Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

Learn how Queen's is planning for our safe return to campus.

Business

Recent Queen's graduate earns Rhodes Scholarship

Jane Hutchings has been selected for a prestigious scholarship to pursue postgraduate education at the University of Oxford.

Photograph of Jane Hutchings
Jane Hutchings graduated with a B.Comm (Honours) from Queen's in 2021 and will focus on diplomatic studies and financial economics as a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford. (Supplied photo)

Queen’s University graduate Jane Hutchings has been selected as a 2022 Rhodes Scholar, earning a prestigious scholarship to the University of Oxford worth more than $100,000. She has been chosen as the recipient for Newfoundland and Labrador.

Hutchings graduated from Queen’s in 2021 with a B.Comm (Honours) and has also earned a Graduate Diploma in Accounting from the Smith School of Business. This selection brings Queen’s overall Rhodes Scholar total to 61.

“On behalf of the Queen’s community, I congratulate Jane on this tremendous achievement,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane. “Jane’s academic accomplishments, student leadership, and extensive record of community service are truly inspiring, and her experience as a Rhodes Scholar will undoubtedly help her achieve her ambitions of making a meaningful impact on communities in Canada and around the world.”

During her time at Queen’s, Hutchings took on a variety of leadership roles and coordinated community service opportunities both at home and abroad. She was especially active with the Commerce Society, where she served as an Outreach Officer and Advisory Board Audit Director among other roles. As the co-chair of the Queen’s Commerce Service Initiative, she organized service trips to Costa Rica and Guatemala for 24 students, giving them opportunities to engage in community growth and economic development projects.

“It was always my dream to study at Oxford, so when I received the phone call I was lost for words,” says Hutchings. “I cannot wait to embark on my studies, meet fellow students and professors and take in the beautiful architecture and history of Oxford. I will pursue a MSt in Diplomatic Studies and a MSc in Financial Economics, focusing on rural development, sustainability, and economic resilience in my home province of Newfoundland and Labrador."

This research will build on her experience studying Tilting, NL as a Mitacs Research Fellow. Through a partnership with Mitacs and the Community Revitalization Research Program at the Smith School of Business, Hutchings researched community involvement and cultural custodianship in the Newfoundland community on Fogo Island, off the northeast coast of the province.

Hutchings was recognized with a number of awards throughout her time at Queen’s, including a Commerce 1986 Award in Memory of Jeffrey Brock and a D.I. McLeod Dean’s List with Distinction Scholarship. She also earned a D&R Sobey Atlantic Scholarship, which is awarded to outstanding high school students from Atlantic Canada to attend the undergraduate Commerce program at the Smith School of Business.

“As a D&R Sobey Atlantic Scholar, I would like to send a special thank you to Rob and the late Donald Sobey for their generous support and guidance over the past four years,” says Hutchings. “I would also like to send a huge thank you to the Queen's Community and Smith School of Business, especially the professors who helped me during the Rhodes Scholarship process, namely Dr. Tina Dacin, Dr. Kate Rowbotham, Dr. Louis Gagnon, Professor David McConomy, Lori Garnier, and Dr. Paul Calluzzo.”

Following her time at Oxford, Hutchings intends to pursue her career goals of working as an economic diplomat and an elected official.

Funded by the Rhodes Trusts, 11 Rhodes Scholars are selected each year from across Canada. These outstanding students demonstrate a strong propensity to emerge as “leaders for the world’s future.”

The scholarships to the University of Oxford are for postgraduate studies or a second bachelor’s degree and cover tuition and fees and provide a stipend to help cover living expenses for two to three years of study.

Learn more about Rhodes Scholarships.

Key takeaways from COP26

Sustainable Finance expert Ryan Riordan shares his thoughts after attending the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference 

COP26
UN Climate Change Conference. (Photo by Simon Martin)

The UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), held in Glasgow, Scotland, wrapped up last week, with some global agreements on reducing methane, stopping deforestation, and ending public financing for the fossil fuel sector. This year’s conference was seen as an opportunity to accelerate action on the goals agreed to at the 2015 Paris Agreement, including limiting the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius.

Ryan Riordan (Smith School of Business) reflects on the week he spent at the conference, which brought together over 25,000 participants, including world leaders, negotiators, and research experts to discuss how to reduce emissions and limit the rising temperature. For years, environmental scientists have warned of the severe consequences of rising global temperature — including flooding, wildfires, and crop failure.

