2009Nov 9

SPAD a special place

Norm O’Reilly, Former SPAD Director & Associate Director, ISM

Although it has only been a couple of months since I took leave from SPAD and embarked on an adventure that has me spending this year split between the David Falk Center for Sport Management at Syracuse University and the Accounting department at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University, it was with great please that I accepted the offer to write a piece for the SPAD newsletter.

Like many of our past graduates who embark on world class careers far from Sudbury, I am equally as fortunate to benefit from the incredible experiences, network and learning that my time at SPAD has provided me.  I think of our dozens, no strike that, hundreds of successful graduates who have achieved success at all points of the globe.  I think of SPAD’s founding Director (not to mention the ISM founder), Dr. Bob Wanzel, who through sabbaticals and leaves was able to ‘spread’ the SPAD brand internationally.  I think of a recent consulting project I was on, where – at one point – I was on a conference call and realized that ALL of us had either been SPAD students or SPAD profs…and hadn’t even realized it!  I think of my many former students who still reach out to me and provide opportunities to me even though I’m not longer officially at SPAD.

So, why and how is this possible? How can a small school with very meager resources pull this off?  How can such a program be in a small, out-of-the-way city that has neither a professional sport team nor an Olympic sport presence?  How can it continue to be the top program in Canada?  It is quite simple, actually.  Great people, innovation, vision, and hard work.  Smart, motivated, confident and ambitious people come from all over as students and become successful alumni.  The vision that was way ahead of its time more than 35 years ago, has been seen in the many highly engaged professors who have come through and taken more of an interest than just teaching and publishing – Wanzel, Lefroy, Zorbus, Seguin, Pickard, Zinger, and more in the past – and the current team of Pegoraro, Church, Xing and Harrington.  Think of top professionals who have come to talk to students and some senior executives like Mark Harrison and Dave Bedford who have even – against the wishes of their companies I’m sure – travelled up weekly to teach a full course.

I can tell you, that this is not what it is like everywhere.  SPAD is a very special place and a unique one.  A family.  One to cherish and stay involved with no matter where you go.

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