News & Events

Spotlight: Program Series with Dr. Tamara Etmannski – In Conversation

February 19, 2019
UBC MEL and MHLP Program Spotlight Series Tamara

In conversation with Former Academic Director Dr. Tamara Etmannski

Dr. Tamara Etmannski, former Academic Director of UBC’s MEL and MHLP Professional Master Degrees

In 2019, UBC’s MEL and MHLP Professional Master Degrees welcomed its fourth cohort of students. We asked former Academic Director Dr. Tamara Etmannski for her thoughts on how the program has evolved and how it is continuing to meet the needs of students and employers.

What have you learned over the last four years?

Our initial concept – that there was a pressing need for a program that brought together technical knowledge and leadership and business skills – has been validated year after year.

We know this from our colleagues in industry and from our alumni who have gone on to advance their careers after graduating with a Master of Engineering Leadership (MEL) or Master of Health Leadership and Policy (MHLP) degree. We recognized a need, and we got it right in the initial vision and design of our programs.

Tell us about some of the changes you’ve made to the MEL and MHLP.

The macro vision for the program has stayed the same. Having said that, we’ve made micro changes to make sure we’re continuing to meet the needs of students and their eventual employers. For example, we added a class on strategy and change management because our students are eager to explore those big picture issues. On the curriculum side, we are constantly looking at the sequence and content of our classes.

We want to ensure our students are learning what they need to know to take on leading positions in industry, and we are adjusting as needed.

We’ve offered students more flexibility in some programs so they can take electives based on their interests and career trajectory. Finally, we’ve also been trying to schedule the courses in blocks to open up a few half-days or full days where students are not required to be on campus.

Any observations you want to share about the students?

We’ve been thrilled to see how involved our students are outside of their program of studies. They are taking on – and succeeding at – so many side projects. Students have formed groups and entered the UBC launchpad to develop products and e@UBC to advance an entrepreneurial idea – and some students are now employed full-time in the start-ups they initiated through these ventures.

In 2017 alone, 11 of our students were chosen for the highly competitive UBC Sustainability Scholars Program, a paid internship where students partner with organizations to advance sustainability initiatives. Our students have participated alongside MBA students – and won – in the MBA business case competition. Two of our students in 2017 won a bursary to attend an annual conference for the BC Care Providers Association to foster innovation in health care.

There are so many more examples, but what they all show is our students’ passion for getting involved and making the most of their time at UBC.

Anything you’re particularly proud of?

We were one of the first professional programs at UBC, creating an innovative path in education for professionals who have already established a career.

Thanks to the hard work of so many people, our program has seen continual growth, and in just four years we have almost as many students as UBC’s MBA program.

Our industry partners and colleagues tell us they are looking for graduates with a high-level understanding of their industry or field combined with excellent communication skills. They want professionals who can communicate across disciplines and across the value chain of their industry. Our graduates are doing that – and so much more.

Learn more about how the MEL or MHLP can help you lead change in your industry, giving you the technical knowledge, foundational business skills and leadership confidence to excel in your career. UBC also offers the MEL in sector-specific programs, including Clean Energy Engineering, Dependable Software Systems, High Performance Buildings, Integrated Water Management, Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, Sustainable Process Engineering and Urban SystemsThe MHLP is offered in sector-specific programs, including Clinical Education and Seniors Care. 

Featured Faculty and Staff


"Being part of a larger cohort is an excellent opportunity for students to build their professional network with people from different backgrounds and industries. "

Read More