Starting in Fall 2014, students in the Faculty of Management will be able to major in Strategic Management. Comprised of two concentrations—Global Strategy and Social Business and Enterprise—the major has been developed as a collaborative project between students, staff, and faculty since January 2013.
“Social Business is a type of company that runs just as a normal business—selling a product, earning revenue—but whose ultimate goal is to solve a social problem as opposed to maximizing profit, like many companies aim to do,” explained Joanna Klimczak, U3 Management, one of the two students who started the project. “The company must still earn an attractive profit to sustain itself, though profit is not the reason why the company exists […] creating social value is why it exists.”
Professor Robert David, coordinator for the strategy and organization area of the faculty, explained that the two concentrations would provide an option for students to pursue such a line of studies.
“Our two concentrations are excellent complements to other areas of study, precisely because they provide a big picture perspective to more specialized subjects,” he said “Our new major allows students to go more in depth and encourages them to combine foundational topics in strategy with important social challenges.”
Additionally, the new major will allow students to take courses outside of the faculty to complement specific interests, such as agriculture, anthropology, economics, and international development studies.
The idea initially started as two separate projects. Two students, Klimczak and former McGill students Mariana Botero had begun to develop a Social Business Minor in response to a lack of courses on social business at McGill
“I did a lot of not-for-profit abroad and volunteer trips [that] gave me much more of a global mind-set and I noticed how much power businesses had in the world,” Klimczak said. “I noticed McGill wasn’t really teaching social business […. However], there was a demand from students and a general interest.”
Meanwhile, the strategy and organization area of the faculty—equivalent to a department within other faculties—had been discussing revisions to their concentrations and considered developing a completely new major.
David said the decision to combine the two developments into a single new major was made when he learned of the students’ initiative.
David said that further development of the major involved more consultation with professors and students through
“[The subcommittee] developed proposals for a new Major in Strategic Management and changes [to] the two concentrations,” David said. “I believe that this was a model of student-faculty cooperation, and that program development should always have strong student involvement.”
The developed proposals required approval from the Undergraduate Program Committee, Academic Council, Faculty Council, Academic Policy Committee’s Subcommittee on Courses and Teaching Programs, and finally, the Senate, which gave their approval on October 31, 2013.
“Putting new programs on the books takes at least 18 months, and must go through many committees,” David said. “Because our programs include courses from other [faculties], these other faculties had to give their approval. We also had to demonstrate to the university that these programs would be of value to students [….] There were a lot of factors that had to be considered and a lot of questions that had to be answered.”
Enrolment for the program is available for Fall 2014 to students in all years. Reception towards the major has been positive so far, according to David.
“I have had many inquiries from students about these programs,” he said. “I think there is a lot of demand and excitement about these programs, as they respond to the needs of students and changes in society.”
Chelsea Zelko, U1 Management, said she would consider enrolling in the new major.
“I think this new major is a good idea,” she said. “It offers students the opportunity to specialize in something out of the box but still pertaining to management. More importantly […] being familiarized about the connection between all aspects that are management—social, global, ethics, professionalism, etc.—gives McGill students an advantage against others who will be applying to the same job as them outside of university.”
Botero said she hopes students of the program in its first year will spark interest for future students.
“This program combines the best of business and the social sector,” Botero said. “Hopefully those driven, adventurous, first movers into the program will have such a great experience that by the following semester we’ll have a spike in student interest. This would be great, as so many jobs are being created in this area, and they can move right into them.”