International Management Authority Shares His Views
This week, Stephen Ibaraki, I.S.P., has an
exclusive interview with Ike Hall.
Ike is currently Program Head of the B.B.A.
program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT). In addition to
BCIT, he divides his time between Simon Fraser University (SFU) and the Athabasca University’s
MBA program at the Centre for Innovative Management (AUMBA/CIM).
Ike worked as an engineer in the army for
eight years and later for several large engineering firms. During his career he
has owned four businesses, worked as a VP (Planning), and as a VP (Finance and
Operations) in large teaching hospitals. During those years he was adjunct
faculty at several universities and colleges.
Ike earned an MSc from the University of British Columbia, an MBA
from University of Western Ontario, and a BEng from the Royal Military College of Canada. He is a PhD
candidate at California Coast University.
Q: Ike, thank you for taking the time out
of your busy schedule to do this interview!
A: I am pleased to provide whatever input I
can to your audience Stephen.
Q: Please profile your successful career
leading to the present. From your early background as an engineer, what led you
into the educational field? What motivated you to go into the areas you did?
got into education, like most people, more as a means of occupying myself (in a
constructive manner) than as an ideal. Besides, in cold, dark Winnipeg there are precious few things to do during January and February.
Q: Detail your current responsibilities at
BCIT, SFU, and AUMBA?
try to help people who are interested in reaching a little further in their
lives. We all want to learn, but not
many of us want to be taught, so I just try to arrange a method where people
can pursue their learning ambitions.
Q: Describe the MBA program at AU?
A: Well, it seems to be a great deal of work, by a lot of dedicated
individual participants in the interactive, internet-based, MBA program. Participants exchange their views on how
theoretical concepts apply to their own companies and their own
organizations. This includes the entire
common core theoretical areas such as marketing, strategy, statistics, finance
and so forth. People put forward their
thoughts on applications, and then look for feedback from the other persons in
their class groups.
Q: In a crowded market, what differentiates
the MBA program at AU?
A: To a very large extent, flexibility. The program can be followed from Saudi Arabia, Cambodia, Bosnia,
or a ship on the ocean. The exchange of
information, and the communication, is asynchronous, and the work can be done
at the ice-rink, on the train, at the office or wherever. It can also be done anytime in the 24
Q: What differentiates the BBA program at
A: This is a new program for BCIT, and it only begins after the student
finishes their major (marketing, finance, operations management, etc.). It is very condensed, stresses applied
learning (seeing as BCIT is a polytechnic) and generally can be completed in a
three year period.
Q: Tell us more about your work with the AUMBA/CIM
and with BCIT.
A: Most of what I do is to provide feedback on
participants’ and students’ application of knowledge to their work situations
or to case situations. I am responsible
for a bit of administrivia, but all jobs have their weak points I suppose.
Q: You pick 3 topics from your extensive
work experience and education, please share some special and useful tips from
each topic area which would be of help to those getting into the business or IT
A: Topic 1: Health Care
1) This is an extremely large and complex field – don’t assume that you
have the answers, I would be content to be able to clearly articulate questions
so that teams could explore possible solutions.
2) Don’t think that you will solve the problems – be patient and know that
tremendous resources and time will be required to come to grips with the most
3) Avoid dwelling on the nasty bits where people die; concentrate on the
good bits where you can prolong the quality of life and add a positive impact
to people’s lives.
Topic 2: Small Business Consulting
1) The businesses that need the help the most are the people that can least
afford it. Try to develop a “pro-bono” system of work so that only profitable
solutions are remunerated.
2) Look for niches where computer systems, marketing techniques, or service
improvements can make major in-roads to help your clients have a more
3) Try to mark incremental steps in your development and growth, the small but
useful issues that you deal with may be the most beneficial for you and your
Topic 3: Establishing Your Own Part-Time Business
1) Everyone should have a hobby business where they can find an outlet for
their talents, do something they enjoy, and still find a charge to income that
would have existed even without the business – if you enjoy golfing, get into
the golf club business or the golf ball business or the golf hat business.
2) Include people you care about
in the part-time business. This is your free time to spend
constructively with your family or close friends, and you can do it in a
meaningful and profitable manner.
3) Take a long-term view of anything your do with your small business,
build it a little at a time and build it to last a life-time.
integration of technology and business has had a major impact on the business
model. There is no longer a “typical” student in technology or business
programs. What are your top ten tips for success in the MBA program?
A: 1) Work hard, but work smart.