Photo of Ryan Riordan
Ryan Riordan, Director of Research at the Institute for Sustainable Finance

Dr. Riordan, Director of Research at the Institute for Sustainable Finance (ISF) at the Smith School of Business, Queen’s University, attended the conference as head of the ISF delegation. The ISF is a collaborative hub that aims to align mainstream financial markets with Canada’s transition to a sustainable economy — which includes environmental sustainability, social sustainability, and economic prosperity. The ISF sent three delegates to COP26, after receiving accreditation earlier this year as a non-governmental organization to attend the conference.

Dr. Riordan shares his key takeaways from attending COP26.

  1. It is important that these meetings take place in-person.

“It was interesting to see the real business of translating UN rules into actual decisions and how all of the countries interact. That’s when it became clear to me that these meetings are super important. Doing that via Zoom isn’t feasible. If we want to get all of the countries together collectively, we have to do it all together in a room,” says Dr. Riordan, after attending translating technical requirements into financial capacity.

He also notes that the world’s focus and media attention on the conference puts a collective pressure and attention on governments.

“There is no other way to make meaningful progress without getting together,” says Dr. Riordan.

  1. The commitment to reduce methane was a win.

“It was almost half a day of focus on methane and how potent it is as a greenhouse gas, and how we need to tackle that. It was important progress that also probably wouldn’t have been made if we didn’t have a bunch of experts together at COP26 to make progress on that one topic,” says Dr. Riordan.

The Global Methane Pledge, signed by 105 countries including Canada, was one of the agreements that came out of COP26. Those who signed the pledge committed to reducing their overall methane emissions by 30 per cent by 2030, compared with 2020 levels.

“This was important because until now, methane has been excluded from the greenhouse gas emissions from the 2015 Paris Agreement.”

  1. The agreement to stop deforestation and start reforestation by 2030 was important.

“Stopping deforestation is an easy way to lower emissions, reduce the CO2 in the atmosphere and promote biodiversity,” says Dr. Riordan. “The commitment to stop deforestation by 2030 and start reforestation as of 2030 was important. It was a commitment by countries that currently have over 85 per cent of the forest cover.”

  1. There is more work that needs to be done on carbon taxes and the global carbon market.

“Wealthy countries need to take seriously the ability of carbon markets to reduce global emissions,” says Dr. Riordan.

The disagreements over components of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which would allow countries that exceed their emissions-reduction targets to sell credits to countries that are struggling to meet theirs, means this has not yet come into effect.

“In terms of Article 6,” says Dr. Riordan, “it doesn’t seem like we’re making progress.”

  1. The commitment to help developing countries tackle climate change needs to be met.

“I’m hoping we get the $100 billion a year for developing countries to help them tackle climate change,” says Dr. Riordan.

At the COP15 in 2009, there was a commitment from developed countries to deliver US$100 billion a year in support by 2020 to developing countries. A report prepared ahead of the COP26 finds that this goal was not met.

“These are countries that have arguably done the least to contribute to climate change and are being affected at least the same, but likely disproportionately more,” says Dr. Riordan. “Getting funding to them for mitigation and adaptation is super important.”

Sign of COP26
COP26 sign at the UN Climate Change Conference. (Photo by Simon Martin)

Coming out of COP26, Dr. Riordan says that in terms of sustainable finance what he would like to see is more funds being devoted directly to transition projects. This means more loans or investments in technologies and firms that are actually going to reduce CO2 emissions and not just commitments to do this in the future. He is optimistic that this will happen as it will be difficult for financial institutions to arrive at COP27 next year and make the same promises without delivering on promises from this year.

“The whole conference is about promises, so the question is really if they are actionable promises or clear commitments. I’d say quite a few of them were — deforestation and methane were certainly clear promises that will hopefully be turned into actions when the individual leaders return to their countries,” says Dr. Riordan. “Now the world will be watching to see if these promises result in tangible action.”

Presentation at COP26
Presentation at COP26. (Photo by Simon Martin)

 

Celebrating fall 2021 graduates

Queen’s is recognizing the accomplishments and perseverance of this fall’s graduating students.

Graduation is the culmination of the months and years of effort Queen’s students put into completing their programs, and the tricolour community is celebrating the more than 2,000 students who are reaching this milestone this fall. While in-person convocation ceremonies have been postponed due to COVID-19, Queen’s is congratulating graduates with a video message that also recognizes their perseverance throughout the pandemic.

“If you’re graduating this year, a good portion of your program has been spent under circumstances that have been truly unprecedented,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane in the video. “Your graduating is a tribute to your determination, your creativity, your hard work, and your flexibility. You have both my admiration and warmest congratulations.”

