Margaret Doyle

Senior Content Strategist

Communications, Faculty of Management
Other Titles:
Office: EME4145
Office Hours: Monday to Wednesday: 8:30-4:30 p.m.
Phone: 250.807.8892
Email: margaret.doyle@ubc.ca


Biography

Margaret Doyle is a digital storyteller and strategic content strategist whose work is informed by both traditional storytelling methodologies and emerging technologies.

Margaret served as UBC’s Digital Storyteller for six years prior to coming to the UBC Okanagan campus, where she helped develop key brand properties such as UBC’s corporate website, brand site, and an award-winning collection of multi-media feature stories. She is passionate about the living narrative and adapting stories to transmedia contexts. In addition to her story practice, she trains and coaches clients across Canada and beyond on finding and telling their story in a complex digital landscape in order to have more meaningful dialogue with the people they serve. Margaret brings this expertise into her current role as Senior Content Strategist for the Faculty of Management in order to surface and shape the stories that matter for students, faculty, staff and the many communities connected to FOM.

Margaret studied digital marketing at New York University and completed her MFA in creative writing at UBC the spring of 2020. She is currently working on a feature-length film screenplay and a number of one-act plays.

Responsibilities

Responsible for the content strategy and content development for the Faculty of Management and SE-CHANGE lab. Leading the strategic content direction in an omnichannel environment with a focus on storytelling as a means to engage and develop relationships with our diverse audiences.

 

Undergraduate research awards support students in making a difference.

Eric Li with students

How do you plan, track, and distribute hundreds of thousands of pounds of donated fresh produce throughout the Okanagan each year? That’s the problem faced by Kelowna-based Helen’s Acres. The community farm donates up to 200,000 pounds of fresh vegetables, berries and eggs every year to The Central Okanagan Community Food Bank and other social agencies.

Now, thanks in part to the work of Faculty of Management undergraduate students, that challenge is being addressed head-on. This month, Helen’s Acres will begin pilot testing a new inventory management system developed by a team led by associate professor Eric Li—a team that includes three of the seven recipients of this year’s Faculty of Management undergraduate research awards, which support experiential learning through the summer.

“The Central Okanagan Community Food Bank gets anywhere between $5 million and $7 million worth of produce every single year,” says fourth-year undergraduate student Shiven Vinod Khera, who worked with Li over the summer months to help refine the inventory system. “We devised a smart system that will let food banks know exactly where the produce is, what produce needs to go out, and when it’s going to expire. It also allows suppliers of the food bank to enter data directly as well.”

Helen's Acres farm

Vinod Khera’s contribution is just one example of the impactful research undertaken over the summer by the recipients of this year’s awards, which support undergraduate students in gaining exceptional learning experiences by working alongside faculty supervisors. This year’s awards include four Management Undergraduate Research Awards (MURA), two International Undergraduate Research Awards (IURA) and a Regional Socio-Economic Development Institute of Canada (RSEDIC) award.

Exceptional learning

“One of the unique things about this program is that the students are well funded throughout the summer,” notes UBCO assistant professor of management David Walker. “If you think about the prototypical university, students are looking for employment between May and September, and this is an opportunity for that employment to be research. It’s an opportunity to work on things that an undergraduate student wouldn’t typically work on.”

This year was no exception, despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the summer months, Walker supervised (via Zoom calls and emails) Gabriel Tan, a third-year management undergraduate who is also pursuing a minor in computer science. Tan’s research looked at whether the audio characteristics of customer voices in service interactions predict that the customer will mistreat the employee later in the interaction.

“I’ve had this audio data for a while, and I needed someone with the skills to be able to take that audio and turn it into some numeric data that we can analyze,” says Walker. “Gabriel was able to take this data set containing over 300 audio clips, and start converting it into numeric files.”

While Tan and Walker aren’t yet able to draw any definitive conclusions from their investigations so far, the work will continue—Tan is now working as Walker’s research assistant.

