New knowledge exchange program connects Goodman students with alumni

Brock University’s Goodman School of Business has launched a new non-credit program that connects students with alumni professionals to facilitate informal learning, group mentorship and meaningful connections.

The Alumni-Student Knowledge (ASK) Exchange kicked off Thursday, Jan. 28 with its first session in a three-part series on critical thinking. Jeff Park (BAcc ’95), recipient of the 2020 Brock University Distinguished Alumni Award and Chairman and CEO of WellDyneRx, led a presentation on adaptive thinking to a virtual audience of 37 Goodman students.

Park discussed how adaptive thinking can help business professionals improve their resilience, overcome challenges and thrive in their careers. Adaptive thinking, he explained, involves the ability to recognize new solutions in a changing environment. Adaptive thinkers embrace challenges as opportunities to innovate and improve.

“Adaptive people are creative thinkers who can generate multiple options from a single situation,” Park said. “People often interpret this as their gut instinct. That can be the case, but our instinct is usually filled with a history of decision-making — the things we’ve learned in the past, not the creative new advances needed to survive and thrive.”

In order to drive change, Park said people need to convince others of their ideas. But before people can influence others, they need to understand others’ motivations and how they process information. This is most successful when people first understand their own values, characteristics and capabilities.

It’s important to be vulnerable and realistic, and to spend time reflecting, he said.

“Part of understanding adaptive thinking is being able to question yourself and be honest about yourself. Adaptive people are in control of their emotions,” Park said. “It means being able to think clearly in a crisis situation. It means being able to understand your own biases. You have to continually assess and improve yourself.”

Throughout the presentation, Park shared personal and professional stories of success and failure, and how he developed and applied adaptive thinking. At the halfway mark, Park divided student attendees into groups and asked them to discuss their own stories of creating a new path and the influences that led to its successes or failures.

“One of the best parts of the night was being able to talk with Jeff one-on-one in a breakout session,” said Master of Business Administration student Zach Hallborg. “His stories were great. Hearing Jeff’s journey towards his current role as CEO and how it started at Brock University was really motivating.”

Hallborg is happy to have participated in the first session of the ASK Exchange program series and is planning on attending the next event as well.

“It’s a great way to balance the theoretical learning we receive in the classroom with industry-specific training,” he said.

The ASK Exchange program was created in consultation with Goodman alumni, faculty, staff and students. Topics align with Goodman’s learning goals, curriculum, values and strategic plan.

The next session in the three-part series on critical thinking will take place Wednesday, Feb. 24 from 5 to 7 p.m. “Decision-making with imperfect information” will be led by Goodman alumna Francesca Cardarelli (BBA ’11), Director of Product, Analysis and Insights at Starbucks Canada. Interested Goodman students are asked to register through ExperienceBU by Monday, Feb. 22.

“Problem solving with real-world issues” will take place Wednesday, March 31 from 5 to 7 p.m. and will be led by Goodman alumnus Doug Wilkinson (BBA ’91), Vice-Chair of Deloitte Canada. Registration will open within the next few weeks on ExperienceBU.

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