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It’s How You Say It

 

 

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

-Nelson Mandela

International professionals have three unique courses to help them improve their English language skills in their workplace this Fall. With a focus on context of English use, these courses offer a lot of feedback and first-hand training to ensure that emerging English speakers are understood.

“Storytelling is our most natural and fundamental communication tool,” says Jennifer Orr, Program Coordinator for Speech Arts and Drama, MRU Conservatory. The addition of speech coaches offers unique value to the Enhanced Speaking Skills for Internationally Educated Professionals (IEPs) course.

She explains, “Our voices are most effective when our own thoughts and emotions are connected. English as an additional language (EAL) speakers often lose vocal range, confidence and expression as they work to speak in English. The language is not fully their own, so their voice isn’t either.  We hope to change that.”

Kathy Dawson, Program Administrator in Teacher Education for MRU’s Languages Institute, agrees that in the case of IEPs, it’s not just what they say, it’s how it’s said in the context of their work environment. “Language training that focuses on this enhanced quality helps improve overall confidence.”

Pathways for Internationally Educated Professionals (PIEP) is a blended format course (classroom and online components) that also has a dramatic flair. With a weekly theme, participants role-play workplace scenarios with actors, then receive feedback from the language instructor, a business expert, their peers and the actors themselves. Kathy says they’re not focused on grammar per se, but instead looking for, “that which interferes with understanding rather than trying to be perfect.” She adds that the feedback is on a more complex level, “It’s not the standard ‘You used the wrong verb tense’, but more along the lines of ‘You mixed up she and he and your verb tenses were inconsistent so I couldn’t follow the story’.”

The rule of thumb for all enrolled in these courses is, “My language is only as good as it fits the context in which I’m trying to communicate.” Each workplace sets its own professional tone and has its own professional lingo that must be understood to facilitate effective communication.

In its final offering this academic year is the Communication Studies for Health Professionals (CSHP) course, which has targeted language integration techniques in the medical and healthcare fields. Kathy nods, “It’s been a great way to help healthcare professionals understand hospital culture so they can transition to the Canadian context more easily.” This was a course that also offered participants the opportunity to role-play with actors in medical examination situations. When CSHP is no longer offered, healthcare practitioners will be able to enrol in PIEP and gain workplace communication skills alongside fellow professionals in other sectors.

From a vocal perspective, the classes will be experiential and all students will be fully engaged in the process of storytelling,” Jennifer Orr attests. From vocal tone, range and expression to vocal strength and confidence, storytelling can be empowering. “When we tell stories we access our memories and experiences – and are free from the constraints of “formal” communication.” Orr states. “Storytelling brings the speaker into the communication moment and the audience to the speaker.” This, by extension, enables IEPs to assimilate and communicate with their chosen professions’ corporate culture.

That, as Orr put it is, “Powerful stuff.”

  • by JLove

Real Time Supply Chain

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“Technology.

Smart phones.

Wifi.”

These are the first things to come to mind when Dr. Brian Fleming, Associate Professor of Supply Chain Management at the Bissett School of Business, Mount Royal University is asked about how the industry is changing.

When it comes to streamlining the delivery of products from production to distribution, these innovations are game-changers. Fleming, a veteran in the industry, recounts that, “Fax was the expediter. Back then 6 or 7 days for snail mail was appropriate. But in today’s world, you get text messaging and apps that enable sales people to get into factories to check inventory and determine production schedules in real time.”

Regardless of the timeline, Fleming recognizes that, “The concepts behind Supply Chain Management are fundamentally the same.”  It’s finding the most efficient way of getting things from production to consumption. But, with a change in technology comes a new demand for the players.

From the clients’ perspective, “In today’s world, you can order one item.” With lot sizes of one, suppliers have been forced to look at things differently. “Everyone used to want zero inventory,” Recalls Fleming, “But that’s not the case now.”

