MRU and Alberta Job Grants: A Winning Combination

When Process Ecology Inc. needed corporate training for their employees; they came to MRU Continuing Education.

Process Ecology is a process engineering and emissions management company. “Basically,” HR Administrator Lindsay Baker describes, “we work with a variety of different companies to deal with benzene emissions.” Having designed and maintained their own measurement software (FlareAdvisor helps measure flaring, venting and greenhouse gas emissions for upstream oil and gas companies), it’s clear they’re a good judge of streamlined best practices and measurable results.

With a total of nine employees in their company, four of whom went through the training, any cost savings was a welcome option. Baker says, “we wanted some upscaling and upgrading of some essential skills needed in our workplace. Some employees have come to Canada having finished their studies and some need a refresher with their English skills.”

She decided to apply for the Canada-Alberta Job Grant to fund some customized language upgrading, presentation courses and resume-writing training, skills that needed to be honed to submit biographies and resumes to conferences and other presentation opportunities.

An MRU alumnus, Baker claimed the choice to go with MRU was easy. She was at the helm of the application process and was quick to sing its praises, “the needs assessment done by the MRU staff outlined the weaknesses and strengths of our systems.” Of the training itself, she says, “everyone here enjoyed the teaching methods. They worked their skills effectively and were able to apply the training immediately.”

The trainees’ reaction was similar. “It was very beneficial for the employees,” Baker says, “it’s made them more confident in themselves and in a presentation setting.”

The best part about the quality MRU training through the Canada-Alberta Job Grant to Baker was that, “Two thirds of all of our training costs were paid (by the grant)!” With these savings on exemplary courses, Process Ecology is already looking into further training through MRU Continuing Education.

Her reason is simple, “By making sure they feel comfortable, it makes them more confident in what they’re presenting, and in the company.

Lindsay has these three tips for anyone thinking of applying for the Canada-Alberta Job Grant.

  1. Read the 30 page document online. Everything you need to know is there. MRU Continuing Education makes it easy for you.
  2. Make sure you have EVERYTHING. Go through the document’s requests with a ‘fine toothed comb’.
  3. Choose a course or series of courses with a certification. In Lindsay’s case, preferably one that is industry and governmentally recognized.

Then, enjoy the savings!ce_sidebar_ab_job_grant

-by JLove


Corporate Training’s New Math



Summit Together

How do we subtract and get the same results?

Let’s face it, corporate culture is a little rough right now in our hometown.  People are being laid-off, downsized, ‘released from their employer’ or whatever today’s politically correct term for ‘fired’ is. Organizations in several sectors are now challenged to fill the void left by these people, re-allocate resources to maintain and change their operating procedures to move forward.  How can they achieve the same results when so many of their resources have been subtracted?

“With the current economic climate, organizations need to be more productive, nimble and efficient than ever.” Says Joanne Leskow, Corporate Trainer at Mount Royal University Continuing Education. “All business outcomes are a direct result of the investment and calibre of people inside the business.”

So, if we can’t add more people, we can add value to the people that remain. “MRU Corporate Training programs reinforce good habits while exploring best practice and challenging learners to think differently.” Leskow explains.

From this place, leaders emerge. Leaders are those we turn to in this climate to provide a vision. That vision for most is merely an educated guess. MRU wants to provide the ‘educated’ part of that equation. “Leveraging a legacy of excellence,” Leskow confirms, “MRU’s Corporate Training has equipped Western Canadian businesses (and others around the globe) to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead.”

For the corporate culture, it’s bigger picture multiplication. “Corporate Training provides team members an opportunity to come together from business units and geographic regions to better understand each other and personal contributions to their team/unit and business as a whole.” Leskow continues. “It’s essential that emerging and experienced leaders take the time to step away and evaluate their own performance, build strengths and plan future courses of action. MRU Corporate Training allows them to do that, and more,” she advises.

A key factor in this climate is being able to do exponentially more with less. “One of the essential elements of retention is providing people with opportunities to learn and grow professionally. The MRU Corporate Training courses provide a wide variety of courses to grow, challenge their thinking and habits while learning best practices.”

