News & Events

Educating professionals for a new world of work

July 3, 2020
UBC MEL MHLP- Online Learning

It’s clear that the future of work will increasingly be online. And graduates of the MEL and MHLP programs will be well-equipped to build their virtual networks, work effectively online, and successfully lead and manage remote teams.

The past few years have seen a significant shift to distributed teams. And the past few months have accelerated this shift, with more people than ever working remotely in compliance with COVID-19 social distancing guidelines. Looking ahead, it is likely that the new normal will see a combination of in-person and virtual work, making it crucially important for professionals to be equally dextrous leading multidisciplinary teams in both physical and distributed environments.

Developing these skills takes practice. The Master of Engineering Leadership (MEL) and Master of Health Leadership and Policy (MHLP) programs offer opportunities for you to gain these new competencies alongside deepening your technical knowledge, increasing your leadership and management strengths, and expanding your professional network.

Industry-relevant content and world-leading faculty

The MEL and MHLP programs were designed for forward-thinking professionals who want to accelerate their career development and make an impact. “What we are teaching in the MEL and MHLP programs applies whether it is being taught virtually, in person with social distancing or in traditional classrooms and labs,” says Tamara Etmannski, former Academic Director of the MEL and MHLP programs.

“The technical strengths and leadership skills of our graduates are as relevant and in-demand as ever.”

This content is taught by internationally renowned faculty at the Faculty of Applied Science and UBC Sauder’s Robert H. Lee Graduate School.

“The outstanding instructors leading and teaching these programs have not gone anywhere,” says Vikram Yadav, Director of the MEL in Sustainable Process Engineering. “Our programs give you access to the best people in your fields.”

More networking sessions….

A highlight of the MEL and MHLP experience is the professional development sessions that invite industry leaders to discuss current issues in their sector. Open to all students, these sessions provide valuable opportunities for students to network with top professionals and other students, as well as access new knowledge and insights. During the spring 2020 semester, the MEL and MHLP teams quickly transitioned these sessions to an online environment – with an unexpected benefit. 

Chris McKinnon, former Employer Relations and Career Manager for the MEL and MHLP programs, says this online shift has brought about a significant increase in the number of industry speaker sessions, from one every few weeks to multiple sessions each week. As he says, it’s simply more convenient for industry leaders to attend sessions virtually. Whether in-person or by Zoom, the questions and discussions prompted by the sessions are dynamic and engaging.

…and more virtual networking skills development sessions too

Throughout the year, McKinnon organizes professional development workshops for students on topics that range from leveraging the power of LinkedIn to putting yourself in the best light in an interview. These sessions continue to be offered online, and while they cover the same content, there’s a new focus on finetuning these skills for the online world.

He’s also added two new workshops. The first brought in a local HR consultant to explore how to lead and contribute to online teams more effectively, and an upcoming session will focus on how to give and receive feedback online.

Succeeding in online working environments

The MEL and MHLP programs train students to be innovators in their fields. “Given that much of our post-pandemic life will be geographically dispersed teams working together, students need to understand how to contribute to and lead virtual teams,” says Vikram Yadav, director of the MEL in Sustainable Process Engineering. “Highly virtualized work environments are very common in lean start-ups. Many successful practices from that sector of the economy are now being applied in traditional employment. MEL and MHLP students and faculty have been provided with a sandbox where they can test team-building ideas. We are partners in this unique educational experience and we are working with one another to understand the future of employment – an experiment that is evolving by the day.”

Students gain these skills through explicit instruction and, most importantly, through practice. Group projects are required in most classes, and students quickly develop the skills to be strong group members and leaders in online teams. They learn how to contribute to online discussions, whether they are being held synchronously or asynchronously, as well as how to manage group dynamics without the benefit of physical cues.

Looking to the future, it’s likely that we will see a combination of online and physical learning and working environments. Graduates of the MEL and MHLP programs will gain the skills needed to succeed in both realms and well positioned to take on greater levels of responsibility and advance their careers.