Partner, Dojeiji Consulting Ltd and Former Chief Information Officer, Public Services and Procurement Canada
A Telfer Executive MBA Alumnae’s Leadership Footprint
An Interview with Tammy Labelle, Partner, Dojeiji Consulting Ltd and Former Chief Information Officer, Public Services and Procurement Canada
What are the highlights that come to mind in your 30+ year career in the public service?
My parents never went to university or college, and I was never encouraged to do so either. I started working in the public service directly out of high school as a receptionist in a data center for the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). I then moved into an administrative assistant role in the Minister’s Office of National Revenue. With the experience I gained as a receptionist/admin assistant, I quickly became a secretary. I then worked in corporate communications for two years before returning to a secretary role. It was in this role when I started working on the first desktop computer. My supervisor saw that I was adept with computers and encouraged me to go back to school to learn coding. This changed things for me – I went from being an administrative assistant to being an expert in a technical domain. So that’s how I got out of the secretary/administrative assistant roles and from then on, I was fortunate to work on some wonderful programs, two of which I can highlight:
As I was beginning to grow my career as a leader, I was part of a redesign project in the early 90’s that dealt with taxation. Some people may remember doing their taxes with a paper form, pencil, and eraser. I won’t take credit for it as I wasn’t the leader but rather a member of the team who helped build the taxation system that exists today – an online form that once submitted can see an individual’s return being deposited into their bank account within a week as opposed to months as was done previously. This project is a highlight in my career because it was my training ground where I observed leadership in action. It was a top-notch IT organization. This is also where I caught the bug for project work so when they asked me to join Public Works Canada to create a new Human Resources (HR) platform, I jumped at the opportunity even though I didn’t know a thing about HR. This project was basically building a single platform that managed HR resources and talent for all government departments. Within three and a half years, we onboarded thirty-three departments to this platform. This project allowed for much more efficiency with regards to employee files – now employees can move from one department to another without having to re-submit all their qualifications or re-do training again. It’s a generic file that all departments have access to now.
As I said, I’ve worked on many projects in my career but these two stand out to me as projects that helped me grow into the leader I am.
Where does the Telfer EMBA program fit into your career?
I was a Manager at CRA, and I felt I needed a university degree to apply for executive level positions and projects. It was my decision to do the EMBA. I chose the Telfer program because it was local, and it focused on teamwork. Working in the government, you do not get to choose your team – you are given a project, a budget and a team and you have to get the job done. Doing the MBA provided me a safe place to learn so many new things and the great thing was I could apply many of them right away at work. I will be forever grateful for my supervisor who signed off for me to do the program. It was a great opportunity, and not just me – once my supervisor saw the benefits of me doing the program, the opportunity was opened up for others to go back to school too.
Can you describe your EMBA program experience?
I remember walking away from orientation weekend thinking ‘what have I done?’
The program opened so many doors for me. When I started, I was a bit of a technical geek with a little administration experience; when I graduated, I was knowledgeable about human resources, leadership, finance, innovation and more. I had done business with a company located in Silicon Valley and another in Thailand and to this day, one of the biggest lessons I learned from the trips/projects is that not everybody does business the same way. This has helped me in the government because when I’m dealing with other departments, it helps me understand that every department has its own culture, everybody comes to the table with a different perspective/goal and the objective of a leader is to gather all the perspectives, understand all the goals and help find a way forward that makes sense for everyone.
Having graduated from the program in 2003, what still stands out from your experience?
Definitely the trip to Silicon Valley. Coming from an IT background and being able to sit in discussions with a VIP at IBM and other organizations was so inspiring and motivating.
Another thing that stands out is a project we had to do that required me to read a large, complex case and then write a 500-word summary of it. It was such a challenge but boy, was that project gold. I have used this skill over and over in my career.
Can you talk about any challenges you have faced as a female leader?
Well, one of them is I've always looked young for my age and so I have found that I’ve had to work harder to gain the respect of other colleagues. I remember starting a new job as a Senior Director of Pension. When I was introduced to the team, they thought I was a new administrative assistant. I had to work hard to build a rapport with the team.
Another challenge I’ve had is male employees becoming disgruntled when I’ve called them out on inappropriate decisions or actions. I had one Director General say to me “my last CIO was a man who talked to me in this way, but I’m really offended that you would dare to talk to me that way.” I was not speaking to him rudely and I was not being mean to this man; my tone was curt because he did something that he shouldn’t have done. I explained to him that as a female CIO, I have the same responsibility, the same accountability as a male CIO. It’s all on my shoulders. It seemed to me that as a woman, I am not allowed to call out mistakes/poor decisions and when I do, it is regarded as “she’s having a bad day, she has PMS or she’s just being emotional.” It was a marking moment for me.
In general, I’ve felt as an executive, I’ve had to work harder, had to do more and in some cases, received less support, less opportunities, less visibility and less promotions than my male counterparts.
How do you think that business schools can help support women in leadership better?
I think it's not just about training women; I think it's training both men and women. Bringing visibility to issues women face and having really hard conversations would help shed light on where we can support women better. It may be a good idea to provide sponsors or coaches for women leaders. How many times, as women, have we had something go wrong at the office, and we go home and beat ourselves up about it saying I shouldn’t have said this, or I shouldn’t have done that. We spend time thinking about the situation and work so hard to evolve and try to do things differently. Men don't do that. And so, I think that having a sponsor/coach that women can reach out to when they’re being too hard on themselves would be helpful.
Do you have any advice for other women/people who want to work at the executive level?
Earlier in my career, my husband gave me a great piece of advice. He said, “when you’re working, you should have two sets of expectations, the expectations of your boss and your own expectations. This is important because you will never meet all your boss’s expectations no matter how hard you try but if you have your own goals and expectations, you can watch and assess your own growth and be proud of what you accomplish.”
How would you describe yourself as a leader?
It’s all about the people and people are not one size fits all. I am a leader who puts people first whether it’s my employees, my colleagues, or my clients. I really listen to what people are saying. As a leader, if I want to have good success, I treat people with respect and dignity, and they will deliver successful outcomes. My favorite movie that delivers a great line about leadership is We Were Soldiers with Mel Gibson. At one point in the movie, he's talking to a group of troops who are going to fight and possibly die in Vietnam. He stands up and says, ‘…I promise you that when we go into battle, I will be the first to set foot on the field, and I'll be the last to step off and I will leave no one behind, dead or alive, we will all come home together.” How we treat people, to me, determines how successful we are in our footprint as a leader. That is how I work.
Three Alumni use Their Diverse and Similar Skillsets to Grow a Local Company
It’s not uncommon to hear of Telfer Executive MBA classmates working together professionally after completing the program. Afterall, they come to know each other quite well throughout their studies.
Scott MacGregor (2004), Neil Williams (2017) and Jayson Siddiqui (2020) are alumni from three different graduating years, all working at the same company which is less common to hear of. How this came to be, can be summed up as completely coincidental.
What is SageTea Software?
Scott: SageTea, started in 2007 as a consulting company. I joined the company in 2012 when it became a product company launching our Text to Software development tool. The company SageTea has gone through several changes and we’re actually amid re-branding the company to XFONE Technologies. It started as a text to software company which we still offer; we also have an artificial intelligence engine that is getting a lot of attention in many different spheres. More recently we launched a new Linux based mobile phone company. This phone will be the “must have” for coders and Linux enthusiasts.
There are three Telfer EMBA Alumni from different graduating years working at SageTea Software/XFONE Technologies. How did this come about? Did you know one another prior to working together?
Scott: I had seen Neil around because we worked in the same office building, however we had never spoken. I met Jayson for the first time in our office in Gatineau. So no, I hadn’t really met either of them before my business partner (David Long, CEO) suggested they join us as partners in the new XFone launch.
Jayson: When I was considering the Telfer EMBA program, I was invited by the program to attend the 40 Under 40 Awards which they sponsor. That’s where I met Neil. He was at the table as an candidate of the EMBA. At the time, I had all kinds of questions about whether I should undertake the program. Neil and I had a detailed conversation about his program experience. He answered many of my questions and by the end of the event, I was ready to sign up. We stayed in touch a little bit while I was a candidate in the program. Essentially, Neil was the first person I met before even joining the program and now I work alongside him every day, which has been a great experience.
Neil: I had my consulting services out of the same office building where Scott and David were running SageTea. While I had seen Scott around, I didn’t know him. I knew David, our CEO and he would talk to me about the technology he was trying to build when it was still infantile. He knew that I did a lot of international work and had a consulting service as well. He sat down with me and said, ‘what do you think about doing a low-cost carrier option here in Canada?’ I said it sounded interesting. When we sat down a second time, he asked if I’d be willing to do some consulting work and we had a long conversation about where he might be going with the product. Initially it was very much a low-cost carrier option and then the conversation evolved. He came back to me again and said he was thinking about doing something different – a Linux based product and that caught my attention; I thought this was a really good idea. To capture even five percent of the market (which would be billions of dollars), we needed a special product. Instead of accepting consulting fees, I negotiated with David to take an equity position. So that’s how it all started for me. The next thing that happened was David called me up one day and said he found this good hardware guy who is in the phone business - his name is Jayson. And I said, are you talking about Jayson Siddiqui? David said – ‘yes, how do you know him’ and I said, he completed the same EMBA program as I did.
Jayson: How David found me is a funnier story. One day, completely by chance, I decided to check my spam folder and there was an email from someone named David Long that said “I need rooted devices.” A rooted device means you have bypassed some of the security that gives you access to the operating system where you can customize things which other users can’t. I thought, well this doesn’t look like spam. I responded as an EMBA graduate and started the information gathering process, what did he need, and how could I help. I found out he was innovating a Linux based cellular PC. It turned out that way back when, I had researched this idea in the past, so I knew the resources to call. When David asked if I would join the team, I agreed to come on board for an equity position. So essentially David and I met through junk mail. Neil was actively involved with the company, and I didn’t know Scott was a Telfer EMBA graduate until about six months into the job.
What has your experience been like working with colleagues who have gone through the same MBA program?
Neil: I prefer it. It’s nice to work with people who have similar training to share ideas with but whom have completely different backgrounds. We tend to have similar expectations, quality of work we are supposed to be delivering and similar structure. These are three key elements that you take away from the EMBA program. We all have a different skillset and a similar skillset to offer – so it makes it diverse and easy to work together.
