Western helps cement grad’s family tradition

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Business runs in the family for Riley Love.

Love comes from a three-generation business family in Dauphin, a community of just over 8,000 in western Manitoba. His grandfather started the family tradition in 1965 when he opened a one-man insurance agency in the town. Love’s father was a partner in the firm, and his brother is now part of the firm after completing his commerce degree. His mother, now retired, was also in business as an accountant.

Love, however, took a slightly more circuitous route to fall in with the family tradition. He first became a pharmacist at an independent community pharmacy after graduating from the University of Manitoba.

“I was the black sheep who went into health care,” Love said. “But having grown up in that kind of environment, I always had an interest in business. Pharmacy was a good way to merge science and business because, at the end of the day, running a retail pharmacy is a business.”

That interest in business continued when Love worked at a startup called LifeSmart Health, founded by a friend. Like most startups, Love took on numerous roles in the organization, but felt he needed to formalize his business knowledge.

Love and his brother learned about managing money and the basics of business through their grandfather Larry’s informal financial education. But it was the impact the third-generation business has had on the local community that was the real lesson Love took away from those early years.

“My grandpa was a big inspiration. He started from nothing,” Love said. “He was dedicated to giving back to the community. That’s what always drew me to business, because I saw the good you can do with it.”

When looking for MBA programs, Love came to Ivey Business School for a class visit to experience the case-based learning method for himself. He sat in on a case discussion on coffee pods with Marketing lecturer Mike Taylor and was hooked on the school and the Western community.

“He was really engaged. I liked how he was calling people out and challenging them to defend their positions. The environment was conducive to learning. It was different than pharmacy school, but I found myself liking it.”

Analytics classes with Ivey professor John Wilson and strategy with professor Glenn Rowe were some of Love’s favourite moments. Through these experiences, he became more adaptable and grew as a problem-solver.

“The Riley coming out of Ivey is more sure of himself, more battle-tested,” Love said in describing the changes experienced over the course of the one-year MBA. “That’s the biggest thing you learn at Ivey. You just become more confident in yourself and you become more adaptable as a problem-solver.”

One of the year’s touchpoints at the business school was the Ivey Field Project, an opportunity for MBA teams to bring their skills to an actual business problem.

Assisted living can be cost-prohibitive, but through interviews with seniors, exploration of different business models and application of lessons learned at Ivey, Love and team came up with a more affordable model while working with St. Joseph’s Health Care.

“It was incredibly rewarding to know the work we were doing could one day make life better for senior residents in London.”

The work earned the team the Fred Metter IFP award for top consulting project. “It was the best team experience I have been a part of at school or work.”

In August, Love begins a consulting role with Boston Consulting Group in Calgary. There, he will widen his experiences into new fields like oil and gas, utilities, telecoms and financial services, among others.

As Love and the rest of the world emerge from the pandemic, he has begun working with another health-care startup before beginning his new job. He has also reconnected with family and friends after being apart during his time at Ivey.

“Zoom has been great for connecting people, but it can never replace in-person human connection.”