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January 2021: Rotman experts speak up about STEAM education, reinvesting in the auto sector and the COVID-19 vaccine

January 2021: Rotman experts speak up about STEAM education, reinvesting in the auto sector and the COVID-19 vaccine

In January 2021, the COVID-19 vaccine was in the early stages of being administered widely, and economists were contemplating the path to economic recovery. Here’s what our experts had to say about the key issues of the day.

In her op-ed for The Globe and Mail, Angèle Beausoleil explains why we need to invest in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, liberal arts and mathematics) education in order to ‘future-proof’ Canada’s workforce. Beausoleil — who is the academic director of the Business Design Initiative — writes, “it’s time to refocus on the people and educational programs that will result in resilient next-gen scientists, policy makers and teachers. And we can start with future-ready programs such as STEM, and more importantly, STEAM.”

Meanwhile, in his op-ed for The Toronto Star, Dimitry Anastakis reflects on the recent substantial investments in reopening automotive manufacturing plants in Oshawa and in shifting to electric vehicle production in Windsor and Oakville. Anastakis — who is the LR Wilson/RJ Currie chair in Canadian Business History at the Rotman School and the Department of History at U of T — emphasizes that deindustrialization can be challenged and that an activist state is essential for encouraging reinvestment in the automotive sector. He gives credit to major automotive manufacturers in recognizing that Canada will play a prominent role in electric vehicle manufacturing.

Peter Zhang (MBA/PharmD ’22) reassures readers that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and worth getting in his piece for The Ottawa Citizen. In light of this vaccine’s rapid development timeline, many have raised concerns about its safety and efficacy. However, Zhang points out that with previous vaccines distribution was often delayed because of administrative roadblocks and poor coordination.

“With the new COVID-19 vaccines, these bureaucratic processes were coordinated and streamlined to cut down the time needed to bring them into the market,” he and his coauthor write. “According to the Centers for Disease Control, all vaccines in development were required to meet the same comprehensive safety standards as before, and this process was not jeopardized to expedite the development timeline.”

In her piece for CERIC, Carmina Ravanera reflects on the troubling finding that women in Canada have been disproportionately affected by the economic fallout of COVID-19, especially women who are Black, Indigenous or people of colour (BIPOC). Canada’s path to economic recovery involves an affordable child care program while also addressing systemic racism.

“Policy solutions to the gender inequality that has arisen from the pandemic require commitment and action to ensure that all forms of discrimination, including racial discrimination, are tackled head-on. Without this lens, we risk implementing solutions that continue to leave people behind,” writes Ravanera, who is a research associate with the Institute for Gender and the Economy at the Rotman School.

In his piece for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Sam Maglio explains how owning up to past missteps will make you a more effective leader. Maglio, who is an associate professor in Marketing and Psychology at the University of Toronto Scarborough and at the Rotman School, explains how being honest about past mistakes is not a sign of weakness; it instills trust among followers.

“Copping to previous mistakes makes you come across as more knowledgeable because others assume that you have since figured things out. It takes expertise, observers intuit, to realize that you used to lack it — and confidence in your new position to say it out loud,” he writes.


Angele Beausoleil is an Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream in Business Design and Innovation and the Academic Director of the Business Design Initiative at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

Dimitry Anastakis is a Professor at the Rotman School and the Department of History and the L.R. Wilson/R.J. Currie Chair in Canadian Business History. 

Peter Zhang (MBA/PharmD ’22) is a candidate in the Combined PharmD-MBA program at the University of Toronto’s Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy and the Rotman School of Management.

Carmina Ravanera is a research associate at the Institute for Gender and the Economy at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School.

Sam Maglio is an Associate Professor of Marketing and Psychology at the University of Toronto Scarborough, with a cross-appointment to the Marketing area at Rotman. He conducts research at the interface of cognition, motivation, and emotion, with an emphasis on implications for consumer behaviour.