Flexible admission allows EMBA dream to become reality

Melissa Schmidt complements 20 years of experience with formal education

Melissa Schmidt has 20 years of experience working with Finning International, a machinery and parts supplier for many Alberta industries. With limited access to post-secondary education after high school, she found herself working full time and pursuing a business certificate followed by a business diploma. As the organization she worked for evolved and created new opportunities, she was afforded the ability to achieve the Maintenance Management Professional (MMP) designation, which is governed by the Plant Engineering and Maintenance Association of Canada (PEMAC). It was during that time she learned to enjoy both project management and change management.

This newfound passion resulted in the opportunity to work on many projects related to technology, transformation, and change management.

“To be honest, I was a high school dropout that has found my way through all post-secondary education while working a full-time job. To be able to achieve my EMBA was at one point only a dream. To have flexible admission through UFred, my dream became a reality, which now has me considering a DBA.”

Melissa’s long-term career aspirations were the primary driver for earning her degree.

“With 20 years of operational experience, I was seeking to complement that experience with practical business principles that are accomplished through formal education. UFred was the most appealing based on the structure of learning because there is shared accountability between the student and the faculty for progress,” she said.

Most importantly, Melissa was interested in developing a strong network through shared learning experiences.

“For any business professional, the strength of one’s network is an important building block to building and maintaining knowledge that is both within and outside their area of expertise. By design, the course assignments promote the development of professional relationships while being exposed to diverse industries,” she said.

Melissa added that both her peer group and the instructors provided unique learning opportunities.

“Diversity in thinking coupled with a safe environment to explore new concepts was the most rewarding part of the experience.”

That, in addition to her own capability.

“As an individual, the confidence that came as a result of achieving the learning objectives and being able to practice the concepts was empowering. Regardless of the course content, the learning far surpassed the borders of the learning objectives through the encouragement to use practical inputs, such as media,” Melissa said.

This approach, she says, helped to correlate the principles of the course to tangible applications. One example was one class’s use of current headlines to drive in-class dialogue.

“At the time the trade agreement between Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. was in the headlines often with events unfolding and being discussed in class. The depth of learning is enhanced with this modern-day, less textbook-based approach,” she said.

Melissa feels that her UFred education enabled her to contribute to professional conversations confidently at all levels of the organization.

“It’s allowed me to showcase my true capability, which has resulted in a promotion upon graduation. It’s as simple as changing the inner dialogue when exposed to conversations that have allowed me to redefine myself professionally.”

Going into the EMBA program, Melissa was initially unsure of how to leverage the degree.  Her goals have started to take shape within the last six months as her studies started to wind down.

“Professionally, I intend to leverage the knowledge in a new role that has a broad scope related to operational efficiency, transformation and change management, all to which I feel highly capable of achieving.”

Melissa is also working to secure a contract instructor position to provide facilitation and instruction to adult students who are working toward their Maintenance Management Professional designation, which is governed through PEMAC.

“This ties into my personal goals where retirement from the day-to-day happens sooner. A transition into a faculty position will provide flexible income through retirement, which also aligns with a passion I have for teaching,” she said.

Melissa suggests future students focus on the value of the practical application of the learning objectives, never wasting an opportunity to practice new concepts with their classmates.

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