Financial Post: Business school feeds hunger for courses on aboriginal leadership

Oct 02, 2014
Mark Selman, Program Director, EMBA in Aboriginal Business and Leadership at the Beedie School of Business.

Mark Selman, Program Director, EMBA in Aboriginal Business and Leadership at the Beedie School of Business.

The following is an extract from an article published in the Financial Post on September 25, 2014.


Diversity on a more local level is playing an integral role in the curriculum and staff development at the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University. Two years ago the school introduced an Aboriginal Business and Leadership EMBA program. The intent was to advance aboriginal leaders’ business education, as well as the expertise of managers working on building relations with First Nations communities.

Developing the curriculum was a significant undertaking, as was finding the appropriate teaching expertise given the specialized nature of the program, says Mark Selman, program director. To date, the school has managed to attract such notables as John Borrows from Anishinabe, a world-leading academic on indigenous constitutional law, and Stephen Cornell, a well-known scholar on indigenous economic development in Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

Faculty members also offer a wealth of international experience that can be applied to the learning process. Guest speakers, including leaders and business owners from Aboriginal communities, help to round out the instruction process.

Even the class participants have a role to play, Mr. Selman says. “Right now we have one hereditary and two elected chiefs and a half-dozen counselors. There’s a lot of expertise in that room. And the best faculty members are the ones who learn to take advantage of that and use it as an asset in the classroom.”

Because indigenous culture is such a highly specialized area, a lot of members felt they needed assistance in getting ready, Mr. Selman says. “Quite a few put a great deal of effort into understanding various aboriginal cultures before they began to teach the program. It’s been a tremendous experience that has spread throughout the faculty as a whole.”

Read the full article on the Financial Post website.