The Odette School of Business is excited to announce a new learning experience for our students Executive-for-a-Day. The program is meant to build leadership and business acumen in the students by pairing them with a senior executive for a real-world mentoring experience.
The concept is to provide a student with a first-hand look at a live work experience within a particular field. This will assist the student in their Academic and Career Planning decision making, allow them the opportunity to build skills, and gain valuable experience.
We are hoping that both the student and executive find this to be a rewarding experience. The program will also emphasize the need for executives to see this as a new and effective way of recruiting top industry talent whether for summer internships, part-time employment or recruiting graduates of the Odette School of Business with high aspirations.
Connor Hasagawa - Shadowing Kelly Gregoire, Vice-President of Human Resources at Caesars Windsor. Ms. Gregoire provided me with a detailed look into the inner workings of the casino. She uses detailed data analytics to track productivity, performance, and profitability, and oversees employee engagement programs that contribute to Caesars’ consistent operational excellence. Spending the day with her allowed me to gain valuable insight into the techniques and strengths that make Ms. Gregoire such an effective leader, and I am deeply grateful that I was provided this opportunity.
Paul Vitella - I had the chance to spend the day with Steve Deneau - Vice President of the Windsor Family Credit Union. Shadowing Mr. Deneau throughout the day and getting the opportunity to talk about business matters with him and fellow WFCU employees was very eye opening for me. The day was super exciting as we started off touring the beautiful corporate building and meeting the CEO, other VPs and many other WFCU corporate employees. Towards the end of my day, Steve took me around to some of the WFCU branches where I was able to get insight on what the credit union was like in comparison to the job I currently hold with TD. All in all, I had a fun and educational day and I think this experience is a terrific addition to the Odette School of Business program.
Andrea Korajlija - I had the opportunity to shadow the Mayor of Windsor, Mr. Drew Dilkens. On this particular day, the Mayor had to go to a local library for a media release; the Windsor Public Library is partnering with Windsor Regional Hospital to explore the possibility of a jointly-operated library service at the proposed new acute care hospital. I was able to meet many local city leaders, and also witness all the behind the scenes work which goes into a media release. The Mayor's support for such an event is important as it fosters a sense of community within Windsor.
After this media release, the mayor took me out to lunch at a local Lebanese restaurant, Al-Saleeb. He graciously answered all of my questions pertaining to his daily tasks, his education, and goals he wishes to accomplish as the mayor. The staff in the Mayor's office was also very welcoming and enthusiastic; they had me researching different possible social media posts to promote International Women's Day, and also gave me a tour of city hall.
Throughout the afternoon the Mayor had private meetings, and so they connected me with Ms. Shelby Askin-Hager, the city solicitor. This was a great connection for me as I am currently in the process of applying to law school. She sat down with me and shared her experience of being a young women in a top-management role. It was very inspiring and informative.
Overall, I am very grateful to have had this opportunity and connect with influential leaders within the city. Mayor Dilkens and Shelby taught me lessons that I can apply to both my personal and professional life.
Mark Laschuk - I was given the unique opportunity to shadow the Windsor Chief of Police, Al Frederick. Sworn to confidentiality, I was able to see the inner workings of the department, and experience how an executive steers the direction of his organization. Chief Frederick demonstrated how a leader inspires his team, and develops an organizational culture of openness and dedication. I was allowed onto the Chief’s various meetings during the day, which concerned day-to-day operations to larger strategy discussions of the force. Given the chance to tour the various departments – from HR, to tactical units – I saw how the actions and attitude of an executive cascades through the entirety of their organization. This was an incredible learning experience, and I hope that future students are given a similar opportunity.
Pryia Sharma - This week I had the opportunity to spend a day as an executive with the CFO of Hotel Dieu Grace Healthcare Centre, Marie Capagna. I was able to participate in a full day of events and witness the decisions that are made in regards to the hospital’s care system. The members of the financial department pointed out that their job focuses on finding a way to obtain the most value of their funding so that it may benefit the most amount of people. The overall experience was an eye-opener because it allowed me to note the real world needs for financial analysis and how important those decisions are, especially in a healthcare facility. Marie, and her Executive Assistant, as well as all of the members of administration were generous with tips, open to any questions that I had and were extremely welcoming. I learned that when I pick a place to work, I would like to know about the purpose of my accounting or financial analyses. I am grateful for this experience and I would gladly participate in more because of the humbling perspectives that I gained when I was witnessing such influential and caring individuals at work; it made me appreciate my degree all the more.
Megan Howell - Upon receipt of the e-mail regarding the opportunity to participate in the University of Windsor’s new program, “Executive for a Day”, I was hesitant. My school and work schedule had kept me very busy in the recent months however; I decided to follow through with this opportunity, which ended up being one of the most inspirational days that I have had in sometime.
