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Alumni aims to make positive difference in lives of employees with EMBA

Jeff Dinyer knew he wanted to work in Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) when his Grade 10 Environmental Science teacher brought a health and safety professional from Chemical Valley in Sarnia, Ont., into the classroom.

“From that point, I knew that my career progression was to become a health and safety professional and make a positive difference in employees’ lives,” he said.

He earned a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science. He was able to secure progressive positions in the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) field from consulting companies and global manufacturing companies. He eventually became a Certified Industrial Hygienist and a Registered Occupational Hygienist.

However, as Jeff’s career progressed, he noticed gaps between how EHS professionals interact at higher levels of management. He believes they only partly understood the goals of the business and the finances and found it challenging to translate EHS values and goals into a language that would work for executives. That triggered him to find a way to help bridge those gaps, but it wasn’t without its obstacles.

“One of the challenges I had is that my career progressed to the point where I didn’t want to take time off work to pursue more education. I was (and still am) a busy executive travelling to various locations for 50% to 75% of the time. I also have a young family with two active girls in various sports and an amazing and supportive wife. How could I bridge this gap?”

Jeff says he found the flexibility he needed at the University of Fredericton (UFred)’s Executive MBA program, which offers a specialty stream in Health and Safety Leadership.

“The online program allowed me to pursue my schooling wherever I was in the world. I participated in classes while in Austria, Germany and various parts of the U.S., on one occasion, I ended up being able to meet up with one of my professors during my travels. I even listened in on classes while in the air using WiFi.”

While it was a busy two-and-a-half years for Jeff, he credits the flexibility of UFred’s online format for the ability to balance all of his activities.

“More importantly, I’ve been able to bridge that gap and more actively participate in leadership meetings, and continue to evolve our EHS program,” he said.

One of the most potent components of the program was Jeff’s peer group. He says learning from each other provided a much better learning experience.

“My particular cohort essentially stuck together throughout the various classes, and allowed us to build really positive relationships,” he said.

Jeff felt the professors were handpicked based on the experience they could provide UFred students.

“They were able to share from their own experiences, but more importantly, they were able to draw out the experiences of the rest of the class. This combination of peers and instructors helped enhance the learning experience.”

He added that it would be difficult to narrow down the most important thing he learned, but he was able to apply what he was learning in real-time. For example, with his accounting course, he had a better understanding of the finances of his company within leadership meetings, allowing him to participate more freely and with confidence.

“It had a positive impact on my professional situation. I am more engaged and active in leadership team meetings. I have a better understanding of the business. More importantly, I am able to bridge the gap between business and EHS to better integrate EHS directly into the business,” he said.

However, Jeff adds the EMBA program is not without its difficulties.

“The old saying ‘the more you put in, the more you get out’ applies to this program as well. The program is a lot of work, but it is very rewarding and gave me a major sense of accomplishment.”

Jeff’s goal is to become head of the EHS program for a global company.

“I am well on the way to achieving this goal. The education I’ve received, in particular, the EMBA program from the University of Fredericton, has armed me well to be effective in this role.”

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