What factors influenced your decision to pursue the Business Administration – Management advanced diploma at Seneca?
While I was in high school, one of my teachers pulled me aside and based on their own observations had suggested that entrepreneurship and business management might align well with my personality and skill sets. Math and numbers were areas of strength and during my senior years, I found myself gravitating towards subjects like accounting, economics and marketing.
Later, I attended a career fair and I connected with someone who was representing a company from the United States. We talked about potential schools and career paths. I distinctly remember them speaking about their organization’s experience and success with Seneca graduates. This was meaningful feedback. I felt if someone from the United States recognized the institution and valued what their alumni brought to the work force, then it might be the right place for me.
This is how I found my way to Seneca College.
What influenced your decision to continue your education after completing your diploma?
I always knew that I would need a degree in order to open doors. After completing my diploma, I worked with a great company, the Pegasus Hospitality Group. When the recession hit, the location where I worked closed and I was laid off. In 2010, I began my career at Seal & Design Canada. I started in Shipping/Receiving and through hard work and dedication; I worked my way up through the Sales Counter to an Inside Sales position.
The layoff experience served as a real wake-up call. I realized that hard work alone did not necessarily safeguard me from economic flux. In order to remain competitive and move up the ladder, I needed to further my education and expand my skills. While I enjoyed sales, I knew that I aspired to do more and was interested in leadership. After approaching our company President about opportunities to advance and progress within the company, it became clear that to me that unless I grew my personal self, I would be my own career barrier.
Since completing my degree, I have transitioned to a management role at Seal & Design Canada.
How did you decide which degree program to pursue?
When I learned that Seneca offered an Honours Bachelor of Commerce program, I was excited about the prospect of being able to leverage my diploma to a four-year degree. It offered me a practical and viable means to further my education. My experience at Seneca had been so positive through my diploma, that all I had left to evaluate was affordability, class sizes and the number of transfer credits I would be eligible to receive. Seneca’s degree program checked all the boxes for me.
How would you describe your overall experience at Seneca?
I had a great experience at Seneca. I was fortunate in that I had the opportunity to study at two campuses. I started my diploma program at the King Campus and during my third year, moved to the Newnham campus - where I also returned to complete my degree. Personally, I appreciated the exposure to two campuses, which each have their own unique cultures. King has a strong focus on environmental conservation and sustainability, which are important principles in business. When I returned to complete the degree program, I felt that my previous experiences and knowledge of the institution and campus helped me to transition more seamlessly. As a result, I was much more engaged in co-curricular activities on-campus, and got involved in a number of co-curricular and volunteer initiatives during that time.
Can you share a standout experience or memory that you have at Seneca?
I had so many! However, the most meaningful accomplishment happened as I was completing my degree; I was nominated and selected as a Valedictorian for my class. I was so nervous about returning to school nearly a decade after completing my advanced diploma. The decision to pursue a degree came with many personal sacrifices but I knew it would be well worth it in the end.
I have to credit Professor Abdul Tariq for helping to give me the confidence I needed. He believed in my potential early on. That encouragement made waves and went a long way in giving me the lift I needed to persist. I went on to achieve greater academic success than I ever thought possible; I graduated with high honours. Standing in front of my family, peers, and faculty to deliver my speech was such a proud and humbling moment.
How did your Seneca program prepare you for your degree program? For your career?
The advanced diploma helped to lay the foundation for my career in business. Once I entered the work force, it became very clear that in order to reach my goals I needed further education. By the time I returned to Seneca to pursue my degree, I had 8 years of work experience under my belt and had matured as an individual. I found that I was able to pick up where I left off, but I was able to approach the learning through the eyes of a professional. I was able to connect lessons and course content to real-life scenarios. Being able to apply different perspectives really helped me to succeed in my studies.
What are you up to now?
I am married to the love of my life, whom I happened to have met over ten years ago at Seneca, during my third year of my advanced diploma program. Our paths crossed while we were both working in the call center as part of an outreach campaign to new students.
Professionally, I am now the General Manager of Seal & Design Canada. In addition, I am a TDSB Trustee for Ward 4 - Humber River-Black Creek. This is the same community where I was born, spent much of my youth, and have come to know intimately. Being able to support the community that helped build my own identity is such a privilege and a responsibility I take very seriously. As a proud Seneca alumnus, I also try to stay connected to the college and help in initiatives to support students.
Have you obtained further education since completing your degree?
Since completing my degree, I have also complete my Six Sigma Green belt certificate (Lean Management). When I was elected Trustee, I was fortunate to also complete Executive Training through the University of Toronto. I am someone who believes in lifelong learning - we are organic creatures that are constantly changing and evolving. I plan to pursue a master’s in management in the future. Not just for my professional growth but on a personal level as well.
You are currently a TDSB Trustee for Ward 4 (Humber River – Black Creek). What inspired you to enter public service? Are there any ways you feel your Seneca education and experiences has helped you in this particular role?
I was exposed to public service from a young age. My father was both an Member of Provincial Parliament and City Councillor for over 25 years in the same community which I have been elected to represent today. Through observing my father, I subconsciously developed a critical understanding around the importance of civics and public service. My mother, while not political, was also influential. She really helped to instil a strong sense of morality and empathy for others. She also helped me to develop what we know today as soft skills. However, it was not until I started my degree that I really developed strong leadership skills and started to think about advocacy and issues affecting my community. It was at this time that I started to get more involved with helping others and giving back by volunteering both on- and off-campus.
Leadership concepts were well integrated into the curriculum of the Bachelor of Commerce – Business Management program. Investing in others and lifting them up, as you would want for yourself is really fulfilling.
When I decided to run for TDSB Trustee, I was fortunate to have a strong support system behind me. I do not take my responsibilities as Trustee lightly. My community – which is arguably the most diverse pocket in the city – has entrusted me to represent them so I will work to ensure their needs are listened to and heard.
You are a member of the Program Advisory Committee (PAC) for International Business and Management. What inspires you to remain connected to the Seneca community?
Not only am I a member but I chair the committee. I try to remain connected with individuals and organizations that have contributed to my own growth and success. Seneca has been such a constant in my life, more so than any other school I have attended. I feel those years really helped to shape the person I am today. I believe in paying it forward; it is important to me to give back. There are students who are less fortunate than I was growing up but with a little bit of support from others, they would have the chance to go further than they would otherwise. As a community leader, I believe I have a responsibility to help facilitate opportunities for others to succeed. Whether it is involvement in a PAC, judging a case study, speaking to faculty or campaigning for bursaries, I am happy to support Seneca and the brilliant minds that are being nurtured there.
Any words of advice to students who are currently in the program you graduated out of at Seneca? And considering pursuing further education?
Absolutely. Believe in yourself and never underestimate your potential! Do not define yourself by your most recent struggle but instead use challenges as motivation to help you achieve what you set out to do. Your success will be the direct result of your effort and persistence through adversity.
Lastly, use your civic voice. When the time comes to be able to vote, make sure you do. So many people around the world dream of having the opportunity to vote democratically. Do not take yours for granted.