Outside the Classroom

Outside the Classroom

Our Ambrose business program vision is “to provide high quality, business learning experiences that equip students, organizations, and communities with values-based knowledge, meaningful connections, and community engagement opportunities that lead to: collaborative inquiry; innovative and sustainable solutions; and transformative social impact”. As we seek to carry out this vision, we seek opportunities to directly engage our classes with the businesses in the community. Guest speakers are a regular event in Ambrose business but we also like to get our students learning outside the classroom.

Engineered systems, pumps, and compressors for the mining, oil and gas, and municipal sectors – not your typical conversation topics in an advanced strategy class. This is what students learned about on-site in south Calgary at Chamco Industries in the 2018/19 advanced business strategy class with Angie Redecopp. COO, Juanita Allan, presented to us on their challenges and evolving strategy in response to the slumping oil and gas market, took us on a tour, and answered our many questions. “Students are our future and I believe it is important to cultivate their imagination while they are in school and expose them to the vast diversity of business opportunities that exist. Getting students out of the classroom and into various business environments allows them to dream bigger dreams for the future,” says Juanita.

 Juanita has been with the company for over 17 years and has an intimate knowledge of her industry and the upstream and downstream industries that Chamco interfaces with. Says Angie, “she was able to talk about and show us internal strengths and weaknesses, external opportunities and threats, and Chamco’s responsive strategies in a way that I cannot fully do justice to in the classroom. Of particular interest to me given our program focus on responsible business, was the environmental value that Chamco adds as a service provider in the extractives industries”.  Student Jose Ponce offers that "getting out of the classroom to visit Chamco was a great experience. As a student, reading chapters from textbooks and having class discussions can be valuable information, but sometimes it can be easily forgotten as you move on to other courses. This was not the case for Advanced Strategy. Being able to see concepts from class in an organizational setting added further value to my learning experience. It enabled me to expand my thinking, and connect strategy to topics discussed in other business classes." 

In 2018, Tim Vanderpyl taught the Marketing Communications & Social Media class. For the final project, groups of students partnered with one of eight organizations. They met with the executives at these organizations and then performed a review of their competitor’s social media feeds. They then proposed a plan for those organizations to bolster their own social media. One CEO told Tim that the students delivered better results than a marketing company she hired the previous year. Two Ambrose students were hired by the companies after the class, as their CEOs were so impressed with the work they did. The students learned a lot and really appreciated the real-world experience they gained. Tim will use a similar project the next time he teaches this class in January 2020.

Angie Redecopp also teaches in the interdisciplinary community development minor and her students are directly connecting to non-profits of their choice in the international development class. In 2019 they completed assignments based on interviews with their organizations, and they wrote research papers on a topic of interest to their organizations and presented these to the organizations at the end of the term. 2019 organizations included Samaritan's Purse, Amnesty International, International Justice Mission, Place of Rescue, and Hope in the Dark.

Academic theory is very important, but we can bring this to life through learning about real-time business problems and solutions – on our quest to move our students in the direction of collaborative inquiry, innovative & sustainable solutions, and transformative social impact.

Co-authored by Angie Redecopp & Tim Vanderpyl

business class