York University’s Schulich School of Business is continuing its focus on technology leadership with a certificate program for upskilling, Schulich Venture Academy.
Schulich Venture Academy is the business school’s latest initiative to support the next generation of leaders in Canada’s tech startup ecosystem. Earlier this year, it also introduced a 16-month tech MBA program along with a venture studio in partnership with Toronto tech hub OneEleven.
Built and led by Schulich entrepreneur-in-residence Cherry Rose Tan, working with Schulich adjunct professor Chris Carder, Schulich Venture Academy is designed for people working full-time who are looking to expand their skillset as it relates to the tech and innovation economy.
“As a country, we need to elevate and upskill [our talent] more effectively.”
– Cherry Rose Tan, Schulich
As Carder and Tan built the program, the duo reached out to people in the tech industry to identify skills gaps in the sector. According to Carder, those gaps revolved around certain key roles that “aren’t necessarily the glitziest of roles in the ecosystem.”
“Everybody wants to be a founder and everybody wants to be the C-suite,” Carder said. “There’s a lot of time and energy put into those, but not as much into the key people who are the teams of managers, directors, eventual VPs, and one day C-suite executives.”
“In order for Canada to continue to drive forward as a knowledge-based economy in a tech-centric world, we’re going to not only create companies, we’re going to need to be able to fuel those companies with talent in all kinds of levels,” he continued.
“The start-up ecosystem is filled with so many talented people in crucial supporting roles,” added Tan. “But as a country, we need to elevate and upskill them more effectively by giving them opportunities to learn from and be mentored directly by senior, proven leaders in their fields of expertise and interest.”
Schulich Venture Academy will offer four part-time certificate programs that will each focus on different leadership roles within the tech ecosystem: finance, talent, operations, and venture capital. Classes will begin in October, providing 30 hours of learning.
All of the classes will be held online through live instructor-led lectures, allowing flexibility for working schedules and extending the program to prospective students across Canada.
Each certificate program is directed by a notable leader who also took part in building the curriculum. Carder said this model allows students to learn from people who “have been through the process of scaling companies and making crucial decisions that lead to the success or failure of the business.”
If a student is an emerging people-and-culture professional in the tech sector for example, they will have the opportunity to engage with their program director and make a connection. Additionally, students can leverage the program directors’ network in future guest lecturer appearances and at their graduation.
“When people get live learning opportunities, then the opportunity to impress a person with that level of network and relationship in the sector is a pretty fantastic one,” Carder said.
Schulich Venture Academy’s four certificate programs and their directors are:
- Venture Finance – Leen Li, former chief financial officer at Wealthsimple and currently the CEO of Wealthsimple Foundation.
- Venture Talent – Jenny do Forno, head of talent at OMERS Ventures
- Venture Operations – Izabella Gabowicz, vice president of operations at Q2
- Venture Capital – Prashant Matta, general partner at Panache Ventures
Schulich will be at Collision next week, holding an open call for a program director for a potential fifth certificate program. Carder noted the focus for this certificate is still to be determined, as the school remains open to ideas from people in the industry.
“Over time, we’ll continue to grow the program and look for more important and interesting, niche categories that we think will help and benefit the ecosystem,” Carder said.
Featured image courtesy The Schulich School of Business.