“When I first started out on this project, it was very intimidating,” admits Tan. “It was very challenging because I didn’t really know much about the subject matter. But as it went on, I got better at reading the literature, and the pieces kind of just stuck together.

“I feel like this changed my perspective—and now I feel that maybe there is potential for me to excel in research if I really put in the effort.”

Career development
Tan isn’t the only award recipient to have been given additional opportunities to continue engaging in research with their supervisor. Fourth-year undergraduate (Shree) Nithi Santhagunam and fifth-year undergraduate Vinil Sood will both continue working as research assistants with their faculty supervisors.

Santhagunam is now a research assistant to assistant professor Jennifer Davis, with whom she conducted a comprehensive review on promoting adherence to recommendations for fall prevention provided by a Falls Prevention Clinic for seniors. She also assisted in designing a survey to assess the health and economic impacts of COVID-19 on tenure-track faculty across Canada. And Sood, who researched food waste in the global food chain, has been a research assistant to Li since 2018.

Screen shot of research symposium A theoretical Framework to improve adherence among older adults who fall

 

“There are several things that undergraduate students bring to the table,” Davis observes. “One is a new energy to projects, and with that new energy comes new ideas. Many undergraduate students are completing minors in areas outside of management. For example, Nithi is doing a minor in psychology. She was able to bring a psychology perspective to interpreting the review, and for developing a theoretical framework that provides model for how to promote adherence among those at high risk of falls.”

Santhagunam’s work has also earned her a first author credit on a paper to be submitted soon to a peer-reviewed journal. “I had never even dreamt about writing a paper that might get published someday,” she says. “I never thought of myself as a research person. Now I understand what research is, and all the things that you can do—from writing papers, to literature reviews, to testing ideas. I think what I’ve learned over the summer has really opened me up to new avenues for my future.”

While it may seem unusual to have an undergraduate’s name on a peer-reviewed paper, that’s precisely the kind of opportunities that often arise from these awards and the connections they help to foster. Ying Zhu, assistant professor in the Faculty of Management notes that, this year, she published a paper whose second author is her undergraduate research assistant.

The students Zhu supervised over the summer—Beyond Zhao, a second-year undergraduate, and third-year undergraduate Patrick Feng—she says, “put a lot of time at first to improve, and now they are junior scholars. I’m going to keep working with them for sure in the coming years.”

Opening new avenues

Zhao’s work focused on examining how consumers responded to online ads for bulk buys compared to single purchases of items, while Feng examined responses to ads for services compared to tangible goods on touchscreens and PCs. “Before this summer, I was focused on planning a career in industry,” says Feng. “Now, I’m much more excited about research, and I hope to take part in more projects, and continue developing my research skills.”

Student Beyond ZhaoZhao, who at 19 is the youngest research student Zhu has ever supervised, is similarly enthusiastic about her experience. “It was such an amazing opportunity,” she says. “It was almost like getting paid to learn, and who doesn’t want that? I learned so many things. It feels like I’ve done a whole extra year of university.”

That sentiment is echoed by Mohana Rambe, a third-year undergraduate student who conducted a systematic review of food-bank operations as part of Eric Li’s team—work that helped inform the design of the new inventory system for Helen’s Acres.

“It was kind of like getting trained for third year,” she says. “One of my core courses in third year is in operations management, and when I read my coursework, everything’s easy, and I’m thinking about how it could be applied in different situations.”

A part of something greater

What’s clear is that these students have done more than acquire new skills and knowledge—they also broadened their perspectives and opened up new ideas and options for the future. And during a time when the world is struggling to contain a global pandemic, these students were able to make real, significant contributions to the social good, in the local region and beyond.

“At the end of the day, I feel like I’m getting more than what I’m giving back,” says Rambe. It’s a sentiment echoed by Sood, who adds: “It feels great to be part of a project that is going to be part of the change we need.” For Li, this is precisely what post-secondary university is all about:

“As university educators, we are training the next generation. One day they will be someone’s teacher, whether in a university setting or as a mentor. We are training them to carry on this legacy.”

