Student Spotlight: Dr. Noble Adapts to Create Solutions During the Pandemic

“I saw a patient who walked in with a little difficulty and complained of extreme fatigue. I remember speaking to him, having a normal conversation, while conducting my examination. I was shocked and horrified to see this man having a full conversation with me had a blood oxygen saturation reading of 34%. His chest x-ray was remarkable and I immediately phoned an internist for his admission to the intensive care unit. His only positive COVID-19 criterion was fatigue. He did not even complain of shortness of breath, fever, or have any of the other typical symptoms. That evening, as I did my admission follow-up calls, I was told that he had been placed on a ventilator within two hours of arriving in ICU. I had never seen such a quick deterioration. Luckily, this patient improved quite miraculously and he is one of my favorite recovery stories.” 

This type of rapid patient deterioration became a common occurrence at the beginning of the pandemic in the Johannesburg, South Africa hospitals where Executive MBA Student, Dr. Teneel Noble, works as an ER physician. “A patient would come in speaking and by the end of your hospital shift, they would be requiring some sort of ventilatory support. By the time you came in for your next shift, they had passed away. It was scary to witness,” says Noble. 

During the beginning of the pandemic, many of the hospitals had to rapidly convert their resuscitation rooms and non-emergency consultation rooms into COVID-19 red zones. This is where positive patients were cared for, as well as anyone exposed to the disease. “While hospitals, clinics and medical practices all have certain baselines and infectious control standards that need to be adhered to at all times, COVID-19 caused many complications to arise during implementation of these. This is mainly because massive infrastructure reallocation and subdivisions had to be achieved because the disease is so easily transmitted from person to person.”

Moving between the red zone and normal zone became a mission and a constant cycle of changing gowns and personal protective equipment (PPE). “Coming into the red zone requires putting on new personal protective equipment and new gowns each and every time. Coming out of the red zone requires removing all the gowns and personal protective equipment again. This cycle continues for each movement between zones. In an average shift, one could change in excess of 80 times.”

Dr. Noble in a Johannesburg Resus room, during the height of the pandemic.

Beyond facility logistics, staffing shortages, due to people contracting the disease, and lack of PPE began to become a reality. “Massive restructuring of schedules had to be undertaken to accommodate staffing of the ER. Due to the sheer amount of PPE that we were using, we needed to find a way that was cost effective and yet still efficient. I ended up having to buy a large number of refuse bags, as they were essentially what was needed. I cut out space for my hands and arms and used that. I was also able to recycle it in a sense, I would take it off, wash it in soap and water, dry it out and then dip it again in 70% alcohol.” 

Adapting to situations and finding quick solutions became a goal of Dr. Noble. Beyond working in the ER, her company, MedAire, provides telemedicine for aviation and yacht medical support. They now have an entire wing dedicated to providing medical support for COVID-19. “My own personal practice endeavors have evolved since the start of COVID-19. What I love most about my job is the ability to make a tangible difference in the lives of others, and at the same time to learn and relearn on a daily basis. Medicine is not an exact science. It is science that draws upon the facts and also draws upon intuition when the facts do not make sense.”

Dr. Noble’s personal practice is what inspired her to pursue an MBA. Quantic’s flexible platform was the perfect fit. “After practicing clinical medicine for a few years, eventually settling in Emergency Medicine, I noticed there were many things that could change on the business side. Quantic has revolutionized how an MBA program should be run. Being in this profession, having a career with timely demands, and not being in a constant location, made it refreshing to find a program that took all of that into consideration. Quantic enables one to complete the coursework and requirements without burning out and trying to fit all spheres into a rigid schedule.”

After witnessing these pandemic hospital experiences first-hand, Dr. Noble has advice for a potential second wave. Her main takeaway is to stay vigilant and stay active. “One of the most important things to get through to the general public is that relaxation of lockdown does not mean that the pandemic is over. In fact, it means that despite greater freedoms, there should be greater awareness of preventative strategies. Mental health is also a major issue. This time may produce frustration, anger, depression, as well as anxiety. Physical exercise is very important. It will relieve stress and release those needed endorphins.”

