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Working as an OHS Professional: Anything but Ordinary
Online Education for the World's Professionals
The University of Fredericton is an online university offering online certificate, diploma, and degree programs. Programs are designed for working professionals aspiring to advance their career and upgrade their education with minimal disruption to their work and personal life.
Meet our students
Jennifer Buchanan, MBA, MTA
Chief Executive Officer, JB Music Therapy
Music Therapy in Western Canada; the Beginnings
Music Therapy was relatively unknown when Jennifer Buchanan finished her degree program out of Capilano University in British Columbia in 1991. At the age of 21, she loaded her car and traveled to Calgary to complete her certification, which required 1000 hours of internship. “I can remember filling my car with all the stuff you think you need and I had all the wisdom of a 21-year old. I fell in love with this city.”
In the 25-years since, Jennifer has been responsible for the implementation of hundreds of music therapy programs through her well-established company JB Music Therapy, currently serving around 1,800 clients ranging in ages from 2-months old to 106-years old. She provides Music Therapy in Palliative care sites, hospice sites, mental health facilities, and more. She sees clients with visual impairment, dementia, cerebral palsy, autism, and a number of other issues seeking the benefits of Music Therapy.
The UFred Impact
Early in her career, professionals attempted to dissuade Jennifer from her chosen business calling it an “impossible business model.” She was bold in early days: “the nice thing about not knowing what you are doing at the beginning is that you do whatever you need to do; you’re constantly innovating,” she said. What led her to the University of Fredericton was the moment when she came to the realization that she did not have the business knowledge she needed.
“I was just over that 40-year mark in my own personal age, and at about the 20-year mark of my business and I was really realizing that I wasn’t sure if this was truly viable and sustainable,” she said.
Jennifer’s business model differed from others in that it is a for-profit organization that both serves non-profits and operates among non-profits. When she would speak with other executives from larger companies, they possessed a “special language” that she felt she lacked. She began her search for business education:
I was searching for an MBA program off and on for probably 3 to 4 years when I saw the Social Enterprise Leadership [specialty] stream at UFred. It was pretty emotional. I just knew that you basically developed this whole program just for me. I am really proud to have completed my education in Canada.
With her MBA from the Sandermoen School of Business at UFred, Jennifer has developed confidence. “I started understanding my clients better,” she said. The knowledge, she’s gained at UFred has helped her increase her business:
We’ve tripled our profit over the years that I’ve been at UFred. We’re creating more Music Therapy jobs, and we’re able to serve more people.
Supporting Social Enterprise
Jennifer is not planning to slow down. When asked where she sees herself going professionally from here, she said:
I’d like to write another book. My first book was on Music Therapy; my second book is going to be about Community Impact. I’ve been looking at that for some time. Also, I would like to do more training and education myself, supporting other small businesses, other social businesses, in particular across the country. Learning from them, partnering with them, and supporting the as best I can.
Jennifer credits her MBA at UFred with helping her recognize her weaknesses and helping to “massage” them away. To other business owners she says, “there’s always going to be a way to improve your business so it can upgrade or impact on your community and in your own life.”
Please note: Jennifer’s testimonial is part of the larger campaign ‘UFred10’. To learn more about UFred10, click here.
EHS Lead Manager Canada, AFL
Health & Safety Beginnings, Trial by Fire
After 10-years in the Canadian forces as a firefighter, Steve Hall retired and made a move into the oil and gas sector as a civilian. He took a job at a safety company as a firefighter, but this did not go as planned:
“So, I showed up at the company, and they had no fire jobs, so, they said, ‘We have a safety job open today. Here’s a truck and here’s a map if you want to work, go ahead.’ So, I said, ‘sure, I just want to work,’ and I ended up on a sour site, and I was the safety guy, and I knew nothing about health and safety.”
With so much to learn, it can be difficult to break into the health and safety field. Steve recalled his first night shift while working for a security company:
“I remember the first day I (worked) night shift, and I was at the front entrance of the site. A consultant came up to me and said, ‘I’ve fired 19-guys in 19-days from your organization; however, I’ve been watching you tonight, and I like how you operate. I would like to keep you.’ I said, ‘Well, that’s good because I’d like to have a job as well.’ It was definitely ‘trial by fire,’ but I learned very quickly that safety is not a position that you’ll ever know 100%. It’s just a constant learning type of profession.”
Over the next few years, he moved through a few different safety companies, helped in different positions, and progressed quickly. He developed a wealth of experience in all sorts of safety roles. “I’ve done pretty much every aspect of safety, food safety even, a lot of ergonomics, oil, and gas, new construction, and drilling completions,” Steve said.
