Executive MBA Opens New Doors for Former Actor
Adapted from a story by Paul Attfield
As a trained actor, producer and screenwriter, Chaz Thorne always had the creativity and ability to turn his hand to whatever challenge lay in front of him.
In addition to appearing on stage and screen, Thorne raised millions of dollars and stickhandled large-scale movie projects during his arts career, before segueing into a new role as an entrepreneur and founding Nile Fiber Atlantic Canada Inc., an agricultural biomass company in Halifax, in 2010.
On a new career track, Thorne realized he needed to improve his business education to give investors confidence in his company. He chose to do his Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) program at Schulich, because he was attracted to the program’s exposure to both U.S. and Canadian business, as well as being part of an elite international network of executives. But underpinning both of those, he knew what getting an EMBA could do for his business knowledge.
“Really the focus on an EMBA is to raise your level of thinking to enterprise-level thinking,” he says. “It’s to get you ready for the big jobs that require you to have more of an understanding and appreciation of an entire business, not just one operational silo.”
Thorne brought his skills to bear in 2016 as one of three co-founders of The Give Agency, a consultancy that brings together volunteer local business leaders to produce marketing and fundraising ideas for a non-profit organization.
Thorne says that one of the biggest challenges in his new role is harnessing the power of a collection of leaders with different objectives, incentives and education levels. However, he says the empathy he gained for different departments of an organization while doing his EMBA helps him negotiate this challenge, and ultimately led him to write a book, Barn Raising For Business: The Leader’s Guide to Getting Better Decisions Faster.
“It was about how can you distill all of this down to the absolute simplest way to get everyone with all of these different backgrounds pushing in the same direction in the shortest time possible,” he says.
Thorne admits that it was difficult to go back to school in his late 30s.He says that his pivot from the world of arts to the world of business has been interesting, and one that he has yet to fully understand. “My hope is that each year I’ll just continue to move closer and closer [to] realizing what my purpose is that got me started on his whole EMBA journey and dipping into the organizational world,” he says.