2) Try to have your employer foot at least part of the bill.
3) Approach everything positively, even the mundane bits.
4) Ensure that you make friends and build a network with the other
participants in the MBA program.
prepared to put other things on the back burner for a while – but never your
6) Try to keep a balance – do the best you can in the time available, then
7) Consideration of others, and others’ time-frames is important, don’t
8) Do the work – programs are set up for people to be successful – don’t
9) Ensure you have a PMA – a positive mental attitude - because whether you
think you can or you think you can’t – You’re right!
10) Live a bit, convince yourself that this is a choice, and that you are
gaining from the experience.
Q: What are the most compelling issues
facing business and technology professionals today and in the future? How can
they be resolved?
A: 1) We all want more – more sales, more
growth, and more customers. Measure what
you are doing to grow, to get more, and stay on track with it.
2) Technology is very fluid, ensure you keep on
trade journals and the latest developments.
3) Try to attend at least one trade show per year
(and try to make that in Vegas!).
Q: What do you consider to be the most
important trends to watch, and please provide some recommendations?
A: 1) Globalization is going to be with us for a while. We can stay on top of this trend by ensuring
that we are plugged into our colleagues and associates around the world
2) Demographic changes, including GenXers and aging Boomers – we have to
provide services and products these customers and these trenders want and need.
3) Niche filing – where we see more and more data mining for specific,
drilled bits of info, and we can manage our own data bases to mine these more
Q: Where do you see business careers
going in the future? Which skills and knowledge sets
must business and IT professionals have to remain competitive? How will these
evolve over time?
A: IT professional and gurus will be more and
more likely to work as contract experts in the field. Common business skills (from sending
invoices, to planning our own work requirements) will become an important part
of remaining competitive. As usual,
networking to stay on top of workloads and contacts will remain important.
Q: There are many resources available for
business and IT professionals. List your top resources.
A: 1) Libraries – these sources are
available on-line and usually at a nominal fee or on someone else’s nickel.
2) Peers and associates – usually have the latest breaking and most useful
knowledge for IT professionals.
3) Some blog sites, along with the usual caveats of knowing your source and
keeping plenty of salt handy.
4) Professional bodies – be they for law, engineering, or IT, still have a
responsibility to inform their members and it seems to be a responsibility that
they continue to take seriously and do a good job at achieving.
5) The good old fashioned way of professional development through standard
academe – most academics are willing to share information (for free!), but of
course sometimes things are worth what you pay for them!
Q: From your rich and varied background, can
you share some of your most amazing and/or humorous experiences?
was at an IT conference in Rome, and one of the people I was traveling with
stopped by St Peter’s square so that he could pray, and what he prayed for was chastity
and virtue. But when I saw him carrying on later that night I noticed that his
prays were not answered, to which he replied, “I asked that I not receive this
until I get back home!”
Traveling with colleagues, and staying on
top of the global picture, often lets us see through things much easier, but a
buddy of mine said that if he could see through women, then that would mean
missing too much!
Although I think that being happy is a
worthwhile achievement, I was very impressed by an IT professional who
convinced me that men who are unhappy, are like men who sleep badly, they are
always proud of the fact!
Q: What motivates you? What goals do you
still hope to accomplish both professionally and personally?
A: I believe, like Nohria and Lawrence,
that there are certain drivers in our psyche. These drivers include, but are not limited to, the time accepted things
such as Alderfer’s Acquired Needs, in my case, the need for achievement. If I am still growing and if I am still
learning, I feel that I am accomplishing as much as is possible (while still
making enough from my billings to send my shirts out and eat at a good
restaurant once in a while).
Q: If you were doing this interview, what
five questions would you ask of someone in your position and what would be your
A: Q1: What would you do to fix the world?
A1: My own little part, a little at a time. Do what you can to add to the good that happens here.
Q2: How can a person use their full human
A2: By application, consistently and
conscientiously, on a recurring basis.
Q3: Is there light at the end of the tunnel?
A3: Sure, but by the time we get there our eyes will be so weak that it will
blind us! At any rate, we should
continue to persevere and to do our best.
Q4: Is there a right strategy for success?
A4: No, there are many right strategies. All we are asking of ourselves and others is
to be considerate of the economy, the ecology, and the earth.
Q5: If you had it all to do over again would you?
A5: You bet, but maybe a little slower!
Q: Ike, thank you again for your time, and
consideration in doing this interview.
A: The pleasure was mine Stephen; it makes one
pause and think!