On Wednesday, March 8th, I woke up around 5 a.m. feeling very nervous and anxious. It is not often that students, let alone myself, have the opportunity to attend a Chamber of Commerce breakfast. I arrived at the Caboto Club for 7:30 a.m., at which time I secured my name tag and spoke to others in attendance at this event. Shortly thereafter, I located Karen Hall and Sally Bennett Olczak, to whom I was to meet. To be able to meet Karen Hall, alone, was an opportunity in itself. Sally suggested that I interact with others and get to know people in attendance, as I would have the opportunity to meet with her directly after the breakfast meeting. The presentation began at approximately 8:00 a.m. Two individuals presented and discussed the Economic Outlook Proposals for 2017. They were very knowledgeable and well-spoken.
Once the Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting concluded, I proceed to go the Alzheimer’s Society, in which I would meet Sally and shadow her within the Alzheimer’s working environment. Sally brought me to her beautiful office, where she proceeded to carry out her duties for the day. I was given a package with valuable information outlining the Alzheimer’s work, mission and vision statements, reports and other information material to assist in providing me with a well-rounded idea of the functions and programs the Alzheimer’s Society encompasses. As telephone or e-mails were received, Sally explained the nature of the contacts and how she would respond and deal with the matters. Sally provided the opportunity to ask her questions about her role within the organization and questions regarding the society in general. I was provided valuable information regarding the role of a CEO, and the importance of respect shown to others during the course of business contact.
At approximately 11 a.m., I had the opportunity to meet with the Manager of Fund Development and Community Engagement, Ms. Peggy Winch. Peggy outlined her responsibilities and expectations of her position. Peggy outlined how funds are raised for the society and how she promotes the events. She informed me about the logistics surrounding the Walk for Alzheimer’s and Colour Run, and discussed her role in the preparation of these events.
Following my meeting with Peggy, I was provided the opportunity to lunch with the Day Away staff and clients. Day Away is a program in which the Alzheimer’s Society takes care of clients to help with their dementia by encouraging active participation through different word games and exercises, with an emphasis on making the clients happy and at ease. The program provides them with food throughout the day and provides their caretaker, usually a spouse, a day on their own to carry out any business that may need completing or simply just a day to relax on their own. At this point, I was able to eat lunch with the clients and talk with a few of them. After many conversations, I was presented with the feeling that the program was very beneficial to them and certainly helped create improvements in just a short period of time.
Jesseca Drouin - I had the opportunity to shadow the CEO of Enwin Utilities. Upon learning about this opportunity, I was eager to partake in the experience and gain a real world perspective of business. When I arrived to the downtown office, I was taken up to Mrs. Reidel’s office by security. After shaking hands and introducing ourselves, she informed me that we would be driving to the Rhodes location where the production plant was located. While at the production facility, we went to the office of a site manager, who was working on a case of theft the company had endured earlier that week. The manager showed us the property on Google Maps, pointing out the areas of theft and break ins, and discussing a reaction plan. I was interested to see how a company works through such issues, and formulates a risk assessment based on loss and costs. I enjoyed discussing the situation with the professionals, and had some input as to whether the theft could be internal, and offered ideas about security alarms and motion detectors.
Mrs. Reidel and I then headed back downtown towards the Windsor Star News Cafe. There was a presentation taking place at the cafe, thanking all of the companies who were involved with the United Way program. We stepped into the News Cafe, and were greeted by many other professionals. I had the chance to speak with a woman who worked in the call center at Enwin, as well as other reporters, and United Way volunteers. It was such an exciting morning, since I had the chance to see Mrs. Reidel fulfill her position as CEO in so many diverse settings. Once the presentation had come to an end, it was time to head back to the downtown office.
The rest of the afternoon consisted of one on one meetings with other executives, as well as group executive meeting in a conference room. The first meeting was with the CFO. As the CEO and CFO of Enwin discussed financial statements and budgets, I had the chance to sit in and listen to the discussion. It was very interesting to see the concepts I learn about in my classes come to life in a business atmosphere. I learned that the company was having difficulties with their retained earnings and dividends, and how they were attempting to address that concern.
The meeting with all of the executives was particularly interesting as well. I had the chance to sit at the table while they discussed points that they had all been researching and focusing on. Another particular point that I learned about the company, was that they are implementing a new rewards system for employees. I learned so much about the different roles within the business, as well as gained an important insight into the everyday life of a CEO. I learned that not only does the CEO give her input on company matters, but she also deals with public affairs, makes appearances at events, and visits other areas of the company such as the production facility.
I enjoyed my time shadowing Mrs. Reidel and I have gained so much insight and appreciation towards how much time and effort goes into running a successful company. Not only did I watch Mrs. Reidel perform her duties as CEO, I also had the opportunity to ask her so many questions about her career path, advice she has for young professionals, and her favorite part of her job. Mrs. Reidel has provided me with so many answers as well as excellent advice. I am very thankful for this experience as it had helped shape my idea of the type of business woman I aspire to become.