Scott: I thought it was great that David had hired two Telfer EMBA graduates. There is so much to do in our business that you really want people around you who can pretty much help with anything. What I’ve learned about these two colleagues is they are phenomenal at sales. They have it down to a fine art. We did sales before but not so finely tuned. With Neil and Jayson coming in, they have brought new energy. I must admit that when David told me he had hired them, my first thought was, how are we going to pay these people because we were just hanging on through the pandemic. Having them come on board has paid for itself ten times over. It has been positive every step of the way and very exciting.
What is a Linux based phone?
Scott: Most cell phones run on android. If they call themselves a Linux phone, they have a kernel of Linux that runs off android. With our phone Linux is bare metal coded right onto the phone. Our phone runs Linux and android at the same time. If you are a developer, you can basically use our phone like a server. You can link on a keyboard, you can link on a monitor – you can basically code anytime, anywhere. Our phone also runs text to software, our AI engine; it runs virtually any open source-based software. When we started Our prototype was a refurbished Google pixels 3a, and now we are working with the Redmi Pro 8 – there are millions of these phones out there and since new versions of these phones are available these models are destined for landfill. We’re taking that landfill phone and making it a very valuable computer that operates much faster than the original product. Our phone market would be primarily coders or businesspeople who want to be able to run their applications natively on their phone, however Neil made a very good point. There are vast parts of the world who skipped the laptop because it was too expensive. A phone that has the capability of a computer at the price point of a phone has a very good global market. The plan is to test market our phones in Ottawa and then we’ll most likely look at Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe for the roll out.
What do you want people to know about your business?
Neil: We solve complex business problems leveraging technology and we do it in a way that is typically more cost effective than many large organizations. We think outside of the box as we try to solve these issues for organizations and our success rate is extremely high. Although the company has been in operation since 2007, we have pivoted and it’s really like a start-up now. We’re on track to have the best fiscal year in the history of the company. We have some compelling products that address various verticals whether it’s government, private business, enterprise level business and they can all be deployed on the XFone as well. There are essentially two divisions of the company: 1. the artificial intelligence and professional services division and 2. the hardware/software division tied to the XFONE.
Can you provide an example of a complex business problem that you are currently working on?
Jayson: We are currently engaged with a major benefit trust in designing a substantial application. The client came to us as they knew of our experience in custom software and professional services for enterprise level clients. They had a legacy system using traditional coding methods. They are now working with us to incorporate our Low-Code platform in conjunction with our ETL tool. This helped not only to automate their process but it also aided in significantly reducing the amount of traditional coding they required, and their yearly support and maintenance costs. They came to us for solutions and we delivered multiple large projects on time and on budget.
Can you explain Text to Software?
Neil: Text to Software essentially allows you to automatically convert business requirements written in English to working applications with little or no coding. Something that would take a good coder three to four hours to do, we can do in minutes. Eventually we will go to market with our Text to Software application but right now it’s our secret weapon. We show it to clients all the time because it’s a compelling product. It allows us to compete with large organizations who have a higher cost - we can provide the same value for a lower cost because we have these tools.
What is your largest hurdle in growing the business?
Neil: We’re in that challenging stage where we’re on track for accelerated growth so it’s a matter of growing the company in a way that makes sense to keep the revenues up consistently as we expand. It’s a fine balance to ensure we have the right amount of people in each department to support each other as we go through this growth.
Scott: I’ll add to Neil’s point and say it’s absolutely about finding the right balance and about finding the right people. We must be very careful about who we continue to bring in because we need people who are as excited about XFONE as we are.
Neil: That’s right. We only want the best which every company does, but we’re in a position where whoever comes in must have buy in. They must be passionate about what we’re doing and the direction the company is going in order to give their all.
Jayson: We put in long days, but it doesn’t feel like work when you’re working with the caliber of people we are working with. To Neil’s point about buy in, it’s not just buy in that we need from people we’re hiring, it’s also buy in from customers that they’re in good hands with us and it’s buy in from the existing employees about the direction we’re taking the company.
What is in store for SageTea Software/XFONE Technologies in the coming year?
Neil: The transition from SageTea re-branding to XFone Technologies has already started and will continue into the New Year. SageTea will still exist – it will be the R&D division of XFone Technologies. It will support the long-term growth of the company by giving us a pipeline of products that we can continue to sell and bring to market. We still want to do the highly customized work that we do, and also want products that we can push out to the market that are more turnkey.
Scott: Other exciting news is we have plans on going public based on domestic and international interest which has been significant.
Neil: We plan on growing this company in the coming year(s) and we have put a process and structure in place to be able to grow it successfully. That all comes back to the training we received in the EMBA program - that’s something we all understand on this team.
EMBA Alumnus Begins Retirement with a Big Change
An interview with Julio Oliveira – Class of 1999
After a long career in the software technology sector, Julio Oliveira has no regrets. Not only is he welcoming a change of pace in his retirement, he, is also embracing a change of scenery.
My educational background is chemical engineering. I studied in Brazil and completed my Ph.D. in Austria. I had been thinking about moving to North America once I completed school. My Ph.D. supervisor had a friend working on electric vehicles at the University of Ottawa and encouraged me to move to Ottawa, Canada to work on this project. I took his advice. I worked at U of O for a few years before a few of us created a start-up company. Working at the start-up expanded my responsibilities from engineering to operations and I soon realized, I needed to go back to school to learn more about business. Having worked at the University of Ottawa, I decided on their Executive MBA program. After graduating from the program in 1999, my career shifted to being business focused. For the past twenty-two years, I have been a Program Manager and/or a Project Manager for several technology companies including: Siemens AG, Unisphere Networks Inc., Juniper Networks Inc., CENX and Nokia
Did the EMBA change your perspective on anything?
I certainly learned that I could be much more organized. I attribute my planning perspective and skills to the program. There were a lot of courses and projects to juggle on top of my professional responsibilities. The skill of planning went on to serve me well in my career and has also helped me prepare for my retirement.
What is it about the EMBA program that keeps you engaged as an alumnus?
I met so many amazing people in the program; some of whom I still stay in touch with today. The team that I was on was incredible – we worked hard and got along very well. We try and connect a couple of times a year to catch up. I also enjoy the events the EMBA program puts on. I haven’t been able to attend very many of the virtual events recently as I’ve been making retirement plans however, I do intend on joining more now that I have the time.
As you move into this next phase of your life, what would go back and tell your younger self?
In general, I don’t tend to look back. I don’t think about what would have happened had I done something differently or made a different decision. I don’t live with regrets. Every move I made, every decision I made brought me to where I am today and I’m happy with where I am.
What are your plans for retirement?
Big plans actually! My wife and I sold our home in Ottawa as well as most of our belongings. We are currently in Brazil visiting our families for a few months. After that, we have made the decision to settle in Europe (likely Portugal) for a few years. We wanted to go back to Europe to travel around easily to different countries. We decided on Portugal since we already speak their native language, and it has nice weather throughout the year. We don’t have a place to live there yet. We’ll figure that out when we arrive.
I’m looking forward to traveling, catching up with friends and dedicating some time to a few hobbies like, playing guitar, learning languages and doing small electronic projects using microprocessors.
I think my wife and I will end up back in Ottawa at some point but for now, we’re going to enjoy this adventure!
Student, Investor, Technology Professional, Author
With all the hustle and bustle of our every-day lives, it is easy to forget to pause and take note of where you are and where you came from. EMBA alumnus, Oscar Pinto has done just that in his recently published memoir.
You graduated from the Executive MBA program in 1997. What has been keeping you busy since then?
I cannot believe it has been that long! My focus and career until the Executive MBA had been primarily technical in nature—I have a degree in electrical engineering; but I have always had a parallel interest in finance and marketing. The formal MBA accreditation opened the door for a marketing position in Silicon Valley, California, where I had the exceptional good fortune of working at a technology start-up that epitomized Geoffrey Moore’s, “Inside the Tornado,” the famous book on hypergrowth strategies. I was able to semi-retire after my California adventure and took the opportunity to pursue my many other passions for which I never had time—summer and winter endurance sports, learning French, coding for websites, travelling in Europe… I also enrolled in an astronomy and astrophysics distance-learning program at a university in the U.K. and earned a diploma, the first step towards a degree in astronomy. About two years ago I started writing my memoir.
What is the title of your memoir and what is it about?
The title of my memoir is “Farewell Dundas Street.” It is the name of the congested, chaotic street in Karachi, Pakistan, where I was born and lived for the first sixteen years of my life. When I was eight years old, inspired by a talk at school, I knew that when I grew up I wanted to be an engineer and I wanted to live in the Western world. My memoir is about how I made those dreams and aspirations a reality. It also tells of my life in Karachi, a stark contrast to my life in Canada.
What inspired you to write your memoir and how long did it take you to write it?
Today, even I have difficulty imagining my beginnings. And so, I wanted to capture my still vivid memories in a book for my daughter and grandson to know their heritage and ancestry, and to impress upon them that anything is possible if you set your mind and actions to achieving it.
It took a lot longer to write the book than I had originally anticipated. Memories trickled in and often one memory led to others. It was particularly challenging to weave those individual memories into a coherent story. I must have had at least a hundred revisions!
The book recounts memories of your family. Were they involved in helping you write it?
When I left for Canada in 1973, I had bid a permanent farewell to my family, not knowing when I would see them again, but we remained in close contact by exchanging hand-written letters almost weekly. I have saved all my parents’ letters and they were a source of many memories. My book cover is adorned with one of these letters. My parents eventually immigrated to Canada, and over the years I asked many questions and enjoyed hearing their stories. Unfortunately, both my parents passed away a few years ago.
Having never written a book before, what did you learn about the writing/publishing process? What has been the greatest challenge of this project? Would you consider writing another book?
Writing and publishing a book opens up a whole new world—the editing process and adhering to a specific style, copyright laws, book interior layout, cover design, testimonials, distribution channels for print and e-book editions, pricing and wholesale discounts, marketing platforms, book award contests… and there is still a lot more to learn.
The biggest challenge for me as a first-time author is that I need book reviews to get the attention of readers, and I need readers to get book reviews—Catch-22!
I am presently attempting to write a book on an astronomy subject that I studied very early on in the astronomy program, called the “cosmic distance ladder.” I want to tell the story of the ingenious methods and discoveries of the astronomers that were instrumental in progressively “building the ladder.” It will be a much bigger challenge than my memoir.
