interested in learning more about the Community Business Project, contact the Business Career Centre today!]

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