Margaret Gleed


Humanities with Business: Towards Ethical Leadership

Written by: Busra Copuroglu

Margaret Dianne Gleed, a fourth year SASAH (School for Advanced Studies in the Arts and Humanities) and incoming President of the Arts and Humanities Student Council, first started coming to Western in pre-school. She attended Western’s University Lab Preschool program on campus while her mother completed her undergraduate degree. Later, she became better acquainted with Western when her mother came back to get her EMBA from Western’s Ivey Business School. Inspired by her entrepreneur parents, from a young age, Gleed had in her mind that she would also go to Ivey and follow the path of her parents in the real estate business.

Her grade 11 philosophy class, however, gave Gleed’s desire to pursue a career in the business world a different direction:    

“Going through COVID-19, questions about what the right action is, how we justify what is wrong, what is right, why we make the decisions that we make, and the pressures around [our decisions] … I thought these questions could tie into business really well.”

     Gleed’s love of philosophy and desire to become an entrepreneur, brought her to SASAH. After visiting a SASAH open house, she felt that SASAH, with internships and interdisciplinary courses, would offer great opportunities to enable her to pursue her diverse interests. Today, she is completing a dual degree with SASAH and HBA, alongside a module in the Scholar’s Electives Program.

      Outside of school, Gleed keeps busy gaining real-world work experience through various internships. In the fall term, as part of SASAH’s Experiential Learning Internship program, she will be completing a filmmaker concierge internship with Forest City Film Festival where she will be part of a team that reviews all the films submitted to the festival and connects with filmmakers to develop marketing strategies. Before starting her internship with the Forest Film Festival, Gleed completed a term with YOU (Youth Opportunities Unlimited) as a Project Management Administrator and helped kick start a kitchen that helps young mothers for Joan’s Place Project. Gleed had ties to the organization through her family, and thanks to her connection and experience with the organization, internship opportunities with YOU has now become part of SASAH’s experiential learning program. 

 Bringing Humanities Education to Business School

      In her time at Ivey, Gleed has come to see the benefits of her education in the Arts and Humanities. She first recognized the advantages of her humanities background in one of the communication-focused classes when she stood in front of her class to give a presentation: “I love communication and public speaking. And I discovered that my arts and humanities background is very vital to this. I had done [presentations] in my arts and humanities classes where the evaluation is based on not whether your performance is right or wrong, but on what you can improve,” she explained.

      Gleed also credits her first-year writing-intensive Scholar’s Electives course for her ability to construct persuasive arguments. “[That class] shaped my abilities as a writer. I’m not the kind of person that can pull 90 or 100% out of thin air, so I have to still work at it, but [the course] made it ten times easier to put my thoughts on paper,” she said. When she presented on an assignment exploring shareholder versus stakeholder interests for one of classes at Ivey, she, once again, saw of the advantages of her humanities background. “I had written a paper on the same topic for my Scholar’s Electives class before and presented it, arguing that the entire community is more important than people who have stocks in the company.” Gleed realized that thanks to her experience writing a research paper, she was able to construct persuasive arguments. “I was comfortable defending my thesis and had confidence defending my opinion,” she said. “Accounting, finance, communication – all of them are math heavy. There is no space to operate in the grey. And I like working in the grey. I don’t like having a right or wrong answer, I like being able to express my opinion and work through it on paper with someone else.”

 Ethical Consulting

     Gleed hopes to start her own business and specialize in ethical consulting. “There is risk assessment and risk management when it comes to launching big projects, but they focus on risks to the business instead of risks to the surrounding community. What I want to do is to have everyone considered in every single situation. [For instance], if Western is making a decision, I would want to make sure that it’s considerate of every single staff member here, surrounding community, of the secondary community such as suppliers, and the graduates that Western generates,” she said. She is currently working with Dr. Tracy Isaacs on a research project that focuses on leadership ethics for her Scholar’s Electives class. “I want to show with this project that business and ethics are not oxymorons. Incorporating ethics into leadership and changing leadership is entirely possible in any kind of scale on every level – from student council to the highest executive level,” she said.  

 Developing and Transferring Skills

     Gleed believes that taking as many courses as she can that speak to her interests has played a significant role in her academic life. “If I'm not interested in the content, I am not going to pay attention then it serves me no purpose,” she said. However, Gleed also advises prospective students to take as many different courses from different disciplines as they can within their faculty. “If you are interested in English and creative writing and have taken all the courses that you can take for that year, then move onto another department take a Medieval Studies class, for example, or something from the Philosophy Department. Having that kind of cross within the departments is helpful to your essay writing and your ability to think creatively and critically,” she said.

     In addition to course selections, Gleed also lists small classrooms and close communication with faculty and staff as one of the advantages of her Humanities degree. “Arts & Humanities programs have small classes, so you get dedication from your professors, and they want to see you succeed in class –especially in your first year. You get attention and dedication not only from the professors and but also from the staff – I got great advice from staff on how to navigate everything in university,” she said. Gleed also notes the tight-knit Alumni network as something to look forward to after graduation. “[There are] so many resources within the Arts and Humanities alumni network, and if you go out in your community looking for job, you will find a huge support network.”

 Arts and Humanities Student Council Leadership

     After serving as AVP and VP of Finance and interim president,  Gleed is currently preparing for her term as President of the Arts and Humanities Student Council. She looks forward to integrating her interests in ethics and professional leadership into her new role.

      Gleed believes that leaders should be adaptable and have confidence in themselves and their team to be effective. “You have to believe that the people you are working with are there for the same reasons that as you are. If you don’t have faith in that and that their capabilities are as strong as what they are saying, then you’re not being an effective leader, you are being a helicopter parent,” she said.

      During her presidency, Gleed will be focusing on student engagement. When she assumes her role as President, she will be seeking student opinion on previous experience with the Council. “What would make you engage with us? As a leader for our community, departments, faculties, how can I adapt my leadership abilities to best suit our community? For me, it’s about serving everyone and I'm always open to hearing things like that,” she said.

      Though Gleed’s journey is just beginning, her time stretched across departments show that the pursuit of interests in seemingly disconnected areas, is a promising start to achieving her goals. 


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