Your memoir references a letter from your father that urges you to continue learning – what would you like to learn next?
My father’s words have always been my guiding principles, and his letter seems to have resonated with my readers. Multiple reviews are headlined with the same quote—“Drink the brimming cup of life to the full and to the end.” What’s next? Attempting the astronomy book, and then who knows. Undoubtedly, something adventurous, challenging, and exciting!
EMBA Classmates Team up as Business Partners
An interview with Maryam Awan and Emile Massenat – Class of 2012
After meeting in the Telfer Executive MBA program, these classmates stayed connected after graduation and have now started a business together.
You met in the Telfer EMBA program – what was your first impression of the other? How much interaction did you have during the program?
Maryam: I met Emile in 2010 during my onboarding of the EMBA program. The first thing I noticed about Emile was that he was very well dressed. As a classmate, I found him easy to talk to, always kind, thoughtful and respectful. During our trips to Silicon Valley in 2011 and Brazil in 2012, we spent time together and I had the opportunity to get to know his fun side. He was our class president for which I referred to him as ‘Mr. President’ throughout the program. We stayed connected and a few years after graduating, our paths crossed as Change Practitioners. I have always introduced him to my network as Mr. President which may or may not embarrass him.
Emile: I met Maryam’s husband (Javaid) before I met Maryam. I met Javaid in 2010 and remember him being very friendly and easy to connect with. When I met Maryam and connected the dots, I was happy to see she shared the same traits of being easily approachable and relationship focused. Though Maryam and I did not connect directly through group-based activities in the EMBA program, I remember her peers commenting on how her years as a business owner were adding tremendous value to the work they were doing for the client projects. Several years after graduating, we ended up working together in a customer-client relationship and the rest was history!
Can you talk about what led the two of you to become business partners?
Maryam: I was hired at EDC during the last semester of the EMBA program and worked there from 2012 – 2015. During this time, I worked in Risk Management, Operations Excellence and Change Management. I fell in love with Change Management and decided to pursue more opportunities in this field. I joined NAV CANADA in 2015 as a practitioner and took on increasingly challenging roles within the Change Practice eventually leading the team. Emile was working at PWC as a Change Practitioner and decided to pivot into independent consulting in 2018. We talked about his journey as a consultant and his experience as an independent. In March of 2020, I was presented with an opportunity to interview for a consulting opportunity for a crown corporation. That led to my decision to leave my full-time job and start independent consulting. A few weeks later, Emile and I decided to start a company together and pursue consulting opportunities as partners. Awan and Associates was created on July 3rd, 2020, on Maryam’s front porch during the pandemic.
What is the elevator pitch for your business?
Awan & Associates is a boutique consulting company focused on delivering business transformation, change leadership and executive coaching services. Diversity & inclusion is at the core of how we do things, and we apply this lens as we make decisions for our business, partner with clients or work with other team members.
What sets your business apart from other boutique consulting firms?
1. We operate in both official languages.
2. We tailor our approach to our clients' needs.
3. We can easily scale up or scale down based on the scope and size of the initiative.
4. We put a lot of emphasis on knowledge-transfer to make sure clients can continue the work once we are gone.
What are the long-term ambitions for your company?
Our vision for Awan & Associates is to be the premier consulting team that focuses on supporting clients undergoing significant change within their organizations. Whether it is introducing new technology, moving to a hybrid working model or implementing a new policy, we remain focused on doing meaningful work and building organizations’ capability to lead and manage change.
Senior Manager, Planning and Capital Governance (NPI), Bell Canada
Personal and Professional Growth Through Lifelong Learning
Two years ago, Francine Lortie (EMBA 2010) was offered a Senior Management role to lead the Planning and Capital Governance team at Bell Canada and she surprised herself by accepting. “I never wanted a finance role but I really enjoy it. There are definitely things in this role that I didn’t know before and it’s allowed me to keep learning.” Francine surprises herself with how openly she embraces new challenges and opportunities. She attributes the development of her entrepreneurial spirit and leadership development to her experience during the Telfer Executive MBA program.
With experience in Marketing and Communications and being part of the Next Gen Talent Program at Bell, Francine’s Director approached her about doing an MBA or Six Sigma training program. “I had always wanted to go back to school and I already had an interest in broadening my understanding of business – an MBA seemed to be the right choice for me. My decision to choose the Telfer EMBA was threefold. A few of my colleagues at Bell had done the program and highly recommended it. I had done my undergraduate degree at the University of Ottawa, and after attending an information session, I left feeling that the Telfer program would offer me the opportunity to work with real companies in the community as well as provide a rich learning environment. It turned out to be the right fit for me and I’ve had no regrets.”
Francine’s entire career has been in the telecom industry and although she has held many different roles within Bell, differing perspectives were introduced to her in the EMBA program. “The class is made up of individuals who have diverse backgrounds and come from different industries. Not only did I hear various perspectives, I was able to work with companies throughout the program that were outside of the telecom space learning how other industries do business. My MBA experience opened my mind and brought me to a different level of analysis and capability.”
Beyond the learning, Francine says she made lifelong friends with classmates who still connect to play golf and host barbeques together eleven years later.
Juggling a full time career, an MBA and raising two teenagers was a delicate balance for Francine. Upon entering the program, her children were 16 and 13. She admits she was a little nervous because they were at an age when you normally want to keep an eye on them. While she had great support from her family, she says making a few commitments to her family prior to beginning the program was extremely valuable. “One of the most important things I did was to commit to what things I was not willing to give up with my family no matter what. As a family, we decided that Sunday dinner was going to be sacred. If I were doing homework, I would shut it down around 4:30 p.m. and spend a few hours on Sunday evening with my family. I missed several things with them throughout the 21 months I was in school but it helped that I had made a commitment to them beforehand on what I would not miss.” Consequently, her family was very good about the whole experience and when she finished the program, she found her children, especially, to be more appreciative of the things she did for them before the program. “The day after returning from our final international trip, I got up and made banana bread for them and they were so excited because they hadn’t had my homemade banana bread in two years. It was good for them to see me go back to school – I think it demonstrated for them that learning is for life – you can do whatever you want at whatever time in your life – there’s no time limit.”
“I continue to have a wonderful and rewarding career at Bell. I am fortunate to have worked in a number of roles, which have allowed me to further develop my leadership skills. One of the greatest gifts my employer has given me is supporting me in my MBA journey. This experience not only expanded my network and enhanced my business acumen, but it also helped me to become a strong, confident people leader with a “sure, bring it on” attitude.
Director, Partnerships & Commercialization - Kanata North, University of Ottawa
Champion for the University of Ottawa in Canada’s Largest Tech Park
Veronica Farmer, EMBA 1996, has a lengthy history with the Kanata North Technology Park which is recognized as Canada’s largest tech park. Since the early 2000’s, she has been engaged with the tech community, working with companies such as, Tundra Semiconductor and Fidus Systems. In 2007, Veronica founded TrueCourse Communications Inc., a marketing communications company, which serves many companies and organizations locally, nationally and internationally. Balancing entrepreneurship and leading an active strategic marketing communications practice, Veronica worked closely with organizations who support the Ottawa tech ecosystem such as, Invest Ottawa and the Kanata North Business Association (KNBA).
In 2018, the KNBA approached Veronica to take on the role of Executive Director of the Association to cover a maternity leave. Having already worked with the Association as well as in the Tech Park for many years, it was a natural evolution for her to step into this role. Veronica quickly came to understand just how important a role the Tech Park played not only in Ottawa but, in the country. “Kanata North is Canada’s economic and innovation engine, contributing over $13 billion to Canada’s GDP and home to over 540 companies providing approximately 21,000 tech jobs,” she states.
In parallel and in November 2018, the University of Ottawa opened its doors in the Tech Park. The uOttawa Kanata North Campus was the result of the leadership of the University’s Vice-President of Research, Sylvain Charbonneau, and in partnership with the KNBA. In her role with the KNBA, Veronica worked closely with the University as it launched and set up to serve the Kanata North tech community. Fast forward to late 2019, given her unique experience and network in the Tech Park plus her skills and expertise, Veronica was asked to consider a role with the University as Director of Partnerships and Commercialization. Based out of the Kanata North Campus, she took on that role fully in January 2020.
“I think of myself as a champion for my colleagues and stakeholders at the University as well as the Kanata North tech community,” says Veronica. “My role is to help the University achieve their vision of bringing industry and research closer together. The University has an opportunity to help companies be successful and scale through a talent pipeline of students and graduates, customized training and educational programming, and a broad spectrum of solutions from access to researchers and students to lab and equipment to collaborative research opportunities.”
The University of Ottawa Kanata North Campus is located right in the heart of the Tech Park. Ideal for networking and events, it offers a state-of-the-art training room, boardroom, offices and collaborative spaces – open for the business community to drop by and use. “This is about establishing a collaborative environment to co-create innovation and we want to facilitate innovation in different ways. Whether it’s engaging researchers to help solve Kanata North companies with their technology challenges, or providing customized training, or hosting a discussion, I’d like the University to be at the center of the dialogue around innovation.”
Phase one was about opening the doors of the campus and making sure all stakeholders; uOttawa professors, students, alumni, researchers as well as members of the Tech Park, know they can access the space and fine-tuning what the University can offer this community. Phase two is focused on more fully implementing the University’s vision and to have the campus contributing to the success of the companies in the Tech Park and the Tech Park contribute to uOttawa’s success. “Building on the momentum to date, I am focused on fostering collaboration and partnerships between academia and industry that result in exceptional business outcomes for companies in Kanata North and for uOttawa researchers and students. I want the business leaders to see the campus as a place they can easily access the University’s talent, training and research, as well as leverage its local, national and global networks, reputation and reach.”
President, Kingsford Consulting Ltd.
Go Faster and Have More Fun - that’s what Andrew Penny, EMBA 1995 helps his clients do and he has also made it the motto for his own business. His company Kingsford Consulting Ltd., serves $10-$100 million dollar businesses in the private sector who want to accelerate their growth. His company helps them identify opportunities to increase revenue while at the same time operate more efficiently – going faster and having more fun. Andrew explains that the motto all started with the Telfer Executive MBA program.
