Cathy Cummings

Leading non-profits through change

Graduated: 2002
Based in: Toronto, ON

Cummings credits her MBA with preparing her for such strategic challenges in her career. Along the way she has picked up a useful “hobby” in non-profit governance, and some industry recognition—including a 2016 award for a program she helped launch at the CCCA.

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Heather Buffalo

Bring business principles to the delivery of social services on the Samson Cree reserve

Graduated: 2014
Based in: Maskwacis, AB

“You can’t go home again,” the saying goes—proving only that clichés can persist despite being untrue. The idea is that it’s impossible to return to your past. But you can go back to your roots, of course—and quite happily, as Heather Buffalo will tell you.

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Michael Martin

From satellites to AI, a life on technology’s cutting edge

Graduated: 2007
Based in: Toronto, ON

While it wasn’t intentional, Michael Martin has been on technology’s cutting edge since his first job in video in 1976. The Toronto-based executive who built Bell ExpressVu, was a behind-the-scenes tech producer on SCTV, and is now working in the office of the CTO at IBM Services, responsible for Internet of Things (IoT) and broadband networks. He helps clients navigate often-bewildering new technologies like AI and blockchain. As big of a tech guy as he is, he wouldn’t be where he is today without his Athabasca MBA—the degree that kick-started his appreciation for lifelong learning. Martin discusses his fascinating career and how he became “addicted” to higher education.

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Michael Nagel

Reaching new heights in the aviation sector

Graduated: 2001
Based in: Vancouver, BC

Michael Nagel was bit by the aviation bug at an early age. Growing up in Montreal, he had an uncle who worked as an airline pilot, which inspired him to get his license to fly helicopters. For over a decade, he flew all over Canada before transitioning to a managerial position at the now-defunct Canadian Airlines. But he wanted to climb higher, so he enrolled at Athabasca University, poring over books in hotel rooms at night as he traveled for work. Now, Nagel is an aviation consultant for major oil and gas companies, with a focus on workforce logistics. He shares how his Athabasca University MBA got him where he needed to go.

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Rae Shungur

Bringing a holistic approach to the recruitment industry

Graduated: 2013
Based in: Calgary, AB

“The people I was speaking to were talking over my head,” he said. “These multinational organizations have many departments that all interface with each other internally. I needed to be a more holistic provider and more engaged listener.”

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Angela Workman-Stark

Transforming the face of Canada’s police force

Graduated: 2001
Based in: Ottawa, ON

Angela Workman-Stark started out as a police constable with the RCMP and worked her way up to the rank of chief superintendent. Here, she reveals how Athabasca University’s (AU) MBA program helped her get where she is—and why she decided to return as a professor.

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Carter Yellowbird

Bringing industry and Indigenous communities together

Graduated: 2012
Based in: Maskwacis, AB

“I’ve always been a go-getter,” says Yellowbird, a 2012 grad of Athabasca University’s (AU) MBA and a consultant who advises industry and Indigenous communities on development opportunities. “I needed to do something with myself—I needed to take chances.” 

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Doug Grant

Rethinking the way food gets from farm to plate

Graduated: 2008
Based in: North Vancouver, BC

Grant says his work at Athabasca University also shaped his management style in overseeing a team of 150, in a company consistently recognized for good management and a healthy corporate culture. “I’m an introvert,” he admits. “I like to do things myself. But I realized that I can add much more value by involving other people and helping them develop their abilities.”

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Jim Swanson

An internet pioneer in the world of law

Graduated: 1997
Based in: Calgary, AB

“The first website I ever saw was a guy with a Unix programmer advertising his bait and boat shop in Florida,” Swanson says. “It was just a graphic with his toll-free number and a picture of the wharf. I had never seen anything like it, and I realized it was going to change everything.”

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Vickram Minhas

How a family business entrepreneur found the confidence to drive change

Graduated: 2017
Based in: Grande Prairie, AB

Minhas’ journey from pills to plants includes such stops along the way as car salesman, real estate developer, hotelier and—crucially—Athabasca University MBA graduate, the distinction he believes gave him the confidence to go for it all.

Read more about Vikram here

Watch Vikram’s story here

Denise Pothier

Connecting the dots between diversity and productivity

Graduated: 2018
Based in: Halifax, NS

A Nova Scotia native with French Acadian and Mi’kmaq heritage, Denise Pothier began her career in chemical engineering before shifting to a management track, working as a consultant for clients in the oil and gas sector. In 2007, her company was bought by Stantec, where Pothier now holds two titles: Vice President of Practice Services and Stantec’s first-ever Vice President of Indigenous Relations.

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Larry Berglund

Changing how the world thinks about sustainable procurement

Graduated: 2003
Based in: Surrey, BC

“Ethical and sustainable procurement is about the principles that we adhere to when are buying anything. Particularly in the public sector, we shouldn’t be buying sweatshirts or t-shirts made in sweatshops.”

Progressive purchasing can ensure that we don’t.

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Michael LeGoff

A life of finding opportunity in disruption

Graduated: 1998
Based in: Plymouth, England

You could sum up Michael LeGoff’s career with a variation on an old gag: a physicist, an engineer, a Navy man, and a CEO walk into a bar—and they’re all Michael LeGoff.

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Roger Harris

Seeing the bigger picture in sustainable oil development

Graduated: 2002
Based in: Calgary, AB

“The real crux of the matter is that every company is in business to be profitable,” Harris says. With an MBA, “Rather than presenting elegant engineering solutions, you are better suited to provide practical solutions that fit the business drivers and the strategic goals of the organization and your department.”

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Sharon Ritchie

Rethinking expectations in Canadian banking

Graduated: 1999
Based in: Toronto, ON

Sharon Ritchie never pictured herself working past her 20s, so she’s just as surprised as anyone by how high up the corporate ladder she’s climbed. Ritchie, a Toronto-based vice president with the Royal Bank of Canada, married when she was just 19 and planned to stay home and raise children while her husband worked.

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