UCalgary Archives and Special Collections, and David Moll for the Haskayne School of Business
Sept. 1, 2023
After 50 years of teaching, coaching and mentorship at the Haskayne School of Business, ‘Dr. Bob’ still making waves
How does a young business school in Canada become a place that is known nationally and internationally for case competition wins? The answer in three words — Dr. Bob Schulz.
Schulz joined UCalgary as a faculty member in 1973. In 1979, he coached a team at the inaugural Inter-Collegiate Business Competition (ICBC). Since then, teams coached by Schulz have ranked No. 1 or No. 2 overall for the past 45 years of the competition. He has sent 314 teams in the past 45 years and 202 have come back with a medal! Over his 50-year career at the Haskayne School of Business, Schulz has impacted thousands of students through his classes and case competition coaching.
“He has kept in contact with many of his students and some have become decades-long friends,” says Rebecca Losier, administrative assistant, Haskayne School of Business who has provided administrative support to Dr. Bob for over 16 years. “Upon convocation, many students have moved to far-flung places in the world; but when they are back in Calgary, visiting Dr. Bob is on their list.”
A sign in a chance encounter
Bob Schulz was working his dream job in 1972, training hundreds of companies on online teleprocessing — before there was even the internet. He had received his PhD from Ohio State and was loving the energy of working for an exciting startup. Although the work was rewarding, Schulz saw that the young company was floundering. At this same time his friend Henry Vogel from Ohio State invited him to visit Calgary where he was teaching at a very new University of Calgary.
Vogel took Schulz on a road trip to Lake Louise to actually see some snow — the city was in the middle of a spectacular chinook. In Lake Louise they ran into the only other person Schulz knew in Calgary, Hans van der Meulen. Schulz took this as a sign that he should give Calgary a try and applied to teach within the faculty of management. He started teaching six courses in the fall of 1973.
At the inception of 1 of the oldest case competitions in the world
Schulz was the adviser to the Commerce Undergraduate Society in 1978 when a letter came from Queen's University inviting students to be a part of the inaugural Inter-Collegiate Business Competition (ICBC). He didn’t know what it was but knew that together they could figure it out — expecting UCalgary students could win in five years. They tied for first overall the first time.
Schulz through the decades — the ’70s
"In 1974, in his first academic year teaching in Calgary, Dr. Bob Schulz came in like a whirlwind to teach our management science class. He was highly energetic and enthusiastic, and he brought us lots of new ideas and perspectives. Most importantly, though, Bob didn't then, and doesn't now, only teach. He encourages, cajoles, advises, and mentors; and he always has an irrepressible confidence in the students whom he has taught.
"Dr. Bob is a master of connecting people who should meet, and of organizing current students and protégés to benefit from those who went before. As one of the fortunate group that has had the full 50-year experience with Dr. Bob, I marvel at all that he has done and I feel very grateful for what he has added to the spirit, culture and stature of the Haskayne School of Business."
- Michael J. (Mike) Tims, CM, LLD (Hon), CBV, BComm’76
Schulz through the decades — the ’80s
“As many of you know, Dr. Bob gets a little intense — but there was nothing like Dr. Bob in year one of ICBC. We arrived at Queen’s and there was a reception — but not for the U of C students — Dr. Bob had the debate team research at the library more topics and the other teams off for an early night of sleep.
"Dr. Bob’s family is his UCalgary family. He will do anything within his power to assist current and former students. Upon shaking your hand Dr. Bob’s first questions are (1) how are you? and (2) what can I do for you? Then before you can take a second breath Dr. Bob has some eight to 10 people you need to meet in various disparate parts of the world, and he is on the ready to set up these meetings. I know of no one who has such a wide range of connections on such a broad range of topics. It is a network that should be preserved as a National Treasure for UCalgary.”
- Kenneth R. McKinnon, KC, BComm’80
Schulz through the decades — the ’90s
“What would have become of me without Dr. Bob? I was petrified of public speaking. So much so that I would hyperventilate and faint on stage. Dr. Bob even caught it on video. Yet I knew I had to overcome my fear, so I tried out for the case team and for some miraculous reason, I made it on the team.
“Fast forward almost 30 years, I can honestly say I wouldn’t be where I am professionally without Dr. Bob. I run my own investment firm and regularly take the stage to speak to audiences around the globe. Dr. Bob taught me so much more than how to speak in public. He taught me how to think on my feet and think strategically yet with depth. Most of all, Dr. Bob believed in me, which ultimately helped me find the strength to believe in myself. He made me unstoppable.”
- Whitney Rockley, MBA’97
Schulz through the decades — the 2000s
“Before I met Dr. Bob, I had no idea what business strategy or management consulting even was. I thought I was going to end up doing the thing 'I hated the least' in life. One chance meeting with Dr. Bob on a staircase in Scurfield Hall changed my life. He pulled me into his strategy class and put me on the strategy team for ICBC. He helped me find the spark of curiosity that has driven my career for more than 20 years. My mom jokes that I should be sending Dr. Bob a dividend from my paycheque every month for putting me on the path to success in my career!”
- Kulvir Gill, BComm’00
Schulz through the decades — the 2010s
“I can remember the first time I met Bob at a high school debate competition, and that was the main reason why I stayed in Calgary after graduating. Since that day, Bob has been my closest mentor and has this truly amazing ability to 'connect the dots' among generations, always putting his students and alumni first. I can only hope to have half the energy and passion that Bob has after 50 years.”
- Mark Blackwell, BComm’11
Riley Brandt, University of Calgary
Schulz through the decades — the 2020s
“Everybody at school — even people who haven't been coached by Dr. Bob — know that Dr. Bob makes you the person you want to be. The presentation and analysis skills that he has taught me over my three years of participating in ICBC is the reason why I have been able to excel in both case competitions and in starting my professional career. His coaching helped me learn the fundamentals of how to approach a business problem and how to find the central strategy that leads to success. Each practice session felt like I was catapulted 20 years into my career, making big decisions in the boardroom. I am forever grateful for the impact Dr. Bob has had on me, and it is an honour to join his network of ICBC alum.”
- Emily Chen, BComm’23.
Always building community
Dr. Aleem Bharwani, MD, director, public policy and strategic partnerships, Cumming School of Medicine remembers Dr. Bob being a part of Ismaili Muslim community events as far back as the 1990s.
“It was a relationship with the community that was ahead of its time; he broke silos between the university and ethnocultural and religious communities to build a fuller, more vibrant Calgary community. He did it because he values people and because he nurtures talent no matter where it comes from — and all on his own time, on his own dime,” says Bharwani. “It speaks to a genuineness. He’s a transdisciplinary connector, right? Well, He’s also a transcultural and a cross-sectoral connector.”
The web of connections Dr. Bob has created over the 50 years of his career at UCalgary has impacted thousands of individuals, businesses and community members. Although he has a track record for winning, it is how he has passionately instilled confidence that has so many hold him in their hearts.
Alumni All Access — Dr. Bob
On Oct. 22, Dr. Bob will be a part of an Alumni All Access event where connections are made surrounding innovations in the health and wellness space. Be prepared to learn what new companies are creating exciting innovations for an aging population. Register in advance to be in ‘the’ place to make connections with other alumni.
Kelly Hofer for the Haskayne School of Business