Prior to beginning his Executive MBA degree, Andrew worked in the automotive and telecom sectors. Through these roles he developed skills in business development, marketing, recruiting and channel development. Subsequently, he took on business development roles in technology startups and really enjoyed the buzz. He was interested in taking on leadership roles but didn’t have the broad business skills and knowledge to be as effective as he’d like. To gain these skills and awareness he joined the Telfer Executive MBA program.
“The best part of taking the EMBA program was finding out what I didn’t know. Going through the program allowed me to have conversations with peers about finance, HR, accounting, governance issues etc. - things that just didn’t cross my path in the business development world. Upon completing the program, I had the confidence to walk into any room and talk to anybody about any aspect of business. I might not have been an expert in all areas but I understood the game.”
During his time in the program, Andrew worked for three start-up companies and, while he enjoyed the excitement of these roles, he did not enjoy being blindsided when the companies ran out of money. “I told myself I’m never going to sit in the backseat again. I want to be in the front and have ownership in the business; I want to be in control of my own destiny.”
Andrew launched his consulting career as a solo consultant and over the last twenty years has built a solid consulting business. Initially his company’s services focused on marketing and sales channels. Today Kingsford Consulting Ltd. works with larger companies and their owners on corporate strategy, market entry, operational efficiency and often is asked to help with legacy, next generation and M&A work.
Andrew admits there were moments in the Executive MBA program where the workload seemed insurmountable - but it had to get done. It tested what he thought his limits were. Even today when he has an impossible deadline, he thinks back to his EMBA deadlines and how he was able to stretch to get them done and is able to dig in and get the job done. All while going faster and having fun.
Twenty-four years after graduating, Andrew is still an active alumnus. Each year he mentors an undergraduate student at the Telfer School and loves it. “The individuals I mentor are always bright, enthusiastic and open. I learn so much from them. It gives me a window into what people their age are thinking. As much as I enjoy giving back, I really do get more out of it than they do. Many of my clients are selling to that twenty-something market and understanding how they think allows me to provide better advice to my clients.” Andrew has also acted as a project advisor for work being done in the Executive MBA program and refers potential candidates.
“Before starting the Executive MBA program, I had been out of school for about twenty years; it was like going through a boot camp for your brain – you are exposed to a fire hose of new ideas and new content and have to dig deep to be able to process it. It made me realize that learning is indeed a life-long activity. In terms of my professional development it is the most rewarding thing I have ever done”.
Executive Director, CALDO, Consortium of Canadian Research Universities
After traveling to Canada to study, Rodrigo Delgado, EMBA 2013 knew he would be back. A native of Santiago, Chile, Rodrigo traveled to Montreal, QC for the first time in 1996 and later in 1997. His international exchange experience left him fascinated with Canadian culture and motivated to return to Canada the first opportunity he had.
Upon completing his exchange, he returned to Chile to finish his bachelor’s in business administration and begin a career with Santander Financial Group, first as a banking account executive, then Product Manager and later Manager, e-business. From 2001-2011, Rodrigo held a series of management positions in the marketing and consulting sectors in Chile. It was during this time when he began to think about going back to school to reinforce his management skills.
Rodrigo concluded that an international MBA would help validate his professional experience abroad and move his career to the next level. While studying in Chile was an option, he regarded this as an opportune time to travel back to Canada. When his wife, a Canadian, secured employment in Ottawa, Rodrigo applied and accepted the offer to study at the Telfer Executive MBA program.
“One of my goals in coming to Canada for an EMBA program was to gain more international experience and learn how to do business in Canada. I wanted to better understand how I could facilitate more opportunities for Canadian companies to do business in Latin America. Understanding the cultural differences and business styles, in addition to speaking the languages from each side of the continent would be quite helpful to allow companies and institutions to reach international markets. The result after the EMBA program was very positive. I learned a lot through the program’s six consulting projects, working internationally with important Canadian companies and the experience of working and studying with a talented group of classmates coming from different backgrounds and cultures was very enriching in my learning experience. The consulting trips to Vietnam and Silicon Valley were great experiences, helping me to achieve my personal goals.”
Following his graduation from the Executive MBA, Rodrigo and is family made the decision to continue building a life in Canada. With his wife already settled into a job and his children thriving in their schools, Rodrigo could focus on securing a position that would challenge him and make use of the skills he learned in the MBA. The search for his first Canadian position did not come easy. “It was hard to find a job at the level I was capable of working at. I had several years of management experience and an MBA, however I had neither the knowledge of the business community in Ottawa or the network. I began building connections through many meetings and coffees with EMBA alumni and business leaders of the Ottawa-Gatineau region.”
Rodrigo spent several months attending networking events and meeting as many people as he could until he began coaching and training entrepreneurs for the City of Gatineau. He concurrently accepted a part time position at the University of Ottawa to support international projects connected with Latin America and it was this experience that opened the door to CALDO Consortium www.caldo.ca.
Over the past six years, Rodrigo has worked his way from Senior Project Manager to Executive Director at the CALDO Consortium. He is now responsible for leading CALDO’s expansion in Latin America, allowing more Latin American students to study in Canadian universities in Master’s and PhD programs. Rodrigo works with in international team along with the Government of Canada (GAC) to establish agreements and partnerships with government institutions in the LATAM region. He is doing exactly what he set out to do - facilitate the partnerships and business opportunities between Latin American institutions and top Canadian universities.
Shaun Fawcett graduated from the Telfer Executive MBA program in 1996. Since graduating he has pursued work as a Webmaster and How-to-Author as well as owner of Final Draft Consulting and Communications, in Montreal, which focuses on business consulting and English editorial work.
After nineteen years in the consulting world, Shaun established yet another career by starting his company Griffinworks which he works at in parallel with his consulting business. Griffinworks is a custom furniture and fabrication business that Shaun started in 2017 as a semi-retirement project for himself. His furniture is made from recycled pallet wood and industrial steel and is a nod to the industrial history of Montreal’s historic Griffintown area. With no plans to grow or scale the business, Shaun simply enjoys designing and making furniture, posting photos of the completed pieces on local Facebook groups which in turn lead to additional commissions for him.
Until April of this year, in parallel with his consulting day job and furniture business, Shaun spent 18 months heavily involved in the creation of a new book in the international aviation field. As the Project Manager/Project Coordinator and Senior Editor for the book:, Shaun has been able to utilize his expertise in aviation research and operations, project management, strategic planning/management, business writing/editing, and publishing on this project.
He says that working on that book was a major undertaking that involved nine different co-authors situated in various parts of the world. Trying to pull together material from nine authors into a single coherent book was not easy, although Shaun says the Executive MBA group projects provided valuable experience to aid in that situation. The book is now the basis for an internationalof aviation leaders and thinkers that will be taking place in London, UK in November at the Royal Aeronautical Society.
Shaun’s expertise in aviation research and operations also led him to a contract with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), as Senior Editor of their Environmental Report - 2019. Since 2007, that organization has issued this comprehensive report every three years. Shaun has been the Senior Editor for the report versions; 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, and now he’s working on 2019. The report covers all aspects of the impact of aviation on the global climate and what the industry is doing to mitigate those impacts.
Aside from designing and making furniture out of recycled pallet wood and industrial steel, Shaun’s professional life continues to keep him engaged and busy with no signs of slowing down.
If you happen to be in the Montreal area, drop byto say hello to Shaun and check out his custom furniture.
Senior Client Relationship Manager, Scotiabank
Thanking this alumnae for her time and efforts in volunteering
Mirella Athanassiadis completed the Telfer Executive MBA program in 2012 and soon joined the Alumni Association Board to volunteer her time with event planning. In speaking with Mirella recently, she revealed her motivation for pursuing an MBA and why it was important for her to volunteer her time once she graduated.
Why did you want to complete an MBA degree?
I thought an MBA would invigorate me and give me professional choices in the banking world or elsewhere. I looked into an MBA that the bank supports which is a financial services MBA out of Dalhousie and upon a closer look at the criteria, I found my position at the bank wasn’t senior enough to apply. I decided I wanted a program that was more complete as opposed to a specialization so I started researching other MBA programs. I’ve always been a very hands on learner and when I visited the Telfer Executive MBA classroom, I knew it was the program for me – I knew I wanted an in-class experience. I felt confident that once I completed the program, I’d have choices in the bank whether I stayed in Ottawa, moved to Toronto or decided to take my career in a different direction.
How has your career progressed since graduating?
Plans always change. I thought I would go to Toronto – but personal life events kept me in Ottawa and after I finished the program, I took some time to figure out where I wanted to go and started to apply to jobs where I could elevate myself within my own institution. I transferred from retail banking to the private wealth management arm of the bank and the timing for this move was beneficial. Soon after I arrived, they re-organized all of wealth management and instituted a national team of credit writers that was completely new to private banking. This team had to form itself and determine what worked in terms of that particular arm of the bank. I was able to apply what I learned in the program by offering strategic thinking, problem solving and process changes – much of it was taken into account by this national team and that was very rewarding for me.
What is your current role at the bank?
I started thinking about how I could develop my next role in private banking and knew I wanted it to be client facing with more of an emphasis on financial planning. A colleague in commercial banking reached out regarding a position and I decided it would be a good change for me. The role was more senior; it allowed me to be client facing, and it was with a part of the bank that I hadn’t worked in before. I am currently a Senior Client Relationship Manager in commercial banking. I deal with businesses on a range of issues – some of which are lending to expand facilities, political parties looking to finance their elections and cash flow loans for operational purposes. In a sense I run my own business now. I decide which clients I want in my portfolio and how I manage their requests. It’s part of my job to develop more clients to work with as well so I spend time networking, finding opportunities to speak with people to discover their needs in terms of expanding their business.
When did you get involved with the Executive MBA alumni board?
I got involved right after graduation. I’ve always done volunteerism and the program inspired me to do more because of the first project I lead in the program which was part of the strategic marketing course – I was able to learn how not-for-profits work, and what they need to sustain themselves as organizations. It appealed to me; I could see myself down the road doing more volunteerism for another outward community organization. The other reason I joined the Executive MBA board was because I was asked to by a classmate and that in and of itself is a compliment. I had some bandwidth after finishing the program and I was happy to help.
What role did you hold on the board?
I was the Director, Events and held this position for four years officially and I’ve been volunteering outside the board for three years in the same capacity. The social butterfly in me likes to plan parties – I like the outcome of having several people come together for an event.
