“My enthusiasm for the program transcends the challenges I face.”
Denise Hinds, Team Leader, Scotiabank
The phrase, Life-Long Learning, has become an ubiquitous tagline that encompasses our need to explore new horizons and opportunities. Our curiosity to know what is around the next corner stirs our adventurous spirits.
Adventures, however, are not for the faint of heart, for there is ever the promise of risk, hard work and ambiguity. Applying for an MBA program takes courage and resolve, characteristics that will remain faithful companions on the road ahead.
CFAME Connection reached out to Denise Hinds, Team Leader at Scotiabank and a current student in CFAME’s MBA(FS) program, for her thoughts on what compelled her to enroll in an ambitious academic program.
Why did you decide to enroll in an MBA program?
Working within the financial industry, complacency is not an option. We are witness to many changes, from industry disruptors, cultural shifts to technological advancements and off-shore operations. The decision to enroll in an MBA program came with the recognition that, to succeed, I must remain relevant and competitive by adding knowledge and experience to my personal brand. My pursuit of an MBA education began over two years ago, fueled by pride in my over two decades of valuable work experience, as well as an awareness that, as a woman of colour without an MBA, I face an additional obstacle in an already fierce job market.
Prior to embarking on my MBA journey, I attended several Dal alumni events hosted in Toronto, which offered an opportunity to connect with Connie Chang, Ming Yeung and other Dal alumni who shared my passion for education. They inspired me to look closely into the MBA(FS) program. Dr. Martine Durier-Copp’s presentation, ‘Transforming the Professional Landscape: Managing Virtual Teams’ resonated with my work experience at the time, which was supporting departments in Stratford and Montreal. Dr. Bertrum MacDonald spoke to me about Dalhousie University’s 200th celebration in 2018, to which I jokingly responded that the fireworks would be for my pending graduation from the program (2 years later – looks like I was off by 3 years). Over the years, I have had the privilege of working with Dal alumni who encourage and foster collaborative interactions: Michael Ford, Irena Stropnik, Glenn Chappell, Helen Emanual, Yvonne Zeabin, and Don Cook to name a few.
For me, a vital benefit of the MBA(FS) program is that it offers an amazing network of people, those that inspire me to do more, to learn more, and to become more.
I have completed several semesters of the MBA(FS) program. The question I ask myself after each assignment, late night studying, or exam, is why do I continue in the program? The sense of accomplishment and personal growth is a great feeling, but for me it is now more about inspiring others. I have the privilege of being sought out as a mentor. My enthusiasm, passion and perseverance, in both my career and this program, prompts others to aspire to life-long learning.
Despite the many challenges and excuses that are present, the decision to enroll and/or continue in an MBA program is ‘because it matters’.
How do you keep the balance between work, study and life?
By creating moments. Work, study and life (family) make up who I am; the balance is found when I devote, to each instance, my ambition. My time in the office is not over shadowed by a looming assignment or what to prepare for dinner. Studying happens by booking time aside, away from work and family (equally as important is the support of family to enable that). Family time is a priority and I capture every moment I can with my little one, from dropping him off at school in the morning to doing arts and crafts with him when I get home. For me, it is about focus on what is important in the present.
There are always unplanned circumstances and exceptions that throw the balance out of sorts (e.g. 14-hour work days for several weeks straight; a sick family member; or term paper/group assignment requiring additional work sessions). With only 24 hours in a day, a full-time job and 14-20 hours a week dedicated to studying, balance comes down to making the most of the time I have.
Balance starts from within, with how I choose to live each day, organize my routines, and ensure I am getting enough sleep. There is a time and place for work and a time and place for study, but life is just that. The balance between work, study and life is made possible when I am in every moment.