A new type of graduate will be crossing the UCalgary stage on June 2, 2023. The Haskayne School of Business will recognize its first graduating cohort of the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program. This is a significant milestone both for Haskayne and for the first graduates: Mark Ward, Kanwal Bokhari, Lance Mortlock and Phil Davidson.
“We are so proud to award doctorates to these four outstanding executive leaders and scholars,” says Haskayne Dean Jim Dewald. “The DBA is an opportunity to explore deeper and to create and engage new knowledge for the advancement of business practice — these four graduates are making an impact.”
Since launching in 2019, Haskayne’s DBA program has reached a total enrolment of 40 students, with a new cohort set to start in January 2024. While the DBA is offered widely in Europe, Haskayne's is one of the first in Canada. The DBA degree is designed to provide students with the research, analytical and critical-thinking skills, bridging the gap between academic research and theory and management practice.
Mark Ward is the very first Haskayne DBA graduate. “While lots of mistakes were made being first, it is a title they can’t ever take away from me,” jokes Ward. He also extends a family legacy of ‘firsts’ — in 1946, his grandfather was one of the first in Australia to receive a Doctor of Science.
Within his DBA studies, Ward explored how businesses can reliably identify new sources of competitive advantage — essentially helping to map out where businesses should be going rather than continuing with where they have been.
“Creating new knowledge requires a different type of skill set, and you need to be prepared to invest the time to build a new set of cognitive structures,” says Ward. “The journey can be frustrating but making the breakthrough delivers a tremendous sense of accomplishment.”
Since graduating, Ward has secured roles as an assistant professor with the University of Lethbridge and an adjunct associate professor with the Haskayne School of Business.
With a career in investment banking and private equity and a Haskayne MBA to her name, Kanwal Bokhari knew she would return to school to delve deeper into research. Three years after completing her MBA, she jumped at the chance to enrol in Haskayne’s first DBA cohort.
During her DBA, Bokhari learned how to frame problems from different perspectives to conduct impactful research. Within her thesis she examined mixed signals in entrepreneurship and how they influence the decisions of venture capitalists.
“My DBA has completely transformed my career trajectory,” says Bokhari. “I am now a faculty member at Haskayne, where I get the privilege to share what I have learned with students.”
Applying the skills learned in the program, Bokhari was able to secure a role as an assistant professor (teaching) within the Finance area at the Haskayne School of Business.
As a lifelong learner, Lance Mortlock found the opportunity to receive his doctorate exciting. In some ways, the DBA was a natural progression for Mortlock, who had spent the previous eight years as a research fellow and adjunct associate professor at Haskayne.
“What I found most exciting was the opportunity to challenge my assumptions, sharpen my problem-solving skills and bring more rigour to the client-focused work I do in my role with EY,” says Mortlock. “I'm always looking for ways to be a better strategic adviser and management consultant.”
The biggest takeaway from the program for Mortlock was the need for better teaming between academia and business. He sees this advance as essential in increasing business performance in an increasingly complex world.
Mortlock is continuing in his role at EY Canada as managing partner energy and resources.
Phil Davidson has chosen Haskayne three times. The first time was at 19 for his undergraduate degree when he needed a location close to his central Alberta home base, and a program that was affordable. Then when exploring options for his Executive MBA, he had two friends ask him ‘Where do you want to live?’ and although he had lived in four other locations around the world, he was drawn back to Calgary.
The third choice was to join Haskayne’s inaugural DBA cohort.
“Having committed to a new career in academics, I followed the advice of a good friend of mine who told me to ensure I ‘joined the game with a full deck of cards,’” says Davidson. “Therefore, I chose to do the DBA to get a deeper understanding of the research side of Haskayne and to build credibility as a university faculty member.”
Davidson is continuing in his role as an assistant professor (teaching) in the strategy and global management area with the Haskayne School of Business.
“These graduates are a new type of scholar on the Canadian landscape — they have extensive background in business and now they are trained in the rigour of academic research,” says Dr. Oleks Osiyevskyy, PhD, associate dean, professional graduate programs.
“Congratulations on this tremendous culmination of four years of hard work. We look forward to seeing your impact on business practice.”
Learn more about the Haskayne DBA.