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Dalhousie’s Rowe School of Business: Outside the box

In her Corporate Residency MBA, Alison MacPherson learned to take advantage of opportunity

Life doesn't always work out as planned: Alison MacPherson went into her bachelor's degree in Human Kinetics thinking that she would pursue medical school. Little did she know that a year of travel would give her the time to reflect, and spark a career in the pharmaceutical industry (plus a travel bug).

Alison's next step was to take her science background and pair it with the Corporate Residency MBA at Dalhousie University's Rowe School of Business: a program that provides personal and professional growth.

"The Dalhousie CRMBA allows access to personal career coaching, which is a valuable asset for reflecting on your areas of interest, passion and skills. This service provides some direction on how you might apply these to a given industry or position," says Alison. She has been exposed to different perspectives through these highly engaging professors, who often use real-world examples and current events to spark dynamic and informative classroom discussions.

In the CRMBA program, Alison was treated as a professional and had the resources available to help her combine her interests, field of undergraduate study and the MBA, to find a pathway that suited her. She knew that the investment that she was making in the program would return to her quickly, and that her career opportunities after the program wouldn't have appeared otherwise.

"The greatest opportunities arise from the corporate residency component. Working for an organization for eight months not only allows students to participate in meaningful work, and gain industry awareness, but also many students get hired back from the organizations," says Alison. Alison chose Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc. for her residency, and is continuing to work 10 hours per week alongside her full course load. This allows her to see projects through, to gain increasing responsibility and is a chance to build a great corporate network.

She was placed in the head office in Montreal, where she was working in Health Economics and Outcomes Research (HEOR) for the Latin America and Canada region. "I had the opportunity to work within a fantastic team, and through this experience I have been co-authored on 28 HEOR publications, and invited to attend an international congress in São Paulo," says Alison. These networking opportunities, where she is able to engage with business leaders in the local community and beyond, provide a chance to learn about the jobs that otherwise go unadvertised.

The CRMBA constantly pushes Alison outside of her comfort zone, allowing for considerable growth. "If you're able to do this, and not be afraid of stepping outside of your comfort zone, you are able to make a tremendously positive impact," says Alison.