Alumni Spotlight: Lise Beland

Lise Beland, UFred Alumni

Lise Beland
Director of Employment Services, College Boreal
UFred Alumni

For Lise Beland, the Innovation Leadership specialty stream within the Executive MBA program at the Sandermoen School of Business was a natural extension of her established personal and professional goals. In a conversation with University of Fredericton Community Liaison Mary Colburn-Green, Lise described her reasoning behind selecting the Sandermoen School of Business, how the MBA helped to augment her career, and offered advice for those choosing to pursue an MBA.

The decision to pursue the MBA

Lise reasoned that she should bolster her practical experience and natural talents with a precise MBA that fosters innovative approaches and leadership talents, knowing that it would assist in both career growth and in motivational speaking and coaching endeavours that she regularly undertakes. Throughout her career, Lise has been an energetic and motivated leader, placing specific emphasis on the significance of innovation in each role she has held. Her plethora of experience includes a successful marketing career in both consumer retailing and the health and beauty products industry; however, it was in her role as Regional Manager of College Boreal’s London, Ontario campus that prompted Lise to decide that it was time to reinforce her practical knowledge with the academic perspective provided by an MBA.

When she made the decision to pursue her MBA, executive peers asked Lise if pursuing this education at this time of her life– on top of working full-time, raising a family, being a wife, volunteering on community boards, and pursuing her leisure outlet of ballroom dancing–was going to give her an adequate ROI for the work she would be putting in for the next 24 months. Lise firmly believed it would.

Why the Sandermoen School of Business?

After thoroughly researching the options for earning an MBA, she decided an online degree was the best path for her and selected the University of Fredericton. Beyond the Innovation Leadership specialty stream, Lise felt the strong emphasis on collaboration and teamwork and the competitive tuition fees at Sandermoen were a good fit for her.

For Lise, the degree has added substantial value to her career. One is likely to hear her describe her present post-degree situation with phrases such as, “The World is my Oyster” and “Everything is possible.”  Lise has already been awarded a promotion to Director of Employment Services at College Boreal, a direct benefit of her MBA. Through this role, she is managing a critical position that involves improving opportunities for the 335,000 Francophones living in Ontario. She also continues to actively mentor people in her community.

When she recalls her experience at UFred, Lise points out that the process was as important as receiving the degree.  The pervasive style of teaching she found at Sandermoen challenged students with a balanced mixture of readings, case studies, virtual classes (vClasses) and group work. She found both her instructors and colleagues on her study teams to be extremely collaborative and approachable. Lise states, “UFred was a real quality education where I learned by fully participating. We had opportunities to lead and to work in teams that proved invaluable.”

Lise also emphasizes that the personalized attention and encouragement from all levels at UFred—from the Admissions staff and the Academic Dean, to various faculty and her program’s peers—all played a role in keeping her on track. Beyond this, she had great emotional support from a senior female colleague at College Boreal, who herself has an MBA. Lise summarizes her experience at UFred as “incredible”.

What’s next for Lise?

Today, Lise has many aspirations, including an ambition to be the President of a Canadian community college or perhaps starting her own executive coaching company. She admits only too readily that she thrives on opportunities to help others, through giving keynote speeches on motivation, innovation and leadership topics. She also enjoys her role as an effective team-builder and organizational boundary spanner. Lise is ready to put her education to work in innovation and leadership roles, but these attributes are natural aspects of her persona.  More about Lise’s skills can be found here.

The success of students in the Sandermoen School of Business is of utmost importance. UFred President Don Roy states, “We are selective about whom we admit to UFred because we want our students to succeed in their education and careers. We take great satisfaction in following their futures and the contributions they make to their employers and to their communities.”


Achieving a Master in Business Administration is no small feat. Below, Lise discusses some of the lessons she learned while moving through her degree:

  1. It’s takes a village to earn an MBA. It’s about gathering information, people, friends, family, colleagues around you.  It takes a network and a support system to achieve the vision and mission of an MBA.
  2. There are no shortcuts, you have to earn it.
  3. The journey is as important as the academics. It’s like a boot camp that you do over and over again.  You learn tenacity, overcoming adversity and fatigue, team work, ideation, innovation, juggling, multi-tasking, adaptability, flexibility, persuasion, conflict resolution, leadership, never ever giving up, hard work, discipline and diversity.
  4. There is an abundance of team work and it requires collaboration, respect, leadership, compromise, patience and a good sense of humor.
  5. Your work experience is very valuable. The education taught me how to back it up with theory providing both sides to achieve the balance required to succeed in business.
  6. Everything is possible. This needs to be your Mantra throughout the program (and throughout life).
  7. To achieve your goal, you need four things: time, money, energy and support.  Sometimes you may feel that you’ve run out of these four things all at once.
  8. Believe in yourself and surround yourself with people who believe in you.
  9. You need discipline and hard work.
  10. There are always nay-sayers who will mention distractions like your age, your lack of time, how much it costs, whether you will get an adequate financial or career ROI from your degree. Ignore them. They are just static. Keep moving forward.  This is your goal and your life.
  11. You need mentors … both personal and business. Find someone who has been down this road before upon whom you can lean and get a pep talk when you need it the most.
  12. Don’t stop, keep going.
  13. The learning experiences are rich, but the experiences from the people in the program were just as valuable.
  14. Last but not least, be sure to appreciate everyone who helped you achieve the MBA dream.