When Tomi Johnson decided to pursue an MBA, she was already a successful project engineer and viewed the opportunity to advance her education at SFU Beedie as a personal investment.
“I had been wondering where to invest my savings,” says Johnson. “Financial markets were unattractive, so I took the chance of investing in myself through education.” For Johnson, who is now a commercial manager in project delivery at BC Hydro, the investment paid off. “Financially, it turned out to be an excellent decision. However, even if it hadn’t worked out financially, I would not have regretted the decision. The MBA opened up my world.”
Johnson is one of a growing number of mid-career professionals choosing to pursue an MBA while working full time. Part-time MBA options offered by forward-thinking schools such as SFU Beedie make that choice possible.
“I chose [SFU Beedie’s] MOT (Management of Technology) part-time MBA because I wanted to incorporate and leverage my experience working with technology, and the MOT specifically addresses the unique challenges and decisions that technological organizations face,” explains Johnson.
Wendy D Photography
The Management of Technology MBA is offered two evenings per week at the Vancouver campus, and is one of several part-time MBA options available to professionals at SFU Beedie. The school also offers a general MBA through the Surrey campus, an executive MBA (EMBA) and an EMBA for Aboriginal Business and Leadership in which instruction is over a number of lengthy retreats. The second year of the EMBA has an “Americas MBA” stream that provides students with the opportunity to work with their peers in Mexico, Brazil or the United States, and with travel once each semester to collaborate in person.
Even outside of the Americas programs, MBA students at SFU Beedie are a diverse group. Tom Brown, Beedie’s director of part-time MBA and GDBA says: “The programs have students from every sector: from local government to the banking industry, from small business and entrepreneurship to people who are involved in the resource sector or in property development.”
With such a diverse student population, Beedie has embraced flexibility. In addition to their part-time and full-time MBA programs, SFU Beedie offers a unique option for professionals with different goals and work-life balance. The fully online Graduate Diploma in Business Administration can be completed as a pathway into any of Beedie’s MBA programs, allowing students to spread their course load over a longer period of time.
“It’s a distinct feature that we have at SFU Beedie,” says Brown of the GDBA. “It’s an option that students wouldn’t normally have in other schools.”
Johnson says: “Some of my classmates were single parents, or new mothers who wanted to do an MBA while working full time. I was impressed not only by my classmates’ resolve, but also by the program’s willingness to support them by spreading the course load beyond the standard two-year duration, which made the program feasible in these cases.”
Wendy D Photography
Flexibility isn’t the only quality that sets SFU Beedie apart. Brown highlights the school’s history of innovation and its sense of connection. “We have the oldest Executive MBA program in North America, so we’ve got a lot of experience,” he says.
A focus on connection is something that appealed to Johnson. “I chose SFU Beedie in particular because the community engagement values of the school resonated with me,” she says.
Johnson’s daily work life has also shifted significantly as a result of obtaining her MBA. During the program, she became an engineering manager and successfully navigated her team through a difficult corporate transition. Johnson credits her success to her MBA. “The MBA was an essential element for being considered for the job because it not only allowed me to demonstrate my ability to write solid business cases but it also instilled a sense of care and understanding for business risks.”
Johnson is not alone in her success. Her alumni have won awards and have undertaken entrepreneurial ventures in fields as diverse as green transportation, public health, water-treatment innovation and insect-derived superfoods. And the opportunities are as varied as those who undertake them.
Wendy D Photography
For more on SFU Beedie’s part-time MBA programs, please visit beedie.sfu.ca/graduateprograms/