Alexandria Tolten - Working with Ari Freed last week was a wonderful experience. Seeing the inside of the daily activities in retail and particularly in fashion was very insightful. More so, Mr. Freed shared much of his experience and advice about being an entrepreneur. In particular, I found his perspective on managing people the most valuable. It was very clear to see the reflection of the high value and respect he holds to his team. I had the opportunity to help out some of the staff and talk to them about their experiences. Most of the staff has worked in the store for 10+ years and absolutely love the environment, the people they work with and the management. Truly, a reflection of the value Mr. Freed holds to his team. He embodies the role of a leader both inside his company and in the community.
In whole, the experience was very insightful. It has certainly widened my perspective on being an entrepreneur, operating a business and managing people. I hope more students have the opportunity to take part in the program!
Fyse Jamali - had the pleasure of shadowing Matt Marchand, President and CEO of Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce.
When I walked into the building in the morning, I was immediately asked by Matt himself to join him in his office. I noticed that it was a fairly small building with his office being placed in the far corner. We quickly got down to introductions and he asked me to tell him about myself. Shortly afterwards, Matt received a couple phone calls and he asked me to stay in the room with him. I was able to over-hear some of the conversations that he had and he said he would like me to see and hear what happens behind the scenes. It was in fact quite surprising as to how business is actually done. There is so much that happens behind closed doors that the public does not see. Matt is also well educated with the work he is involved with and constantly has to keep up with current news and headlines because they could all potentially affect the organization and its members.
I was with Matt on a Monday, which luckily for me, is quite an interesting day for the Chamber. Matt has a large calendar in front of his computer that has his schedule on it with upcoming meetings, conferences, town halls, etc. On this day, he invites Lindsey into his office who is the Communications Coordinator for the organization and he chats with her for about 15-20 minutes about his schedule and how his current week is looking. Lindsey updates Matt on things he has to do and prepare for and also handles all of his social media platforms which Matt has said he heavily relies on because media is his best friend. He also asked me to witness the entire conversation because again, he was really eager to show me how the organization runs so smoothly and what happens behind the scenes. In addition to the conversation with Lindsey, Matt also schedules a staff meeting immediately afterwards in the board room.
Matt likes to meet with the 7 staff members on Mondays to discuss what their schedules are looking like for this week, what tasks they have to complete, and where they stand with the tasks that they had from last week. He likes to stay updated with his team as he is mostly in-and-out of the office throughout the week. I sat in on this meeting as well and was amazed to see how such a small number of people are working on so many different things. Matt goes through each staff member one by one and they each tell everyone a quick summary of their tasks. The meeting lasted about 30 minutes and after it was complete, Lindsey, Matt, and I stayed in the room to go over Matt’s presentation that he has on the Wednesday of that week.
During this presentation dry-run, I was once again amazed with the vast knowledge and experiences of Matt. He knows exactly what he must talk about, the message that needs to be sent out, and how he is going to accomplish it. After the first run-through, he invited me to go for a drive to Starbucks and get a coffee. I got to know Matt on a more personal level and asked him a lot of questions on how he manages the Chamber. Matt is a really personable individual hence why I refer to him as “Matt” and not “Mr. Marchand”. He does not micro-manage his staff members. They all know what they have to do and how to go about doing it and they work well independently – he just prefers to be updated on what is happening and that is what the regular Monday meetings are for. There is a routine that he follows which can be witnessed best on Mondays that allow the week to go as planned and things to run smoothly.
After returning to the office, we ran through the presentation once again. This time, in addition to Lindsey’s, I gave my input as well. Matt likes to hear from others especially regarding his presentation if he thinks it could use improvement. Throughout the day, he would constantly ask me what I have learned and every time I would have something different to say because I was learning so much as the day progressed. Shortly after the second run-through of the presentation, it was time for me to go and Matt to attend a conference call. We took a picture together and then I said good bye to him and his team.
I think the “Executive for a Day” program is really great and quite the learning experience. For business students specifically, we can never have enough insight or experience of the “real” business world because the industry is so diverse and rapidly changing. It is nice to see how different managers lead their companies and fellow staff members. Matt is a more relaxed and laid back manager and that seems to work for him and his organization. Other managers might be different and completely the opposite. Regardless, I was shown what kind of managers I could be reporting to in the future, or more importantly, what kind of managerial style I will take on to lead my team. The Chamber has big, well-known companies that it represents as its members such as KPMG, Union Gas, Ford, WFCU and many more. All these companies have huge portfolios and to think that they are supported by a Chamber of less than 10 members is shocking but also inspiring. In just half a day, I was able to learn such incredible things. I highly encourage this program to continue and more students to involve themselves in it. I can guarantee that they would not regret it.