As a sign of the times, MRU has been able to offer some flexibility to Supply Chain Management students. “By taking our 9 Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) courses online with our agreement between Mount Royal University Continuing Education and the Bissett School of Business, our BBA students can now be working on a co-op position and still move forward.”

Thus expediting the time it takes to go from A to B.

“Supply Chain fits into any industry.” Fleming instructs. “Oil is the big dog in Alberta. It pays well. But, I can work for Calgary Food Bank, YWCA, transportation, warehousing…” his list goes on.

As for opportunity, he suggests that with flexible online course offerings, students these days are getting a global reach, “One student in Brazil has completed two courses, while another working with Volkswagon in Germany has completed a course.”  He continues proudly, “Two other students are working in Kamloops in the mining industry and a varsity hockey student will be graduating the BBA through the online components.”

Supply Chain Management is becoming an increasingly important and rewarding part of many organizations. Trained and qualified people are needed to research, develop and execute the next innovative efficiencies. According to Fleming, he forecasts that the future is not far off, “Amazon is currently testing drones for deliveries.”

For registration information, click here.

  • by JLove

On Point. Online.

 

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Change is inevitable.

The content we create is ever changing. New ideas mean new conversations, debate and exploration.

The way we reach out and connect with our world is changing. In a marketplace currently obsessed with the augmented reality of Pokémon Go!, it’s impossible to imagine where new ideas will lead.

The way MRU shares ideas is changing too.

MRU Continuing Education has launched MRU Think Talks, a series of presentations from MRU thinkers, available to the global online community.

“The goal is to get people thinking about issues that impact us locally and globally.” says one of the instigators of this new initiative Dimitra Fotopoulos, Program Director, Business and Professional Education for MRU Faculty of Continuing Education and Extension. “We are looking to shine a light on some of the amazing talent within the MRU community that can speak to these issues and provide some critical insights into them, to get a conversation going and hopefully create a dialogue.”

The inaugural speaker, Joanne Leskow, is an award-winning Organizational Change Management instructor whose keynote entitled “Loving Change” captivated the audience at the exquisite Bella Concert Hall in the Taylor Centre for the Performing Arts, and promises to influence viewers online to embrace changes in their own lives.

“Joanne is so well versed in managing change and how it can be personal or professional,” says Fotopoulos, who adds, “she came to mind first because of her great expertise in the subject, the fact that she is an excellent public speaker, and most importantly that she connects so well with her students.”

It’s worth noting that many of the attendees of her session were her former students.

Moving forward, MRU Think Talks will showcase speakers and thinkers that resonate with the times, Fotopoulos explains, “We are responsive to what is happening around us and want to share our the expertise of MRU instructors, Faculty, alumni and community with others.” The hope is to amplify the exemplary idea-sharing these instructors do on a daily basis. “It’s a lot like what is currently being done in our classrooms, it’s just connecting with a larger student body online.”

Leskow offered a thoughtful presentation, drawing from her personal and professional experiences. Its roots were in reflection, not merely information. Through her guidance, the audience was compelled to take stock on how they themselves deal with change and how a shift in perception might offer a different, and perhaps more rewarding, life experience.

It’s this type of connection that Fotopoulos encourages, “MRU Think Talks will be aligned with our program offerings so participants can quickly identify what courses or training they would need if a particular topic resonated with them. “

With more scheduled to follow in the Fall, Fotopoulos and her team are excited, “We are looking forward to a dynamic and engaging series where people have an awareness or understanding of topics that they didn’t before, and they can ask themselves, “now that I know this information, what’s next for me, my job, my family

Enjoy Joanne Leskow’s MRU Think Talk.

Watch, Think & Share.

MRU Think Talks
On point. Online.

