Jan. 6, 2022

Haskayne school has BOLD idea to add value to business degrees

New app allows business students to engage in activities and events that will aid in their professional development
Saad Abdullah
First-year commerce and computer science student Saad Abdullah is enrolled in the BOLD program and has valued the app's all-in-one-place approach.

While GPA and academic success are still important aspects of a resumé, employers are giving increasingly more attention to student development of workplace competencies outside of the classroom. To ensure its students are as prepared as possible to meet these new expectations of employers, the Haskayne School of Business has launched the BOLD program. 

BOLD, which stands for Broadening Opportunity for Leadership and Development, focuses on engaging business students with a variety of out-of-classroom learning opportunities. 

“This app sets us apart from other business schools in Canada and focuses on our desire to develop students beyond their 40 courses,” says Sherry Weaver, MBA’99, an associate dean and senior instructor at Haskayne. 

Weaver says the idea behind the program, which the school built upon the U.S.-based platform Suitable, was seeing many students looking for guidance on which extracurricular activities would best aid in their professional development and career growth and where they could find them. The BOLD program is meant to provide answers to these questions. 

Personalized professional development

“They can go to the app on a daily basis, see what events are happening on campus and off campus, see how those events play into their own personal development, and choose which ones they want to add to their calendars,” Weaver says.

BOLD has been designed to focus on the nine National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) competencies that employers have indicated as crucial for potential new employees. They include categories such as professionalism and work ethic, digital technology, critical thinking, and communications skills. 

Weaver says BOLD administrators seek out valuable events and activities across the competency categories, so students can keep track of their own professional development. There is a personalized aspect to BOLD, as the program will send the user push notifications about events and activities that focus on competencies they haven’t developed as much.

“Usually, when you want to apply for a club or look for an extracurricular activity, you have to do multiple searches online, whereas in the app, everything is in one place,” says Saad Abdullah, a first-year commerce and computer science student who is enrolled in BOLD.

BOLD also aims to make this form of professional development fun, as students can earn points, level up and earn badges as they complete activities and attend events. A points leaderboard also allows students to see how they are doing compared to their peers.

It’s the gamification of professional development.

- Sherry Weaver

BOLD is also a great way for students to market themselves, she says. For example, students can download a link to add to their LinkedIn profiles that will show the badges they’ve earned. 

Weaver estimates there are currently 3,700 Bachelor of Commerce students enrolled on the app and program, but the goal is to have it available and being used by all Haskayne students, eventually including graduate students. Once that goal is accomplished, she hopes to advertise the app to employers, who can discuss the students’ accomplishments within the app as part of the interview process. 

“The network you make and the opportunities you have right now, those are going to stay with you forever,” says Abdullah. “I think it’s important to do more than just your classes.”

Accessible record is fun, has badges and is shareable

The BOLD program is not dissimilar to a co-curricular record, says Weaver. However, she says co-curricular records are attached to academic transcripts, which causes lots of anxiety for students who feel having anything other than a 4.0 GPA is not good enough. 

“Having a co-curricular record that is separate, that is fun, that has badges and that they can share on media platforms is much more accessible,” Weaver says. 

The Suitable app where BOLD can be accessed is available for download on the App Store and Google Play Store.