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More than a management degree: Master innovation at the Smith School of Business

Although the skills that employers crave tend to change over time, there’s one that will never go out of fashion. The Program Director of the Master of Management: Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Smith School of Business shares more.

In short

What is innovation, really?

The skills that employers crave tend to vary over time, and they quickly go in and out of fashion. But if there’s one skill that will always be in demand, it’s innovation.

Innovation in business is about having the ability to not only generate new ideas, but also to implement them in order to drive positive change for the company, the economy, and the society. It’s probably why programs such as the Master of Management Innovation & Entrepreneurship (MMIE) at the Smith School of Business in Canada have already proven to be such a success.

“The MMIE is a professional master’s program where we teach you everything there is to know about innovation and entrepreneurship,” says Nusa Fain, the Program Director. (01:00) Nusa explains that the program equips students with the skillset and a toolkit that will enable them to work within the innovation and entrepreneurship space, either in their own venture, social enterprise, or in a corporate environment.

To help you develop the key innovation and entrepreneurship skills, the MMIE program is based on four key pillars:

  • A customized learning journey
  • Effective integration of theory and practice
  • Strong coaching model
  • A diverse cohort

Together, they form the bedrock of a program that, above all else, aims to turn students into innovators and entrepreneurs.

“In a nutshell, we deliver an individually customized program that inspires students to reach their full potential. We build your entrepreneurial mindset and we build your innovation skills so you can transfer them straight away into the real world,” explains Nusa. (03:33)

137 startups, $5 million in funding, 100+ promotions: The MMIE effect

Despite having been established just seven years ago, the MMIE already has a proven record of success. It has helped graduates both launch their own businesses and secure the funding they need to grow.

“We’re now in our seventh year, and so far we’ve helped launch [over 140] startups,” Nusa says. “Within that, there were 40 social enterprises and 50 scale-ups, which supports the exponential hockey stick growth we teach as part of the program.” (03:53)

You might assume that a program centered around innovation and entrepreneurship is solely focused on starting your own business – but that’s not the case. By improving the innovation capabilities of its students, MMIE also helps them add value to established companies and achieve promotions. It’s further proof of just how highly employers value innovation.

“We’ve achieved over 100 promotions, whereby people enter the program in a specific role and work on improving their innovation capability before achieving a promotion within innovation. In addition, our alumni [has secured] over $5 million in funding [for starting and growing their ventures],” adds Nusa. (05:37)

The structure and format of the MMIE

How does the MMIE give its students the skills they need to succeed in their future careers? Nusa says that along with the core courses that cover the fundamentals of innovation and entrepreneurship, two project courses allow students to pursue their interests and explore potential career paths.

“The MMIE firstly comprises six core courses that teach you the foundations of innovation and entrepreneurship,” she explains. “There are also two project courses: one market research course and one capstone project course where you either launch your own business venture or develop your professional career prospects [within the innovation space].” (06:08)

The hybrid format of the program means it’s easy to balance the MMIE alongside your other commitments. It’s also an attractive option for international students who want to gain a master’s from a prestigious Canadian business school, but are unable to move to the country on a full-time basis.

“It’s a one-year program which begins in August and finishes in July. Most of the program can be done remotely, so all of the courses are run asynchronously and synchronously online. We also have three residential sessions in Kingston in August, December, and April/May. You have to attend these residentials in person,” Nusa says. (06:38)

The MMIE is much more than a management degree

Nusa is very clear about what makes this program different from the rest. It may be called a Master of Management, but she’s insistent that the MMIE is not simply a management program. It’s much more than that.

“It’s about change making and transformation,” she says. “It’s not just about managing and maintaining value but generating new value in an organization. We’re not managers. We’re transformation specialists driving change through innovation and entrepreneurship.” (21:58)

The fact that the Smith School of Business is part of Queen’s University puts it at an advantage over independent business schools. It means they can collaborate with other university departments. In this case, the MMIE is a collaboration with the university’s School of Engineering. This allows students to place their understanding of business within a wider context, and learn how it affects other disciplines.

However, one of the program’s biggest advantages continues well after you’ve graduated. MMIE graduates will have access to the school’s alumni network, a global family of fellow Smith students that they can tap into for help and advice.

“The beautiful part about your journey is that it doesn’t end when your master’s ends. When you graduate you’ll have access to an alumni network that will help you to drive whatever change you set out to do,” adds Nusa. (24:20)

Ultimately, what makes the program unique is its approach to innovation. The school treats innovation not as a concept, but as a teachable skill that can add value to any organization in the world. That’s not something that’s likely to go out of fashion anytime soon.

If you’d like to learn more about how a master’s program like this can give you the edge in innovation, feel free to reach out to one of our student ambassadors.

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