Canada’s First MBA with a specialty stream in Social Enterprise Leadership

Canada's First MBA wtth a speciality stream in Social Enterprise Leadership

Fredericton, NB – The Sandermoen School of Business is the first business school in Canada to offer an MBA and Executive MBA focused on Social Enterprise Leadership. The surge of recent announcements, political attention and media coverage pertaining to Social Enterprise is a testament to the rapid growth of this key sector in the Canadian economy. Responding to the growing need for leaders in this sector all across Canada, Sandermoen’s new program has been developed with the assistance of some of Canada’s foremost practitioners in the field; and to enhance its accessibility, it will be offered in a fully-online format.

A Social Enterprise is generally understood to be a business operated or owned by a not-for-profit organization, established partly to supplement its public funding and charitable donations. But leading such a business is arguably more complex than leading a for-profit business – rather than having a single focus on profitability, Social Enterprise executives must achieve a “blended value” return on investment, balancing sustainable profitability with a social mission.

The rise of the Social Enterprise sector will benefit Canada greatly, as it develops greater resilience and independence within the non-profit sector by helping organizations to stabilize and diversify their funding base while enhancing their programs or services. The result: stronger, more sustainable non-profits and healthier communities.

From retail to services, manufacturing and food services, from the small local thrift store, up to Mozilla’s Firefox and the YMCA, these are all examples of Social Enterprises that operate successful businesses while simultaneously addressing social issues. Their missions are diverse: they may hire people with disabilities, generate revenue for non-profits, or operate arts and cultural centres.

“Creating Canada’s first MBA in Social Enterprise Leadership, to be delivered fully online, responds to demand from a new generation of business students and mid-life career changers across Canada who are seeking more meaningful work, and who need relevant business and leadership tools” said Dr. David Large, Dean at the Sandermoen School of Business at the University of Fredericton. “Future Social Enterprise leaders pursuing business careers in organisations with social missions face challenges which are unique to the sector. They are managing blended values businesses with two bottom lines, social mission and financial sustainability. In such a rapidly evolving environment, Social Enterprise Leaders clearly recognize a need for very strong management skills while attempting to address complex social problems at the same time.”

The first student to enroll in the Executive MBA Social Enterprise Leadership program is Sandra Hamilton, a B.C. Partner for Social Impact, business consultant and former business manager to Vancouver Olympic CEO John Furlong, and to well-known Olympic athletes such as Silken Laumann. “The Sandermoen School of Business is entrepreneurial and is very aligned with my social values. I am passionate about applying business concepts to create social enterprises that stimulate rural economic development and produce vibrant communities. I don’t fit the more traditional MBA profile of a student seeking a career with a global multi-national. I love the totally online format of this degree program, which allows me to connect with leading professors in the field of social enterprise. It is accessible and affordable professional development. Students can enrol from any community in Canada, or from anywhere else in the world.”

Industry advisor to the Social Enterprise program is David LePage, who has been a strong advocate and educator of enterprising non-profits for many years. “I think we are at a tipping point in the sector” said LePage, who is a member of the Social Enterprise Council of Canada and Team Leader at enp (Enterprising Non Profits). “The Sandermoen MBA students will be at the forefront, challenged by fascinating and emerging topics quite unlike any other MBA program. The MBA in Social Enterprise Leadership draws upon the learning of academics globally and is grounded by the pragmatic leadership of trail blazing practitioners. This specialty track MBA brings academic rigour to the social enterprise ecosystem, which is an important component in the development and professional advancement of the sector.” Listen to David’s podcast.

Academics have long debated whether non-profit management degrees belonged in a school of business, public administration or social work. But over the last fifteen years we have seen a societal shift in attitudes and witnessed an increase in socially-minded MBAs who bring a valuable skill set to non-profit organizations running blended value businesses to achieve their social mission. Hence, it is now certainly defensible that at least some of the Social Enterprise sector’s leaders receive part of their professional education in a school of business.

“Business acumen combined with technology and experience delivering online MBA programs provides an ideal platform for accessing emerging global knowledge and bringing social enterprise academic study opportunities into every local community. This connectivity facilitates shared knowledge of the best practices in social enterprise and allows students to ponder the unique questions arising from executives and board members operating in the sector” said Dean Large.

About the Sandermoen School of Business

The Sandermoen School of Business at the University of Fredericton offers accredited and fully-online MBA and Executive MBA programs in Global Leadership, Innovation Leadership, and now Social Enterprise Leadership. It is named after Kjetil Sandermoen, a leadership consultant working with many of the world’s largest corporations.