Sidebar:

The recipients of the 2020 Management Undergraduate Research Awards, funded by UBCO’s Faculty of Management, are (Shree) Nithi Santhagunam, Vinil Sood, Shiven Vinod Khera and Beyond Zhao.

The recipients of the 2020 International Undergraduate Research Awards, funded by UBCO’s International Student Initiative office, are Patrick Feng and Gabriel Tan.

The recipient of the 2020 Regional Socio-Economic Development Institute of Canada award, funded by the institute, is Mohana Rambe.

Story written by Jess Werb.

Meet Linda Armano, Marie Curie Global Fellow in the Faculty of Management at UBCO and Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia.

Tell us about your research.

I am taking an anthropological look at how people define the idea of “Canadian ethical diamonds”—all the wayfrom the Diavik mine in the Northwest Territories to a retail storefront in Milan, the only one in Italy that carries Diavik diamonds. Do the ways in which the diamonds are mined at their source align with consumer’s view of ethics? Would they still consider them ethically mined if they understood the working conditions of miners? These are some of the questions I, and my collaborator Annamma Joy, in the UBCO Faculty of Management, are pursuing.

By interviewing all of the people involved along the chain—miners, managers, company executives, distributors, and customers—I am looking at how the concept of “ethical diamonds” is created and recognized by all the parties involved. As part of this work, I’m looking into the informal work practices of miners, to better understand how to improve and innovate working conditions of their extreme environments. My hope is that these concepts that can be applied to other industries involving extreme work environments.

What got you interested in this topic?

Anthropology has always been my biggest passion. It’s an opportunity for me to meet people belonging to other cultures and learn about myself. Mining anthropology, and applying anthropology to consumer reLinda Armano in a minesearch, are two growing fields of research that I find fascinating. I first began to delve into this during my PhD in the Alpine region of Europe. After speaking with many European miners, I wanted to compare their cultural perceptions of the workplace with miners in other countries. In the Alps, miners work in silver, gold, iron, and copper mines. I also want to explore how people of different cultures interpret concepts of ethics, which is what brought me to Canada to explore the diamond mining here.

“Often, when it comes to sustainability and ethics, what consumers expect and what firms and management perceive are often at odds with one another. My work will, I hope, lead to new methods of conducting marketing and business research.”

What is the most memorable moment from your time in the field?

 When I went to Yellowknife last September, it was so completely different from all the places I have visited throughout my life. Coming from Venice, I was eager to see the aurora borealis. I asked so many people how and where to see them that, after a week, people started calling me “the woman who waits for northern lights.” When I finally did see them, it was amazing. I would wake up around 2 a.m and sit for hours on a hill near downtown. One night I also saw many shooting stars. It was wonderful, and this memory will always stay with me.

 How do you relax?

I like running and hiking, especially in the mountains. When my husband, nine-year-old daughter and I moved from Italy to Canada last year, we discovered so many different animals than what we have back home. We’ve had the chance to see bald eagles, deer, bighorn sheep, salmon, and moose. We were surprised (and scared!) one day when we saw a baby bear with its mother during a hike. We stood and waited as they passed before continuing our trek. It’s important for me to involve my family in my research adventures. Moving to Canada has been a huge opportunity for my daughter to open her mind and experience different cultures.

What do you want to explore next?

 I would like to enhance my knowledge and skills in Big Data analysis and apply an ethnographic method to data science. I am very interested in the creation of new methodologies and concepts in management research, and in contributing to ethnographic approaches in the context of industry.

 

Jonathan Zaleski, Master of Management alumnus, on balancing grad studies with a busy career and young family.  

Jonathan Zaleski

At the best of times, it’s a long drive between Fort St. John and Kelowna.

