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Shannon School of Business, CBU Offers World-Class Education in Business from Cape Breton


“Our professors deliver a strong foundation in critical concepts in their respective programs, and at the same time take an applied approach to the subject matter.”

Cape Breton University (CBU) was established in response to the community’s demand for a strong institution of higher learning in Cape Breton, Canada. CBU offers world-renowned programs through the Shannon School of Business, a unique and specialized opportunity for undergraduates and postgraduates to earn the business degree they need to succeed.

The Shannon School of Business of Cape Breton University aims to develop business leaders, managers, and entrepreneurs: people who will help manage, grow, or start commercial and community enterprises and grow the economy.  

Cape Breton Island continues to be lauded as one of the most beautiful islands in the world and offers the perfect setting for university studies. And the main campus of Cape Breton University is in Sydney, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada. The Shannon School of Business has its own building on the main campus of CBU and has been offering post-secondary programs for 40 years, with thousands of graduates earning either a general degree or a major or concentration in a specialized area of Business.

The Shannon School of Business currently offers Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees and Post-Baccalaureate Diploma programs.

Led from the front by George Karaphillis, the Dean of Shannon School of Business, the public educational institution is committed to the future of Cape Breton Island, innovative economic development and sustainability programs, and Indigenous learning leadership. We interviewed Mr. George Karaphillis to know more about the relevance of the School and what the future holds for it.

Read on for the excerpts from the interview.

Q. What makes Shannon School of Business, CBU relevant in today’s times? Could you give us some context?

The Shannon School of Business puts a lot of value in its connection to community and industry and it is nimble in developing programs that meet the changing needs of the public that it serves.

The Master of Business Administration in Community Economic Development (MBA) is an example of a unique program of the Shannon School of Business: it responds to the unique needs of economies undergoing change and experiencing disruption. The newly introduced Post-Baccalaureate Diploma programs in Business Analytics, Business Management, Health Care Management, and Supply Chain Management are example of niche programming that build on the strengths of the institution to meet specific needs of industry.

Q. What has helped the Shannon School of Business distinguish itself from others? What makes Shannon School of Business, CBU unique?

The university is set in a region that has lived through a sharp decline of heavy industry and that has also experienced a post-industrial recovery. This is the context and experience that underpins the School’s efforts in preparing students for the future of work. The School also strives to embed an ethos of long-term thinking and caring for community in its programming.

The School has made a commitment in hiring strong faculty who also have industry experience, and in providing them with the tools and resources needed to deliver world-class programs. Our professors deliver a strong foundation in critical concepts in their respective programs, and at the same time take an applied approach to the subject matter.

Q. How important is it for you to reach the Indigenous communities and why?

There is a large indigenous community in Cape Breton and CBU placed an emphasis in developing and delivering programs that incorporate indigenous culture and knowledge. CBU acknowledged the contributions of indigenous communities right from its start; before this practice became a national priority.

The Shannon School of Business places a lot of weight on its responsibility to develop the business leadership of the region, including the business leadership of indigenous communities. We have an obligation to help develop managerial talent among the first peoples of this country. The Shannon School of Business has outreached to indigenous communities with programs that respond to their needs and aspirations years ago. The first specialization with the MBA in Community Economic Development, for example, was the First Nations Option and we took this program expertise across the country. The Shannon School of Business has delivered this special MBA program in several cities across Canada and many indigenous graduates have made a major impact in their communities.

Q. How important are partnerships to Shannon School of Business, Cape Breton University?

CBU is located on Cape Breton Island, the friendliest and most collaborative island, and that is the context for a university that strives to partner and collaborate with other academic institutions, community organizations, local governments, and industry.

Partnerships enable the School to reach more communities with its programming, facilitate students in having exciting exchange study experiences abroad, and enable students land interesting internships and careers. For example, the Shannon School of Business partners with community colleges to deliver its unique MBA in Community Economic Development in five different cities in Canada and enhance regional economic development in many parts of the country. Our Bachelor of Business Administration is also delivered in Cairo, through a partnership with the Canadian International College, helping to develop business managers for Egypt. The School also collaborates with two public universities in China to deliver an international version of our Bachelor of Business Administration and help develop managers with a global mindset in the Henan province.

Q. What does the future hold for Shannon School of Business, CBU?

The growth of business education in the future will most probably outpace the growth that we have experienced in the last twenty years. The world is changing constantly and the economy is getting more complex by the day: the complex economy needs people with sophisticated management skills and people who are skilled in making decisions for the long term.

Rapid innovation and globalization have been exacerbating the discrepancies in regional economic activity, with additional pressures on rural and indigenous communities. There is an increasing need for our expertise in place-based development and for our MBA in Community Economic Development.

Pervasive digital technology is adding more complexity while presenting more opportunities as well. The widespread use of advanced technology by businesses, institutions, and consumers has been presenting new challenges in managing resources, in safeguarding computer systems, and in using the mountains of data generated by so many devices. The world is awash with data, but it certainly is not awash with professionals who are skilled to analyze information and make the right operational and strategic decisions. We believe that there is a pressing need in an area of strategic importance: the shortage of business data analysts is a significant limitation to the growth of the economy. We have seen a few reports in the press that more than 200,000 business analytics specialists are needed across various industries in North America alone. Our Diploma in Business Analytics aims to help fill this gap.

Another serious challenge of our times is the management of healthcare: the need to look after the health of our aging society presents a huge challenge. Our Health Care Management Diploma program aims to provide students with a deep understanding of health care dynamics and with the management skills needed to make the optimal use of human and financial resources. The society will need the graduates of our Health Care Management program for years to come.

“The Shannon School of Business of Cape Breton University aims to develop business leaders, managers, and entrepreneurs: people who will help manage, grow, or start commercial and community enterprises and grow the economy.”