When it is safe to do so, Queen’s plans to resume in-person convocation ceremonies and intends to invite graduates from the Class of 2020 and Class of 2021 back to campus to mark their graduation.

“It’s regrettable that we cannot gather together in person this fall to celebrate your hard-earned degree, your diploma, or your certificate. However, I’m pleased to have this opportunity to offer my sincere congratulations as you officially complete your studies,” says Chancellor Murray Sinclair in the graduation video. “I do hope that before too long we will all be able to mark this important achievement together as a community.”

The university officially conferred degrees for fall graduates on November 1, and it is preparing diploma packages to send by mail in the coming weeks. A full list of graduating students has been shared online by the Office of the University Registrar. Some faculties and schools are also recognizing their graduates through a virtual event or other online methods in the near term.

“I truly hope that you have enjoyed your time at Queen’s and trust that you are taking away with you some wonderful memories and friends who will be with you for the remainder of your lives,” says Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill), Associate Vice-Principal (Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation) in her remarks for the video. “My hope is that going forward you will feel confident in your future as you lead the way to positive change for generations to come.”

For more information fall 2021 graduation, visit the Office of the University Registrar website.

New Smith School of Business partnership provides Indigenous business training

A new partnership between the Centre for Business Venturing (CBV) at Smith School of Business and Spalyan Education Group is bringing business, entrepreneurship and management training to six Indigenous communities in British Columbia.

The three new programs will provide specialized training in business applications, proposal writing and Indigenous leadership to approximately 30 members of the Xeni Gwet’in First Nations Government, Yunetsit’in Government, Tsi Del Del First Nation, ʔEsdilagh First Nation, Tl’etinqox Government and the Tl’esqox First Nation. Participants in the programs will earn Certificates of Completion.

JP Shearer, partnership lead for Smith and associate director of the CBV, is thrilled about what the new programs will provide to learners.

“Providing every person with the opportunity to learn and develop is really what matters most, and we are excited to bring six communities together for a collaborative, immersive experience,” he says.

The programs builds on the success of a pilot program delivered through the CBV in September 2020 in partnership with Red Bird Circle Inc. and the Xeni Gwet’in community. A $70,000 grant from the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training in B.C. allowed 32 members to participate in that three-month program and earn a Certificate of Completion in Business and Administration Management.

During the course of the program, three new businesses were founded in the community and 96 per cent of participants in that pilot program said they felt more prepared for the workforce upon its completion. Ninety per cent also indicated they were interested in furthering their education.

For June Lulua, founder of Spalyan Education Group, that pilot program proved Smith’s commitment to providing entrepreneurship and business education to Indigenous communities across Canada, and gave her the confidence to pursue a partnership.

“After (the pilot program) was complete, I knew that (Smith) was progressive and flexible in terms of program creation and delivery,” says Lulua, who notes that the usual top-down education model, which often concludes with an exam or similar form of testing can be a barrier to success for Indigenous people.

At Spalyan, Lulua works with educational institutions to provide a rich and diverse learning environment and deliver culturally safe training and education to students from Indigenous communities.

With an increase in grant funding from the ministry, Spalyan and the CBV have co-designed the current sessions, which began in September.

“With Spalyan, we have been able to achieve this by blending our teaching with First Nations' traditions and cultures to deliver innovative business education. It is truly an exciting time for CBV at Smith,” says Shearer.

Lulua is particularly excited about the Certificate of Completion in Indigenous Leadership program, which will see students exploring topics like colonialization and Tsilhqot’in resistance, the Indian Act and Tsilhqot’in Governance, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Units will be taught by Indigenous leaders as well as by Indigenous allies and mentors.

Making a local impact

Queen’s students consult with regional leaders and research best practices to help the Town of Gananoque develop an actionable plan to help fight climate change.

Aerial photograph of the Town of Gananoque
The Town of Gananoque is located just outside Kingston on the St. Lawrence River. (Adobe Stock)

Climate change is a global problem, but communities around the world are looking to contribute to the solution by making local changes. When the Town of Gananoque decided to create a sustainability plan, they turned for help to a team of Queen’s students in Smith Business Consulting (SBC), a student-run management consulting firm that partners with businesses, start-ups, non-profits, and government to provide high-impact, cost-effective advice.

Julian Burger, Engineering ’21, and Christian Filippini, Commerce ’22, took part in the SBC program this past summer, and they took on the challenge of developing an Environmental and Energy Action Plan for the town, located just outside of Kingston on the St. Lawrence River.

The students researched municipal climate planning in Canada, developed a situational analysis of Gananoque, and presented their final plan to Gananoque in August.

