Business students gain international opportunities

Earlier this year, Patrick Wojcik was one of the first Mount Royal University students to receive funding from the William H. McGannon Foundation to present at an elite international conference, but he won't be the last.

The foundation has made a five-year commitment of $10,000 to sponsor the undergraduate research program run by Bissett School of Business Associate Professor, Kalinga Jagoda, PhD.

Since Jagoda established the research program in 2008, it has grown from three students to this year's roster of 16. Once in the program, students write a paper and then submit it to journals and to top-tier conferences. If their paper gets accepted, the students are often given the opportunity to present their work at international conferences.

While these international conferences provide Jagoda's students with outstanding opportunities - they are often the only undergraduate students among PhD students and professors - the expense involved has been a true challenge.

"In some years, students have had to spend their own money because we could not fund their trip," Jagoda says. "This new funding from the McGannon Foundation gives us a guarantee that we have some money in our pocket to send one or two or three students to these conferences, if we manage carefully."

Partnerships Council Members Mark Roberton, director with the McGannon Foundation; Cassandra Bianchini, Mount Royal student; Patrick Wojcik, Mount Royal student; Joe Restoule, President and Director of the McGannon Foundation; and Kalinga Jagoda, Associate Professor, Bissett School of Business

The sponsorship grew out of a discussion when Jagoda attended a meeting of the Partnership Councils for the Bissett School's Financial Services, Supply Chain Management, and Insurance and Risk Management programs. These councils bring together industry leaders to act as advisors to each program.

"I explained our successful research projects and I asked for two things," Jagoda remembers. "One was for access to their companies, because we look for new research ideas to come up with solutions managers can use in their everyday jobs. Then I asked whether we could get some funding for the research program."

One member of the Partnership Councils is Mark Roberton, who is both the director of Risk Management and Insurance for Nexen Inc., and a director with the McGannon Foundation.

He was quick to see that Jagoda's undergraduate research program aligns with one of the Foundation's cornerstone objectives: to support original research on risk management and insurance topics.

MRU student Patrick Wojcik

Established in 1999, the Foundation supports risk management education through research, mentorship programs and work experience programs. Through its new sponsorship of Jagoda's research program at Mount Royal, the Foundation is helping to identify topics for future research projects; participating in student mentorship; arranging for students to present to local charters of the Canadian Risk and Insurance Management Society; and funding students presenting at Risk Management conferences.

Students like Patrick Wojcik, who received funding to present at the Production Operation Management Society conference in Denver, Colorado.

Wojcik's paper was on risk management and corporate sustainability in the Canadian oil and gas industry. He says the experience of presenting was intimidating, but a worthwhile challenge.

"When I signed up with (Jagoda), he told me that I may be presenting at international conferences in front of graduate students and professors," Wojcik says, adding that the research program honed his analytical skills and ability to work with large amounts of data in a short period of time.

Wojcik has just completed his Bachelor of Business Administration - General Management with a minor in Marketing, and thanks to the people he met through the McGannon Foundation's sponsorship, he says he has begun establishing a network within the oil and gas industry.

And, thanks to the experience of working with Jogoda, Wojcik has also set himself a new goal.

"I'd like to gain experience in the oil and gas sector and eventually obtain my master's degree in a field relevant to the industry, such as risk management," Wojcik says. "If I can use my research in my daily work, then that's my dream come true."

Nancy Cope - Oct. 24, 2013