Colors of Concordia 

Interns use MBA expertise to coordinate annual tour

By Anna Sarkissian

Through the MBA Community Service Initiative, coordinated by Dave McKenzie (left), intern Hatem Shehata is bringing his marketing know-how to the Colors of Concordia. Magnifying glass

Through the MBA Community Service Initiative, coordinated by Dave McKenzie (left), intern Hatem Shehata is bringing his marketing know-how to the Colors of Concordia.

For the past six years, Concordia students from all corners of the world have been coming together to pedal 50 km during the Tour de l’Île.

This year, the Colors of Concordia (COC) team – the largest delegation at the annual bike fest – is being managed by two MBA student interns who are applying classroom lessons to real world situations.

Through the John Molson School of Business’ new MBA Community Service Initiative (CSI) Hatem Shehata and Yousef Chamaneh are earning course credits while coordinating the COC’s activities. They are responsible for devising a strategic plan, developing marketing tools, like a website and Facebook group, and making recommendations for the future of the organization when their project wraps up in mid-June.

MBA CSI founder and coordinator Dave McKenzie describes it as a win-win situation for the students, the university, and the community.

“Some people go to school, keep their head in a book, and take the exam. This is an opportunity for students to apply what they’re learning,” he says. “We’re making an already excellent MBA program better.”

MBA CSI started up six months ago and is designed to promote community engagement. It has three components: internships for credit, training, and information/referral. The internships quickly gained momentum and there are currently 13 students working with organizations such as the Farha Foundation, Committee for Excellence in Health Governance, and the Centre Action Foundation.

Training projects are underway with Tyndale St-Georges Community Centre, the Ujamaa Initiative for Black Entrepreneurs and the Cree First Nation of Waswanipi. McKenzie plans to further develop referral services like “Ask-an-expert” in the coming months.

Shehata and Chamaneh signed on in January for a minimum commitment of seven hours per week in exchange for three credits. As the event draws closer, Shehata admits he is spending closer to 30 hours a week on the project, on top of his regular coursework.

“But I don’t look at it as a class,” he says. “It’s more like something you want to do because you believe in it.” Originally from the Middle East, Shehata is passionate about the COC’s mission to promote understanding between cultures.

McKenzie explains that although the internship is more work than the average course, there are numerous benefits to offset the increased workload. In addition to making a valuable contribution to society, students can network, meet with potential employers and be exposed to different types of career opportunities.

Both Shehata and McKenzie shared high praise for JMSB receptionist Mona Senecal, who has put her heart and soul into organizing the Colors of Concordia since 2003. Behind the scenes, JMSB staff members Amalia Dinut and Caroline D’Amour have also been instrumental in ensuring that the event runs smoothly.

Senecal is overseeing the interns as their job site supervisor and was pleased to collaborate with students.

“They’re young. They bring new energy and new ideas,” she says. “I think it’s wonderful to encourage young people to give back to the community.”

Come June 7, more than 300 people representing 72 countries will be joining together under the banner of Colors of Concordia to ride bikes, exchange ideas, and ultimately enjoy a picnic on the mountain when it’s all done.

For more information about the MBA Community Service Initiative, contact Dave McKenzie at ext. 2790 or For more information about the Colors of Concordia, see their site.


Concordia University