Program offers business students a fast track to an MBA degree
Unlike the contestants in the “Amazing Race,” Chaminade students did not encounter any detours nor face any roadblocks when they visited Aukland, New Zealand. The adventure was part of the new One Year MBA program that the University introduced in the fall of 2021.
“I had experience with such programs at three other universities,” says Dr. Bill Rhey, dean of the School of Business and Communication. “The data points out that when students look for an MBA program, they consider time of completion, cost, convenience and quality of faculty. This MBA meets all four.”
The cohort model for the One Year MBA program differs greatly from the traditional 18-month track. Foremost, as Rhey explains, students enrolled in this 12-month curriculum are in “lockstep,” which means they all must take the mandatory classes together.
“They start here and they finish here—together,” Rhey emphasizes. “This first cohort of students really bonded and supported each other every step of the way.”
The advantages of enrolling in a one-year program are many. But perhaps one of the most salient reasons refers back to an old adage: time is money. Obviously, paying a year’s tuition—versus two—saves a lot of cash. Tuition also includes books, meals on Saturdays and the international trip. Secondly, classes meet on alternate Saturdays and through online coursework. And thirdly, this type of educational model fosters collaboration and helps develop close bonds with fellow classmates.
“When I was packing my bags, I began to question my decision, asking myself ‘Why am I doing this,’” recalls Katelin Korman, who moved to Hawaii from her hometown of Surrey, British Columbia. “I didn’t know anyone in Hawaii but it turned out to be the best experience of my life and I have no regrets.
“The hybrid model also meant that I could continue working while also completing my studies,” Korman further notes. “I loved the idea of having a small cohort and a more personalized experience.”
The idea of being in a tight-knit group also drew Rebecca Miller. “I was so fortunate to have been part of this particularly amazing group of people, and I mean that sincerely,” says Miller, a licensed optician with LensCrafters. “Having been able to share this time together helped us learn how we worked with each other as individuals.”
Initially accepted into the traditional MBA program, Mario Macagba later learned about the accelerated alternative and decided this option would work best for his circumstance. The trip to New Zealand was another alluring factor.
“In preparation for the trip, professor Callahan provided us assignments that allowed us to learn about New Zealand,” Macagba says. “We learned about its culture and did research about Hawaii’s link to New Zealand and the similarities with regards to tourism and culture.”
In the past, Rhey has led other student groups on similar trips to Malawi and South African but never to Auckland. According to Rhey, New Zealand was chosen because it’s an island country, which has a Polynesian history and a large tourism/hospitality sector.
“It is, also, an English-speaking country with direct flights from Honolulu,” Rhey points out. “I have a friend (Rob Scharar) who is engaged with many leaders and businesses in New Zealand, and he was happy to help design the tour.”
A supporter of MBA programs and education overall, Scharar’s invaluable knowledge and connections provided students with an insider’s look into the New Zealand economy and politics.
“It was a mini business seminar for four days,” asserts Scharar, President of FCA Corp., a 50-year-old leading global investment management and financial advisory firm that also owns a stake in Unparalleled Journeys, which arranged the itinerary. “We had guest speakers from the New Zealand Stock Exchange, U.S. Embassy, FCA Corp’s investment team, Representatives from the U.S. Commercial Service for Australia and New Zealand, and Commonwealth Australia-New Zealand investment managers. The goal was to give these students some exposure to international trade and business.”
After discussing the impact of COVID on the travel industry, Unparalled Journeys tasked the students to prepare a presentation and summary of strategies and protocols that could possibly mitigate the effects of another potential global pandemic.
“The students had a lot of great ideas, from the use of technology to strategic messaging in anticipation of another COVID-like pandemic,” Scharar says. “They all passed. This was a wonderful group of young adults who were pretty humble and grounded, which made it fun for me.”
“Traveling with Mr. Rob Scharar was a fantastic experience,” Miller says. “He really brought to life a sense of what we were working to achieve. Watching him command a room, and interact with individuals everywhere from Parliament to the Stock Exchange was very enlightening.”
Macagba’s biggest takeaway from the trip was a pointed lesson in leading. “Servant leadership is valuable,” he says, “and we need to make sure we serve and lead in our community, home, work and social circles, and to view our culture not as black and white but gray.”
Korman was most impressed with the level of awareness that Kiwis hold for their surroundings, giving her a new perspective on the quality of life and living in general.
“I learned that New Zealand is a lot like Canada where I am from,” says the British Columbia native. “It is extremely similar in the way it’s run and governed, the landscape, environment and climate, as well as the people and their interests and hobbies. Our money and tax system are also alike and both countries are part of the British Commonwealth.”
The one-year program is targeted—but not limited—to mid-management professionals who are already working in a specific industry, and seek a track to the executive level. Its goal is to provide growth, leadership, thoughtful decision-making, engagement and new opportunities.
Before obtaining her MBA, Korman had only worked at small companies with few employees and even fewer opportunities for professional growth. However, this changed in November when she landed a marketing coordinator position with Save-On-Foods, one of Western Canada’s largest supermarket chains.
“I think the MBA definitely helped me get this job,” says Korman, who believes this is her first step to upward mobility. “I learned so much more about business, including data science, analytics, strategic thinking and marketing.”
During a banquet dinner to celebrate their graduation, students from the 2021 class had the opportunity to welcome the next cohort of MBA graduates, passing the torch on to some of the incoming class members.
“I know the students took away a sense of confidence in their ability to make recommendations as business consultants for our host company, Unparalled Journeys,” Rhey concludes. “I also believe that most had their horizons broadened, and experienced a greater appreciation for how business is done, and how different life is outside of Hawaii.”