The John Molson School of Business EMBA at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, is an intimate, global program that is known for having a collaborative environment, with a healthy dose of competition among the students. The B-school is situated in the second largest French-speaking city in the world, after Paris.
Tailored for those with an average of thirteen and a half years of practical experience, primarily in engineering, banking, insurance, entrepreneurship, and healthcare, this year’s program boasts a cohort of 20 students. The Class of 2023 includes 10 women and 10 men, with 13% hailing from various countries.
Among the graduating class is EMBA Diane Sevigny, who reflects on her decision to pursue an EMBA at Concordia. She details how the program helped her to grow personally and professionally, apply knowledge to real-world scenarios, transform professionally, learn in a diverse environment, and move to the next phase in her career.
At this stage in your career, what made you decide to pursue an EMBA?
I had worked for 20 years in heavy industry mainly with large steel companies. I am a trained metallurgical engineer, and I started my career in engineering to later move over to sales and then marketing. While working in marketing, it gave me a more complete perspective about the business to develop strategies and promote business cases. I am someone who has never been intimidated to pursue new challenges and I saw the next step of my career to be in executive management. This next step required base knowledge that I felt I needed in areas that I was less familiar with, such as finance and human resources.
I therefore felt an MBA would assist in giving me the business fundamentals and methods such that I would be able to propel my business rapidly and confidently to where it needed to go. In addition, I was also interested in pursuing working on boards and helping companies with their business strategy and marketing. At this stage in my career, I felt the EMBA was the best path for me to take since I would be working with peers that had experience in business and able to discuss topics with greater depth along with the quick timeline to be able to complete the program in a short amount of time.
In each new position I have taken throughout my career, I have always aspired to grow, learn more and push myself to new limits. I was at the point in my career in which I knew the next step was going to be a big one and I wanted to be ready for it. I have often learned what needed to be done in the field and through research, which proved to be time consuming. I knew this next step would not have the same liberty and provide the learning time that I may feel I need to really excel at the position. I also wanted to move to the next level with confidence knowing that I was making sound decisions backed by proven methods.
What attracted you to the John Molson School of Business EMBA program?
What attracted me to the John Molson School of Business EMBA first was their approach to learning which focuses on case-based learning. This would allow experienced professionals to discuss relevant topics and best ways to tackle real problems and practice what we were learning. I was not looking for a theory-based MBA which would not generate such deep learning that case-based learning creates.
On top of this learning method, the JMSB EMBA also focuses on having a diverse group of professionals with experience, which further supports rich groups and in class discussions with diverging points of views. This allows the convergence of extensive professional experience and culture to debate topics and hear perspectives that you would not otherwise be exposed to.
The more tactical aspect of the EMBA that attracted me to the program was the schedule. The full day alternating Friday and Saturday schedule provided a nice balance between personal and professional life. It allowed flexibility in the schedule between the short and long weeks to balance your performance at work and time to spend at home with friends and family. The fact as well that the program took a break during the summer also allowed you to recharge your batteries and regain your strength and drive to perform to your maximum potential in the final two semesters.
How do you integrate what you learned in the program to your current job?
Since beginning my classes, I have managed to incorporate the latest research and new approaches to my positions. When I was working in marketing, I was able to take a more analytical approach and use methods provided during class to look at the marketing plan with different glasses. It also provided confirmation that the approaches we were using were the right ones and when we should really push our initiatives with confidence. In my latest role in business development, the EMBA has provided the backbone for my abilities to build financial plans for business perspectives, approach partnerships looking at strategic fit and best options for all partners, the leadership to read others and approach interaction to maximize performance from all parties.
How did this program impact your career progression?
I’m someone who is not afraid of taking risks – in my career, that is. I have changed companies and roles from technical, to sales and then marketing throughout my life. When I joined the program, I was at a point in my life, working in a male dominated industry, that I felt I had reached the glass ceiling. I did not feel confident that I would be able to break through the glass ceiling without an MBA. This program provided me with the reassurance that I can break through the glass ceiling. I know now, the value that I bring to the business world, and that I can now branch out beyond my area of expertise and lead with confidence.
During my studies, I changed roles to be the director of business development for an industry that I was less familiar with. The JMSB EMBA provided me the tools and confidence that I needed to pursue this career change. This new position has also exposed me to Board committees, bringing me closer to my goal of doing board work. The JMSB EMBA has opened doors to allow me to follow my dreams and expand my career opportunities.
How did this program transform you?
One thing is for sure, the JMSB EMBA taught me to think differently, and I am not the same person that started the program. As I progressed throughout the program, I learned to stop second guessing myself. The incredible business leaders that made up my cohort supported my ideas and approach and encouraged me to raise my voice to be heard.
I was also elected co-class president in my second year confirming their confidence in me. Thanks to the wonderful professors, they opened my mind to new ideas and concepts relative to today’s rapidly evolving business world, based on the latest research. This journey taught me perseverance and hard work to a level I never thought possible. I had to have immaculate time management skills balancing work and family – which includes my three kids!
This effort was underlined by the honorable nomination to become a member of Beta Gamma Sigma, the highest recognition a business student globally can receive at an accredited school. The JMSB EMBA gave me renewed energy for this next stage in my life. As an experienced professional, I am ready to bring my current and future opportunities to the next level with a solid foundation, confidence and a network of incredible business leaders. Look out – here I come!
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