Blaize Horner Reich, Dean of Management at UBC Okanagan -
photo by Martin Dee
UBC Reports | Vol. 52 | No. 2 | Feb. 2, 2006
Managing to Make a Difference
New Faculty of Management at UBC Okanagan puts focus on
small business and entrepreneurship
By Bud Mortenson
A business school with a difference is taking shape at UBC
Okanagan. The brand-new Faculty of Management is small right
now -- with just 30 students in this inaugural year -- but
expectations are for quick growth to more than 700 students
in 2009. That kind of growth will be fueled by a curriculum
focused on B.C.'s Okanagan economy, which is among the nation's
hotspots for entrepreneurs.
"We looked around the region to see what was needed
and what would make our Bachelor of Management program distinctive,"
says Blaize Horner Reich, dean of Management. "As a result,
the focus of our program is on the kinds of businesses most
common in the Okanagan and that create the most jobs - the
small to medium-sized businesses."
These small to medium-sized enterprises, SMEs, are the backbone
of the Okanagan economy. Last year, of the region's 6,845
businesses, only 887 had 20 or more employees.
"The program also puts a focus on service-based and
knowledge-based businesses, both of which are very important
in the Okanagan," Reich says. "These areas are growing
the fastest and offer the most opportunity for students. And
because we're focusing on emergent and medium-sized businesses,
students can play leadership roles in building and developing
The Okanagan's wealth of emerging businesses is, in part,
a result of the region's strong appeal to entrepreneurs, says
Robert Fine, executive director of the Central Okanagan Economic
"People come here to create their own lifestyle,"
says Fine, "so we have the highest rate of self-employment
in the province and probably in Western Canada."
It's fitting, Fine says, for UBC Okanagan to build its programs
around topics of great interest to Okanagan businesses. "Having
the Faculty of Management focus its energy within the SME
sector is going to be a big plus. It's very exciting for businesses
in our region."
UBC Okanagan's Faculty of Management and UBC's world-renowned
Sauder School of Business in Vancouver both prepare students
for success in small businesses and as entrepreneurs -- the
Sauder School through a Bachelor of Commerce program with
many options of its own. The Sauder School will also drive
MBA-level and other graduate business education for UBC in
Vancouver and the Okanagan, says Daniel Muzyka, dean of the
Sauder School of Business.
"As a business school, Sauder has a full product offering,"
"The UBC Okanagan program is another focused opportunity
for business education inside the UBC family. This is a distinctive
niche offering in the product line -- it provides students
with more opportunity for business education."
Muzyka notes that with the number of business students continuing
to rise, more options are welcome. "UBC as a whole is
offering more. There will be some clear choices for students.
Based on their needs, they decide whether they go here or
At UBC Okanagan, the Bachelor of Management program's "2+2"
structure allows students to take a wide variety of elective
courses during their first two years before immersion in business
management courses in the final two years. They can also enter
the Management program at UBC Okanagan in their third year
as transfer students from colleges and university colleges.
"Because students have the opportunity to take a wide
range of courses, they'll come into the third year with a
diverse and sophisticated set of experiences," says Reich,
whose own diverse experience includes 15 years as an information
technology professional and consultant to Canadian and Asian
businesses, before earning her PhD from UBC in 1993.
"When students enter the 'boot camp' third year in Management,
they will be ready to do some critical thinking and come up
with innovative ways to address business problems. By combining
their learning about social responsibility and ethics, I think
they're going to make the world a better place."
But courses alone are not an education, Reich cautions. "We
plan to provide opportunities for students to engage in real
business practice, whether this is in a co-op program, a course-based
project, or some volunteer service learning," she says.
"These experiences will round out and extend the value
of coursework and deliver on UBC's promise of global citizenship.
I think students these days are looking for a deeper attachment,
a richer experience. A small environment like the Okanagan
valley can offer that."
To learn more: www.ubc.ca/okanagan/management.