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Become a leader in your field

September 27, 2022
UBC MEL MHLP - Become a Leader

The UBC Master of Engineering Leadership (MEL) and Master of Health Leadership and Policy (MHLP) create leaders. Our students choose the MEL and MHLP to develop the leadership skills that will enable them to excel in their careers and have a greater impact on their professional and personal lives.

Why we need leaders

Our world needs leaders to address the severe challenges we are facing – from the climate crisis and energy supply issues to the impacts of an aging population and increasing pressures on our health-care system.

These challenges, says MHLP in Seniors Care former Program Director Jennifer Baumbusch, are an “all too stark reminder of the need for resilient leaders who are able to adapt to unpredictable situations and guide their teams through uncertainty. Leadership resilience comes with knowledge: both sector-specific knowledge of best practices and knowledge of how to lead and inspire teams.”

Just as you can improve your skills in other areas of life, so too is leadership a skill that can be learned through research, reflection and practice. Each of us has the capacity to learn how to successfully motivate and inspire others to bring about positive change.

“Leadership isn’t innate or magical, and like any skill, it can be acquired,” says Justin Bull, Academic Director of the MEL and MHLP.

“The MEL and MHLP support students’ leadership development by teaching theories and then asking students to apply these concepts first within the classroom and, ultimately, within the work environment.”

Developing leadership skills through reflection and practice

The MEL and MHLP are interdisciplinary programs that develop students’ leadership skills through a combination of theory and practice.

Classroom discussions and assignments in the business courses taught by faculty from UBC Sauder’s Robert H. Lee Graduate School introduce students to theories of leadership through case studies and examples.

In the technical classes taught through the Faculty of Applied Science, students explicitly examine what leadership means within their industry.

There are many opportunities to practice these leadership skills in group projects and assignments.

Students learn how to define a vision and goals, test different communication approaches, create processes that are accountable and transparent, and reflect on their own contributions to a group.

Chris Gan, who graduated in 2021 from the MEL in Advanced Materials Manufacturing, is now leading a team in his position at Eviation, a company developing the world’s first electric-powered commuter plane.

“Every day I use the knowledge I gained in the very first business course on organizational leadership,” says Gan. “It helped me understand different leadership styles and it’s enabled me to broaden the way I communicate with people. A large part of my current job is coordinating with a multidisciplinary team that includes design, planning, manufacturing, operation and flight testing, and thanks to this course I am able to adapt my communications to keep the workflow moving forward.”

Ahmed Soltan, a 2021 graduate of the MHLP in Clinical Education, says that the program’s focus on leadership development was a rich experience in

“learning how to integrate a team made up of people of different professional backgrounds, as well as people of different ages and cultures. It was very helpful for learning how to put ideas into action, learning how to collaborate and being an effective member of a group.”

Learning to lead diverse teams

Today’s leaders need to inspire and motivate teams of people from diverse professional backgrounds and perspectives.

MEL and MHLP students experience this diversity throughout the program, particularly in the business courses, where students from all of the MEL and MHLP programs learn together from professors who are leaders in their fields. This interdisciplinary learning environment is a springboard to the fast development of collaborative leadership skills.

“Leading in times of uncertainty is easier when you have a wide support network and have worked in diverse situations,” explains Dr. Baumbusch.

“Our program creates the conditions for this to occur. The business classes that makeup half of the MHLP curriculum bring together MHLP students with those from the Master of Engineering Leadership programs.

Working on group projects with engineers, environmental scientists and urban planners encourage our students to broaden their perspectives and contribute their own insights with confidence.

We see our students quickly gain the ability to assess the challenges within new situations and develop strategies that meet the needs of multiple stakeholders.”

By the end of their program, students will have had numerous opportunities to practice their communication and leadership skills. This experience makes our graduates stand out.

Today’s employers are seeking individuals who are as comfortable leading multidisciplinary teams and communicating with those outside their sector of expertise as they are discussing industry-specific details with colleagues.

MEL and MHLP graduates consistently describe the program as a transformative experience that shaped them as leaders. As Dr. Bull says,

“Students in our program benefit from an incredible opportunity to gain the latest knowledge in their fields, move beyond their niche to understand broader industry perspectives, and gain the business and leadership skills needed to make a difference.”

Our alumni move confidently into positions of increased responsibility, bringing new skills and perspectives to their professional careers and contributing to the transformative change our world so desperately needs.