“Julian and Christian provided an energy plan that ranged from concepts that were easy to implement to long range concepts that the Town of Gananoque needs to plan for,” says Gananoque Mayor Ted Lojko. “They researched what other municipalities had included in their energy and environment impact plans, undertook outreach into the community, and provided a thorough plan that clearly addressed the energy and environment impacts of various sectors.”

Using utilities data provided by the town, Burger and Filippini developed an emissions inventory for Gananoque. The town can use this baseline going forward to set climate goals and measure the impact of their carbon reduction strategies. The students also provided actionable first steps, such as identifying local buildings that could be made more environmentally friendly with strategic retrofitting.

The Environmental and Energy Action Plan charts a path for Gananoque to meet the criteria to join Partners for Climate Protection (PCP), a national network of more than 400 municipalities working to reduce emissions. Joining PCP would commit the town to completing a five-step process within 10 years that would result in a 20 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. The plan also identifies funding opportunities Gananoque could pursue to finance sustainability projects.

“Working on the Environmental and Energy Action Plan gave me an opportunity to make a localized and tangible impact on one of the most pressing problems facing our planet today,” says Filippini. “It was a capstone component in my educational experience as it gave me a chance to apply both financial and environmental theories that I’ve learned in my courses. As well as an opportunity to develop real-world consultancy and business skills in a way that no traditional classroom could replicate. It will be rewarding to see Gananoque implement some of our recommendations going forward.”

This work with Gananoque is only the latest project that SBC has undertaken for nearby municipalities. Recently, SBC has also completed a report on affordable housing for Prince Edward County as well as a review of public transportation for Gananoque, among other projects.

“Our students have become trusted advisers and partners for eastern Ontario communities,” says Charlie Mignault, Director of SBC and Adjunct Professor at the Smith School of Business who supervised the students. “The SBC program selects projects based on our students’ interests. This work integrated learning platform provides a challenging performance environment where students are highly motivated and create real value for our clients. In the end, clients move their objectives forward and our students benefit from solving real-world business challenges while developing contemporary workforce skills and capabilities.”

Learn more about Smith Business Consulting on the Smith School of Business website.

Harnessing the digital transformation

Engage with faculty and graduate researchers on the multi-disciplinary impact of digital technologies during the virtual Queen’s Digitalization Research Conference.

[Photo of an art installation by fabio courtesy of Unsplash]

In recent years, digital technologies have come to play a progressively integral role in nearly all interactions in our day-to-day lives, from business to politics, health, education, culture, and society. The take-over of Zoom, for instance, in our shift from in-person to remote work and school, provides an excellent example of just how influential digital technologies can become in shaping our lives.

Spanning a wide variety of sectors, technology-enabled transformation is a phenomenon that has produced research across a similarly diverse set of disciplines here at Queen’s.

In order to create a space for faculty and graduate students to connect and present their research on digitalization in our society, the Queen’s University Digital Transformation Research Group has organized its first annual Digitalization Research Conference, on Friday, Oct. 22. The virtual conference aims to bring together researchers from across disciplines to facilitate collaboration and knowledge exchange amongst students and faculty. The long-term goal is to build upon this collaboration as an important step towards making Queen’s a thought-leader in Canada on digitalization.

The conference is supported by two faculty sponsors: Kathryn Brohman (Smith School of Business), Distinguished Faculty Fellow of Digital Technology, and Martin Hand (Sociology).Queen’s PhD students Patrick Egbunonu (Smith School of Business) and Spencer Huesken (Sociology) are the conference co-chairs.

“The conference will not only translate into future research productivity, but it will also identify cross-disciplinary opportunities for future programs and make Queen’s the ‘go to’ place for policymakers and media,” says Dr. Brohman.

The conference will touch on the themes of technology’s impact on power dynamics, digitalization of work, industry and practice, and social implications of digitalization, data, and information. It also features a presentation by keynote speaker Jan Recker who holds the position of Nucleus Professor for Information Systems and Digital Innovation in the Hamburg Business School at the University of Hamburg. By exploring the intersection of people, technology and organizations, Recker’s work tries to understand how technology design and process thinking can help solve complex problems.

Following the presentations, participants are welcome to join the Digital@Queen’s Hangout, which is meant to provide graduate students with an opportunity to connect socially and share ideas in a more informal forum.

Dr. Brohman stresses the importance of fostering a space for inter-disciplinary collaboration.

“Students and faculty across disciplines are doing amazing work in digitalization and we hope that by starting a conversation, Queen’s will identify ways to make their work more impactful.”  By designating the conference as “pan-Queen’s”, conference leaders are taking a ‘bottom up’ approach to motivating high quality and high impact research as opposed to ‘top-down’ efforts that try to get cross-disciplinary faculty to collaborate.”