The UFred Impact
Pursuing his formal education, Steve quickly realized how much he did not know. “You need to be constantly educating yourself, or you’re never going to go anywhere.” Steve knew he would need the type of education that would provide immediate benefit and not require that he leave his job. He looked to UFred to help him to gain the credentials he needed to be successful in his chosen path; he knew experience alone would not suffice:
I’m a big proponent of experience; experience is huge. However, you need that academic training behind you. I believe it was the day after I was taking certain modules with UFred, I was applying that knowledge. I found it useful right away, not like a bachelor degree where you would use it in practice later on. 100% of the material, I was applying right away. So, it was probably one of the best formal education courses I’ve received.
A traditional classroom would have been a poor fit for Steve. He needed a flexible and innovative health and safety program:
I am proud to be part of a progressive organization. All too often, these formal academic institutions are very slow to change. They are very bricks and mortar focused, and they’re behind by dozens of years with adult education. Adult learners are all over the globe, most executives travel constantly, and there are all these factors that prohibit us from attending their institutions. It’s great to have an institution that’s progressive, leading the market in health and safety education.
Steve has been impressed with the user-friendly platform offered by UFred for his courses, and the system seems prepared to handle the special needs of professionals on the move:
“I was very hesitant at first about doing education online, due to technical issues. That user-friendly capability – I’ve attended classes in between flights at the airport, at hotels, you name it. I’ve streamed from my phone on the side of the road, and I’ve never had an IT issue. The platform is extremely easy to use.”
Bridging to Continued Education
In early 2015, Steve acquired an EHS Manager position with AFL. Fairly quickly, he moved into a national role, and now, he has international responsibilities. Around the same time, he took the next step in his educational path and started the Executive MBA degree program at the Sandermoen School of Business:
“I used the certificate to springboard into the EMBA. As I went through the training, I realized, ‘wow, this is extremely beneficial, so what will the next level look like?’ I find I’m now in a corporate position and I’m dealing with business leaders that all have MBAs or 20/30 years of business experience. So, I wasn’t talking the same language. That’s why I looked at an MBA.”
The best part for Steve was that he could combine learning about business with courses designed specifically for his skill set, by enrolling in the Executive MBA with a specialty stream in Health and Safety Leadership. “Everything you are doing is related to your current position in health and safety. You’re instantly able to apply that knowledge. You can learn it, and it was relevant, almost immediately,” he said, and added, “dealing with Economics, Finance, and the time value of money, those aren’t easy concepts to wrap your head around when you’re solely focused on health and safety. Wow! I’ve really stepped up my game now.”
Please note: Steve’s testimonial is part of the larger campaign ‘UFred10’. To learn more about UFred10, click here.
Disability Management Advisor
Industry Leading Disability Management Education
Shortly after she accepted the position of Disability Management Advisor with the federal government, Mandy Abrahamsen learned that there was a change in the educational requirements for the post. Years had passed since the 25-year veteran of public service had attended formal post-secondary education and she was apprehensive. Although, she had remained active and engaged, attending training courses that were offered by the federal government, she had not completed other formalized learning.
Her primary responsibilities included managing employee disabilities or absences in the workplace due to illness or injury. She knew she would require a program that would provide industry-leading Disability Management education, and that would not require that she take a leave of absence from her job. This ultimately led her to the online Certificate in Integrated Disability Management (CIDM) at the University of Fredericton.
The UFred Impact
Mandy began her Certificate in Integrated Disability Management (CIDM) in mid-2015. Upon completion, she met the criteria for education in her new position, but she didn’t stop there: “I had such a positive experience attending UFred, I decided I was going to continue with further studies by obtaining a Diploma in Integrated Disability Management,” she said.
Mandy found great value in the relationships she had developed and has maintained with her classmates. She remarked, “I’m so proud to be part of a team that demonstrates utmost professionalism in the work that they do.” Also, “the instructors, they deliver course material in such a professional manner, and they demonstrate that they have a good sound knowledge of the material that they are presenting and teaching,” she said.
Continued Post-Secondary Learning
Her education at UFred has given Mandy that extra boost of confidence she needed to be successful:
It’s improved my communication skills when I engage with employees both verbally and in writing, and most of all it has announced my knowledge in the field of Disability Management, allowing me to feel confident in my role as a Disability Management Advisor.
Mandy is applying the knowledge and information she is receiving from her current course of study, the Diploma in Integrated Disability Management , to her role. “On a daily basis, I apply the concept and the information I’ve learned by attending the courses,” she said. Looking ahead, she may one day wish to complete a degree in Disability Management and remarked:
If in the future I wish to continue my post-secondary education through distance learning and online, my first choice would be UFred because my experience has been extremely positive, and I would not have the sound knowledge I do today without UFred.
Please note: Mandy’s testimonial is part of the larger campaign ‘UFred10’. To learn more about UFred10, click here.
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