– by JLove

Ground Control to Major Success

 

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Last week, Calgary’s Kenn Borek Air flew an emergency evacuation of two Antarctic-based patients in need of medical care. The Twin Otter plane flew 2,400 km and successfully landed on it’s ‘landing skis’, ski-like apparatus resembling aquatic pontoons, on compacted snow in total darkness only to turn around after ten hours and transport the patients to Punta Arenas, Chile. The crew of this mission was made up of some courageous pilots, medical professionals… and flight dispatchers.

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Twin Otter Plane – Courtesy of CTVNews.ca

Sylvain Duclos is an instructor/facilitator for MRU Continuing Education’s Flight Dispatcher Certificate. “It’s a profession like no other,” he admits. “You make all the decisions. The result of your actions and decisions are felt and seen right away.”

With this recent mission, it’s obvious that these trained choices made on a day-to-day basis are actually saving lives.

Duclos says the program’s content is, “broad-base and touches on all subjects in aviation.” From the basics of how an airplane flies to specifics like, “Commercial Aviation Operations, flight planning, Air regulation and procedures, flight safety and Aviation weather and more… it is a very unique career path.”

Describing the profession as mostly, “unknown,” Duclos says the program has much merit. “It’s a great way to get ready to write the Transport Canada written exam in a hands-on, engaged, interactive atmosphere. Once the course is completed and exam written, a student/candidate can apply for a Flight Dispatcher position with various airlines anywhere across Canada. It’s not geographically binding.”

With a transitional career market, those with an interest in aviation might find their careers take off with this certification. “There is movement in the industry at the top,” he adds, noting the retirement of long-serving aviation experts, “which is felt at the lower levels as well. The long term outlook is good.”

With clear skies towards that horizon, graduates from MRU have an advantage, Duclos explains, “The local airline industry is aware of this course and has hired from this class repeatedly over many years.” So for those who have had a departure from their career or are looking to plan a new destination on your radar, Duclos confesses that it’s a rewarding field. He stresses, “There is a real sense of accomplishment…of a job well done.”

The rescued Antarctic-research patients are grateful for the aviation crew for the evacuation mission. For the flight dispatchers involved, their training and expertise saved lives. For many who are looking for a fresh start, registering on the flight-path towards a flight dispatcher career just might save theirs.

Registration for MRU Continuing Education’s Flight Dispatcher Certificate is now open for Fall 2016. Click here for more info.

  • by JLove

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Operation: New Normal

2016-06-17_CE_Blog_ResilienceRecovery_622x250“I hate the term ‘new normal’.” Steve Armstrong insists, indicating that change is inevitable and those in leadership positions must not be complacent. “When you’re the leader… you are always accountable.”

Armstrong is a MRU Continuing Education instructor and author of You Can’t Lead from Behind. He will be a keynote speaker at Resilience & Recovery: How to survive and thrive in a new normal on June 25th, 2016. His presentation, Organizational Resilience will offer professional advice from his experiences in disaster recovery operations ranging from the 9/11 attacks in 2001 to this year’s Fort McMurray wildfires.Scan-141330001-238x300

“You cannot be strategic and operational at the same time.” Armstrong proclaims.

Whether dealing with natural disasters or economic crisis, he endorses clarity and risk assessment for businesses hoping to survive the situation and thrive in the aftermath. “You can’t focus on day-to-day while looking forward to the future.” He reiterates. “When I was leading giant operations, I had tactical leaders. I pulled out of day-to-day… I looked weeks and months out.” This division of resources is a luxury that many smaller businesses dealing with a struggling economy can’t afford. To which, Armstrong identifies, “You have to block out a period of time in the morning to be strategic. Try to surround yourself with folks that will help you think that way.”

To all leaders, he advises, “Be 100% focused on your objective or mission.” His military background serves him well. “The second rule is to make sure that everyone working for you knows the objective. The rest,” he concludes, “is how to get it done. You can motivate and manipulate… engage people and protect them… but always treat people with respect and dignity.”

