This past week’s class has made me start thinking about the WLU brand and how it speaks to its faculty, staff, students, community and more importantly, how it resonates with me and potential employers of WLU MBA graduates.
When I decided to apply to business school, WLU was not on my list of schools to go to. To be honest, at the time, I was not aware that WLU had an MBA program offering that was accredited. I did what I think most undergrad alumni students do when they decide to research possible MBA schools – I googled the top ranking schools and of course, Schulich, Rotman and Ivey came up. All three of these schools have a very prestigious reputation and knowing that their Ivy League brand would open a tremendous amount of doors for me post-MBA was very attractive.
So how did I end up at Laurier? Well, I decided to check out some information sessions to get a better feel of the faculty, alumni and culture of the schools I was considering. I checked out Schulich and in the first 5 minutes, was turned off by its “we’re number one” type propaganda. In my opinion, it didn’t want to enroll and be an alumni of a school that’s brand marketing was focused on how ‘great’ they were compared to the masses. So next, I checked out Rotman and was very impressed with the caliber of its faculty, alumni and curriculum. In addition to that, the Rotman name in and of itself would be a huge benefit in seeking out employment post-graduation. Drawback with this program was down to the money.
So, it was on to the next. While I was studying for the GMAT, I met a girl who told me about Laurier and its MBA program and how it was an accredited school with a good reputation and a part-time Toronto MBA option. So, I started to look at program offerings and what WLU was all about. Initially, as the other schools came off as more of a ‘modern/contemporary’ business school, I found Laurier to be more ‘traditional/older’. My opinions were based on everything from website colours – too much purple, website format – font style/content and school logistics. Irrespective of my initial judgements on the school, I decided to check out an information session. Going to that information session is what sold me on applying to the program. Like Rotman, the caliber of its faculty and the careers of its alumni was impressive. In addition, I liked the layout of the curriculum. Suffice to say, I applied and today, 3.3 years later, I am graduating.
Looking back on the past 3.3 years, I’ve noticed how WLU has been trying to re-brand itself into a more contemporary/attractive school for future candidates. Their website and student portal have been revised and modernized with regards to content/layout/ease of use. Furthermore, WLU is utilizing social media such as Linked In and Facebook in order to increase brand presence and reputation.
Will WLU ever be one of the top 5 ranking graduate schools in Ontario? Doubtful. Why? Well, with a highly competitive landscape it will be hard for them to gain brand recognition, especially in the GTA. I think WLU needs to take a step back and re-evaluate their brand promise and what brand value they bring to their students and alumni.
I’m still happy with the choice I made to attend WLU. However, my career objectives post-graduation do not involve working for a top employer such as BCG, Deloitte, EY. If they did, maybe a school with a more reputable and valuable brand recognition among employers would have been selected.