Strategy

MBA student profile: The politico

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(Photo: Jennifer Roberts)

Duncan Fulton, Richard Ivey School of Business, Western University

It had always bothered Duncan Fulton that he didn’t finish his undergraduate degree. Never mind that his reason for abandoning a political science degree at the University of New Brunswick early was because he got a job working for the province’s premier. One prestigious job led to another and soon he found himself in Ontario doing communications work for Premier Dalton McGuinty and, later, Jean Chrétien when he was prime minister. Fulton later climbed ladders in the private sector, too, and today the 37-year-old father of two is not only senior VP of communications at Canadian Tire, but also chief marketing officer for the company’s recently acquired FGL Sports division. What better time to squeeze in an Executive MBA program at Richard Ivey School of Business? “I forgo sleep and a social life,” he says, not entirely joking. “Even if I had an undergrad degree, at this point in my career I would still believe that I needed [more schooling] in business or finance,” he says. “Effectively, I have a high-school diploma, despite having unusual work experience.” (By “unusual,” the modest Fulton means “accomplished.”) When he was evaluating schools, Fulton was, like many, wooed by Ivey’s solid reputation. (It helped that the majority of Canadian Tire executives with MBAs were Ivey alums.) The school’s schedule was important, too: largely correspondence with four days a month on campus, where he says the class discussions were invaluable. His classmates are varied: bankers and IT specialists; one is the CEO of Habitat for Humanity; another, the CAO at Air Canada Jazz. “We learn as much from the class discussions as we do from the actual teachings,” he says. “Someone in the class has direct and relevant experience in whatever we’re learning.” Fulton admits that he “easily underestimated” the time commitment involved and what he would get out of an MBA. “Originally I sought it out—admittedly misguidedly—because I thought I needed that piece of paper,” he says. “But within the first two weeks, I was overwhelmed by how much I was learning, how much I didn’t know. Now, I think and analyze information differently, and construct my approach to doing things in a fundamentally different way.”

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