We must add value however we can

Sat, Jan 6 2018


Researcher. Idealist. Game-changer.

Imagine a world where the boldest and most successful business leaders measure their achievements not only in profits and losses, but also in the positive contributions they make to communities.

A passion for helping to shape leaders like that—ones willing to take a social stand—is rooted in Leo Wong’s own undergraduate experience.

“I remember feeling like I was part of a graduating class programmed to maximize profits—and nothing else,” says the marketing prof. Frustrated that the social and environmental issues he was seeing in the world weren’t being addressed in his education, he started thinking that business schools needed to change.  

They see first-hand just how much of an impact they can make now, and when they graduate.” 

Leo threw himself into being part of that change—first as a PhD student and then as an assistant professor in MacEwan’s School of Business. Using real-life experiences and building community connections, he encouraged his students to think broadly and creatively about what socially responsible business practice and ethical decision-making meant to them.

“With projects like Mission Possible, students learn to approach their education differently—they can readily apply it in the real world and give back to the community,” he explains. “They see first-hand just how much of an impact they can make now, and when they graduate.”

But bringing a social conscience to his business classroom wasn’t enough. As founding director of the new MacEwan University Social Innovation Institute, Leo has his sights set on building a much larger community of changemakers.

His vision? Harness and leverage the learning opportunities that come from partnering with community organizations to create real change in the world.

“We are looking to work with people who have a seed of an idea for a business start-up that has a social or environmental angle to it, or non-profit organizations that have been running programs but struggle to find funding or generate their own revenue,” says Leo. “Bringing an academic perspective—whether it’s from statistics, nursing, computer science, design or any other area of the university—adds value for both the organizations we are serving and our students.”

For Leo, it’s about engaging the community and inviting them onto MacEwan’s campus in a way that hasn’t really been done before. It’s about fostering innovation and creating connections between entrepreneurs, community members, students and faculty members. It’s about getting people inspired to create real change in the world.

But for someone with aspirations to transform education and nurture a whole generation of changemakers, Leo remains humble.

“I’m just doing the things I saw a need for and wanted to fill,” he says with a smile. “Being able to do that is very rewarding.”

Leo Wong is an assistant professor in the Department of International Business, Marketing, Strategy and Law within the Bachelor of Commerce, and founding director of the MacEwan University Social Innovation Institute. Learn more about this degree at MacEwan.ca/BCom. 


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