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s the world’s most recognized business degree, a master of business administration continues to carry considerable credibility, making it of interest to women of all ages working to advance their careers. Many B.C. universities offer a wide range of options for those pursuing an MBA, including part-time, fulltime, executive, technology management and other specializations, with courses in leadership, finance, accounting, human resources, marketing, economics and information systems management, to name a few. Carolyn de Voest is halfway through her MBA program at Royal Roads University (RRU), specializing in management consulting, and plans to graduate later this year. Earning an MBA will help her expand her network and her professional tool kit, she says. “I want to do more strategy work with businesses,” says de Voest, who runs her own business, Better Your Best Coaching, where she works with entrepreneurs to reach their full potential as leaders. “The No. 1 challenge is time,” says the 39-year-old North Vancouver resident, who often spends up to 30 hours a week on her studies. As a mother, de Voest says balancing school with work and family life can be challenging, but the professional and personal benefits are worth it. “There’s something really rewarding about challenging yourself at this level,” she says. Melony Burton, a student in RRU’s MBA executive management program, is supervisor of infrastructure management for the City of Coquitlam’s engineering department. Burton says while her engineering background has provided her with a solid foundation, an MBA is equipping her with tools and knowledge to serve in a larger capacity. “As an executive MBA program, the students in this program are mature adults who bring a considerable amount of working experience,” says Burton. Lois Fearon is director of the RRU School of Business, where women make up about 41 per cent of total enrolment in MBA programs. While most courses are offered online, students attend two residency periods on campus. Fearon says residencies allow learners to connect and build strong relationships with each other, their professors and program staff. “This can be particularly important for women who, even more so than men, tend to be relationship builders with strong collaboration skills,” she explains. “We tend to attract many students through word of mouth. We have a lot of great role models in terms of women in leadership positions who are RRU MBA alumni, and their visibility and support really helps to draw more women.” MBA programs provide women with the confidence and ability to step up to the plate in their chosen fields,

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according to Fearon. “It will enable them to talk boardroom language, to be strategic in their thinking, to see the big picture, understand relationships between organizational pieces and to do a host of other things,” she says. “It also introduces women to a network of other professionals who can help them throughout their lives in many ways.” Simon Fraser University (SFU) has about 37 per cent total female enrolment in a variety of different MBA programs. Anca Cvaci, pharmacy project manager at Providence Health Care, graduated with her MBA from SFU in 2014. Cvaci, a pharmacist, focused her studies on consulting and project management leadership. “I loved it because it really opened up the world for me,” says Cvaci, 30, who won the 2013-14 University Women’s Club of Vancouver annual graduate award in business and used the $5,000 to help initiate a sustainability-focused case competition where MBA students from SFU and other universities compete to find the best solution for business case studies. While an MBA may not be a ticket to career success, the degree can provide women with the necessary tools to thrive in a business environment, according to Cvaci. “Women shouldn’t feel that business is not a woman’s place,” she says. Catherine Salinas, Oracle Managed Cloud Services’ service delivery manager, is on the consulting and strategic management track in the University of British Columbia’s part-time MBA program and plans to graduate next year. Salinas says an MBA will complement her information technology background. “IT is becoming more integrated into business,” she says. “There are lots of opportunities for people who understand how IT and business work together.” Salinas recommends that women attend MBA information sessions and fairs at various schools and ask questions of students, faculty and program staff to find the right fit. As an MBA graduate from the University of Victoria with a specialization in entrepreneurship, Krystal Gabriel says the degree does not necessarily guarantee landing a great job, and much depends on the focus of the individual student. “It’s totally what you make it,” advises Gabriel, 30, head of business development at Vancouver-based leadership development and strategy consulting firm Virtus. “The clearer you can go in with what you want to do with it, the better.” É

B.C. schools offering MBA programs Royal Roads University, School of Business (Victoria) Simon Fraser University, Beedie School of Business (Vancouver) Thompson Rivers University, School of Business and Economics (Kamloops) Trinity Western University, School of Business (Langley) University Canada West (Vancouver) University of British Columbia, Sauder School of Business (Vancouver) University of Northern British Columbia, School of Business (Prince George) University of Victoria, Peter B. Gustavson School of Business (Victoria) Vancouver Island University, Faculty of Management (Nanaimo)



There’s something really rewarding about challenging yourself at this level

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Right Course 2016