Girl Up’s Virtual Summit Empowers Thousands of Young Leaders

Girl Up Communications & Digital Media Associate and Quantic Alum, Naomi Naik, helps girls broaden their social impact skillset, apply STEM for good, and create policy change. This leadership program, founded by the United Nations Foundation, reaches tens of thousands of girls around the world. When COVID-19 hit, she knew their mostly in-person global leadership summits would need to adapt to the “new normal.” Her team worked diligently to create a virtual platform that gained the attention of many global leaders and was viewed by thousands of attendees. Here is her story: 

When the United Nations Foundation decided to go remote in March, I knew this would be a unique time that would present professional and personal challenges that none of us had previously experienced. Shortly after the virtual workplace pivot, UNF launched the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund through a virtual press conference with Director General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros. This fund pools resources from companies, philanthropies, and individuals to contribute directly to WHO’s work to prevent, detect, and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of the last week of July, the Fund has raised over $225 million from more than 560,000 individuals, companies, and philanthropies. Although these efforts would not have been a priority without the virus, the ability for our organization as a whole to set this up in a matter of days after closing our physical office was inspiring enough for my own team to take some notes.

I manage digital and editorial strategy at Girl Up, a leadership development movement that engages, trains, and mobilizes girls around the world to take action to achieve global gender equality. Girl Up provides leadership training and gives girls tools to become gender equality advocates and activists. Through our programs, girls broaden their social impact skillset, benefit from a platform to tell their stories, and apply STEM for social good. Our girl leaders create real policy change at local and national levels, help raise millions of dollars to support United Nations programs that reach tens of thousands of girls around the world, and build community-based movements. Girl Up was founded by the United Nations Foundation in 2010, and continues to work across a global community of partners to achieve gender equality worldwide.

Most of Girl Up’s engagement with girls around the world occurs in-person, at our global Leadership Summits, STEM bootcamps, and professional development panels. We had to adapt this component of our organization ASAP in order to keep up with the times. By the third week of March, we had lined up panels and webinars for our community to hear from girl activists, global leaders, and professionals in the fields of gender equality, mental health, STEM, storytelling, and social justice.

These panels brought in over 2,000 attendees weekly, almost surpassing the number of girls we can usually host at an in-person event by tenfold. 

However, another challenge lay ahead: How would we host our annual Girl Up Leadership Summit virtually? The “Zoom fatigue” was beginning to set in, and not in an escapable way. We brainstormed how to create an interactive experience online that could increase our reach given the Summit was usually in Washington, D.C. and capped at 450 attendees.

Our team worked diligently for weeks, in the midst of also hosting a massive graduation celebration for the Class of 2020 and re-evaluating our curriculum with the new wave of social justice accountability. We made sure all of our programming would give girls a platform to speak on the current situation around the world when it came to the intersectionality of gender equality and socioeconomic barriers, racial justice, climate change, period poverty, and so many other important topics. 

And then the speakers began to confirm:

And so many more! We never imagined that going virtual would actually allow for our organization to catch the attention of global leaders and changemakers like these. And that lack of expectations, but overflowing aspirations brought in more than 80 speakers, 40,000 global attendees and quite a few new sponsors. 

Being a Quantic MBA student during this experience made me a valuable asset to my team as well. Using my supply & operations coursework to guide how we set up “flow” within the virtual platform, using my strategy coursework to work together with sponsors to optimize our partnerships, and using my data & decisions coursework to then analyze all the data post-Summit allowed me to put my education to true use in a high-stakes setting.

My story is not unique if you examine how many organizations have been forced to innovate. However, the impact of the 2020 Girl Up Leadership Summit is already tangible as girls have started 52 Clubs last week alone, signed up for five future virtual events, and been part of 3.6 billion social media impressions for Girl Up, just this month. One day, COVID-19 will be over, but the effect will be everlasting on all of us, especially our youth. It’s imperative we use these times to not only inspire and push ourselves to create something new, but also help this generation and generations to come find their passions to turn them into action.

The Quantic community can’t wait to see what’s next for Naomi, Girl Up, and the bright futures of the countless young leaders that they will continue to inspire to help make this world a better place.