Why have you continued to be a volunteer with the board/program for as long as you have?
I’ve had the bandwidth; I’ve enjoyed what I’ve been doing and it allowed me to stay in touch with the program. I’ve been able to grow my network through the volunteering I’ve done. I attend alumni events and recognize familiar faces now. If I ever need information or a question answered, I now have more people that I can reach out to and I’m more comfortable doing so because I know these alumni and they know me.
Have you seen any changes in the seven years in terms of the alumni community?
When I first joined the board, there was a lot of strategic thinking done on how we wanted to grow the connections within the community – a lot of the strategies we discussed have been put in place. Going forward I think we can continue to grow the community by better utilizing social media platforms to help connect alumni as well as running more targeted small group events to bring together alumni with common interests.
Is there a highlight(s) from your time volunteering?
I’ve enjoyed participating with the dragon boat team - that is really fun – anything that gets people out, laughing, having a good time and helps you remember each other and the program is a great way to build community. I haven’t volunteered my time to necessarily get anything back from it, I’ve done it because I like seeing the results. It’s like anything else where you have a sense of community – it’s a pleasure, it gets you outside your own bubble – people need that.
Last event that you will help organize – what can we expect?
At the end of this year, I’ll be stepping down from my volunteer role – the last event I will help organize is the 2019 Holiday Party.
At the 2018 Holiday party, attendees from the Class of 1999 approached me saying they wanted to help with the 2019 holiday party which will feature their class’s 20th anniversary. Normally I plan the majority of the Holiday Party on my own however this year I have a committee made up of four individuals from the Class of 1999. They come together to help with the planning of the party – one lives in Toronto, another has basically retired to Nova Scotia and yet they all come together to brainstorm and work on the party and they’re having a good time because they’re together. It’s been great to see them working together - I’ve been able to get a small glimpse into their class.
Their plan for this year’s holiday party is to re-live their international class trip to Ireland. The committee hopes to have Irish food and beverages served at the party this year as well as decorate the party space with touches of Ireland.
In the seven years that Mirella has volunteered with the Executive MBA board and program, she has organized countless pub nights and Holiday Parties. Telfer Executive MBA wishes to thank Mirella for her time, support and dedication to the Executive MBA program and its alumni community.
Vice-President of Operations, Pallium Canada.
This Alumnus Left a Secure Government Job to Take on a High-Risk Role
After completing an acting assignment at the Director General level, Jonathan Faulkner, EMBA 2018 needed to decide on his next career move. He enjoyed the leadership challenge and strived to continue at that level but was unable to transition to a permanent role at a senior level due to his lack of credentials.
He had spent 12 years working for the federal government in a wide variety of managerial and leadership roles covering strategic planning, program design, project management, investment management, change management and recently with partnerships, however it wasn`t enough to move him to the next level in his career.
He realized there was a gap in his professional skills and in order to move forward in his career, he would have to address the shortfalls.
He decided to earn a graduate degree and was interested in gaining more than just the piece of paper. His research lead him to the Telfer Executive MBA program which offered a strong network of professionals and real-world learning opportunities through the integration of six business consulting projects within the curriculum.
It was through the Individual Business Consulting Project that Jonathan built a solid network in the social finance and social impact sector. He was able to leverage this platform heavily when he was head-hunted for a Vice President role seven months later.
“I wouldn’t have fit the profile they were looking for [in the role] without the MBA” says Jonathan, “More importantly, I now had the confidence in myself to leave a secure government job and take on a high-risk role in a smaller organization.”
As Vice-President of Operations for Pallium Canada, a non-profit social enterprise working to improve palliative care for all Canadians, Jonathan is accountable for all aspects of the business including product development, IT, support desk, data and performance management, marketing, finance, and strategic partnerships. “I love the diversity of what I get to do. In a small organization, one day I’m meeting with partner CEOs to pitch our value and products and the next I’m working with our IT consultants to design a new software platform to manage our course content. It’s exciting and I love the pace at which we can move things forward compared to my time in government”.
Looking back at his Telfer Executive MBA experience, Jonathan can confidently say that he is leveraging his skills and his degree. “Honestly, from business strategy, to pitch development, pricing analysis, IT strategy and NPV [net present value] calculations and profit and loss statements, I am using all of my learnings from the program every day.”
His advice to the next generation of Telfer Executive MBA candidates – “leverage the projects to stretch yourself and build skills you wouldn’t be gaining in your regular job. Take these risks in the program when you have the support to help you be successful.”
Founder, Awan & Associates
Navigating Change: This Alumnae Has Created a New Path for Herself
“I moved to Canada in 2005. I was a business graduate from Pakistan and worked in the restaurant business for several years in Ottawa” says Maryam Awan, EMBA 2012. “With my graduate degree from Pakistan, I found it quite challenging to find career opportunities in Ottawa. After spending five years in the restaurant industry, I decided to go back to school for my Masters and create a new career path for myself.”
Maryam was looking to pivot her career and felt that an MBA was a logical next step. She chose the Telfer Executive MBA program because it was local and it had a global orientation. The program allowed her the flexibility to work, raise her young family and study at the same time.
She found the Executive MBA program to be a challenging and exciting experience. The dialogue and discussions that occurred in class were thought provoking and interesting. Working with a team of professionals who came to the program with real world experience offered a broader learning base and created real value. Maryam says that through the group work, she learned how to lead a team of highly motivated professionals, set direction and execute on strategies. The group experience also taught her how to have difficult conversations. Over and above that, she enjoyed the opportunity to do business in Silicon Valley and Brazil although she admits her most impactful consulting project was creating a marketing strategy for the MS Society of Canada.
“The Telfer Executive MBA jumpstarted my professional career in Canada. I was offered my first role at Export Development Canada (EDC) during the third semester of the program and continued working there for three years. My last role at EDC was in Change Management and that led to my move to NAV CANADA in 2015. There, I started as a Change Management practitioner and continued honing my skills eventually leading the Change Practice and NAV CANADA’s national change management portfolio. In 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, I decided to strike out on my own as an independent consultant. In July 2020, I partnered with Emile Massenat (class of 2012) and founded Awan and Associates, a boutique consulting firm providing Business Transformation, Executive Coaching and Change Management services.
Maryam says she expected to gain the technical skills of driving business from the MBA however she didn’t expect or appreciate how much self-reflection she would have to do during the program. It was the focus on self-awareness during the first semester that helped her better understand who she was as an individual and her personal style as a team member and leader. That mindfulness and self-reflection continues to be part of her daily practice. As an executive coach, she shares this mindset with her clients as well.
“The MBA is a challenging and rewarding program. I have experienced many challenges and successes in my career over the last decade. My biggest achievement has been the sense of accomplishment and pride my family has for me.”
Maryam admits that the program isn’t easy and having the letters ‘MBA’ after your name does not automatically garner you the job you want. She has had to think hard about what she wants, take ownership of her career and create opportunities for herself. She is where she is today due to her hard work, her MBA and most importantly, the love and support of her family.
Chief of Staff, The Ottawa Hospital
Finding a Voice as a Leader
For This Alumna, it is All About the People
In January 2018, Virginia Roth, EMBA 2012, started her new role as Chief of Staff of The Ottawa Hospital (TOH). She says her focus will be on continuing to keep the physicians and the hospital in lock step – working together toward the same goals. “Neither the hospital nor the physicians can be successful if we’re moving in different directions. Every hospital needs a well-thought-out vision. A lot of the physicians who work at TOH say they like working here because of the hospital’s vision of providing the best patient care. If you start with a common vision, the decision-making process flows from that.” One of the challenges in her particular position is leading physicians who are not technically employees of the hospital. “Since there isn’t an employer-employee relationship between the hospital and the physicians, it’s important in my role to lead by influence and inspiration. Thankfully, this is a skill I honed while doing my Executive MBA."
Attaining an Executive MBA was not something Virginia planned to do. However, she was encouraged by the hospital’s senior management to look at the various programs and consider the opportunity. “In reviewing the different MBA programs, it was important for me that it was local and had an in-person experience. For these reasons I chose the Telfer Executive MBA. Through the program, I developed relationships with my classmates who have backgrounds in different industries. As a physician, I am so ingrained in my area of expertise that it was really beneficial to hear perspectives from people who work outside my sector. The concepts are the same but everyone comes at things differently based on their own backgrounds and this provides you with tremendous learning. Now I can pick up the phone and call a classmate and ask what they would do in a certain situation. They know nothing about my reality at the hospital but they understand leadership, so having those connections is invaluable.”
As a leader, Virginia admits her preference was to sit back, listen and observe. But her Executive MBA teammates taught her that if she wanted to be an influential leader, she had to be visible; she had to be heard. “The highlight of the Telfer Executive MBA program is the people. They helped me learn that having great ideas and a vision is not enough – you have to be able to articulate it to others. The program and my classmates were integral in giving me confidence as a leader and helping me find my voice.”
Virginia is especially proud of an annual performance review process she helped put in place at the hospital after graduating from the program. “One of the top things we were told by our physicians was that they received feedback only when something went wrong. I feel strongly about our physicians being engaged and felt we needed to act on this feedback. I, along with a team, developed an annual performance review process that gives formative feedback for the physicians. Questions include: How has the last year gone for you? What are your goals? How can we support you? While it has taken some time, the process has been embraced and the physicians are appreciative that their work is being recognized. The process begins with self-reflection, followed by an in-person meeting, and includes anonymous feedback from patients and peers. This concept is relatively new in hospitals and I’m proud that it is now garnering attention from other hospitals.”
Co-founder and Executive Vice President, My Broadcasting Corporation
Coming Full Circle
This Alumnus Turns a Part-Time Hobby into one of Canada’s Fastest Growing Companies.
Growing up, Andrew Dickson, EMBA 2002, knew he wanted to be a radio announcer. Each night he would stay up recording radio shows and then play them back in order to practice his radio announcer skills. Straight out of high school, his ambition became a reality – ‘Andy Dickson’ was a voice on the radio and a known figure in his local community of Renfrew then at CKBY-FM in Ottawa and ultimately a TV host at CHRO-TV.
