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Asper Exec Ed’s Bold New Vision

March 23, 2016 — 

Since taking the helm of Asper Executive Education in August, Debra Jonasson-Young (MBA/99) has been putting her business experience and passion for education to work in realizing a bold new vision for the program’s future.

“I fundamentally believe that business powers communities, and if education can strengthen businesses, then our communities as a whole grow even stronger,” she says. Prior to joining the Asper School, Jonasson-Young occupied senior leadership roles at People First HR Services, Dufresne Furniture & Appliances, Shoppers Optical, Videon CableSystems and Eaton’s. “I’ve run all facets of a business with organizations of all sizes,” she says. “Now I get to take everything I’ve done before and do something powerful with it.”

That “something powerful” is helping middle managers and senior executives “level up” their knowledge and skills in critical areas where gaps currently exist.

She adds, “What makes our program unique is how responsive it is the needs of specific businesses and organizations.” In addition to offering a growing suite of short open enrolment courses that target specific needs, the Advanced Program in Management, Leadership and Strategy has proved enormously popular with corporations such as Manitoba Hydro and the RCMP. This year, for the first time, Asper Executive Education now offers the program on an open enrolment basis. The standard 10-day course, which can be customized for any organization, immerses managers in modules that cover everything from strategic management and conflict resolution to leadership development and innovation, and crafting a vision for your company’s future. “This course is really the jewel in our crown,” says Jonasson-Young. “It’s an ongoing conversation that allows participants to share their knowledge. You emerge a stronger leader and a member of a tight network of peers who will support you for the rest of your career.”

One of the program’s strengths is its instructors. “These people are truly experts. They can answer your specific questions so you can apply what you’ve learned to your business right away. And they know how to keep busy, experienced senior executives deeply engaged in the collaborative learning process. They’re amazing.”

Jonasson-Young says Executive Education hopes to unveil more programs in the next six months. “We’re planning a partnership with the University of Victoria to offer an Indigenous management training program. We’re looking at building on our partnership with the Rotman School of Business and the Institute of Corporate Directors, who team up with us to deliver the incredible Directors Education Program and the Not-for-Profit Governance Essentials Program. We want to collaborate with the Humphrey Group to develop a communications course for senior leadership, tailor-made for the CEO and vice-president level.”

“Between the U of M, the Asper School and our partners, there’s all this incredible talent, knowledge and capability we can unleash to serve the needs of the business community,” she adds. “Watch us! We’re really going to put this education centre on the map!”

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