The Class of 1999 was the first to cross the stage to receive the prestigious MBA(FS)degree. Eighteen years have passed and over 1,000 have graduated since that inaugural class. We hold a special significance for beginnings and for those individuals who were “there” when is all began.
Yvonne Thevenot, a graduate in the Class of 1999, is a role model, coach, mentor and relentless advocate when it comes to business effectiveness, change management and performance excellence. Her consulting practice draws on extensive first-hand experience in change management as a sponsor of change, business lead and change manager at both strategic and tactical levels. Expertise in business to business relationship management stems from her Prairies roots in agricultural lending and has extended through banking, wealth management, insurance – and more recently the hip-hop music industry as unpaid on-call support to her son’s burgeoning studio. With degrees from both the University of Manitoba and Dalhousie University, her passion for learning contributes to professional designations as a Professional Agrologist, a Certified Financial Planner, a certified mentor and an accredited change manager from two different global organizations.
And what does she do for fun? Now that her children Shea and Jared have (mostly) moved out, Yvonne enjoys all types of sporting events, theatre, concerts and the best of what Toronto has to offer for entertainment. She participates on the board of global change management and mentoring associations and participates annually in raising funds for cancer research, with personal fundraising exceeding $50,000. Oh! And she loves her motorbike, even though she and her partner Ian do not spend as much time on them as they would like.
In a recent virtual interview, Yvonne reflects back to her MBA(FS) years.
How did the MBA influence my choices and decisions?
Whenever I am asked “What did you learn in your MBA?”, my response is always the same…. Time management! At the core of being successful in my MBA was learning how to juggle the course load of two programs (the Fellow of the Institute of Canadian Bankers as well as the MBA requirements), a developing career, a young family (my children were 10 and 5 at the time), and community involvement. I learned to choose how much time to spend on assignments and achieve satisfactory marks, how to choose activities with my children that were important to them and our relationship, and how to let go of things that perhaps really didn’t matter as much as I might have once thought.
How would you encourage others to seek more education?
Not only through my MBA, but also in other continuing education that I have pursued, I am an advocate for the incredible number of opportunities that exist out there. In today’s rapidly evolving world, education is critical to staying fresh and engaged. The choices of topics are wider than ever before and the methods for delivery can be suited to almost any lifestyle.
Many of our first graduates are retiring. How can we engage in life-long learning as we transition into a new reality?
Education comes in many forms. Life-long learning can be drawn from a more traditional academic setting; from ad hoc learning that can be gained from a conference, workshop or speaker; or one of my favorite ways – through mentoring. In particular, for people who have committed careers to an organization and are now transitioning to retirement, the choices are richer than ever before: take a class, sign-up for a guest lecture, or pursue mentoring relationships where you “gain” as much as you “give”.
How do you integrate creativity within a structured environment?
This is such an interesting question. Three recent items have reminded me how important creativity as part of the “full-brain” balance of a structured environment: 1. Through LinkedIn I recently connected with a fellow who integrates extensive experience in the theatre into his consulting engagements with business; 2. There is a change management workshop that uses Lego as its framework and learning tool; 3. I attended a brainstorming session with a major consulting firm where the vision board output was a collective mind-map of symbols and designs to capture the essence of the discussion in a vibrant and energetic way. These types of activities remind me that integrating creativity can be done easily and fluidly in almost any environment. Personally, I have used music, drawing, crayons and markers, various styles of brainstorming, games, and all sorts of “play” to integrate creativity…at the root of this though is key factors such as physical movement, the establishment of a safe learning environment, and being prepared to lead by diving in to get things started.
I am intrigued by blockchain. I push myself to use a digital payments card. I try to listen to as much new music as I do “oldies and goodies”. I hang out with people of all ages, all walks of life, extensive career paths, wide-ranging interests, and am curious and interested about their lives. I tap into others interests to help me see the world in new ways. My children have taught me about music, and computers, and pop culture, and new careers, and new ways of looking at the world and relationships and ideas. Every day is a surprise, and I try to approach it with that kind of an attitude of discovery and joy… and by trying – it pretty much always works out that way, so how cool is that?