The Friday, Oct. 22 event is free and open to the public with registration and full schedule available on Eventbrite. You can find more information about the conference on their website and you can follow them on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter for updates and highlights.

Canada must change gears, move faster on sustainable finance, concludes expert report

Expert-driven assessment comes as sustainable finance becomes increasingly essential to Canada’s global competitiveness.

The Institute of Sustainable Finance launched a new report Thursday assessing Canada’s progress to scale sustainable finance and bolster Canadian competitiveness. The report, Changing Gears: Sustainable Finance Progress in Canada, uses the Expert Panel on Sustainable Finance’s 2019 recommendations as its starting point, and reveals that while progress has been made against the recommendations, Canada needs to move faster in aligning financial systems with a global low-carbon transition.

In his foreword to the report, Andy Chisholm, member of the Expert Panel and RBC Board Director, notes: “The central message from this ISF report is that we can and must do better; time is of the essence and Canada needs to up its game in its efforts to develop a competitive and sustainable economy, which supports an inclusive and successful transition to net-zero. This analysis is not a surprise, but it is another wake up call to the public and private sectors that timely implementation is critical.”   

The report’s conclusion is informed by interviews with 35 leading Canadian experts in sustainable finance, including the Governor of the Bank of Canada, leaders from the “Big Five” Canadian banks, representatives from Canada’s largest insurance companies and pension funds, global market experts and investors. They note Canada is being outpaced globally – and its overly cautious approach has left the country in a “catch up” position. Meanwhile, public and private sector initiatives elsewhere continue to set the tone and direction for the sustainable finance policies and practices that are reshaping the global economic landscape. 

“As the world rushes ahead, our public and private sector must shift into a higher gear,” says Sean Cleary, Chair of ISF and the report’s co-author. “By taking decisive action now, we can propel the Canadian-specific solutions that our industries need to thrive over the next three decades.”

According to the report’s findings, the next step is catching up fast on the table stakes – policy certainty and decision-useful information – which includes mandating disclosures and clarifying the scope of fiduciary duty in law and practice. This point is underlined by Margaret Childe, Head of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) for Manulife Investment Management, who notes in the report: “Wh(at still remains a challenge (for asset managers and investors) is the lack of clarity around what are the duties around the consideration of ESG factors in the investment process. Particularly on the asset owner side - pensions are looking for clarification.”

Simultaneously, the report underlines the importance of getting more investment flowing towards clean innovation in Canadian sectors, which will require cooperation between the public sector, private sector, and financial system.

“Our interviews reveal that from capitalizing on hydrogen and mineral-to-battery supply chain opportunities, to electrification, building retrofits, and building climate smart infrastructure – we know where money needs to flow to build the resilient economy and industries Canadian competitiveness depends on,” says Sara Alvarado, Executive Director for ISF.

The report also highlights Canada can step in and be the responsible supplier of choice for minerals. Andrew Hall, Director of Sustainable Finance for TMX Group, notes, “As a resource-based economy, Canada has a unique opportunity to be a major producer of low-carbon commodities and minerals contributing to a net-zero economy.”

The report outlines seven themes:

1. Accelerated action and execution is needed. Canada must catch up to Europe and the UK. The private financial sector is now moving faster than the government and regulators in Canada.

2. Our financial ecosystem needs to embrace change. There is strong support for Canada’s investment industry and financial institutions to shift their attitudes and behaviours.

3. Canadian-specific solutions are required. This includes sector-specific decarbonization pathways and transition scenarios that are supported by research within a Canadian context.

4. Sustainable finance must include more than climate. In the context of COVID-19 and Canada’s reckoning with the urgency of truth and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, there is a need for a broader, more inclusive, and socially concerned sustainable finance conversation.

5. Canada’s net-zero transition requires a more unified approach and narrative. This means a more centralized voice and perspective for the country on sustainable finance and the net-zero transition, as well as strengthened communication.

6. While climate mitigation is critical, we need a greater focus on adaptation and resiliency. Climate resilience and adaptation have continued to be priorities as climate change impacts become more apparent.

7. Clean Innovation and other opportunities need more support. The importance of capitalizing on cleantech opportunities, as well as our lack of progress to date in doing so, is of utmost concern.

Visit the Institute for Sustainable Finance’s website to read the report, as well as review all past research projects. 

