Merridee Bujaki has big shoes to fill as the new director of the Centre for Research and Education on Women and Work (CREWW).
The Ottawa-born chartered professional accountant took over the post from CREWW founding director Lorraine Dyke in July 2013. Dyke established CREWW in 1992 and served as its director until last summer. The centre is part of the Sprott School of Business.
Prior to coming to Carleton full-time in 2012, Bujaki was at the University of Ottawa’s Ottawa Telfer School of Management for 17 years, during which she also taught accounting for 15 years as a contract instructor in the Management Development Program for Women (MDPW) at Carleton.
The transition into the CREWW job is an opportunity, says Bujaki, to evaluate its program relevance to today’s aspiring female executive.
“The world has changed around the centre in 20 years so this is a good opportunity to perhaps revamp the Management Development Program for Women and make sure that it’s serving the needs of the women who would be interested in taking it today.”
The duel focus of CREWW – research and education – is something that she is grappling with. Bujaki plans to make some changes on the education side, while putting an emphasis on research.
“I am much more interested in the research side – it’s the Centre for Research and Education on Women and Work – so probably the biggest difference is that (Dyke) was focused predominantly on the education side and I am focusing more on the research side.
While she is still on a learning curve, Bujaki is considering a revamp of its signature program – the Management Development Program for Women – to ensure that it’s meeting the needs of women in 2013 and to give it a more “executive feel.”
Bujaki, who is currently teaching three courses, is developing a strategic plan for CREWW, which will address how the centre can be self-sustaining within its mandate.
With the assistance of a $1-million, 10-year commitment from the RBC to the centre last March, CREWW has the ability to contribute to new research on workplace diversity and to better understand the obstacles that may be keeping employees from reaching their full potential. The donation is also intended to support the development of a distance education program to be delivered by the MDPW.
As well, Bujaki wants to forge collaborations with researchers at Carleton.
“If there are people doing research or interested in doing research (at Carleton) that impact women in management or leadership then I would love to hear from them. I want to collaborate.”
Meanwhile, one of the immediate changes Bujaki is planning to the MDPW is to shorten it from 26 days to 18, with participants attending classes two days monthly compared to the current three days. This change, she believes, better suits the increasingly busy schedules facing women.
In an effort to reshape the marketing around the program, Bujaki plans to highlight what makes it unique and is seeking to find ways to tap into how the Sprott School of Business promotes its professional programs.
The changes she’s considering all recognize one thing – the demographic of the participants has shifted from being predominantly from the federal government to a mix of government, not-for-profit and women running their own businesses.
“There will still be a component that looks at business basics … but I think the real value proposition for women who take the program is two-fold – one is the experience in the classroom with other women … and the second part is really exploring how women’s management leadership experiences are different and how they can take advantage of them.”