Our MCM professional learning community reconvened at McMaster University for the Winter 2023 Residency
Read on to learn about the experiences and events that made this Residency special
Winter in Hamilton is unique because of the microclimate created by the Niagara Escarpment that makes our city’s weather a little milder than the surrounding areas. This year we were struck by a small climate surprise — a blizzard that caused the closure of the university on Thursday, February 23, the last day of residency. Despite this small setback, the MCM community had a wonderful week of learning, networking and professional engagement.
Second year MCM candidates proceeded on to the culminating courses of the MCM curriculum: Applied Ethics in Communications Management (taught by Brad Horn, M.S., Associate Dean, Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University) and Strategic Management (Mark John Stewart, MBA, Managing Director, Wentworth Strategy Group). These courses contextualise the more technical and applied knowledge MCM students gain in their finance, data, research and marketing courses, showing them how to use those tools to practice strategic, ethical leadership in communications management. These courses also set the stage for the MCM capstone projects that the second-year students will be starting in the summer term.
First year MCM candidates started Public Relations Research (Dave Scholz, APR, MA, Executive Vice-President, Léger) and Financial Management (Josie Cassano Rizzuti, B. Comm, MCM, APR, ArcelorMittal Dofasco & Communications Consultant). Each of these courses are core to the MCM curriculum — they lay the technical foundations in business administration, business analytics, and applied research that form the basis for the rest of the MCM curriculum.
All MCM courses are supported by teaching assistants who are also MCM alumni putting their lessons to use in industry. This term’s teaching assistants are Danielle Cowen in Public Relations Research, Pauline Berry in Financial Management, Kyle Steward in Strategic Management, and Rachel Thiessen in Applied Ethics in Communications Management.
All four of these courses were designed to bring the MCM motto, “Where communications and business meet” to life. The MCM program is a curated experience, created and taught by leading academics and industry experts. The purpose of the program is to provide students with the education and skills necessary for them to be leaders and change agents in the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors.
To achieve this, MCM leadership engages with colleagues at the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, DeGroote School of Business, McMaster University’s Communication and Media Arts department, and other strategic industry partners. MCM business courses are aligned to the DeGroote School of Business MBA curriculum, coupled with cutting-edge strategic communications courses taught by successful professionals and leading academic researchers. It’s a winning combination proven by the success of our 165+ alumni, who form a significant leadership group among the strategic communications and marketing communications profession in Canada. You can look at some of our MCM capstone defences to see the MCM philosophy in action and the thought leadership of our students!
Winter Residency wasn’t only about academics. Students enjoyed a cutting-edge guest lecture by MCM alumnus Martin Waxman (President, Martin Waxman Communications), during the MCM Winter Gala at historic Liuna Station, a splendid venue on James St. North in downtown Hamilton. Martin gave a valuable and thought-provoking speech discussing the impact of artificial intelligence in the public relations field and how generativeAI tools like ChatGPT are transforming the profession. He spoke of his years of studying artificial intelligence, starting with his award-winning MCM capstone research project: “My BFF is a Chatbot: Examining the Nature of Artificial Relationships and the Role They Play in Communications and Trust.” He highlighted that while useful as a prompt for professional writing tasks, it is still quite premature to rely on such tools since they still require human intervention to make sure the content they generate is accurate and truthful.
Our MCM Master Class was offered by Bianca Freedman (Chief Executive Officer, Edelman Canada). Bianca, an alumna of McMaster University’s Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies, had a candid and open conversation with MCM Academic Director, Dr. Terry Flynn, APR, FCPRS, and the rest of the MCM community. The discussion was broadcast via Zoom to alumni and current students. Bianca talked about her journey from being an undergraduate student at McMaster University through several different jobs en route to now leading Canada’s largest public relations and communications agency. Her conversation with Dr. Flynn was followed by a lively question period.
The MCM residency also focuses on a balance of integrating personal and professional life management. Dr. Alex Sévigny, APR led a mindfulness, somatics and concentration session. He was also going to lead a snowy walk in the gorgeous trails in the Royal Botanical Gardens that border McMaster’s campus, but this was canceled because of the snow day on Thursday.
Photo credit: MCM Candidate, Martin Lussier
Students had many occasions during residency to share social time and build their relationships. On Wednesday, we had our Farewell Reception at the Hogwarts-looking Phoenix Bar and Grill on McMaster campus. Rachel Thiessen and Kyle Steward were the first MCMers in their cohort to partake of McMaster’s ritual for people who defend their master’s or doctoral theses: they get a free pitcher of beer, drink from the Thallion, and sign the graduate book with a personal note.
As well, the MCM Winter Residency featured many wonderful, healthy breakfasts and lunches. One of the core values of the MCM is our community. MCM residency is a time to come together and build professional and personal relationships that last a lifetime. We are a community of life-long learners and scholar-practitioners devoted to advancing our capabilities and success, while building the profession in Canada and around the world.
MCM residency would not be the wonderful success that it is without the hard work of the MCM administrative team and the MCM program committee. Their good work makes the experience seamless and comfortable for students, faculty and TAs.
Photos are credited to Mike Lalich of Mike Lalich Photography
The upcoming MCM Summer Residency will be held in June 2023 – we can’t wait to welcome everyone back to McMaster, Hamilton, and the Niagara Wine Region!
Are you interested in joining the next cohort of MCM students? Our Program Director, Dr. Terry Flynn, will lead a discussion on how you can advance your career in the field of communications with the McMaster-Syracuse Master of Communications Management program. This interactive and informative session will be held virtually on April 13, 2023 at 12:00 PM ET. Register below to learn more about the structure of our program and how it can help you achieve your career goals.