Mary’s Perspective on the Sandermoen School of Business Student and Alumni Meet-and-Greet

DSC00531We spent the greater part of the summer in St. Andrews, Canada allowing us (my husband, the Provost of the University of Fredericton, and myself) to participate more in the day-to-day life of UFred. The highlight of our stay was attending the first-ever Sandermoen School of Business Student and Alumni Meet-and-Greet in Toronto on Sunday, September 13th at the Intercontinental Toronto Centre Hotel.

In that UFred is a virtual university with all classes taught online, we were uncertain as to how this opportunity to get together in person (for students, alumni, faculty and staff) would be received. Our goal was to provide an event that brought the community together to share their experiences and further build connections. When 160 peoples pre-registered for the event, it was clear that this would be possible.

While I buzzed around taking photos and seeing who among the attendees might be interested in being profiled in future newsletters, my perception of the event was that it was familiar and friendly, with a great deal of networking between community members. There were hugs, smiles, animated conversations and people seemed reluctant to leave. The faculty seemed to enjoy meeting their students and graduates just as much and I overheard plans being made for future meetings and business networking.

I said to the Provost after the event, if I could choose a community of people to interact with, this UFred community would be it. I have never experienced a more positive, appreciative, or motivated group of people. The glow was palpable.

When Sandermoen School of Business Associate Dean Sheri McKillop described some of the academic specialty streams (Global Leadership, Innovation, Innovation Leadership, Social Enterprise Leadership, Real Estate Leadership, Human Resource Leadership, Health and Safety Leadership, and an upcoming stream in Business Analytics,) and talked about the possibility of the development of a Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) Degree in the future, there was applause among the alumni. It appears Sandermoen students are motivated to continue their learning, which is always wonderful to see.

And that is innate to the mission of UFred … to facilitate lifelong learning.

So thank you everyone for attending and making this an incredible first. We look forward to future initiatives such as these.


Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Vision, and Make Things Happen, by Tara Mohr

In this motivational book targeted towards women in all types of careers , Mohr shares practical skills she has developed to voice and implement the changes that women want to see—in themselves and in the world.

Based on her experience as a coach for women executives in America, Tara Mohr noticed women were “playing small” in their lives and careers. In this book she imparts her proprietary methods for women executives, professionals and upwardly mobile women in all arenas, to achieve their dreams by playing big from the inside out. Mohr’s work helping women play bigger has earned acclaim from the media as well as academia.

Playing Big provides real, practical tools to help women quiet self-doubt, identify their callings, “unhook” from praise and criticism, unlearn counter-productive “good girl” habits, and begin taking bolder action.

The premise of the book is relevant to all women with dreams and thus applies across the board to all women – from executives and politicians to volunteers and artists. While not all women aspire to end up in the corner office, every woman aspires to something. Playing Big fills a gap among women’s career books; it isn’t just for corporate women.

Purportedly thousands of women across US have been transformed by Mohr’s program, and now this book makes the ideas and practices available to everyone who is ready to play big.

About Tara Mohr

Tara Mohr is an acclaimed women’s leadership expert and popular conference speaker. She holds an MBA from Stanford University and a degree in English literature from Yale. Additionally she was trained by the Coaches Training Institute and has established a reputation among top women executives as an effective consultant for corporate goal achievement.  Five years ago the author noticed a pattern in her work as an expert in women’s leadership and has gone on to found the global Playing Big Leadership Program for women. Moreover, her “10 Rules for Brilliant Women” has become a viral sensation.

Mohr is a regular contributor on women’s leadership issues to Huffington Post, and a keynote speaker for the Emerging Women Live Conference, The White House Project, and at Harvard Business School. She has also been featured on The Today Show, Forbes Women and in Harvard Business Review, Financial Times, and on the BBC.  For more information, go to

Faculty Profile – Dr. Penny Wilkins

Dr. Penny Wilkins

Dr. Penny Wilkins

Dr. Penny Wilkins, a professor in the MBA and EMBA programs at the Sandermoen School of Business, explores contemporary aspects and notions of profitability as it relates to economic activity today.

To read more about the topic, read Dr. Wilkins’ paper here.

Mary’s Travel Blog

It has been a very busy spring and summer for the Greens in Europe.  We have had 2.5 months of company “chez nous” in France and Spain, and because we decided to stay abroad into the summer when all the festivals and tourism occur, we are now entertaining more heat than a body can bear. I am writing this from Robion, a small village in Provence where we are actually taking a vacation. Sounds counter-intuitive, doesn’t it?

The best part of the last few months, other than exposing friends to the delights of Seville, Jerez, Cadiz and our pueblo blanco Vejer de la Frontera, was time spent in magical Morocco, the most competitive economy in North Africa. Its growing GDP is based on an economy dependent on agriculture, phosphates, tourism, fish, mining, and industry and textiles.

Tangier, the sparkling gem of this North African country, is only an hour and a half from our home in Southern Spain by car and ferry. I often hop over with friends for a day of fabulous shopping in the souk, tramping the historic kasbah, and experiencing the enchanting medina. There is a former palace that has been turned into a museum that depicts the illustrious history of “Tingin” its Greek name, where the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Moors, English, French, Spanish, Americans and combinations thereof, have had a go at governing this strategic port city where the Atlantic and Mediterranean merge.

King Mohammed VI, Morocco’s monarch, has proven to be a pro-active developer: he has invested heavily to modernize the city and exploit its strategic potential for tourism. The string of 5-star hotels along the coastline attests to this successful endeavor, a part of his Plan Azur tourism initiative, which is meant to internationalize Morocco. The plan provides for creating six coastal resorts for holiday-home owners and tourists: five on the Atlantic Coast and one on the Mediterranean. The plan also includes other large-scale development projects such as upgrading regional airports to attract budget airlines, and building new train and road links.

All of this investment and economic development has succeeded in transforming Tangier into a vibrant world-class city with diverse ethnic influences, yet with an authentically Moroccan medina. From the fabulous food (artisanal baked breads, tasty tagines, fresh vegetable salads, steaming couscous’s and baked sweets to the amazing crafts (lamps, tea services, woven textiles, rugs, pottery, jewellery and crafts), Morocco is a Mecca for anyone who appreciates the dolce vita as well as art, creativity and authentic culture. The street costumes of the people who live in and/or are drawn to the country are incredible.

So due to my constant laudation of Morocco and its hospitable people, I have been repetitively asked  by friends and family to take them over, resulting in seven lovely visits in the last couple of years. In the latest journey last June, I escorted a small group of friends from California on a sweeping eight-day sojourn starting in Tangier. We covered about 1200km, including stays in Chefchaoen (the enchanting blue city in the Atlas Mountains), Fez (with its renowned labyrinth souk of 5600 streets), marvelous Marrakech (the red clay city on the northern edge of the Sahara), Essaoira (the vibrant seaside trading town), Safi (where pottery reigns), Casablanca (the cosmopolitan economic capital), and Assilah (the art village just south of Tangier).  Voila, a country-wide sweep.

In that I am feeling very strong these days in my growing knowledge of Morocco and honed market bargaining skills, my next quest there will be to go up into the remote Berber villages of the High Atlas close to the Algerian border. I want to take photos documenting the Berber tribes’ simple, nomadic lifestyle and their characterful personnae for future watercolor paintings. Photography and painting are passions I actively pursue during our sojourns abroad.


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.