The start of a new year – lucky number 13.

I am sitting here tonight reviewing the next six months of my life which includes detailing all of my deadlines on a calendar.  I am in the home stretch of the MBA journey.  June 21, a magical day represents the finale of the program.

What stands between now and finishing school:

  • Nine more weeks of class:  Leading Through Innovation and Building Sustainable Communities
    • 6 papers along with thousands of pages of reading.
  • Another all day online sync session
  • Organizational Management Project – 15,000 word paper similar to a thesis
  • One final class bringing all the learning’s together on campus for three weeks.

I am also adding in getting rid of the 25 pounds I have gained during this process and have set the goal of the Calgary Half Marathon.  So the first half of this year is going to be really busy.

Let the games begin..


And so concludes the final semester of 2012. ….

It is hard to believe that I have been at this little MBA project for an entire year now, how quickly is has gone by. This past session we were immersed in economics and the theory behind change management.

It is safe to say that I now understand the intricacies of micro and macro-economic theory and how it relates to the world around us. Our final paper we had to take an item from the news, explain the applied macro-economic theories and then relate it to our own organization. I choose to write on Canada’s approval of the Nexxen deal and what that means to the northern hotel industry. Hopefully the prof finds it interesting.

Our change class was all about the various theories surround change within an organization.  Why do seventy percent of change efforts fail? Well I can now answer that question and devise a pretty little plan to implement change. Our final paper in this class was a similar applied theory paper with ties to our organization. We were allowed to choose our favourite theories and suggest a change management plan for an organizational decision.

And let’s not forget the OMP, our final project hovering over the heads of every MBA student. With any luck I will receive approval shortly to conduct research on humans. The OMP is our final 10-15,000 word paper taking all of the concepts from the program and applying them to an organizational challenge. I have chosen to write on the lack of human capital in the hospitality industry.

We have one final session left for electives; I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Here is hoping that light is not an oncoming train J

Rachel’s Challenge – A Life Changing Presentation

I was fortunate enough to hear Craig Scott from Rachel’s Challenge speak this afternoon at my Rotary Meeting.

Craig was at the Columbine High School when the shooting took place and his sister was the first person to be shot. He lost two of his best friends who were shot as they huddled together under a table in the library. He tells the story of Issah one of the only black kids in school who heard horrible racial slurs and teasing before he was shot by the gunmen.

The speech was life changing; one day can impact the rest of your life. Craig chooses to forgive and let his anger subside to deliver his sister’s message of compassion and caring.

The story of Rachel is of remarkable one of a young lady of just seventeen who was wise beyond her years. This young angle somehow knew that  her time here was going to short but that she would impact millions of people through her words and actions.

Rachel’s profound words of wisdom were found in her journals after her death:

“I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same. People will never know how far a little kindness can go.” – Rachel  Joy Scott

 “I have a theory that if one person that if one person will go out of their way to show compassion then it will start a chain reaction at the same time “ – Rachel  Joy Scott

“I won’t be labelled as Average “– Rachel  Joy Scott

Craig’s challenge to our group was the following:

  • See the world through the eyes of another – have compassion
  • Forgive
  • End Prejudice
  • Tell the important people in your life that you love them

If you ever get chance to see Craig speak, I highly recommend it.

It’s time to start a chain reaction and create a world filled with peace and kindness….

And so begins another session

It seems that with every two-week break, you try to cram in everything you did not have time to do in during the past 8 weeks.  During my time off I travelled to Toronto to attend Canadian Human Resources Tourism Council Conference. The conference is directly linked to the MBA Organization Management Project I will be authoring as my final paper.

While in Toronto I took advantage of time with friends. This time was all about trying to see everyone I missed the last time I was in Toronto. So I managed to fit in as many people as I could but I still missed people. My BFF made sure that I had turkey for Thanksgiving and brought me along to her husband’s side of the family’s feast. All in all a good trip but exhausting.

I came back with a minor cold that I allowed to become Bronchitis because I did not slow down at any point during my 2 weeks off.  A new inhaler and ten days of antibiotics should have me better by the end of the week.

We were warned that the prior semester was a crazy one with the combination of Corporate Finance and Environment of Management with a few OMP deliverables thrown in for good luck. Those warnings were well warranted, I think I vanished from civilization for the duration of the term. I did manage to survive and come out the other side with a B+ in Environment of Management and a B in Corporate Finance.

And so starts another session, time to begin the journey into economics and theories behind successfully implementing change within an organization.

Here is hoping this term allows for the occasional trip to the gym…..

Another season begins.

The leaves are changing color and another session of the MBA is complete. I find myself killing time at the Edmonton Airport waiting for my night flight to Toronto .I had to escape Grande Prairie, mixed precipitation was in the forecast for Tuesday.

I have opted to for some much-needed vacation, with a little MBA on the side. I will be attending The Canadian Tourism Human Resources Forum 2012.  The conference is on topic for my final organizational management project for my MBA. I am fascinated by the retention issues in hospitality and thus decided to make it the focal point of my final paper.

This past semester was one of the craziest since our time on campus but we all did manage to survive and hopefully the grades will be positive.  Nine months into this adventure I still get butterflies before exams and when the email comes out that the grades have been posted.

I did manage to fit in a business trip to Vancouver to learn the IHG Way of Sales, so I can properly represent our Holiday Inn and Suites property. The one thing you can learn from Vancouver is their “joie de vie”, you forget there is a city that is so incredibly active and city council is on board with bike lanes and other instruments to make this lifestyle possible.

I also managed to make it to my Rotary District conference which was being held in Grande Prairie this year.  The Right Honorable Joe Clark spoke of the importance of NGO’s in facilitating world peace and helping alleviate poverty.

