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The Master of Business Administration’s Transformational Effect


Education is often a key factor in improving your prospects, for both your professional and personal life. If you are looking to take it to the next level in your business career, then obtaining a professional degree in the form of a Master of Business Administration (MBA) may be the boost you need. The MBA program requires discipline, investment and time; however, it is a transformative experience and instills skills and insights to further all aspects of your life.

Describing the positive effects on his life completing the MBA program at the University of Alberta had on his career, David Leeworthy, president and CEO of First Industries Corporation, explains. “The program’s quantitative approach and small cohort structure created an environment that fostered strong analytics and constructive group dynamics while encouraging an entrepreneurial perspective. This toolbox of skills and perspectives was ideally suited for the roles that I have performed since graduating and is one of the main reasons I occupy the position that I currently hold. There was very little in the program that I have not used throughout my career.”

Talking about his experiences with the Athabasca University MBA program, Ryan Yamniuk, president of Simson-Maxwell, says. “The program has given me the tools and frameworks necessary to break down and tackle whatever complex problems and issues that I am faced with. Knowing how to evaluate, formulate recommendations and, in turn, execute productive solutions, has proven to be invaluable each and every day.”

Time management is another struggle in the business world; knowing when to prioritize tasks at work, yet still maintaining a balance with your personal life is tricky. Raj Dhunna, COO, Regency Developments points out, “The MBA program is definitely not for someone expecting to ‘skate on through’ as the workload was tough as any graduate program should be; it required heavy time investment. There was no easing into the program. I remember that first semester had a heavy course load from late August to December. This was where I really learned about time management and was forced to make wise decisions on the best use and focus of my time, which has been invaluable in balancing my personal family life and business life, as our company has four to six projects in various stages at any given time.”

Dhunna continues, “This heavy workload also led to a pleasant surprise I did not expect going into the Alberta MBA program – being around fellow peers for the majority of our days during the entire first year allowed for the development of strong new personal friendships, several of which have turned into lifelong ones. This is something I did not expect to happen in my late 20s.”

Amber Ruddy, director Western Canada, Counsel Public Affairs, had similar experiences in creating opportunities with connections made with at Queens University. “I am actively in the process of pursuing deals with my fellow classmates that will be win-win scenarios for our firms.”

This describes another positive aspect to investing in an MBA program: improving your ability to network in order to build meaningful connections, both professional, and personal. Yamniuk explains it well when he says, “Having an MBA designation provides credibility among peers in the business community and has enhanced my networking skills, directly resulting in the ability to create and foster stronger business relationships.”

Completing an MBA program doesn’t just give you the skills for networking though, it also opens up lifetime access to the alumni programs of the University you have chosen. Leeworthy notes, “The program’s influence does not stop at graduation. One of the strongest in Canada, the University of Alberta Business Alumni Association continues to provide excellent networking opportunities, both professionally and personally.”

While developing networking skills through an MBA program, communication is important. If you consider your communication skills to be lacking, then don’t let that discourage you from going for a MBA. Dhunna reveals, “My mindset going into the MBA program was one where I would challenge myself, take risks, work on my weaknesses and take advantage of all the growth opportunities provided by the program. My public speaking/communication skills were average when I entered, but after giving countless class presentations along with my newfound desire to be part of case competition teams, I learned how to strategize speaking points and how to quickly process information and speak in an articulate manner (e.g. during case comp Q&A rounds). The chance to learn from mistakes and honing this skill was a huge benefit for me as since graduating, and over the past decade, I have had numerous media engagements live on camera, on radio and in print.”

Improving communication skills very often leads to an improvement of confidence, as Yamniuk points out. “The positive impact on my life after completing my MBA has been tremendous. It has heightened my self confidence in both my professional and personal life.”

Ruddy makes an observation about confidence in young professionals. “There is a feeling that many young professionals describe as they move into senior level positions as: imposter syndrome. The MBA journey erodes those doubts and arms graduates with the skills they need to take their careers to the next level.”

The most prominent reason for obtaining an MBA is advancing your career further than you could before. Ruddy continues, “The experience was enriching and provided a deep dive into all fundamental business areas. This propelled me into a new advocacy position – a government relations consultant for private sector clients and associations.”

Yamniuk has had very positive results as well. Career advancement, post MBA, has been evident as I was recently appointed as president of Simson-Maxwell on January 1, 2017. I attribute a large part of my career advancement and success directly to the MBA program. It has truly inspired me to achieve more!”

Dhunna says, “Regency Developments is a family owned and operated company. My parents took great risks immigrating to a new country (to Canada, which welcomed them in the early 80s) with little grasp of the English language and little money to start a new life. They started working the day after they landed, and they spent decades growing their family and businesses. The values that have been instilled in me – honesty, integrity, respect (our Regency motto) – and work ethic have all played a part in my journey of graduating with the MBA. More importantly, my MBA degree was a culmination of everything they had worked their entire young adult life for, to build a better life for their family. My MBA degree meant immense trust to my family in that I was ready to take on a significant role in growing our businesses for the future and making the everyday decisions with full autonomy. I was appointed COO about two years after I graduated in 2010.”

He concludes, “I was asked to speak to a recent incoming class during orientation and I hope my message was a clear one:  take full advantage of all the program has to offer, please do not just take the courses your good at. You must work on your weaknesses and make the mistakes. Take risks since the program will not punish you for them. Maybe it will simply be one bad grade, but it will allow you to grow on a personal level by leaps and bounds and prepare you for the real world.”