Five minutes with Ken Grant

Ken Grant is the Chair of the Department of Entrepreneurship & Strategy within the Ted Rogers School of Business Management.

As a leader in case-based learning, what is it you like most about teaching with the case method?

I have been using case teaching since I became an academic about 20 years ago. However, my use goes back well beyond that, as major consulting firms use case-based interviews as part of their selection process. My old firm would never hire a candidate who was not capable of on-the-spot case analysis.

Business students at all levels need exposure to the real world. I have always been a champion of active and experiential learning and a wide range of approaches to case teaching can fit into most classroom situations. Definitive answers matter less than the learning process.

How has the case method evolved over that time?

My initial exposure to cases in academe was bipolar. On the one hand, I found short descriptive cases, often provided in textbooks, and then there were the more structured, masters-oriented cases, heavily focused on the Harvard Case Method. 

As I gained more experience and met with others across the world involved in case teaching, I realised that there were many more ways in which the case method might be used, and became particularly interested in its adaption for undergraduate teaching. For example, using mini cases, simulations using live actors, having students choose and sometimes write their own cases and taking multi-week longitudinal approaches.

You have taught the case method around the world to a variety of students of different cultures, how do you tailor your case teaching to meet the needs of the audience before you?

At the graduate level, my own MBA program has adopted an intensive real-world case approach. In the middle of each semester, all regular classes are cancelled for a week and all students in the program spend the week developing responses to a real-life business problem presented to them by a major Canadian business. In addition to hearing from the client organisation and asking questions of them, they receive supporting briefings on relevant elements of the industry and market and are expected, by the end of the week, to develop both a consulting report and a presentation to a panel of external judges, typically both from the client and from the consulting industry.

If you could be transported into another profession for one week, which would you choose, and why?

Having made the switch from consulting to academe, perhaps I already have? But, in my dream world, I would love to be a historical fiction author. I’ve always been fascinated with the past and the telling of stories, at least partially based on interesting historical events.

golfHow do you relax?

For physical exercise, I play golf and cycle. I have a passion for travel, and have visited more than 80 countries. Wherever I am, I like to eat well, take in music, theatre and galleries, particularly those with a modernist focus.

Do you have a favourite quote or guiding principle?

In every class I teach, I tell my students “let the data speak to you”, to encourage them to dig deep, making sure they understand the facts of the case and build their conclusions from real analysis. 

Furthermore, I emphasise that, no matter what kind of analysis they are doing, the important question is “so what?” – what is the relevance and contribution of the analysis just done to the issues being considered.

About Ken

A Canadian Scot, Ken Grant is currently the Chair of the Department of Entrepreneurship and Strategy in the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University in Toronto. He holds a DBA from Henley Business School, an MBA from the Schulich School of Business and a BA from the Open University. He is also a Certified Management Consultant and has been a visiting professor at a number of universities in China, Europe and the United Kingdom.

Ken is a passionate teacher committed to improving the education experience of his students. A teaching award-winner, Ken was the first Ted Roger Faculty Teaching Chair and is a leader in case-based learning. He has also been a major contributor to curriculum development and course and program delivery, with a particular emphasis on experiential learning and the case method.

Prior to joining Ryerson, Ken had an extensive career as a management consulting partner and industry executive in Canada and the UK, leading consulting practices in several major firms, and delivering projects across the world.

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