Completing my MBA has always been a goal of mine however, over the years there were conflicting priorities that seemed to continuously push this dream to the bottom of the pile. After my undergrad, I focused, like many, on putting more money into my bank account than I was taking out. As time went by, my emphasis shifted to establishing a career versus maintaining a job. The thought of going back to school drifted further down my priority list. During this time, I had two other passions that kept me very busy. My favourite, of course, was building my beautiful family, including my children of now 14 and 12 years of age. The other, was competing at a competitive level in the sport of curling, which I have done since a was a young girl. When the thought of pursuing an MBA crossed my mind, I questioned when and how I would fit the demands of a robust academic undertaking into what already seemed an aggressive schedule?
It wasn’t until I was working at the bank that my goal of an MBA came up in casual conversation with my manager, a dear friend and great mentor to me. She challenged me to consider my options and opened my eyes to the value that an MBA would give me on a professional level as well as the personal feeling of accomplishment. Within six months, I applied to the DAL program and received my acceptance, giving little consideration on how I would integrate studies into my schedule. It was a leap of faith that, in the end, taught me that being busy is just a frame of mind.
My time at DAL taught me many things but time management stands out beyond any others. I learned to be selfish with my schedule, efficient with administrative tasks and productive at a very early hour! It also taught me to stop and enjoy the little things along the way. As strange as it sounds, I valued the time with my husband and children more and felt that I gave them more of ‘me’ during our time together because I knew that there was less of it to go around. My children reminded me of this very important lesson and even when deadlines became tight, I knew I was deviating too far when they came to sit on the floor in my office. No words were usually spoken but I knew that I needed to walk away and be Mom and not student for a while.
Looking back, I am happy that my life delayed my pursuit of an MBA for a few reasons. Although throughout the program I said many times that I wished I had started sooner, I feel the experience I had from my career made my journey more fulfilling. I was able to relate to the material better; I was able to put the learnings into action at work; and I felt that I cared more about studying than I did throughout my Undergrad – what I difference that made! I also think that my maturity is what made it possible to complete my MBA without sacrificing any of the passions I had in my life. I continued to develop my career, I was available for my family and I still competed at a National level in curling.
Above all, having the ability to share the experience with my children made waiting worthwhile. We had ups and downs of course but seeing how my journey has impacted on how they view schoolwork, time management and prioritization in general, are invaluable lessons that are difficult to teach without going through the experience of my MBA. I was proud to walk across the stage, knowing my children were in the audience, recognizing that they felt the same pride and honour – something I hope they never forget.
Heather Heggestad, MBA Class of 2019 is Vice President, Equipment Finance at RBC.