For Jonathan Zaleski, UBC Faculty of Management alumnus, a young father and newly hired senior commercial account manager for RBC Automotive Finance, barrelling south late last April to a new job and life in Kelowna, driving solo, towing a packed U-Haul trailer, it was a road trip he’d likely never forget.

The job offer had been immediate, a little more than a couple weeks to uproot, move, and relocate his family—one of whom was under two years of age and the other just a month shy of being born.  Add in the final two months of graduate degree demands for good measure.

Outside, the driving conditions were good but inside the stuffed Ford Escape, two small feline passengers weren’t happy and from the 5:00 a.m. launch to the 7:00 p.m. arrival, roughly 14 hours straight, they let Zaleski know it, loudly, and incessantly.

“They’re meowing, meowing, meowing, and I’m like ‘Oh, my God’,” Zaleski recalls, with feeling. “It was the worst thing ever.”

Each cat, in its own carrier “because they kind of hate each other’s guts to be honest,” which meant frequent stops to let each out, separately, to eat, drink, and “do their thing.”

A good enough plan — until one of the unhappy feline passengers somehow got loose, wriggled forward and suddenly, startlingly, jumped up on Zaleski’s shoulders.

As a former star athlete and ongoing martial arts enthusiast, call it a metaphor and measure of Zaleski’s reflexes when dealing with sudden change, he somehow managed to find the necessary calm to gingerly pull over, put the cat back into its secure carrier, and carry on.

Zaleski lets out a sigh as he recalls the drive to Kelowna. “It was a long day.”

Zaleski’s new chapter in Kelowna would barely offer him a chance to catch his breath and unpack before his second child, a boy, was born just four weeks later. It was, Zaleski remembers with a slight eye roll, “bonkers.” 

Finding strength in diversity

In his role at RBC, Zaleski’s task is building relationships with people who work with him and together, optimizing the commercial finances of RBC’s regionally widespread, socially diverse and growing clientele of mid- to large auto dealerships.

Jonathan Zaleski

This means not just being a capable ‘numbers guy’, but an astute people person too.

In times of rapid and often unsettling change, Zaleski believes that business leaders and companies of today, established behemoth or small startup, must learn to recognize and leverage that ever-widening human spectrum, whether as potential clients or employees, but especially the latter. “In times of change, any organization is ultimately just the sum of its people.”

Zaleski references RBC outstanding track record for its inclusive and diverse workplace (RBC ranked #3 in the global “Top 25 Most Diverse & Inclusive Companies” in the 2019 Refinitiv Diversity & Inclusion Index), adding that “research shows that more diversity within companies produces a way better bottom line.”

Similarly, Zaleski found the diversity, both in his MM cohort, and the UBCO faculty, a real strength in the program: “In management, you’re getting very different perspectives from a lot of faculties on a lot of different subjects. You also develop relationships with all of them so you can easily reach out. The [UBCO] faculty are all very accessible, which is great.” Similarly, Zaleski appreciated that his cohort wasn’t made up of purely finance professionals but rather came from a range of diverse backgrounds including health care, government, and academia.

“There are fundamentals that kind of stay the same over time though. Compassion and kindness are two big ones that go a long way.”

Zaleski smiles. These qualities seem to come naturally to Zaleski, but he admits to learning a lot about personality traits during the MM program and how these behaviour styles can affect capacity in the workplace. Being able to better understand the nuances of how these preferred ways of being thrive in the workplace have helped make him a better leader.

Jonathan Zaleski

Capacity for change 

Blending and balancing busy family life with the demands of work and 25 months of grad school wasn’t easy but Zaleski shrugs and smiles, suggesting an innate ability to adapt to change. It helped that the blended delivery of UBC’s Faculty of Management’s Master of Management degree provided the necessary flexibility Zaleski needed to manage work and family demands amidst coursework. He credits his employer, RBC, for being supportive of his academic workload throughout his degree, something he says is a “recurring theme across leadership in the organization.”