___________________________________

About the Institute for Sustainable Finance

ISF was launched in 2019 as a Canadian-specific centre of expertise and collaboration for advancing sustainable finance. Housed at Smith School of Business at Queen’s University, ISF is independent and non-partisan. It focuses on developing research, education, and collaborations among academia, business and government that will improve Canada’s capacity for sustainable finance as the shift to a low-carbon economy occurs.

Sustainable finance is the integration of environmental, social and governance considerations into capital flows such as lending and investment, risk management, and financial processes including disclosure, valuations and oversight.

ISF’s work is generously supported by The Ivey Foundation (inaugural supporter), the McConnell Foundation, the McCall MacBain Foundation, the Chisholm Thomson Family Foundation, Smith School of Business, Queen’s University and Founding Contributors BMO, CIBC, RBC, Scotiabank and TD Bank Group.

Three Queen’s students Olympics bound

Gavin Stone, Benjamin Preisner, and 2016 Olympic champion Erica Wiebe are set to compete in the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Gavin Stone prepares for a rowing practice
Gavin Stone, a Queen's engineering student and member of the Gaels rowing team, will compete in the men's 4x rowing event at the Tokyo Summer Olympics. 

The Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games are on track to begin on July 23, and the Queen's community has extra reason to cheer on three Canadian athletes. Queen’s students Gavin Stone, Erica Wiebe, and Benjamin Preisner are representing Canada with their sights set on the podium.

Erica Wiebe, a 2016 Olympic gold medalist in wrestling, is back at her second Games to compete for her title. Athletics runner Benjamin Preisner will be racing in the marathon, and Gavin Stone will be competing in the men’s 4x rowing event.

Stone is a fourth-year engineering student and former Queen’s University rower, who has been preparing in Japan since the beginning of the month.

“I think the best part of my Olympic journey has been the people I've gotten to meet along the way. I've been lucky to have some really amazing people as my teammates and they are now some of the closest friends I have,” says Stone. “Excitement is probably the main thing I feel right now. In a couple weeks we'll have the chance to race for gold on the biggest stage in the world and I've thought of that moment so many times. Although it's not going to be the normal environment of the Olympic Games with getting to watch other events and meet athletes from Canada or around the world, I'm still hoping that I get to make some connections outside of my sport and feel the bond of being on the Canadian team.”

Stone will be competing in the men’s 4x, a rowing event with a four-person boat and double oar, along with Will Crothers, Jakub Buczek and Luke Gadsdon. The rowing events kick off in the first week of the Games, with some heats starting on July 23.

Stone brings with him a long list of rowing accomplishments, including representing Canada at the Under-23 World Championships in 2017 and 2018. He competed with the Queen’s University Gaels rowing team for three seasons, was recognized with Queen’s 2018-2019 Outstanding Performance of the Year award and won gold at the Canadian University Rowing Championships in 2018. 

“On the athletic side I couldn't thank the Queen's coaches I've been lucky enough to train under more,” shares Stone. “They helped set me on the path and come up with a plan that helped launch me to success in the Canadian university level but also onto U23 national teams and paved the way to help make the push towards the Olympics.”

Erica Wiebe holds up a gold medal
Erica Wiebe, who is pursuing an Executive MBA Americas degree, is looking to defend her gold medal in the women’s freestyle wrestling 75kg weight class. (Wrestling Canada - Vaughn Ridley)

Reigning champion wrestler, Erica Wiebe, is back to compete in her second Olympics. Wiebe made her Olympic debut in 2016 and took home a gold medal in the women’s freestyle 75kg weight class.

She qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in March 2020 – weeks before the Games were postponed for a year. With the Games on hold, Wiebe took the opportunity to start her Executive MBA Americas program earlier than anticipated. The 17-month Executive MBA Americas program is a partnership between Queen’s University’s Smith School of Business and Cornell University’s SC Johnson Graduate School of Management. The program has been virtual because of the pandemic, allowing Wiebe to study from her home in Calgary while also training for the Tokyo Olympics. Weibe will be competing in the Olympic women’s freestyle wrestling 76kg weight class event, which starts on Aug. 1.

Benjamin Preisner runs for Team Canada
Benjamin Preisner, who joins the Master of Management Artificial Intelligence program this fall, will compete in the marathon at the Olympic Games.

Another Smith School of Business student preparing for the Games is Benjamin Preisner. He will be running in the Olympic marathon event, and then starting in the Master of Management Artificial Intelligence program at Queen’s University this fall.

From Milton, Ont., Preisner has a background in the 3,000-metres steeplechase and cross country running. He previously represented Canada at the World Cross Country Championships and IAAF World Junior Championships. Preisner made his half marathon debut in Vancouver in 2019, and his marathon debut in December 2020 – earning a ninth-place finish under the Olympic standard time. A year and a half later, he was named to the Canadian Olympic team. The men’s marathon event will take place on Aug. 8.

