Taking Care of Business

Taking Care of Business

Pilon Students Create Award-Winning Research!

By: Robyn Miller

The Toronto Raptors aren’t the only ones bringing home hardware this spring: Victoria Webb (BBA Marketing Management) and Karly-Anna O’Brien (BBA Supply Chain Management 2019) won two major awards for their outstanding research.  The Pilon School of Business all-stars have been applying their creativity and entrepreneurial know-how to train emerging producers in Toronto’s theatre community. These two exceptional women are slam dunking their way to success!

Creative Entrepreneurship

Webb and O’Brien are Research Assistants for “Mobilizing Social Innovation to Train the Next Generation of Theatre Entrepreneurs,” a SSHRC-funded collaboration with the Toronto Fringe Festival. Directed by Dr. Brandon McFarlane, Professor of Creativity & Creative Thinking, the project is improving the Theatre Entrepreneurs’ Networking and Training (TENT) program by applying Sheridan’s expertise in creative problem solving (CPS). Toronto Fringe is Canada’s largest theatre festival. It runs from July 2-14 and features over 150 productions and 12,000 artists. Toronto Fringe and TENT play an invaluable role in Canada’s theatre industry by providing a forum for pros to try out new works and incubating world-class talent such as Trey Anthony (‘Da Kink In My Hair), Ins Choi (Kim’s Convenience), and Irene Sankoff & David Hein (My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding, Come From Away).

The Hardware

Webb received the Orange Ribbon, a Sheridan People Award that recognizes an exceptional application of creativity and CPS. Under the supervision of Dr. Michael McNamara, Professor of Creativity & Creative Thinking, Webb planned and facilitated CPS sessions that generated innovations to improve the accessibility and sustainability of TENT. Webb also authored reports that recommend novel enhancements Toronto Fringe will implement in summer and fall of 2019.

“I love collaborating with the Creative Humanities team, it is the most rewarding aspect of studying at Sheridan. I’ve learned so much in my business courses, contributing to this project has provided the opportunity to apply these skills and really appreciate how they can change the world for the better,” said Webb.

O’Brien received the Dr. Mary Preece SWITCH Award from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences; the award honors a female-identfying, graduating student of the Board Undergraduate Certificate in Creativity & Creative Problem Solving who significantly improved learning at Sheridan and beyond. O’Brien collaborated with Dr. Glenn Clifton, Professor of Literary Studies, and Tanisha Taitt, TENT Program Director, to design creative entrepreneurship curriculum and pilot online modules. Thanks to O’Brien’s rigorous research and passion of entrepreneurship, Toronto Fringe now has innovative curriculum that will substantially improve the impact of TENT and make the training available to a mass audience of emerging producers.

“We work with the Toronto-based organization to bridge the gap between careers in the creative arts, and skills needed to start your own business. By empowering TENT, we help them empower the students. This is the reason I love my job. I help people in the arts and entertainment field by developing a business curriculum in the critical areas needed to launch a successful venture,” said O’Brien.

Standing Ovation

The Sheridan-Fringe collaboration is an experiment in talent-orientated research, a new approach that prioritizes the development of 21st century skills at Sheridan and beyond. Webb and O’Brien were recruited due to their passion for serving the community, business know-how, and their openness to new experiences. The project is designed to provide students with opportunities to become changemakers and take control of their professional development by pitching workflows that will challenge and improve their skills.

“Victoria and Karly are top-notch students, so I had very high expectations when they joined the team. Like many Raptors fans, I may soon need jaw surgery because I’ve been consistently awed by their contributions. Karly just graduated, so we lost her to free agency. Luckily, Victoria will be on our team until the collaboration curtains in spring 2020” said McFarlane.


Sandra Ghobrial (BBA, Marketing Management 2019) and Anthony Marcelino (BBA, Supply Chain Management) served as “Trained Brains.” They brought their unique perspectives and expertise in CPS to generate hundreds of ideas for TENT and critically evaluate promising solutions. To learn more about how Pilon and other students are contributing to the project, visit www.creativehumanities.ca or follow the Creative Humanities on Twitter or Instagram.