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Reflections inspired by the 2017 Bob Shaw Case Competition

Patricia Bradshaw, Dean, Sobey School of Business


Jessie Jollymore, who started Hope Blooms in 2008, poses with two of her team.

As a professor of Organizational Behaviour I did not expect to be learning so much about branding. But since I was appointed to be the Dean of the Sobey School of Business, I seem to be getting a crash course.

I have been reflecting about the deeper and more subtle aspects of a brand since joining the reception after the Bob Shaw Case Competition of 2017. The event is a legacy of alumni Bob Shaw, whose family endowed the competition in memory of his leadership, his extensive contributions to Saint Mary's and his deep philanthropic commitment. I have always enjoyed the case competition, which engages groups of our first-year MBA students to take on the challenges of a case and then present their analysis and recommendations in front of representatives of the organization and outside judges. However, this year something special and magical happened.

The case the students analyzed was *written by three faculty members from the Sobey School, Professors McKee, Pancer and Hervieux. It was on Hope Blooms, a local social enterprise, founded in 2008 by Jessie Jollymore, where youth are empowered as they take the lead in planning a garden, growing the food, cooking meals for the community, building relationships with their peers and elders, and supplying their community with healthy food choices.

The 21 MBA students participating in five teams spent 24 hours reading the case, meeting the Hope Blooms Executive Director and youth, doing their analysis and developing their presentation. They presented to a panel of MBA alumni judges, Jollymore herself, and Robert Shaw (BComm '92), son of Bob Shaw, who was on hand to award the prize monies.

What so powerfully struck me at the reception after the presentations was what was happening all around me. There were many warm hugs, much appreciation, mentoring, celebration, generosity and talk of love. For example, the faculty told me that they plan to donate the royalties from the case they wrote on Hope Blooms back to the organization. One of the winning teams similarly are donating their prize money. After hearing this, Jessie Jollymore told them she would use their gift to implement one of their recommendations to grow flowers in their greenhouse.


Hope Blooms poses with winning Bob Shaw Case Competition team, 2017

An MBA student gave coaching and mentoring to two of the youth from the community and I could see she was inspiring them to dream of one day doing their own MBA. One of the teams told me that while they learned a lot, the most important learning is that the real heroes are the youth and staff of Hope Blooms. The MBA students so appreciated having an opportunity to be inspired by the youth, who demonstrated confidence and presence.

We have branded the Sobey School with the slogan “Make an Impact with Purpose” and I am now more convinced than ever that we got that right, and that it truly reflects the essence of the School and the people who teach, work and study here. The power of purpose was never more evident for me and I want to thank the faculty, staff, students, judges, Robert Shaw and his daughter, the senior administrators including the President of Saint Mary's University, and especially Jessie Jollymore for a remarkable event that really touched me.

See more photos of the Bob Shaw Case Competition 

*The case written by Drs. McKee, Pancer and Hervieux has become an Ivey bestseller.