Five years into his radio announcing career, Andrew began to feel restless. He still loved radio announcing but wanted to work in a role which would provide him with change on a regular basis and as luck would have it, an opportunity presented itself to him. Andrew’s father owned a print shop and had purchased a second shop to add to his business. He required someone to run the second shop and Andrew felt this was just the kind of change he was looking for. He stabilized the shop, which was nearly bankrupt, and, over time, purchased a second print shop in Ottawa and then a third that tripled the size of the company. He admits he didn’t know how to run a business this big and was relying on accountants and lawyers up to that point to tell him what he should be doing. Andrew felt he was in over his head.
In 2000, he enrolled in the Telfer Executive MBA program. He was extremely apprehensive – he had never been to University and wasn’t sure he measured up to his peers. “I had so much anxiety going into the program. Working on my first deliverable, I had no idea what the professor was looking for; however, I completed the paper and when it was returned to me, my mark was right up there with the rest of my peers. That was the moment that confirmed for me that I could pull this off. The models I was learning in class were helping me make business decisions with the printing company and, whenever possible, I would use my company for the project work. For example, I knew I wanted to sell my business at some point and this became the basis for my business consulting project in the program.”
Seven months after graduating from the program with new found skills and confidence, Andrew made a life changing decision. “In January 2003, a good friend came into my office for a chat. We had talked about the idea of starting a radio station for ten years but it was on this morning that we decided to turn the idea into a reality. Right there we devised our business model: 1. The station must be heavily involved in the community; 2. It has to be a fun place to work; and 3. The station has to be profitable.” They went through the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission process and obtained a license. They bootstrapped what they needed to create their station in Renfrew - this was going to be a part time hobby for both of them since they were still working full time jobs. The first month the station was on the air, it was profitable and operated with six staff along with the part-time founders. The station worked out well so they started a second station in Pembroke. By 2012, Andrew and his partner owned 10 radio stations and recognized this was no longer a part time hobby. Andrew sold his printing company and dedicated all his time to the new company of radio stations.
Today, this Executive, who describes himself as ‘a naive businessman before my MBA,’ owns twenty-one radio stations and for the seventh year in a row, his company: My Broadcasting Corporation, has been named one of Canada’s Top 500 fastest growing companies by Canadian Business. “Two to three years on this list is normal but being on it for seven years is pretty incredible. It’s been quite a ride.”
Chief Technology & Information Officer, NTT Cloud Communications
Expanding Horizons Through a Global Career
The Letters Alone Will Not Take You Where You Want to Go
“Telfer Executive MBA provided me with an overall business education that taught me to look at professional situations from all aspects of business as opposed to just the area of my expertise,” says Jean Turgeon, EMBA 2005. “This has allowed me to think more strategically and make better business decisions. The global exposure I received in the program has been invaluable for my career. Having the opportunity to work on projects for markets in other countries showed me the importance of learning the culture and customs of each country in order to earn their trust and build relationships that could potentially lead to business with them.”
Jean’s experience had always been focused on global projects; however, it had not taken him outside of North America often. Wanting to move beyond the Director level and increase his engagement with countries throughout the world, Jean knew he had to go back to school to expand his skillset and create new opportunities for career growth. “I researched several Executive MBA programs and chose Telfer for two main reasons; the most important reason was the global aspect of the program and second, the classroom experience. I wanted to learn with and from others who had unique and diverse backgrounds.”
While in the program, Jean was working at Nortel Networks and had to balance the demands of both working and going to school. “The twenty-one months in the program is intense. You’re still working full time at your professional job and then have to find time for thirty to forty hours of school work each week. Most of us had families too - trying to find time for everything proved to be quite a challenge. Thankfully I have a very supportive family.”
Currently working at NTT Ltd since January 2020 as CTIO (Chief Technology Office / Chief Information Officer), Jean leads large global teams supporting information systems, global infrastructure, IT services, billing and financial systems, CRM, ITSM as well as all customer support services. After leaving Avaya, Jean worked at DXC Technologies as Chief Technologist for industry solutions. Prior to that Jean worked at Avaya, which acquired Nortel in 2010, as the Vice President & Chief Technologist of Software Defined Architecture and World Wide Sales. Jean has used his MBA skills every day, whether it’s IT, IS, accounting, finance or marketing. His roles have taken him all around the world, interacting with various countries, their culture and ideals, and he is thriving at building relationships in each one. “The international trips in the program were definitely the highlight of my MBA experience. Knowing I wanted to move my career in that direction, I was eager for the opportunity to learn about new global markets. It was an eye opener for me how critical and tricky working globally can be. Relationships are built on trust and the smallest thing amiss can easily give a negative impression of your understanding of their culture.
When asked if the program was a factor in where he is today in his career, Jean replies, “I credit the Telfer Executive MBA program with giving me the confidence to take on larger and more complex professional roles. I’m not afraid to take risks in my job – sometimes they work out and sometimes they don’t but I’m continually learning. But if anyone thinks the letters ‘MBA’ behind your name is going to get you to the top; that is just not the case. You have to work hard, be innovative, bring value to your organization and prove that you can succeed at the top.”
Chief Executive Officer, Selladore Inc.
Servant Leadership and Applying Academics to the Real World is Key for this Alumnus
One of the greatest takeaways of the Telfer Executive MBA for Bryan Belanger (EMBA 2007) is the confidence he has gained. Being able to try something different or take a new approach without fear of making mistakes has allowed him to achieve his goal of becoming a young executive and earning the respect of his peers as an exceptional leader and one who continually delivers on his commitments.
Bryan came to the Telfer Executive MBA program with a technology background. He strived to round out his business experience and chose the Telfer program for its location, reputation, and the six signature consulting projects. It was important to Bryan to learn through actual real-life experience. “I’m not big on academics for academics sake – I learn best when applying concepts to real world scenarios so the six projects in the program sold me right away.” The projects proved to be everything Bryan had hoped for and more. “I was able to work with the Ottawa Senators for my business consulting project and the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation was the focus of my marketing project. The international trip experience was incredible; it took me outside of my comfort zone and I was able to apply everything I learned from the professors, my classmates and core group.”
Fifteen years after graduating from the program, Bryan has established himself as a global Technology leader. “I don’t consider myself a “manager”; I am a leader. I get that from my father, from the Telfer Executive MBA program and from my work experiences.” Bryan says he could have never imagined how helpful the international trip would be in his career. “I spent ten days in India with the class which was totally eye opening; a real culture shock. I had never been outside of North America from a business perspective.” Three years after graduating, Bryan was working at TechInsights when they merged with a Chinese and American company. Promoted to Vice President of IT, he was responsible in merging the technology of the three organizations and began traveling to China on a regular basis. “The experience in India helped me in China in terms of the culture shock. I wasn’t so terrified. I’ve now travelled all over the world for business – Japan, Australia, Poland, the US, and China. Now I embrace traveling and experiencing new cultures.”
The Telfer Executive MBA strengthened Bryan’s all-around business learning and teamwork. “Working in a team of high achievers is a big challenge and learning how to navigate that was a huge takeaway for me. The projects allowed me to hone my knowledge in marketing, sales, and finance. This allows me to sit in executive meetings and speak intelligently about all aspects of the business. It’s one of the reasons I am where I am today.”
In 2016 he joined Ideal Protein as Vice President of Technology, Bryan was tasked with bringing the company’s technology strategy and executive leadership to the next level. During his tenure, he deployed a new ERP, a web platform, mobile app and health tracking devices, and a full suite of business intelligence tools. “We had barely scratched the surface of what the organization was doing with technology and I’m very proud of what I accomplished during my time at Ideal Protein.”
In early 2020, Bryan decided to fulfill his lifelong goal and started his own company, Selladore. His organization focuses on CIO and technology consulting services and outsourced Data Analytics solutions to NFPs and medium sized businesses.
President, SageTea Software
Applying his MBA to Grow a Start-Up
“I couldn’t do my current job without having done an MBA.” A previous government consultant for over eight years, Scott MacGregor (EMBA 2004) admits that the MBA accelerated his career both as a consultant and in his current role as President of an early stage software company. “Prior to doing my MBA, I was a communications consultant working primarily with the Government of Canada. The projects I was being asked to work on were transitioning to change management and organizational development – areas I didn’t know a great deal about.”
Knowing he needed more knowledge, he enrolled in the Telfer Executive MBA program which allowed him to continue working and complete his degree at the same time. Even before graduating from the program, his career as a consultant started to advance. “Ottawa is a credential town. Having an MBA – even being in an MBA program – definitely makes a difference in how you are perceived. I was able to apply for more complex projects, learning and applying new skills as I went along. Suddenly I was able to talk knowledgably about a variety of things with clients, over and above the subject matter of the project. I had a great deal more confidence due to what I was learning in the program.”
Now the President of SageTea Software, Scott maintains he uses his MBA every day. “When my business partner and I started SageTea Software, it was like any other start-up company – very little funding and short on staff. We ended up doing many of the jobs ourselves: from marketing and business case development to negotiating leases and developing contracts. The MBA gave me knowledge in all the areas I needed to help grow SageTea into a viable company.
Not only did Scott leverage his education with the day to day business, he was also able to take advantage of the network he gained through the program to help him grow the company. “An alumnus of the Telfer Executive MBA program worked at Invest Ottawa and he helped us get accepted into their business accelerator. We gained considerable momentum in the year that we spent there.”
Once the company graduated from Invest Ottawa, they moved into a larger space at General Dynamics Mission Systems Canada and joined their business accelerator network. Again, it was a connection that Scott made in the program – one of the members of his group in fact – that helped him secure this opportunity. More recently, he filled a business development role in the company by reaching out to one of his classmates who works in the recruitment space.
Now five years into growing the company, Scott is optimistic of SageTea Software’s future. “We have a very innovative technology that can read text and automatically convert it to working software with little or no coding. People have been trying to do this for 50 years and we’ve figured out how to do it. The Government of Canada is recognizing the potential of our software and we are in the process of negotiating our third Build in Canada Innovation Program project. We are also starting to get a lot of interest from industry as well. We now have more than 20 employees and we expect to grow to over 35 in 2017.”
“It’s definitely been an interesting five years. The knowledge, networks and friends that I gained through the Telfer Executive MBA program have been a significant factor in our success.”