The mission provides the foundation on which to make decisions; and Armstrong has had to make some tough ones. “If the mission is clearly articulated then employees (like soldiers) have three levels of consensus… ‘I can live with it’, I can’t live with it’, or ‘I’m all in’.” The last of which is the team all leaders would like to build; a team who pulls together and operates best in a time of crisis.

Ethos is a Greek term describing the characteristic spirit of culture. In business, that can refer to everything from the integrity of leadership to corporate culture, team-building and trust. “If an organization doesn’t have ethos,” Armstrong exclaims, “they’ll never build it in the crisis.”unnamed-2

In his book, he describes a time when, in service, he was asked to jump over the edge of a cliff, landing site-unseen. He was tested to place his trust in his commanding officer, and, due to the trust that had been established, he didn’t think twice about taking the plunge. This type of established trust in leadership he explains using a military adage, “Always explain the truth about what and why something is happening so they (employees) believe you when you don’t have time to explain.”

Whether he likes the term ‘new normal’ or not, he is a leader who is certainly prepared for it.

-by JLove

Box Springs Eternal

IMG_8057Shawn Cable has always been a team player.

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Cable – Calgary Roughneck

The former Calgary Roughneck professional lacrosse player describes himself as always having had, “and entrepreneurial type spirit.” But he admits, “I’d be lying if I told you ten years ago that I’d be the owner of a mattress recycling business.”
His company Re-Matt began in 2014. Cable describes it as, “a mattress recycling business intent on eliminating all disposal of mattresses in city landfills across Alberta.” The idea came from a field trip his Mount Royal University Continuing Education Supply Chain Management course took to a Sears factory. “At the time, I was working in Oil and gas,” he explains, “but like many people, I didn’t know how secure my future was.” So, he pitched the idea of mattress recycling to, “a group of buddies I met for breakfasts to bring new ideas to the table so we could all work for ourselves one day.” The group approved.

Cable did some research and found out that there was no one else in this environmental and much needed niche market. “People are paying to take mattresses to the landfill already,” he gleaned, “the landfill is charging a $20 minimum. We charge $15. So, you’re saving money and keeping it green.”

Business seems to be good. In May 2016, Cable touts that, “we had our best month to date. Over 3000 mattresses.” That’s 3000 mattresses that won’t clutter Alberta landfills! Instead, Re-Matt recycles up to 95% of the materials from them. Mattresses are broken down into their original components like fabric, steel and wood. “We find places for materials to go that have a better end use.”Re-Matt-+Calgary+Mattress+Recycling+(Sleep+On+Latex)

Existing businesses are looking for his service. He has signed partnership contracts with the likes of mattress retailers like The Brick, Sleep Country and Sears who are all trying to service their customers with a greener solution. Cable and his team just signed an agreement with Fort McMurray to bring their used mattresses down to his Calgary warehouse.

From an early analysis, “The biggest obstacle is transportation,” he says, “It can be costly.” This is merely a pothole on the road to success for Cable who summarizes the landfill landscape, “Landfills don’t like mattresses. They don’t bury well. They take up space. Now that there’s a solution, everyone’s trying to find a budget to do it (recycle).”

Speaking to his experience with Supply Chain Management at MRU, he reports, “It helped tremendously. It’s a logistics-based business. There was a lot of valuable information that I learned from the program.”

The secret to Re-Matt’s early success is something that he doesn’t lose a lot of sleep over. “It’s a little bit of craziness mixed in with doing your homework…and putting your money where your mouth is.”

Spoken like a true innovator.

-by JLove

Loyal Subjects

S16_CE_Metro_Advert_Content_Management_Strategy“Good content marketing is about cultivating brand loyalty.” says Jenelle Peterson, Director of Business Development & Marketing at Mount Royal University’s Faculty of Continuing Education and Extension.

In MRU Continuing Education’s new Content Marketing Strategy course, which Peterson will be teaching from June 22-Jul 6, 2016, students will learn, “how social media, SEO and content marketing work together to create a prolific online strategy.”