My favorite speaker of the weekend Micheal Kerr who embraces bringing humour into the workplace. I have to say he had me in tears because he speaks of the workplace that so many of us have experienced the dread and anxiety that builds Sunday night at the thought of having to go back there on Monday morning. He suggest that by building and environment of humour where people enjoy coming to work;  we as business leaders will create a situation of decreased staff turnover, people wanting to work at your establishment which ultimately will affect the bottom line because people care. Novel Concept…  If you get  chance to see him speak, please go. He also has written several books and recorded a DVD.  If an ex-government worker can create a career as a motivational speaker on fun in the workplace, anything is possible.





Inspiration can come from a single marathon….

This week I had the privilege of meeting Kathrine Switzer the first woman to run the Boston Marathon. I kind of knew her story from being a runner but I had no idea the extent of what she did for woman’s rights in sports.

Kathrine registered for Boston as K.W. Switzer and filed all the appropriate paperwork so she could legally run the race in 1969. She was attacked on the race course by the race director for being a woman, she managed to escape and finish the race. It was believed back in the 60’s that if a woman ran more than 800 meters her uterus would fall out, she would get big muscle and grow hair in regions there should not be hair.

This event was a catalyst for the rest of her life. Ladies, we have Kathrine to thank for the ability to enter into a 5K up to a marathon. She partnered with Avon to being woman’s only road races all over the world. We can also thank her, for women running in the Olympic games.

It’s amazing what one person can do to change the world….

So, if the MBA was not enough for me to take on I also assemble and edit the Rotary 5370 district newsletter.

Thought I would share the links of the newsletters I have published to date:

At little insight into the projects completed by Rotary clubs in Northern Alberta and BC. Don’t forget  my words of wisdom on the last page, Random thoughts from the editor.

Now back to my regularly scheduled program of a full time job and full time student.



How Inspiration from Ironman, can add fuel to the MBA journey.

This MBA session is feeling similar to my time on campus, except that little addition of a job. In fairness we were warned that this session would be intense, Corporate Finance, Environment of Management, with a  few OMP assignments due in between.

In the past three weeks we have written a group paper for finance, a group paper/presentation for management and today we have a personal deliverable for management.

In addition to the assignments we have on average 200-250 pages of reading each week. So I do feel like I am drowning a little bit. I decided help was necessary for Finance, so acquired a tutor to actually teach me the material.

I spent seven hours today writing a paper on international issues around oil reserves in the Arctic during that time I was being reminded of personal accomplishment. I have many friends competing in Ironman Mount Tremblant today, some for the first time.  I have been following their progress through the Ironman Athlete Tracking and Facebook posts from friends at the venue watching the athletes.

Watching my friends virtually today brought back found memories of Ironman Canada in 2006 and some not so found memories of Ironman Lake Placid in 2008.

What did I learn from a 3.8 km swim, 180 km Bike followed by a 42.2 km run?

With a positive attitude, dedication and resilience  anything is possible.  A negative attitude will result in failure every time.

Another Session complete……

This past semester which entails a nine week session at Royal Roads we began our journey into the world of Lean Production (aka how does Toyota do it) and the world of Marketing.

During this time we were blessed with many group assignments, a couple of individual assignments and of course two final exams which we got the opportunity to write back to back on a Friday. My hands still have cramps from six hours of writing.

Our marketing class had a few very interesting assignments including a market segment analysis in which I choose to research Starbucks and the Grande Prairie market. I was able to determine that GP is indeed a very unique community with a very high percentage of young families and high income which makes for a very unique market segment. As a group we completed Brand Audit for Greenpeace in which we explored if Greenpeace’s market perception is in alignment with their marketing strategy. If you are interested you can view our perspective in this video here.

Lean production was interesting and I can see how the concepts could be applied to a non-manufacturing world but the entire course was taught from a factory perspective.  The Remedy was a nice little bed time story which helped bring the concepts in the text described primarily in Japanese to an actual lean production product launch-factory overhaul.

On Friday we get the email from our classmates the grades are up for BUSA 513. I am on a road trip with my sister to fetch my nieces from my parents place in 100 Mile House BC. This journey consisted of a 11 hour drive with spotty internet as we pass through Northern BC. When I receive the email I quickly log onto my iPhone and can’t find the grades. Automatically you are transported into the arena of self-doubt, I can’t find my grades, is it just me, did I fail, do I have to re-write the exam? No matter how old or accomplished you are; self doubt always prevails. It turns out the university was cruel and pulled them down prior to the long weekend.

Tuesday after spending quality time with the my nieces on the weekend including a 12 hour drive back to GP.  The grades again magically appear. Indeed I did well on the back to back final exams and was able to pull of an A- in both classes. I will happily accept that in a master’s level program.

Onto the next session Corporate Finance and the Environment of Management.

Goodbye world see you in nine weeks when I emerge again from school

And the journey continues…

One year to go on the MBA journey, I so have survived the first six months. I have a total of six classes left, three more full online day sessions and a master thesis or organizational management project. Head down to the grind stone, I will survive the remainder of this journey.

Over the past couple of weeks I have been presented with some amazing opportunities that have helped me enjoy my summer in Grande Prairie. A couple weeks ago the outdoor concert know as the East Coast Garden party. It was a blast from the past with Honeymoon Suite and Trooper on stage. This was followed by the attending the Street Performers festival on the same weekend.

This past weekend I was able to attend the Dino Ball, a fundraising event for a museum they are trying to build up in GP to house the plentiful dinosaur remains founds in the Pipestone creek area. Emerson Drive was the band for evening and the did an excellent job. Here is hoping the benefit was a financial success.

Things are starting to come together I have found a thesis topic and a conference to attend to put me in touch with the people necessary to make this project happen.

I have come to believe with a positive outlook on life and a hard work ethic anything is possible.