Why every business leader in Canada needs a Tech MBA

Schulich Orientation_Tech MBA Group
Schulich’s Detlev Zwick wants more business leaders to think like entrepreneurs.

A new world of business calls for a new kind of business degree. 

That was the thinking behind the launch last fall of the MBA in Technology Leadership—better known as the Tech MBA—by York University’s Schulich School of Business. 

“We live in a completely different world, one that’s driven and constantly disrupted by technology,” said Detlev Zwick, Dean of the Schulich School of Business, one of Canada’s top-rated business schools. 

“We want these graduates to become tech-fluid, competent managers who understand how technology can drive value for a company’s customers.”

The Tech MBA, a 16-month graduate program, is aimed at helping prepare a generation of business leaders for a world that is increasingly driven by technology.

“Every company will become more tech-driven, not just tech focused companies,” Zwick said. “They also will have to start acting increasingly like startups in many ways, and they’ll be looking for MBA graduates that bring that mindset, the ability to lead teams in a fashion that is less bureaucratic and more entrepreneurial.”

Schulich decided to take a closer look at tech after launching Master’s programs in business analytics and artificial intelligence, explained Zwick.

“We had internally developed a real strength in these areas of teaching and research,” he said, adding that the school also wanted to build off the strengths of its home city. “Toronto is a major global metropolitan region, one of the fastest growing entrepreneurial tech hubs in the world. We wanted to embed ourselves in that context.”

The curriculum of the Schulich Tech MBA covers digital economics, technology ethics, digital transformation, and tech-oriented strategy. However, the program’s focus isn’t preparing leaders for the tech sector. Instead, it aims to mold leaders across industries so they possess the mindset and skills of a tech entrepreneur.

“We want these graduates to become tech-fluid, competent managers who understand how technology can drive value for a company’s customers,” said Zwick.

Detlev Zwick
Detlev Zwick is the Dean of the Schulich School of Business.

The utility of an MBA has occasionally stirred debate within the tech sector. In 2020, Elon Musk joined a list of entrepreneurs, including Peter Thiel and Jack Ma, who questioned the value of the degree.

Zwick challenges the perception that an MBA simply equates to acquiring three letters and learning some business jargon. 

“The traditional MBA is still one of the best training grounds you can find for anyone who’s interested in really developing cutting-edge leadership skills,” he said.

Schulich’s Tech MBA graduates will have the best of both worlds, he added: an MBA skill set combined with the ability to think like an entrepreneur—to learn how to iterate quickly, be flexible, and apply strategic thinking about how technology ties into leadership.

Detractors like Musk have also argued that MBAs tend to focus too much on theory and not enough on practical, hands-on experience. But Zwick pointed out that Schulich has specifically designed its Tech MBA around experiential learning. 

The program includes guaranteed workplace internships, direct exposure to Toronto’s tech scene, and the opportunity to solve tech challenges through case studies, simulations, guest lectures, and a capstone field study project. 

Through a partnership with Toronto tech hub OneEleven, the program matches teams of students with high-potential, pre-Series A startups via a joint venture studio in the students’ third term.

“We’re not just relying on the classroom teaching, even though we absolutely think that’s important, but also really interfacing that with real-world experience through an extended period of time,” Zwick added.

Zwick envisions future Canadian business leaders mirroring aspects of those in the tech industry—being open to risk-taking, obsessed with product-market fit, and knowing how to avoid groupthink.

“If you’re looking for fast innovation in a world where technology is the driver of a lot of these disruptions and shifting terrains, you need someone who really understands the consequences, implications, opportunities, and also the risks of these new, emerging technologies,” he said. 

“We believe all organizations should be looking for precisely these people, and that’s what Schulich’s Tech MBA aims to do—develop future leaders who can help companies deal with technological disruption and digital transformation.”


Empower your future in Tech. Offering evolving curriculum, experiential learning and connections to leaders in the industry, Schulich’s Tech MBA positions students at the forefront of the tech vanguard. Innovate and lead with Schulich’s Tech MBA.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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