Custom MBA for TELUS tailor-made for savings

Graduate Studies, Peter B. Gustavson School of Business

- Sasha Milam

Moutie Wali is one of 20 students in the first graduating class of the Gustavson School of Business’ custom MBA for TELUS program.

How many students can say their class project saved someone $27 million? 

Moutie Wali, for one. This is perhaps the most pronounced way that Wali stands out from the crowd of gowned students at this June’s convocation, although there are more subtle distinctions, as well. As Director of Technology Strategy for TELUS, he has a fully established career with more than 15 years of experience in the telecommunications industry. He also is one of 20 students in the first graduating class of the Gustavson School of Business’ custom MBA for TELUS program.

Wali, who grew up in more than a dozen countries across Europe and Africa and has degrees in wireless communication, worked with several other TELUS students on the standout project. 

The learnings from our Operations course helped us identify the specific areas to work on, and enabled us to reach this high level of achievement. We focused on improving TELUS’ inventory management, and through this project were able to make recommendations that have saved the company $27 million to date.
Moutie Wali, custom MBA for Telus program graduate

Investing in talent

Developed to integrate the standard academic rigour of Gustavson’s Sardul S. Gill Graduate School MBA with the industry-specific needs of the telecommunications titan, the customized MBA for TELUS program launched in 2015 with an inaugural cohort of 20 TELUS executives. These same students graduate this June, and their tenure at Gustavson has been starred with successes: the program has already garnered two global awards (from education accreditation bodies AACSB and EQUIS) recognizing the partnership for innovation and talent development. 

Awards and return on investment are visible measures of how the new program provides concrete value to the university and TELUS as they invest in their employees’ professional development. Inspiring as these validations are, however, the less immediately measurable benefits are arguably just as impactful and important over the long term. 

“To me the MBA was a journey, a way to discover who I am and what I am capable of,” says Wali. “There is a quote from Soren Kierkegaard that Dan Pontefract [TELUS Chief Envisioner and program champion] shared with me, which really captures how I feel about the MBA,” says Wali. “‘To be that self which one truly is.’ Of all the many things I learned through the last two years, that is the one that sums up the transformation through this MBA for TELUS program. I am still the same person, but yet I am not—now I can test the full boundaries of my potential.”

Leading the charge for change

As Wali and his 19 colleagues return to offices around the world, they take with them new discoveries of self, expanded understandings of business management, and tools to continue translating course work into career work. 

“There are so many ways that my interactions and learnings from the MBA have contributed to the decisions I make every day,” says Wali. “But if I had to be specific about what influenced me most, I’d say it was learning how precious time is, how to have grit in the face of adversity, and to have confidence to pursue what I am truly passionate about.

“The concept of social intrapreneurship really hit home, as well,” he continues. “It just feels right to include the social dimension of business, and it transforms your perception of success in the business world. It is a concept that I now strive to implement: that we are not only here to make money, but also to do good—not as an afterthought, but as a strategic imperative.”

Meanwhile, TELUS and Gustavson prepare for the beginning of third and fourth cohorts, while the second group of executives enters their final year of studies. 

“It’s been a wonderful journey so far,” says Gustavson’s dean, Saul Klein. “Our partnership with TELUS has resulted in a unique curriculum melding industry-specific management education with Gustavson’s core values of innovation, integration, international perspective and sustainability/social responsibility. I know the dedicated and inspiring professionals coming out of this program will continue to do great things as graduates.”


In this story

Keywords: business, convocation, alumni, student life, TELUS

People: Moutie Wali

Publication: The Ring

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