Thank you for Helping #ChangeTheCourse

Our Quantic community is always at the forefront of creative innovations and this has been especially evident during the COVID-19 pandemic. To spotlight these incredible efforts, we asked students and alumni to share stories about what they’re doing to #ChangeTheCourse and help their communities and industries during these unprecedented times. 

Across the globe, Quantic students truly are making a difference. In their industries, they are developing apps to make curbside takeout possible for restaurants, enabling video conferences for grade school classrooms, and even inventing medical blankets to monitor patients’ vitals. They are helping their communities with fundraisers, virtual trivia nights, and connecting with peers to make sure hospital workers receive needed medical supplies. 

Students and alumni even created the #kindoutcovid19 campaign where hundreds of leaders volunteered to give free career advice and share professional expertise. Acts like these are the silver linings throughout this pandemic. Not only are they lifting up individual communities, they are investing their time, energy, and expertise to help other professionals. 

We are not alone in saying how much we appreciate all of these creative efforts to instill hope in a time of anxiety and uncertainty. The pandemic may not be over, but we will all continue to play our part to demonstrate the power of kindness, creativity, and innovation to make for a better, brighter future. 

An App A Day Keeps Boredom at Bay

The coronavirus has a lot of us sitting around the house these days, scrolling through our phones or tablets. Skimming Instagram and Twitter have become common ways to pass the time, and while you may not think more screen time is the answer to the quarantine blues, some apps are proving to have benefits for the mind, body, and improving daily life. Quantic students have developed apps that help make dinner possible, ease anxiety, and get you back on track with your fitness goals during this crisis. 

Kyoo

In direct response to the global COVID-19 crisis, Quantic MBA Alum, Albert Brown, and his team launched Kyoo Curbside. Kyoo has helped hundreds of businesses rapidly set up online ordering with no-contact, curbside pickup orders. Because of its popularity, it was fast-tracked by Square to become an official ordering partner and it is now the only free product listed. Merchants can set up their store in a snap. Items import automatically from their Square menu and they can accept orders right away. Customers can place orders on mobile, web, kiosk, or simply by text message. They receive instant text message updates to keep them moving through the queue and provide clear instructions to get their order fulfilled. 

Hero Trainer

Staying home? Stay active! Quantic MBA Alum, Yash Jain, developed Hero Trainer to help us reach our fitness goals. The mobile app allows users to earn rewards in their favorite video games for exercising. A little walk around the house, or on the treadmill can earn people premium paid reward codes. The app tracks your steps on a walk or run. You earn points for each step and exchange those for reward codes to your favorite games.

Mooditude

We could all use a little mood boost to help cope with quarantine. EMBA Learner, Kamran Qamar, developed a clinically designed self-help app for depression and anxiety. Mooditude helps you identify and change your thinking using transformative Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). For lasting cure, you can build mood-lifting habits using goals and routines. When you feel stuck, go deep and find solutions to your specific problem within the dozens of psychiatrist developed programs. 

It’s exciting and uplifting to see our students take action and find ways to stay productive, engaged, and mindful while life — in some respects — stands still. Here’s to those who #ChangeTheCourse. 

Blankets: Not Just for Snuggling

When we think of blankets, we often think of cozy nights and hot chocolate. But what if they had the power to change the course of healthcare technology, especially during the coronavirus pandemic? Executive MBA student, Olivia Lin, had this exact same thought. She wanted to combine her strong tech background and desire to create textiles with a purpose. Olivia and fellow EMBA student, Edward Shim, soon launched their start-up, Studio 1 Labs, specializing in cutting-edge textile technology. 

Their first product? A “smart” bed sheet that can be used in hospitals to monitor patients’ vitals. This has been crucial during the COVID-19 crisis because it continuously monitors for respiratory distress. The bed sheet detects respiratory patterns and transmits the data to a computer terminal for healthcare workers. With advanced data accuracy and analytics, this technology can also predict the onset of health decline and emergencies like apnea, heart attack and stroke.

Olivia is originally from Taipei, Taiwan and grew up in Canada. She studied psychology at the University of Toronto, and earned a Master’s and later a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from the University of Waterloo. While studying psychology, Olivia was drawn to subject matter known as Human Factors, a field focused on the application of psychology in society.