“The Olympics are an incredible time for us all to come together to celebrate excellence,” says Wanda Costen, Dean, Smith School of Business. “We are so very proud of all the Queen’s athletes heading to Tokyo to represent Canada, and wish them much success!”

Alumni qualify for Summer Olympics

A total of five Queen’s alumni will also be competing at these Olympics.

Julie-Anne Staehli, Haley Smith, Ali ten Hove, William Jones, and Tom Ramshaw have all booked their tickets to Tokyo.

Staehli will compete in the women’s 5,000 metres event while Smith was named to Canada’s cycling team and will participate in the women's mountain biking cross-country event. Ten Hove (49er FX), Jones (49er), and Ramshaw (Finn) will be competing in sailing events. 

Four ways companies can avoid post-pandemic employee turnover

Employee wrapping a package at his desk.
Some workers may be thinking of jumping ship once the COVID-19 pandemic ends. Here’s how organizations can build morale and stop valued employees from leaving. (Unsplash / Bench Accounting)

With pandemic-related lockdowns being lifted around the world, businesses are announcing plans to bring employees back into the office.

The Conversation Canada logoConsidering the widespread isolation and Zoom fatigue of the past year, one might expect employees to welcome a return to the office. Instead, they’re resisting. In fact, early reports are suggesting that many employees would rather quit their jobs rather than return to the office. Why?

Reasons for employee resistance

The COVID-19 pandemic has had big implications for the relationship between employees and employers.

For one, it’s revealed how many employers profoundly mistrust their employees’ ability to get their work done without in-person supervision. It’s no wonder that when faced with a hot post-pandemic economic recovery, employees are choosing to find a new employer over returning to a boss and organization that lacked trust in them during the pandemic.

Second, working from home has revealed that employees can have it all and they don’t want to lose this privilege. A recent survey showed that almost half of employees would look for a new employer rather than give up the ability to work from home at least part of the time.

The ability to pop out for a spin class in the middle of the afternoon or pick up the kids from school early reflect the type of flexibility that many employees simply don’t want to give up. They’re resisting a return to the nine-to-five facetime culture of pre-pandemic times.

Third, firms have been inept at maintaining a cohesive workplace culture during the pandemic. Many employees report feeling “left behind” by bosses who did not provide adequate support during the pandemic. A recent survey by an employee engagement company suggests that 46 per cent of employees felt less connected to their employer during the pandemic, while 42 per cent say company culture has become worse during the crisis.

This isn’t surprising because research has shown that, if not managed properly, employees in virtual teams can feel “shunned and left out.” The new “work from anywhere” movement is allowing employees to choose flexibility over allegiance to employers they have become disconnected from over the last year and a half.

A woman slumps on her laptop
Some workers on virtual teams report feeling shunned and left out. (Anna Tarazevich/Pexels)

What can employers do about it?

High employee turnover is unwelcome news for employers. Given the high costs of employee training, keeping a good employee is far cheaper than hiring a new one. Her are four proposals for employers to stave off employee turnover during the return to in-person work:

  1. Offer flexibility The major reason employees want to continue working remotely is flexibility and the ability to improve their work-life balance. While there are undeniable benefits for in-person work like spontaneous interactions, better supervision and more opportunities for mentoring, they don’t negate the advantages of working from home. Employers must consider the possibility of allowing employees to work from home at least part-time, moving towards a hybrid workplace that allows both in-person and remote working opportunities.

  2. Reinforce the best of your workplace culture The move towards a hybrid workplace creates the challenge of fostering a workplace culture that is consistent online and in-person. What matters to your organization? If inclusion is a priority, remote work can provide the opportunity to bring in hires from around the world that otherwise would not be available. If training and mentorship are most important, think about how online tools can be used to foster these types of relationships. Whatever it is that makes an organization unique should be fundamental to the practices that underpin the return to work.

  3. Show employees you care The post-pandemic economy is revving up. With many new opportunities for jobs both at home and abroad, employees will be able to choose where they want to work. The time is now for employers to show employees how they appreciate the resilience and flexibility they’ve shown during the pandemic. Supervisors should also meet with their employees and discuss their personal and professional goals. Retaining employees will depend on the ability to keep them motivated and engaged. This can include offering employees financial incentives while also offering the chance to get involved on new projects or on new work teams.

  4. Keep tabs on top performers The most expensive employees to replace (and the most in demand) will be top performers. Employers should hone in on these individuals and make sure that they are being offered the growth opportunities and recognition they desire.

