Breaking the MBA mould

Registered Dietitian Vanessa Yurchesyn takes on Innovation Leadership MBA

When most people think of a Master’s of Business Administration degree, they think of corporate managers, supervisors, executives, and the like. But Vanessa Yurchesyn is somewhat of an unconventional MBA student.

Vanessa has been a Registered Dietitian (RD) for six years. She’s held several jobs throughout her career, including at long-term care facilities and as a retail dietitian at Loblaw Companies Ltd. She also launched her own nutrition and wellness consulting business, and eventually moved on to her current role as Account Manager and Director of Business Development with Complete Purchasing Services.

The diversity of the dietetics profession was something Vanessa was attracted to and has celebrated. She shares her non-traditional career path with students and interns, as well as seasoned dietitians.

“I enjoy experimenting with and learning about how a dietitian’s skill set can put them in positions that were never imagined,” she said. “Dietitians have the opportunity (and challenge) to educate consumers about how all foods can fit, and that mindfulness and balance will always be more important than counting calories. Dietitians are truly everywhere, and our work in a variety of areas has the power to positively influence.”

Vanessa was interested in aspects of sales and marketing, as well as operations and human resources management. Given that she never wanted to practice dietetics in a traditional sense, she thought being knowledgeable in those areas would provide her with an advantage, which led to her decision to pursue an MBA.

UFred’s programs stood out to her because she could continue working full time and be engaged in her career.

“UFred’s MBA specialty streams also caught my attention. The calibre of professors, affordability, as well as being 100% online attracted me to UFred. The online learning environment allowed me the flexibility to move to another province for a career opportunity while completing this degree,” Vanessa said.

She believes the courses within UFred’s Innovation Leadership stream of the MBA program help her both personally and professionally.

“It allows you to think differently about concepts and subjects, and it is a perfect complement to almost any background. It has made me a more effective dietitian with more to offer in my current job and profession as a whole,” she added.

Vanessa felt she was more engaged in the virtual classes than she would have been attending class in person.

“The professors do a wonderful job of involving everyone and making it enjoyable to participate. At the end of each course, I always feel like I’d actually met my professor and classmates because we have learned so much from one another,” she said.

While she was worried that online studies would lead to procrastination, Vanessa said that with the way the courses are set up and with weekly virtual classes, she couldn’t put off her assignments and projects. She adds that the UFred website is extremely user-friendly, and she likes the convenience of not having to drive to a university after a long day at work.

“I can engage in classes from the comfort of my home, in a hotel room if travelling for business, or vacation in another country, or even at airport lounges. And yes, I’ve done it all,” she said.

Vanessa believes the learning objectives within each course were extremely valuable, adding that she was able to apply the course content to her career immediately, which helped her get a good grasp on the course concepts.

“My employer is always curious to hear about what I am learning along the way, and I often share my knowledge with my team. My employer and the leadership team is also very supportive when it comes to sharing organizational information that wouldn’t otherwise be at my fingertips in order for me to complete projects and assignments.”

She found the MBA program to be very affordable and designed to allow students to continue to work full time, while still maintaining social commitments with family and friends.

“Most people worry that they have to sacrifice something to complete an MBA program while working full time but UFred makes this worry go away. It allows you to have balance,” she said.

Vanessa believes achieving her MBA will put her in a good position to continue to grow in her career.

“I came into this MBA program with no previous business courses from my undergrad. I highly encourage anyone who is also in this situation to push themselves and jump right in – you won’t regret it.”