DBMC Alumnus Tyler Spring: ‘The course is an experience you won’t forget’

Tyler Spring attended the Digital Business Master Class in July 2019, and has successfully translated the course insights into positive changes at his work.
Tyler Spring standing in a harbour at sunset, smiling.
Tyler Spring, alumnus of the Digital Business Master Class.

The Digital Business Master Class (DBMC) is an intensive course organised by the Aalto University School of Business that gives students the opportunity to deep-dive into the digital business landscape. The Master Class helps students build and apply their knowledge of several topics, ranging from business design thinking to managing data-intensive businesses. 

One of the participants of the summer 2019 Digital Business Master Class was Tyler Spring, MBA student at the University of Calgary Haskayne School of Business and Director of Product Development at Shaw Communications, one of Canada's largest telecommunications companies.

Based in Calgary, Tyler works in a team that is relentlessly focused on improving the connected lives of Canadians by developing and enhancing their mobile phone and app experiences in innovative ways. When he is not at work or school, he enjoys travelling ("25 countries and counting"), exercising, trying new restaurants or catching up with family and friends. 

Tyler, why did you decide to join the Digital Business Master Class? 

As soon as I read the description for DBMC, I knew that it was the exchange program that I wanted to pursue.  It’s not often that you get the opportunity to spend two weeks surrounded by like-minded individuals from around the globe where you’re not only learning from each other’s experiences, but also from instructors about the latest digital trends and new ways of working in an experiential setting. The course over-delivered on the promise of actively applying learnings to a real-world problem and does a great job of balancing theoretical principles with practical applications that are reinforced by visits to well-known, forward-thinking companies – which is exactly what I hoped for when I applied. Finland was also high on my travel list, and there is no better way to get to know a new place than immersing yourself in the culture for an extended period of time.

What was your favourite part of the course? 

One of the most unexpected aspects of the course was the friendships that I formed with other participants while I was in Finland. To this day, we still reminisce about visiting Estonia, the DBMC organized sitz party, and all the great times we had exploring Helsinki’s vast culinary and nightlife options.

However, what left the most lasting impression was the collaboration with the UN’s UNTIL division, where we researched and created a digital solution to fight the growing environmental challenge related to e-waste. It was eye-opening for me how a simple digital marketplace for e-waste could unlock a circular economic model that provides benefits to many stakeholders in vulnerable countries around the globe. The project not only provided the opportunity to directly apply what we learned each day but offered a platform to immerse ourselves in important international issues, using a digital perspective as a problem-solving engine.   

Everything about the program is extremely well done, from the facilities to the coordinators, company visits, cultural outings and lectures.

Tyler Spring, Digital Business Master Class alumnus

How have you translated the skills and concepts from DBMC to your work life?

I challenged myself to implement as many learnings from DBMC into my job as possible, and I’m happy to say there’s not enough time in this article for me to outline how many positive changes I’ve been able to realize from taking this course. Here are three quick ones:

  1. Just weeks ago, we unveiled a new Internet product that allowed me to combine many of my learnings by leading a highly agile project. We started with a minimum viable product, planned iterative improvements, implemented technology platforms for enhanced collaboration and sought rapid customer feedback as a refinement method. With DBMC being my first experience using Microsoft Teams, I was able to effectively utilize the technology on this project to bridge geographically dispersed groups - as we did during our project pre-work - and accelerate the availability feedback. 
  2. Having learned about the importance of fast-failing in a digital world, we have re-configured our testing and trial practices to more aggressively utilize customer beta tests and directly solicit feedback to guide improvements and product roadmaps for our applications. 
  3. Service blueprinting has proved to be an invaluable tool that extended beyond the application in our UNTIL project to my workplace. Instead of focusing solely on a customer journey, we’re now augmenting the view with impacted systems and support teams to build a more holistic, interconnected view of the way technology impacts our ability to optimally deliver our customers with the best possible products.

Where are you heading next career-wise? What inspires you at the moment?

I am one of those people who is always seeking new opportunities, challenges and learning, which ultimately prompted me to pursue my MBA and to seek out programs such as DBMC in Finland.  My career has been solely focused on the telecommunications industry since receiving my Bachelor of Commerce degree in 2011, but there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t ask myself what’s next. My journey at Shaw for the past eight years has been filled with unforgettable opportunities to directly impact the lives of Canadians and to develop my leadership, marketing and strategic thinking skills further. I truly believe that the telecom industry will play an important role in shaping the future of the planet and that connectivity is what’s going to enable an entire generation to tackle some of the world’s most important emerging issues. 

If you ask anyone that is close to me, they will tell you that what inspires me the most is travelling – not only for the thrill of exploring new countries, but also the airplanes, airlines and industries that connect the entire experience together.  

Do you have any tips for future DBMC students or people thinking about applying? 

Just go for it!  Everything about the program is extremely well done, from the facilities to the coordinators, company visits, cultural outings and lectures, it all comes together as an experience that you won’t forget. Plus, you’ll get the opportunity to make new friends from around the globe and learn from a wide variety of perspectives. Make sure you take the time to explore all of the great things that Helsinki has to offer – especially the restaurants and nightlife. The program provides ample time on the weekend to explore outside of Helsinki, and I’d highly recommend taking the short ferry to Tallinn.

Digital Business Master Class is a 6 ECTS course. In addition to the two-week course in Finland, students work in virtual teams both before and after the on-site teaching period. The course is aimed at Master’s students from Aalto University and from the School of Business’s partner schools. The course will be organised twice in 2020. The application period for Spring 2020 is open until December 2019.

Students riding bikes in front of the Aalto University Väre building, photo by Unto Rautio

Digital Business Master Class

Digital Business Master Class is a challenge-based course with a focus on digital technologies as tools for building businesses.

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