When asked how and why she made the transition from psychology to starting a textile tech company, Olivia laughed — the transition even surprised her. She had a friend who worked in textile technology and saw how she combined fabric, art, and modern technology to create clothing with a purpose. This sparked Olivia’s interest and curiosity and she asked for her friend’s help in learning how to sew fabrics infused with tech. 

While completing her Ph.D., Olivia met Edward, and her hobby soon turned into a business idea as the two began researching the commercialization of fabric sensor technology. They had identified a growing trend in healthcare of using everyday objects as tools for monitoring vitals and felt that textiles might just be the perfect canvas for such a device. This kind of application had particular relevance to Edward, who, when serving in the military, sustained an injury which left him experiencing respiratory issues. He was well aware of the processes in place for patients to have their breathing monitored and knew there had to be a better way. Both he and Olivia saw a need for improvement in this space and after enlisting the help of a few more colleagues, Studio 1 Labs was born.

“There was a lot of exploration and experimentation and finally we found an application that really works,” said Olivia.

Studio 1 Labs’ fabric sensor bed sheets are a glimpse at the future of health technology. These sensors monitor a patient’s respiration pattern, location, movement, and prolonged pressure. The patient does little more than lie in bed and his or her vitals are measured and reported. This is especially important for elderly patients, who are less able to adjust their lives for doctors to gather the data they need to make an informed diagnosis and treatment plan.

Beyond product development, Olivia had also recognized the need to increase her knowledge of business and strategy. This is when she decided to pursue an Executive MBA. With Studio 1 Labs having locations in both Canada and Taiwan, Olivia was constantly traveling and Quantic’s mobile-first design enabled her to learn no matter where she was. 

“Being an entrepreneur, I felt like I had gaps in my knowledge and I couldn’t keep pace in conversations with executives and potential partners to the degree I needed to. I wanted more of the knowledge that would enable me to carry on and lead these conversations.” said Olivia.

Olivia’s impressive efforts in creating this business have not gone unrecognized. She was featured by Girls in Tech Taiwan 40 Under 40 and Studio 1 Labs won the Markham Board of Trade Aspire Startup Award in 2018. Outside of being the Executive Director of Studio 1 Labs, Olivia was a mentor for the City of Waterloo’s initiative, Girls in STEAM, a program that promoted tech and other STEAM careers to local girls to spark their interest at a young age. Olivia now lives in Taiwan, as she continues her rewarding (and challenging) entrepreneurial journey and helps to continue to #ChangeTheCourse of healthcare technology. 

Survey: Quantic Students Respond about Effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Employment Outlook

How the Covid-19 pandemic is impacting the employment market for our community.

What we did

Quantic School of Business and Technology conducted a survey with students and alumni to better understand how the Covid-19 pandemic is impacting our community in regards to the employment market. Our goals were twofold: to better understand how and to what extent the pandemic is affecting our community, and to identify any strategies that could be of use. Here are our findings. Note: percentages reported below have been rounded to the nearest whole number. 

Who responded

Our community is particularly aware of and involved in the employment market — one of the main reasons people undertake an MBA program is to move up in their career or enter a new field. And because of the level of seniority and achievement of our students and alumni, many are involved on the hiring side as well. We sent this survey out to 5,000 Quantic students and alumni, and heard back from 1,743 of them.

25% (443) were exclusively seeking employment
25% (433) were exclusively hiring 
10% (177)  were involved in both activities
39% (685) were involved in neither

We got broad industry representation with respondents from agriculture and the arts to travel, transportation and telecom.  

What we learned

Sentiment

Overall, there was a drastic shift in how people feel about the state of the employment market. 

The numbers have flipped: Prior to the pandemic, over 60% were optimistic about the market; after, that number has dropped to less than 10%.  Prior to the pandemic, less than 10% were pessimistic; that number has soared to over 60%.