“Content marketing is such a buzz word,” she explains, noting the success of companies like Lululemon Athletica and Calgary-based WestJet Airlines in providing some unique and successful marketing content. But the benefits of content media on a brand are seemingly becoming more universal, “it’s not just for marketers.”

“We’re starting to see people from a broader spectrum of industries taking marketing courses so they have a deeper understanding of how it benefits their company or organization.” Suggesting that it’s not just about ‘getting the sale’, content marketing is becoming more and more about building a relationship with clients, prospective clients and the community at large. “It can be an awesome tool for entrepreneurs, mid-career marketers who want to get an edge on where this industry is moving and for any business leader to have a good understanding of how content cultivates brand loyalty.”

Peterson is focusing on key elements including, “how you curate that content, what kind of content you create, who you share it with and how you’ll share it.” Using a mixture of case studies and success stories intertwined with working through strategies for organizations her students represent, the course promises to help, “build a content marketing toolkit.”

Celebrating her first year at MRU, she’s championing content initiatives from some of her MRU Continuing Education colleagues.9a53a52b-0d35-47e1-aef7-98125c8e3581 One noteworthy example is the recent launch of MRU Think Talks. This is a video content offering that showcases MRU Continuing Education instructors, innovators and community members as they present on their areas of expertise. “It’s providing quality content that is useful to our multiple audiences,” she notes, “and since it’s all going online, it’s a way for MRU innovation to start building relationships with a global market.” It’s ideas like these that she will be sharing with students.

Describing her day-to-day prescription for content marketing success, Peterson claims, “It takes a team. It’s important for all of us to engage our subject matter experts for their expertise and assistance in bringing relevant and valuable content to our diverse audiences. It’s those relationships within our organization that allow us to build trust and loyalty in the marketplace.”

To register or learn more… click here.

-by JLove

Teaching International Professors

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Kathy Dawson teaching professors in Lima.

“There’s nothing better to remind you of how difficult it is to learn another language than to be placed in the same situation,” says Kathy Dawson, Program Administrator in Teacher Education for MRU’s Languages Institute. She lists a few of the challenges one must overcome, “struggling to communicate, watching yourself make mistakes, not being able to find the right word and struggling with your dictionary.”

These are certainly a traveler’s communication woes, but they’re happening more and more in the university classroom. Kathy recently returned from teaching a ten-day course at the Universidad del Pacífico in Lima, Perú. The course is called Teaching Content in English. It’s part of the Languages Institute’s Faculty Development Program, which is gaining international recognition.

Kathy explains the challenge of the group of 13 professors who, while normally fulfilling the teaching role, must become students. “They know their subject matter inside out,” she attests. “They have been challenged by globalization and their administration to now turn it all into English.”

“The course is very experiential.” Kathy notes, while acknowledging that many of these professionals haven’t taught in English. “There’s some trepidation about whether or not they can do it.” For those who have taught in English, the course has additional benefits, “There is a lot of modeling about how to incorporate active learning in a way that supports second language learners.” In either case, she discovered that, “If they’re nervous at the beginning, they’re much more confident by the end of the ten days.”

For the Universidad del Pacífico, a top economics and business administration university in Latin America, this hands-on approach works well. In an additional language, all of the participants welcome the chance to become learners again.

With this initiative’s continued success, the offering of their local courses in English might create an opportunity for more Mount Royal students to study in Perú. “We’re so privileged as English speakers.” Kathy identifies, “We get lazy. We are able to travel around the world and not have to speak another language.  The onus has been pushed on others to learn English.” Not one to shy away from learning, Kathy admits, “This reminds me that I shouldn’t feel more privileged.” She says, “I should pick up my Spanish books again.”

To that end, Kathy has already arranged for some Spanish classes for her next trip south.

  • by JLove

 

Breakfast of Champions at MRU

A gathering of Calgary’s business leaders attended the inaugural Business Champions Breakfast at the Roderick Mah Centre for Continuous Learning on Wednesday, January 21.

