Nov. 9, 2023

UCalgary welcomes UManitoba staff as part of learning exchange program

Cross-institutional collaboration enriches opportunities for professional development
University of Manitoba staff exchange ideas and talk about best practices with staff at University of Calgary.
Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

In a unique initiative fostering cross-institutional collaboration, a group of UManitoba staff recently visited the University of Calgary to participate in a learning exchange with UCalgary staff. The exchange program is an annual event organized by UManitoba to support the professional development of their non-academic staff members by learning and sharing best practices with partner institutions.

Staff members from UManitoba were matched up with their UCalgary counterparts to exchange ideas, knowledge, and experiences. Participating UCalgary employees included AUPE and MaPS staff from various faculties, schools and administrative units.

“Establishing a connection with someone doing the same work at a similar institution is really valuable,” says Shannon MacGillivray, faculty co-ordinator and accreditation officer at the Haskayne School of Business.

“It’s common to assume that schools do everything the same, so it’s helpful to get a different perspective. It was interesting to learn that despite our role similarities and our universities both belonging to Canada’s U15, there were differences in the processes and practices at our two universities.”

The exchange was structured to encourage open discussions, group activities, and workshops, allowing staff members from both institutions to share their experiences, challenges, and successful strategies. By participating in the program, UCalgary staff were able to gain insights into the strategies employed at the University of Manitoba.

“I was interested in how processes are similar or different and if UManitoba has more effective ways of doing things,” says Gretchen Greer, manager of the Office of Health and Medical Education Scholarship in the Cumming School of Medicine. “It was great to share ideas and challenges. I learned that my counterpart has the same work challenges I do.”

This direct exposure and interaction facilitated a rich learning experience, allowing UCalgary staff to bring some of those novel ideas to their own roles and departments.

“It provided room to take a step back from day-to-day operations and ask the questions: What are we doing and why are we doing what we are doing? Are we doing things the right way? Could there be a better way? Are we succeeding better than we thought?,” explains Ian Whitehead, senior analyst on the IT Architecture and Security Team.

As the day concluded, participants expressed a shared sentiment of gratitude for the opportunity to collaborate, learn, and grow together, underscoring the impact such initiatives can have on their professional development and success.

“Going forward, we can share best practices, tips and tricks. Having the opportunity to meet in person means we are much more likely to continue the relationship in the future,” says MacGillivray. Whitehead and his counterpart are planning a monthly check-in for continued growth and development of their practices.

The exchange was pulled together by many people at both universities and its success emphasizes the value of meaningful, collaborative learning between institutions, showcasing how sharing experiences can positively impact professional growth and innovation.

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