With food companies among those grappling with the impacts of climate change, understanding the complex trends affecting the global agricultural supply chain is usually the domain of business analysts—but Cassandra Roberge, a graduate business student at Thompson Rivers University (TRU), already has deep insights on how food producers can adapt.
Roberge is a Master of Business Administration (MBA) student, where studying the links between global warming and crop prices is just one part of her practical education. Part of a group assignment for the Decision Analysis and Modelling course involved tracking crop production levels and prices in different regions over the last 30 years, conducting mathematical modelling to make market predictions and then synthesizing and her results into a five-minute, TED Talk-style presentation geared to a food company executive. Those findings could then be used to inform future business decisions.
“It was a really intensive process,” Roberge says. “It’s about finding ways to let the data tell you what the story is. If something’s not making sense, you have to dig deeper.”
An abundance of learning opportunities
The TRU Gaglardi MBA empowers students to engage with real-world business issues in hands-on ways, supporting the development of a global business mindset and skill set. Students in the two-year program complete 14 core courses, then choose to either take four additional advanced management courses, pursue a project relating to a real-world management issue or prepare and defend a thesis. Those who have already earned a business bachelor's degree in North America—like Roberge, who completed TRU Gaglardi’s BBA—qualify to enroll in the Accelerated One-Year MBA, which allows for direct entry into the program’s second year.
Roberge is one of several thousand who choose TRU Gaglardi each year for a business education that is rigorous, experiential and flexible. The university’s largest faculty and the B.C. interior’s biggest business school, TRU Gaglardi welcomes students from more than 100 countries. This diversity is something Roberge sees as important: she says it contributed to meaningful classroom discussions and shed light on global business concepts and practices.
Where theory meets practise
To make learning relevant, TRU incorporates practical assignments and experiential learning and research opportunities across its programs. For another MBA assignment, this time for her "Leadership and Organizational Development" course, Roberge studied management theories by interviewing the executive director of the local United Way. The process involved inquiring about how the director had led the organization under challenging circumstances, including the pandemic.
“Talking with her really highlighted the element of people skills because she is all about making sure her people felt supported and listened to during those difficult times,” Roberge says. “It gave me something to strive for. I want to make sure I integrate that focus on people into my own leadership style.”
It’s the type of assignment that lets students put their learning into action, and consider the impact they want to have in a business organization, says MBA academic coordinator, Dr. Salvador Barragan.
“We’re always looking for ways to give students a chance to apply theoretical concepts, gain practical experience, build their network and do work that can have an impact on the community,” says Barragan, an associate professor in the school’s Department of Human Enterprise and Innovation.
Students can also round out their classroom experience with a variety of campus activities, such as joining a student club, participating in a case competition or experimenting with new tech at the Library Makerspace. Plus, the quaint country-in-a-city feel of Kamloops, with its wide range of outdoor adventures and cultural events, provides a nurturing community setting.
“With the hands-on experience I’m gaining and the engaging professors, I’m getting pushed to go above and beyond my limits,” says Roberge, who is aiming to work in management consulting at a firm like Deloitte or McKinsey & Company. “I can see clearly how what I’m learning is going to be useful in my career.”
Click here for more information about The Bob Gaglardi School of Business and Economics.