Founder and General Counsel, Edwards PC
One Telfer Executive MBA Alumnus is finding fulfillment at the intersection of Business, Law and the Creative Industries
Mark Edwards is the founder and General Counsel to Edwards PC, Creative Law, a three-member boutique, with offices in Toronto and Ottawa, practicing exclusively in the entertainment, new media and software industries. As a lawyer and a business executive, Mark is building and helping others to build IP-based, creative businesses in film, television, games, music, new media and software.
Before establishing Edwards PC, Mark spent many years working in television production, advergaming and branded entertainment. Mark joined the Telfer Executive MBA after transitioning from thirteen years of Commercial Litigation into a Business Affairs position with Amberwood Entertainment, a Canadian animation company that he helped found. While he had the drive and the interest to do well in this new position, he felt he was missing the skills, language and basic business frameworks to be successful. .
The most powerful element of the Telfer Executive MBA for Mark was the relevance of what he was learning to the issues he was confronting in the workplace. The immediacy of applying what he learned, coupled with the exposure to fellow business leaders in the community, remains important for Mark as he continues to meet new professional milestones. .
During the seven years that Mark was in an active role with Amberwood Entertainment, he financed and produced over $52 million of animated children’s television programming. Craving a new challenge, Mark worked first as an independent Executive Producer and later as Managing Director of Fuel Industries, a company that specializes in advergaming and branded entertainment, at that time with a staff of nearly 100. .
In 2007, Mark founded Vision Interactive Technologies Inc., creating and deploying the CrowdWave mass-interactive game platform for professional and collegiate sports, using Vision Interactive software to track the movements of sections of fans, monitoring and responding to the direction, speed and intensity of their movements, to control a sponsored game experience on the center-hung video screens. The system received a great response from professional sports teams and their sponsors with several teams from both the NHL and NBA – Rangers, Knicks, Capitals, Wizards, Cavaliers and many others - purchasing the CrowdWave system for their arenas. Reflecting on his 30 years of entrepreneurial work experience, Mark identified this central theme: “It's the combinations that interest me: business and law, education and experience, advice and action, theory and practice, independence and teamwork, technology and creative content.”
Marketing, Communications and Public Relations, Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre (OICC)
For This Alumna, the Executive MBA Never Fades
“The Executive MBA gave me inspiration and confidence to explore ideas, take chances and dream big in my career. The impact of the program opened me up to so many opportunities and choices. Seventeen years since graduating, its influence over my career and my life has never faded.”
For much of her 25-year career, Heidi Vincent, EMBA 1999, has managed and directed corporate communications, marketing communications, investor and public relations, for some of Ottawa’s high tech success stories such as MOSAID Technologies and JetForm Corporation. She got her start at Newbridge Networks, and went on to excel as a savvy business communications professional, raising exposure and managing corporate reputations in public markets.
Heidi was employed with JetForm Corporation while working toward her Executive MBA. As the company’s Director of Investor Relations, the EMBA enabled her to significantly advance how she served JetForm. “I will always be grateful for the encouragement and support of my CEO, John Kelly. Investor Relations was a demanding, yet exciting role. Adding the Executive MBA program to my life really tested my stamina but the challenge was exhilarating. I learned to be more efficient and effective with my time. Due to the amount of group work I couldn’t let anything slide because I wanted to give my best to the team; we counted on each other.”
Seeking a change and opportunities to make a difference, following graduation, Heidi was keen to apply her skills within not-for-profit organizations. Moving on to the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Heidi was led to West Africa, Egypt and India. In this role, she focused on public-private partnerships that funded ICTs research initiatives for poverty alleviation in developing countries. She also lent her talents to Scouts Canada for a year term as their Director of Communications, to promote the 100th anniversary of Scouting for youth.
The venture most dear to Heidi’s heart, was collaborating with her mother, Sylvia, on a children’s book publishing company. This mother-daughter team was named among the Top 50 People in the Nation’s Capital by Ottawa Life Magazine and as “The Little Publisher That Could” by Montreal Gazette. In the prime of their venture, they achieved national sales with award-winning motivational children’s books and several titles were licensed for animation.
Reminiscing, Heidi speaks fondly of her Executive MBA teammates. “The highlight for me was definitely our group, B1. Working together for two intensive years, we were collaborative and supportive of one another, emulating the ideal team in the workplace.” Seventeen years after graduating from the Telfer Executive MBA program, Heidi says the tools she gained continue to be fundamental in her career. “I use what I learned in the program every single day. An MBA really is an investment in oneself. It changes you as a person; it liberates you. After graduating, I felt no limitation as to where I could go in life and that has stayed with me even now.”
The Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre (OICC) is Heidi’s not-for-profit healthcare focus these days. As the first of its kind in eastern Canada, OICC has been awarded the two largest-ever integrative cancer care research grants in North America. It is a game changer for cancer. Leading marketing communications and PR for OICC since it opened five years ago, she is passionate about contributing to its growth so that more people can access its care. Most recently Heidi spearheaded the PR launch of OICC’s first major fundraising campaign Changing How We Live With Cancer, with Honorary Chair Bryan Murray and in partnership with the Ottawa Senators Foundation.
When Heidi says the Executive MBA never fades… she really means it. “I am very content with what I’ve achieved in my career so far, and know there is so much more yet to come. I continue to be open to new challenges and untapped possibilities. Having the courage, and the drive to take chances, is the greatest gift the program gave me.”
Founder and CEO, Rebel Technologies Inc.
Forty under 40 Recipient, 2016Read More
Chief Assessment Officer, Medical Council of Canada
Telfer Executive MBA program, he was promoted to full professor in Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine at the University of Ottawa, and was appointed the Vice-President, Education at The Ottawa Hospital.
Viren realized he wanted to further his training in leadership development however he thought it would happen further into the future. “The Executive Team at The Ottawa Hospital encouraged me to do an MBA to broaden my skillset. I knew if I wanted to be a leader in healthcare, I was going to need some business competencies. When you work in the healthcare system, you tend to view it as being very different from business, but in the 21st century with the reality of public sector funding challenges – healthcare needs to start embracing and integrating some best business practices.”
The Ottawa Hospital has a strong relationship with the Telfer School of Management and Viren took a critical look at its Executive MBA program. “I looked around at other programs and found the Telfer Executive MBA to be one of the stronger programs. Where the program really excels is in its team-based learning curriculum that allows for more active learning. There is real value in collaboration and networking between classmates. The series of the six signature projects is an incredibly valuable part of the program that requires the learner to fully engage in the projects and with the clients.”
Viren transferred what he learned about change leadership from the program to the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada as the Director of Assessment, to modernize and transform the credentialing and certification examinations for specialist physicians in Canada. He is now serving the Medical Council of Canada as the Chief Assessment Officer to bring innovative, effective and efficient assessments to graduates of medicine domestically and internationally that maintain the public trust for safe and quality healthcare.
Having completed the program, Viren says he has zero regrets having taken it. “When you’re in the program; it’s hard to recognize how much you’re learning. Only after you’ve graduated can you appreciate all the learning that has occurred. I walked away from the MBA feeling more comfortable in the corporate boardroom.” Viren adds, “the other major benefit of the program is a vast network of Telfer alumni who all have a lot of time for each other. When I meet other alumni, we have an instant bond – I’m not sure you feel that kind of connection at some of the larger schools.”
Viren says that while he has always worked in a team environment, the team experience he faced in the program was a new challenge. “The Executive MBA puts you in a team where the hierarchy is completely flat. Everybody needs to be able to play every role – leader, follower, and support. After twenty-one months together, the members of my team realized that we all had different bandwidths, and we learned to focus on our personal strengths and leverage them in our projects throughout the program. For a great team experience, it’s most important that the members share the same values. You can get through all the ‘storming and norming’ and succeed if everything you do is anchored in common values. These informal learnings are generalizable to any team, executive or otherwise, in any workplace or life in general.”
On a personal level, Viren has been trying to focus more on his family and ensure he’s being the best dad and husband he can be. “I was a bit absent while doing my MBA, and executive leadership can be consuming, so it’s important to set boundaries, and be purposeful in making space to be present for the sports, plays, movies, holidays, and all the other things that make family memories. Those memories are the objective measures that I must be achieving more balance in my life.”
President, KVR Management Support Services Inc.
This alumna committed to enjoy the ride
Having worked in the Public Service for over 31 years, Kami Ramcharan had a good set of skills that she could draw on in her career however she realized that an MBA would provide her with additional qualifications which could give her credibility across the organization. The MBA was also a great opportunity to broaden her network. Kami was looking for a Program that would provide a good balance between course work, real world experience and team work and found it in the Telfer Executive MBA Program. “I researched a few different schools and determined that the Telfer Executive MBA provided the best flexibility for my schedule allowing me to continue working full time as well as go back to school. I liked the design of the curriculum and the real world experience offered through the International trips.”
Kami particularly enjoyed the team work in the Program. She felt that working in a small group through the intensive 21 month program helped her develop a thicker skin and that of her teammates. At the end of the Program, she was proud to see how she and her teammates had grown as individuals because of the experience. The highlight of the Program for Kami was the class’s International trip to South Korea - “The exposure to doing business internationally was outstanding; I never would have had this experience otherwise.”
Kami credits the Telfer Executive MBA program with giving her a new-found confidence in everything she does, along with expanding her network, developing new and lasting friendships, providing her with additional qualifications relevant for any professional whether they work in the private, not-for-profit or public sectors. “The Telfer Program taught me a lot about successful leadership. Many of us in the Program were Type A personalities and Type A’s do very well on their own. Through the Program, I learned how to get a team to do well by living through all the group work” says Kami.
Currently retired, since completing the Telfer Executive MBA program, she held senior level roles within the federal public service such as the Assistant Commissioner and Chief Financial Officer, for the Canada Revenue Agency, Kami says she wouldn’t have been considered for the role had she not completed her MBA. Having the degree has served her well by rounding out her accounting designation, business skills, understanding of business terminology and teaching her to reflect on the intellectual side of decision making. Kami comments: “I definitely have a more critical eye specifically in dealing with issues on strategy, managing people and seeking out efficiencies. These are all skills I learned about in the Program.”
While Kami expected many things from the Program, she points out one she did not expect: “What was really an unexpected benefit of the Program is how much I learned from my classmates. Their professional experiences were a fundamental part of my learning in the Program. The discussions in class and our work in small teams enabled us to leverage each other’s expertise and different perspectives.”
