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International leadership development program at School of Continuing Studies

Participants in the international leadership development program (photo courtesy the School of Continuing Studies)

When the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China wanted to strengthen its global talent pool, it looked across the globe to the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies

“What I learned at the U of T School of Continuing Studies is to think more creatively,” said Richard Jia, who spent nine months in Toronto as a part of the School’s international leadership development program.

“It allowed me to look at business with a different perspective.”

Jia is just one of more than 100 participants from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China who’ve taken part in the multi-faceted program, recently recognized by the University Professional and Continuing Education Association. The award for international program of excellence was handed out in Miami in late March, and recognizes an educational program that is engaged in activities that promote the exchange of knowledge and ideas of global significance.

“The award offers great validation for the success of this international partnership with ICBC and the School of Continuing Studies,” said Sherry Yuan Hunter, director of the ILDP.

Created to provide professional development for ICBC’s future global leaders, ILDP offers comprehensive education opportunities that range from wealth management to arts. Participants are also able to strengthen their English language proficiency and develop an understanding of Canadian culture through networking activities with the Toronto business community and a workplace experience. 

“The course content is very rich and includes leadership, strategy and assignments designed to learn public speaking, collaboration and to teach us to think independently,” says Tony Dong, current class representative and senior product manager with ICBC.

Amy Jia, deputy division head with ICBC says the program helps develop critical thinking.

“Management can be seen as about being aggressive, but now I can think about my own nature and develop my own style,” she said. “Thinking about creating my own approach has given me a lot of confidence.” 

The opportunities to learn go beyond the classroom and include rich interactions with dedicated instructors, participants said.

"Our mentors invite us to dinner, Remembrance Day observance, Halloween, Santa Claus Parade, Nuit Blanche and other Toronto events,” said Dong. 

Judy Liu, another current program participant, adds that “instructors are very passionate and really care about our progress, and really listen to us and our problems. They give us a lot of time and energy and are focused on our success.”

Alison Terpenning is a writer with the School of Continuing Studies at the University of Toronto.