Hopefully, the post-pandemic return to work will provide an opportunity for employers and employees to reconsider their relationships with one another. This is the time for a “new normal” that provides employees with opportunities for respect and empowerment in the workplace.The Conversation

_________________________________________________________

Erica Pimentel, Assistant Professor, Smith School of Business, Queen's University.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation is seeking new academic contributors. Researchers wishing to write articles should contact Melinda Knox, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca.

How to create effective, engaged workplace teams after the COVID-19 pandemic

For workplace teams returning to the office post-pandemic, it will still be important to protect the benefits of remote work: uninterrupted time for strategically important projects, and respect for personal preferences. (Pixabay)

Well into the pandemic’s second year, we are beginning to see light on the horizon. We’re not out of the woods here in Canada. As some areas of the country continue to struggle to contain the virus, others are optimistic due to lowering case counts thanks to restrictions and lockdown measures.

Ontario — the country’s largest province by population — is now in the first step of its reopening, and officials have said the majority of those who want to receive a vaccine could be fully immunized by the end of the summer.

The rolling lockdowns and public health restrictions of the pandemic response meant a massive shift to remote and virtual work for many workplaces. As we look towards and plan for the post-pandemic future, businesses and organizations need to thoughtfully consider what the future of work looks like for them.

They will need to reflect on their operations pre-pandemic, consider what they learned from the disruption of the crisis, and ask themselves: How can we build back better?

Structure shift

Recent decades have seen a shift in the structure of businesses and organizations, away from hierarchical models in favour of cross-functional and, at times, self-managing networks of teams. In fact, a 2016 survey found the majority of large corporations rely on interdisciplinary and cross-functional teams. In 2019, 31 per cent of respondents said that most or almost all work is performed in teams.

For many of these organizations, the pandemic saw these teams transition from in-person work to remote interactions via video-conferencing services like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Skype.

Many appreciated the comfort and autonomy inherent in working from home, but the erosion of work-life balance and social interaction has caused challenges.

As we come out of the pandemic, workplace teams will need an environment that retains the experience of autonomy while also providing a sense of belonging. Employees should be free to decide where they want to work and when they want to work whenever possible. But we must also address the negative impact of isolation — loneliness, fatigue or even depression, all of which have been frequently reported during the pandemic.

Five women at a desk have a conversation.
Effective workplace teams will be critical to building back better. (Piqsels)

Research on workplace teams finds that autonomy can in fact co-exist with a sense of belonging and cohesion. For this to be achieved, organizations need to find a balance, and need to organize teams according to these structural considerations:

• Teams have a strong leader, or they can feature shared leadership.

• Teams have clearly defined task interdependencies and interfaces among team members, or team members can perform their work largely in isolation.

• Teams have the same goals and rewards for all members, or they can offer individualized goals and rewards.

• Teams communicate virtually, or they can communicate so face-to-face.

• Teams have a shared history and aspirations, or they operate for a limited time, after which they disband.

A strong leader, alongside clearly defined task interdependencies, focuses on the team as a whole, whereas virtual teamwork and individual rewards emphasize the individual team member.

Combining features of teamwork that promote autonomy with other features that foster cohesiveness and a sense of belonging is likely the best path forward.

Emphasize shared goals

As long as employees continue to operate in a virtual setting, it’s important for leaders to define shared goals and rewards. Teams must share a vision of the future that complements the larger degree of autonomy they’ve experienced through virtual teamwork.

Focusing on elements of teamwork that bring team members closer together should not be left to chance. As some organizations learned during the pandemic, scheduling social hours can replace the spontaneous conversations at the water cooler. A book club can replace the informal learning over a lunch chat. A fireside Zoom chat on company values and goals can replace an in-person town hall.

But post-pandemic, few organizations will maintain an all-virtual presence. Many will move towards a hybrid model. For those teams returning to the office, it will still be important to protect the benefits of remote work: uninterrupted time for strategically important projects, and respect for personal preferences.

The pandemic has also almost eliminated a troublesome feature of organizational life: presenteeism, or showing up to work when sick. We must not go backwards in this regard. Workers must protect themselves and their team members from the consequences of illness.

Post-pandemic, the world of work will probably never be the same again. And that’s probably a good thing. We now have an opportunity to make it better.The Conversation

______________________________________________________

Matthias Spitzmuller, Associate Professor and Distinguished Professor of Organizational Behaviour, Queen's University.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation is seeking new academic contributors. Researchers wishing to write articles should contact Melinda Knox, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Business