Keynote speaker Richard Lannon, an instructor and curriculum expert in the Business Analysis program, spoke on The Journey of the Business Champion: Peaks, Valleys and Detours. He shared stories of clients he has worked with over the course of his 27-year career. Richard’s dynamic and engaging style clearly connected with his audience of Calgary business champions.

The Ross Glen Hall in the LEED Gold certified conference facility was set up to showcase its flexibility in hosting a variety of events and meetings through MRU’s Events and Conference Services. The guest speaker highlighted the expertise that can be shared with Corporate Training clients who come to MRU for customized programs and classes for their employees.

Cindy Chambers, Manager of Corporate Training, was pleased with the success of this inaugural event, noting that “there were a number of people that indicated that they want to talk to us about space rentals and/or future corporate training opportunities. We had people that weren’t able to attend today but want to come for a site tour. We had people that were at the event this morning saying that they want to bring some of their colleagues to the next one.”  

— by Karen McCarthy
— photos by Mitsue Kudo & Sue Madsen

The Money Whisperer – The Value of Independent Financial Advice

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November is Financial Literacy Month. We are pleased to welcome guest blogger Randy McCord, instructor of MRU’s Investing in Real Estate course, to share his expertise on the importance financial planning.

How do you measure the value of advice? It’s one of life’s intangibles, but most of us seek it out before making important decisions. The best advice is meaningful and impactful, and as unique as the person receiving it.

And while some people think they can manage on their own and are satisfied with the results, they may not even be aware of the opportunities they’re missing. This is particularly true when it comes to financial security planning, where good advice can be worth its weight in gold.

That’s because receiving independent financial security advice is not just about having access to a wide variety of financial products. It’s about developing a relationship with a financial expert who will take the time to understand your financial situation, work with you to develop a plan to achieve your goals, and help you stay on track despite life’s twists and turns.

Many independent studies confirm that financial security advice gives you – the investor – a greater chance of:

  • Increasing your savings by maintaining a disciplined approach
  • Being better prepared for a comfortable retirement
  • Selecting the most tax-efficient investment strategies for all stages of your life
  • Successfully navigating unexpected financial or personal challenges

And despite what many people think, you do not need to be wealthy or established in your career to benefit. In fact, it’s never too soon, or too late, to work with an advisor. Some might even say you can’t afford not to.

Let’s look at some stats that back up these claims:

                                                              With Advice/Plan                  Without Advice/Plan

Annual Savings Rate                                        86%                                            43%

Have RRSPs                                                    84%                                            36%

Have TFSAs                                                     45%                                            20%

Feel they are better equipped for:

Financial Emergencies                                     60%                                             28%

Tough Economic Times                                    65%                                             36%

Ensuring Loved Ones are Looked After           73%                                             41%

Feel they are on Track Financially                    81%                                            44%

Take Annual Vacations                                     74%                                             44%

Live the Life they Want                                      61%                                             31%

Splurge                                                               65%                                             31%

Are on Track for Retirement                              50%                                             22%

As you can see, the value of financial security advice in these surveys is pretty conclusive. And although these surveys did not separate independent advice from proprietary advice (i.e,. a bank or investment company selling their own products) the advantages are still striking.

Most independent financial advisors are happy to provide complimentary reviews so it costs the investor nothing for a discovery meeting to see if there is a need and a fit with an advisor. Our advice is to seek out truly independent advisors who act as a broker for all the various products and services available. And interviewing a few different advisors only makes sense, just like shopping for a good lawyer or accountant. Make sure you and the advisor feel comfortable with each other before fully engaging their services.

There is value in planning and getting advice to assist in developing and maintaining your personal financial plan.

mccord— by Randy McCord, Executive Business Director, National Best Financial Network

 

 

Sources:

You can learn more about financial planning with MRU’s Personal and Professional Financial Planning courses.