While that is a dramatic change, there are nuances as well: 

  • 18% of respondents didn’t change their overall opinion of the market (between 15 – 22 percent for each segment). 
  • A very small percentage, 3.3%, revised their opinions favorably, going from pessimistic to optimistic or neutral, or from neutral to optimistic. 
  • Those that were not actively involved in either hiring or seeking had the highest percentage of negatively revised opinions at 85% going from optimistic to neutral or pessimistic, or neutral to pessimistic. 

When asked to comment on this there was a wide range of responses – here are a few insights. Note: quotes below lightly edited for spelling, grammar, and clarity:

Analytic Observations

  • I believe Covid-19 will affect the job market globally. Home working could help cross country hiring and balance/reduce the global unemployment rate. Exceptional times require exceptional measures.
  • I believe we will have to adapt to the new normal and that presents the opportunity for us to re-think our mid to long term strategy and innovate accordingly.
  • I felt the job market before the pandemic was already heavily over-extended. In my opinion, it was artificial and unnatural for a bull market to rage on for ten years with no significant correction. For over a year, I was convinced a recession was going to happen but did not know what would be the catalyst for it.

Emerging Economies

  •  In West Africa, there’s a high probability of decreased funding in the immediate future to areas of public health and social intervention.
  • Personally, I feel this pandemic has come at a time when Kenya is already economically on its knees. This virus has killed our hopes of recovering from our former status, and we are expecting very many deaths due to starvation and suicide.
  • While I anticipate that developed countries will be fine in a few months, I feel developing countries (South Africa, Nigeria and India especially) will be suffering the effects of this pandemic for years to come. 

Work/Life

  • It seems like parents are having an extra hard time with children at home and still trying to work. Schools here are having us home school so it takes a lot of time and energy. Productivity is down and stress is very high. It makes work and school difficult.

Industry Specific Insights

  • Our industry (management consulting / leadership training) has been hit hard. Especially at smaller consulting firms, we’re seeing a lot of lost revenue and layoffs as corporations are pulling from training budgets to shore up core operations in this downturn. 
  • Our information technology field is much better than other markets and even possibilities to glow providing the solution during/after the Covid-19 problem. 
  • Staying in healthcare I feel optimistic. Potentially switching careers I feel less optimistic. Overall, at peace. 
  • The spread of the virus will change business dynamics, especially in the segments of the traditional heavy industry as steel for instance. The virus will also weigh on the overall economy much more than the 2008 crisis. 
  • My law firm provides services to Fortune 500 companies, financial institutions, and high-net-worth individuals. We expect a downturn over the coming weeks (perhaps months) in demand for our services. This will therefore impact the need for professionally qualified staff. 
  • Within the food industry, it’s going to be a very steep uphill battle to get things back to the way they were.  

Strategy

  • We are a startup. We now aim to be self-sustainable rather than grow quickly because of the VC climate.
  • There is clearly a lot of unknown and I fully expect companies will either wait out or reevaluate their business model and roles needed to support it.
  • We realigned expectations and targets. The hiring policy reflects this, resulting in significantly reduced hiring for Q2 and Q3. We review strategy quarterly and depending on the situation in the coming months, further changes can happen, positive or negative.

Noticeable change in activity

The events are also altering how people interact. For seekers, 74% have noticed a change in hiring processes, including interview delays or cancellations, lack of announcements, or virtual interviews. Of the 428* people in that group, 24% of those who were seeking employment have decided to pause their search. 

On the hiring side, 53% have seen slowed activity, either putting hiring on hold, canceling interviews, or instituting a hiring freeze. 

Hiring Observations

  • With so much current uncertainty we are not making any major changes. We are taking a wait-and-see approach and minimizing expenses.
  • Our company (1500+) has instituted a hiring freeze, as have many others. Smaller firms in the industry are furloughing staff.
  • I am a hiring manager and have been told by my company that junior/associate level positions are on hold (I have one open position that has been temporarily frozen) until the “shelter in place” order is lifted and we can return to the office. Higher-level positions may still be filled, but all interviews will be over video calls.
  • Overall, I am very apprehensive to hire because I do not know the long term effects. 

What can you do?

This data doesn’t exist in a vacuum. While the volatility is obvious and there’s been a clear change in sentiment, here are some ways we can apply what we’ve learned to benefit ourselves and the Quantic community. 

