The 2021 LEADER Project Goes Virtual and Involves Alumni in New and Exciting Ways on a Global Scale.
Gillian McIver | June 18th, 2021
The LEADER Project is an economic and entrepreneurial development program run by Ivey Business School students in the MBA, HBA, MSc, and PhD programs. The mission of LEADER is to coach and inspire promising entrepreneurs in frontier markets to envision, launch, and scale new ventures through the delivery of a two-week case-based curriculum. Over the last 30 years, the LEADER Project has built a vast network of over 1000 LEADERites (instructors from Ivey Business School) and 8500 entrepreneurs from 20 countries around the world. The program has grown significantly since its early days and after having to cancel the 2020 delivery due to COVID-19, adapted to a virtual setting for 2021.
Every year LEADER recruits alumni to take part in the program where they lend their time, expertise, and experience to the classroom and case discussions. Alumni Volunteers are an integral and extremely valuable part of the LEADER Project and are made up of individuals from within the Ivey network, be it past LEADERites or Ivey graduates. Traditionally, 3-4 alumni travel with LEADERites to take part in the curriculum delivery, yet as the LEADER Project pivoted to encompass new avenues of delivery in the virtual setting, the ways in which Alumni Volunteers could be involved grew to include new opportunities, and larger numbers. In total, 18 Alumni Volunteers participated with India, Nepal, Vietnam, Serbia, and North Macedonia sites in the following capacities:
On the final day of the two-week program, participants at each site are tasked with pitching an existing business or a business idea to a panel of judges. Alumni took part in the competitions in a few different ways:
2021 LEADER Alumni Volunteer Team
Top row: Ryan Meadwell EMBA '20, Nadine de Gannes HBA & MBA Professor, John Dickey MBA '93, Denisa Balla EMBA '19, Raphael Bender Bennett HBA Professor, Amy Childs MBA '15
Middle row: Ayesha Khan EMBA, Mohammad Kanaan EMBA '20, Cathy Chen HBA '18, Dominic Lim HBA & MBA Professor, Scott Mikalachki MBA '98, Irena Cerovina MBA '11
Bottom Row: Derek Panzer EMBA '20, Ryan Ackers EMBA '20, Diane Piquette EMBA '19, Matthew Goldsilver EMBA '20, Jason Edwards EMBA '20, Paul Fleming MBA '96
The 2021 Alumni Volunteers team included past LEADERites, Ivey Business School professors, and HBA, MBA and EMBA graduates. LEADER is thrilled to have had the involvement of many 2020 EMBA graduates, instigating a strong partnership with the EMBA program for years to come. The willingness of alumni to take part in a virtual capacity, and the patience and understanding of the challenges that accompany a shifting virtual program allowed participants from around the world to learn, grow, and think critically about their business ventures, and the feedback regarding alumni involvement was overwhelmingly positive.
A sincere and heartfelt thank-you goes out to all Alumni Volunteers that gave their time, expertise, and feedback to the 2021 LEADER Project. The overall success of the LEADER Project would not be possible without the dedication and enthusiasm of the Alumni Volunteers year after year, and the entire LEADER team thanks those who took part, or expressed interest to do so, this year. We look forward to welcoming you back for in-person site travel in the future.
On a personal note, as I prepared for my MBA last year, I was repeatedly told of the vast Ivey alumni network that awaited on the other side, but I was never clear on what this network truly looked like or what my place within it would be. Having now had the opportunity to engage with and get to know a wide array of alumni in preparation for the LEADER Project, it has become abundantly apparent how extensive, thoughtful, and helpful the Ivey community truly is. With each conversation came genuine questions of interest concerning post-graduation plans and offers to make connections with individuals operating within my industry of choice. The support that the Ivey network has for one another is a reminder of the benefit of staying connecting amidst the virtual world – as a recent graduate I am keenly aware of the importance to be an active participant in the Ivey community and look forward to attending reunions and events in person and getting to know more of my fellow Ivey alumni.
The LEADER Project is currently recruiting alumni to participate in the spring of 2022. If you are interested in travelling in-person or virtually with the LEADER Project as an alumni, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by completing the Alumni Volunteer form, available here. You can learn more about the LEADER Project by visiting www.leaderproject.com.