For anyone considering the Telfer Executive MBA Program, Kami’s advice is: “to be prepared for a fundamental, life changing experience. If you think you know what it’s all about, it’s actually going to be more; intellectually more, socially more, emotionally more. Don’t get too caught up in the day to day; commit to enjoying the ride and keep your mind wide open so you can learn from everything – it’s a process, a journey.”
President and CEO, MaxSys Staffing and Consulting
How Losing a Job for this Alumnus Paved the Way to the Start of his Own Company
Bryan Brulotte, Executive MBA Class of 1995 is currently the President and CEO of MaxSys Staffing and Consulting and the story of how this came to be is not what one might expect. After graduating from the Royal Military College of Canada, Bryan spent eleven years with the Armed Forces. At the age of 28, he became the Deputy Chief to the Federal Minister for the Conservative Party. Six months into this position, the party lost and Bryan found himself out of a job. After three months of soul searching, Brulotte came to a conclusion: “No one would hire me in government because I had been a Deputy Chief for the losing Conservative party and no one would hire me in the corporate world because I’d been a Deputy Chief for the losing Conservative party so I decided to turn my attention to small business.”
At the time, Bryan was enrolled in the Telfer Executive MBA Program and the idea of starting his own business interested him. He began having discussions with a high-end staffing company who were looking to hire an individual to run a ‘side arm’ to their business. “In the beginning, building the company meant 18 hour days which consisted of me making phone call after phone call and banging on people’s doors” says Brulotte. “But after the first full year the business was in operation, it had 2 million in revenue.”
Previously, while working within the government, Bryan was interested in doing his MBA to gain business operation tools and to build his credentials while he continued to work. “I’m an Ottawa boy. I wanted to put roots down here so the location of the Executive MBA Program at the University of Ottawa worked well for me.” In the year 2000, with his MBA under his belt Bryan decided he would take another crack at a role in government. He sold his shares in the staffing company so he could run for public office for a Federal MP position. Unfortunately he lost in 2001. His decision was to go back to the staffing agency and start again. Using all his previous experience to draw on, he created what MaxSys is today; a business generating 80 million dollars of revenue a year.
While doing the Executive MBA, Bryan developed an initial business plan for a national staffing company for his summer Individual Business Consulting Project. Currently Brulotte’s company is on track to be one of the top three staffing companies in Canada within the two years and if all goes according to his plan his company will be on top in five years’ time. “Whenever you reach a crisis point in life or at work and you have to make the decision to stick with it or move on; I say stick with it. Don’t let go” says Brulotte.
Caroline Ishii is a brilliant example of how passion, determination, and talent can combine with the business skills taught in the Telfer Executive MBA program to result in a wildly successful business venture. After working for over 20 years in senior marketing and communication roles, Caroline took a substantial risk to follow her lifelong dream of opening a restaurant. Caroline ran her own consulting business for a few years, following her graduation from the Telfer Executive MBA program in 2001, before deciding to enroll in a professional chef program in New York City. She went on to study in the United States and Japan after the program, and returned to take on the role of Owner and Executive Chef of ZenKitchen.
Caroline’s vision for ZenKitchen was to create “a company that would offer delicious and beautiful food that was healthy and sustainable, both in its food and its business practices”. She is realizing her vision for creating a successful restaurant given that ZenKitchen had received numerous awards such as “Best New Restaurant of the Year” awarded by the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association and “Top Restaurant Choices in Ottawa” mentioned by the Lonely Planet Guide.
Her primary objective for pursuing the Telfer Executive MBA program was to contribute to her career in marketing and communications. Instead, Caroline used the skills she learned to enter the culinary world. “The education I received from the Telfer Executive MBA enabled me to create the business plan and financial documents I needed to speak to bankers, investors and the community about my vision and needs”, says Caroline. “I believe the Executive MBA provided a good platform for my career change and for fulfilling my vision of owning a successful restaurant.”
As a chef, Caroline was the first female chef asked to compete in the prestigious Gold Medal Plates competition in support of Canada’s Olympic athletes. She competed in 2010 and 2011 where she won silver for both years. Caroline and her partner/co-owner Dave Loan have also been featured on a 13-part documentary-reality series called “The Restaurant Adventures of Caroline and Dave”, which has aired on the W network, the Asian Food Channel, and most recently on the OWN Network.
“My life has completely changed from what it was before I joined the Telfer Executive MBA program, I have a completely new direction and career”, says Caroline.
Founder, Marlene-Ink Inc.
On November 18th of 2009, Marlene Thicke launched her new business, Marlene-Ink Inc., a consulting practice that specializes in graphic facilitation and recording. She works with public, private and not-for-profit sectors during conferences, workshops and meetings to capture “a moment-by-moment blend of inspiring imagery and visual metaphors in real-time.” Her motto, “Help people see what they say,” represents the full sensory experience that she provides through her work.
Marlene credits the Telfer Executive MBA as the springboard for her career. Throughout the program, Marlene was able to round out her strategic thinking, learn various business tools that could be applied to critical assessment in the workplace, and gain access to leaders that she would have otherwise never met. During the program her interests in human dynamics and emotional intelligence led her to become a certified practitioner of Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator and Neurolinguistic Programming. Most importantly, the Telfer EMBA provided her with the framework and tools that are the basis for her new consulting business.
Prior to undertaking her Executive MBA, Marlene worked for Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) where she focused primarily on performance measurement, strategic planning, and IT systems development. Nowadays, when she isn’t the Chief Doodler at Marlene-Ink, she is a Strategic Advisor with the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) where she continues to utilize the skills she gained through the Telfer Executive MBA.
As Marlene moves forward to an exciting new phase of her life, she is equally excited about the opportunity to give back to the Telfer Executive MBA. She looks forward to the challenges that lie ahead and the chance to graphically record dialogue in order to convene people around a common story, leading to group growth and a shared understanding of the way forward.
Former CEO, Valydate Inc.
Forty under 40 Recipient, 2009Read More
The Telfer Executive MBA opens doors, but it’s the maturity and growth from it that lets you walk through that door
Vice President Marketing, Head Penn Racquet Sports
The Telfer Executive MBA pushes you to new limits in a protected team environment. The result is a newly found greater sense of confidence both personally and professionally.
Founder and Board Member at iSisters
Trudeau Medalist Recipient, 2012; Forty under 40 Recipient, 2010Read More
Cathy Lewis believes that education is the most important investment we can make, whether at the personal, professional, or community level. She firmly believes education has the power to make the world a better place.
With undergraduate degrees in Literature and Psychology, a Bachelor of Education, and an MBA, Cathy is the epitome of education.
In 2001, Cathy became the founder of iSisters Technology Mentoring Inc., a charitable organization that provides underprivileged women with the opportunity to receive training in technology, opening the door to job opportunities and financial independence. The organization has had phenomenal success, receiving national awards and recognitions from the community. In 2019, 3000 women will have graduated through their 14 technology learning programs in Ottawa.
From 1998 to 2007, Cathy was a groundbreaking education technology consultant working with organizations like Microsoft, Public Works GSC and NASA. Finding herself in male-dominated meetings and dealing with increasingly technical projects, Cathy felt a growing need to better understand more aspects of business and further establishing her credentials. In addition, Cathy felt she deserved an investment in herself and her future. In 2005, she enrolled in the Telfer Executive MBA.
The academic challenge was unparalleled. An avid learner, Cathy loved knowing nothing about a subject – such as Supply Chain Management – and then having a thorough understanding of it only a couple of months later. Much of what she experienced in the program was brand new and the knowledge left her with feelings of confidence and invincibility as well as new life-ling best friends. Cathy has been a proud and active alumni representation for her class since graduation.
After graduation, Cathy worked as the Business Excellence lead with Abbott (health care and manufacturing). In this role, Cathy led Lean Six Sigma, Shingo, Global Environmental, Health and Safety as well as ambitious apprenticeship programs which resulted in 382 graduates. She also created customized learning plans with 28 colleagues where they earned their high school diploma. After that, Cathy was the Director, Program Management Office (PMO) and Employee Communications with the Royal Canadian Mint. Cathy’s academic and professional experiences have culminated to consulting where she specializes in education and strategy as well as active volunteering with organizations such as iSisters and Habitat for Humanity.
Her greatest achievement? Hiring a graduate of the iSisters program to become a Program Manager, working onsite in the community, teaching new Canadian women about the power of technology and education.
Physician and former President and CEO of The Ottawa Hospital
Trudeau Medalist Recipient, 2016Read More
“Telfer’s Executive MBA Program not only provided me with the skills and knowledge required to succeed in today’s competitive business environment, it gave me confidence to apply them to “real-life” management issues in my own organization – literally the next business day. Although this “theory-to-practice” approach is pervasive throughout the course, the benefits to both candidate and employer are most evident in the summer project where I had the opportunity to build on my new business skills and knowledge, by completing an important management project in my own organization”
VP Human Resources, General Dynamics Canada
Jane McVeigh was a 2008 recipient of the Ottawa Business Woman of the Year award due to her work as Vice-President of Human Resources for General Dynamics Canada Ltd., a company specializing in defense technology. In April 2009, Jane joined past recipients at the awards gala to celebrate the accomplishments of herself and other strong business women in the community. Jane described the event as a humbling experience as she joined a group of “acclaimed, successful, and socially responsible women”.
Jane has spent her entire career in Human Resources (HR) and has been in her current role at General Dynamics since 1999. Throughout her career, she has been a strong advocate of learning and, when she began to discover limits in her understanding of business, Jane sought out an opportunity to expand her business acumen. At the recommendation of her colleague, David Ibbetson of the Class of 2002, Jane decided to enroll in the Telfer Executive MBA. Her goal in the Program was to become a better executive and increase her value to her company, to become more effective at what she did – and loved to do.
Her goal was achieved as her relatively myopic view of business was stretched, allowing the development of richer strategies for General Dynamics and a whole new personal appreciation for business issues. “The general business learning you get [in the Telfer EMBA] makes you even more valuable within your specialty,” said Jane. Now, in every decision, Jane has increased the factors she takes into account and her knowledge has made her a valued and relied upon person for issues within and outside of HR.
As Jane continues to promote growth at General Dynamics, she looks back fondly on her time in the EMBA. Since her graduation in 2004, she relishes the relationships she has established with fellow alumni. She is continuously benefitting from both the academic and personal growth that was accomplished during her studies with Telfer.