Thinking critically about ‘adaptive capacities’ and how to ‘navigate rapid change’ are terms Zaleski says, you probably wouldn’t have heard in a graduate business course five years ago but were ever-present in the Master of Management program.

Adaptation is a process, he explains, and sometimes “it means letting the old ways die, and there’s kind of a mourning period” but it’s either adapt or risk the inevitable losses that come with resisting change. As Zaleski notes, this is probably the first time in history where four distinct ‘social generations’ work together in the same workplace.

The boomers, more attune to hierarchies and loyalty-based rewards, are now often working side-by-side with millennials. Zaleski suggests that millennials are a lot more performance-based, transitory, and outspoken. “They’re also more likely to move on if a better opportunity appears or their current job sucks,” Zaleski adds matter-of-factly.

Okanagan-grown 

As a ‘double UBC Okanagan alumni’ (Bachelor of Management, UBCO 2010; Master of Management, UBCO Faculty of Management, 2019), Zaleski admits location factored heavily into his decision to choose UBC’s Okanagan campus as the setting for his academic career.

Beyond the hometown factor that provides Zaleski and his growing family with supportive grandparents (happily, only a three-minute drive away), it’s a community and campus that he believes has a lot to offer both in terms of career and lifestyle. He admits to probably being biased but cites the weather as an obvious bonus. “Summertime is amazing here and then lifestyle in the winter is great too. You have ski hills all over the place.”

His decision to return to do his graduate degree was ultimately swayed not by hours of sunshine per year but by the blended model of the MM program. Zaleski had to balance having two children during the course of his degree — one at the start and one at the end—which he quickly adds requires a “shout-out to my wife who was a trooper through the entire process.”

In all aspects of research, critical thinking and writing, adds Zaleski, “there are no black and white answers to anything. You have to get really comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

Along with the strong emphasis on enterprise, innovation and “general clarity of thought that comes with this level of thinking,” Zaleski says the UBC MM program teaches one how to research, document, write and verbally present this knowledge in a logical, clear, comprehensive and persuadable manner. He leaned on these lessons while writing his final applied project on the relationships between qualitative and quantitative factors affecting utility scale geothermal energy deployment in British Columbia.

During the process, Zaleski came face-to-face with the rigours of research. “The biggest thing I learned was that solid research is a much more time consuming, tedious, and exhausting process than I had originally thought.” Despite the demands, however, Zaleski reflects that it was “also far more rewarding intellectually than I thought as well.”

Zaleski offers simple advice to anyone considering the program: “The bottom line is, like many things in life, you’re going to get out of it what you put into it.”

Calm in the chaos 

It takes Zen-like aplomb not to swat a mewling cat at your head while racing down a highway, but Zaleski credits much of his centred calm to an ongoing love of sports and martial arts.

While completing his undergrad degree, Zaleski, 6’5”, was the game-winning forward in the climatic 2008/09 UBCO Heat men’s basketball rumble with arch-rival VIU Mariners and later on, in his off time from work, a tae kwon do champion and mixed-martial arts and basketball coach in Fort St. John.

Today, as a busy young dad, Zaleski says his sports activities “have dialled down significantly” but the mental and spiritual resilience he learned continue to aid him in business and life. “Meditation and discipline learned from martial arts have allowed me to learn to think clearly and remain focused, even when life is very chaotic.”

In turn, team sports have had a major effect on his emotional intelligence. “Specifically, understanding how people think and feel in competitive environments and still manage to work together to achieve common goals.”

With Kelowna roots now firmly down for his young family, and a graduate degree checked on his bucket list, he’s focused on growing into his role at RBC. For him and RBC, the territory is immense — all of B.C. excluding the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island ­­­­­— but Zaleski appreciates the opportunity to connect into a regional and global company like RBC that prioritizes research and development.

But please, don’t ask him to deliver your cat.

Story by Margaret Doyle