Know you’re not alone.

One of the most important findings is that this is happening to everyone — even those who aren’t actively looking or hiring have felt the impact. 60%, of our community is directly impacted, and the other 40% are also noticing significant changes in the market. 

Many of the comments express similar thoughts around the changes that are taking place, including delays in interviews, hiring freezes, and slowdown in overall market activity. Even if you are negatively affected by what’s happening, it’s not just you. 

Leverage the network

If and when you become aware of opportunities, share them widely. You never know who’s looking or who you might be able to help. If you hear of something you think might be a perfect fit for someone in particular, let them know about it, even if you’re not aware they’re on the market. You never know if they are looking for an opportunity. In addition to your regular channels, you can share opportunities and reach out directly to Quantic classmates and alumni in the online student portal.

Prepare for opportunity. 

There is still some activity happening: 15% of those who are involved in hiring indicated that they have not changed anything in regards to hiring or are still hiring as usual, and in a follow-up survey, 14% of respondents have increased the rate of hiring or are backfilling positions due to quarantine during this time. If you do want or need to make a change, do what you can to optimize yourself as a candidate. 

  • Research the market. Analyze job announcements in your field and identify the core competencies that are in high demand. Review your history for ways that you’ve demonstrated those skills in your career.
  • Update your resume. Make sure your Quantic career profile, resume, and LinkedIn profile are up to date, and draft a cover letter that you can customize as needed. 
  • Professional Development. If you have an experience or skill gap, now might be the time to fill it through education, or volunteering for a project at work to learn a particular technique (Remote project execution – check!)
  • Proactively contact your references. It’s always easier to reach out ahead of time, stay in touch and catch up without pressure so that there’s no rush when the time comes. 

If you have any questions about this survey, or ideas for Quantic that you’d like to share, please get in touch


* Percentage based on round one of survey respondents

Miya Miya: Helping #ChangeTheCourse for Future Leaders

We are constantly amazed by the innovative spirit of our Quantic students and alumni who are pioneering solutions for today’s complex challenges. It’s this same spirit that drives us to push the boundaries of online education — to make it higher quality, more accessible, and more effective. You may be familiar with how we’ve innovated in graduate school education with Quantic, but did you know that Pedago (the company behind Quantic) is launching another school? We are thrilled to announce that we will soon be launching Miya Miya, a platform enabling mobile education to #ChangeTheCourse for young students in need.

Miya Miya is a free, online, mobile-first school empowering disadvantaged Jordanian youth and Syrian refugees to obtain a high school STEM education and skills that are vital to their future career prospects.

This program aims to supplement classroom teaching for children and young adults who have been unable to access a traditional education due to hardship beyond their control. Like Quantic’s platform, the app-based curriculum uses active learning, in which students are prompted every eight seconds to engage. Because it is mobile-first, students can learn wherever and whenever they’re able to. 

The concept of Miya Miya was conceived as a digital curriculum delivery solution that caters to refugee children and youth, but will eventually be made available to all learners with content that is adapted to the national curriculum of host countries.

The program will run for a period of three years, and is in line with the Jordanian Government’s priority to tackle the low passing rate of ‘Tawjihi,’ the General Secondary Education Certificate Examination. According to a UNHCR report, only around 20% of secondary-school-aged Syrian children are enrolled in formal education, while the rest mostly work to support their families. Not attending secondary education prevents students from passing the final exam and receiving the necessary school certification to gain access to the job market, or study further. 

“We are delighted to collaborate with Dubai Cares, Questscope and the Queen Rania Foundation to make our breakthrough technology available to Jordan’s most vulnerable students” said Tom Adams, Pedago and Quantic Co-Founder and CEO. “Miya Miya is designed to be the premier solution for delivering Tawjihi-based instruction, and it works on smartphones.”

While Miya Miya will initially launch in Jordan, Pedago’s mission is to bring this affordable, accessible, and impactful education to all children around the globe. Through this school and other programs, we hope to continue to #ChangeTheCourse of traditional learning and help tomorrow’s leaders achieve their educational and career goals.