Success is equal to the vision provided by leaders and the work put behind that vision. “A combination of practical and technical knowledge helps to shape leaders and problem solvers who tackle issues and projects in fast-paced environments.” Leskow instructs. The leaders she teaches will be empowered to face anything as she promises to give the guidance they need to, “equip their people and business to not only meet, but to exceed the demands of the ever-changing business environment.”

So do more with less. Just add education and summit together.

  • by JLove



Teaching International Professors

FDP Lima 2016

Kathy Dawson teaching professors in Lima.

“There’s nothing better to remind you of how difficult it is to learn another language than to be placed in the same situation,” says Kathy Dawson, Program Administrator in Teacher Education for MRU’s Languages Institute. She lists a few of the challenges one must overcome, “struggling to communicate, watching yourself make mistakes, not being able to find the right word and struggling with your dictionary.”

These are certainly a traveler’s communication woes, but they’re happening more and more in the university classroom. Kathy recently returned from teaching a ten-day course at the Universidad del Pacífico in Lima, Perú. The course is called Teaching Content in English. It’s part of the Languages Institute’s Faculty Development Program, which is gaining international recognition.

Kathy explains the challenge of the group of 13 professors who, while normally fulfilling the teaching role, must become students. “They know their subject matter inside out,” she attests. “They have been challenged by globalization and their administration to now turn it all into English.”

“The course is very experiential.” Kathy notes, while acknowledging that many of these professionals haven’t taught in English. “There’s some trepidation about whether or not they can do it.” For those who have taught in English, the course has additional benefits, “There is a lot of modeling about how to incorporate active learning in a way that supports second language learners.” In either case, she discovered that, “If they’re nervous at the beginning, they’re much more confident by the end of the ten days.”

For the Universidad del Pacífico, a top economics and business administration university in Latin America, this hands-on approach works well. In an additional language, all of the participants welcome the chance to become learners again.

With this initiative’s continued success, the offering of their local courses in English might create an opportunity for more Mount Royal students to study in Perú. “We’re so privileged as English speakers.” Kathy identifies, “We get lazy. We are able to travel around the world and not have to speak another language.  The onus has been pushed on others to learn English.” Not one to shy away from learning, Kathy admits, “This reminds me that I shouldn’t feel more privileged.” She says, “I should pick up my Spanish books again.”

To that end, Kathy has already arranged for some Spanish classes for her next trip south.

  • by JLove



Massage Therapy Career Fair 2016

IMG_8046 These days, good news stories about employment in Calgary are hard to come by…unless you’re one of the many students or employers who attended this month’s MRU Massage Therapy Career Fair.

With graduation right around the corner, this annual event gives students the opportunity to find out what’s next. With over 30 employers in attendance at this year’s event, many of whom were looking to fill multiple positions, students were happy (and relieved!) to find out that what’s waiting for them on the other side is a new graduate’s dream.

For just one example of where their careers can go, students need only look to former MRU student Karla Bancroft as an example. Karla is the director of talent development for Massage Heights Canada. She says, “I am personally proud to be MRU massage alumni, I have loved working with the school and seeing how the relationship between Massage Heights and Mount Royal has grown.  The industry as a whole has evolved and grown immensely and it is very rewarding as both a former student and an employer to see how MRU has played a part in this.”

IMG_8050One of the reasons employers return every year is because they see value in the students’ training. Bancroft says, “Graduates from the MRU massage program have been enormous assets to our company. The quality of education and standards the graduates present in the workplace is very valuable to us as an employer.”

She describes the event, “The MRU job fair is a wonderful opportunity for Massage Heights to showcase the unique opportunity we offer massage therapy students, as well as graduates.  We love being a part of this annual event, and really enjoy the enthusiasm and professionalism that the Mount Royal massage therapy students exhibit.”

The Massage Therapy program is pleased to have a valued partner like Massage Heights who offers an annual total of $2,000 for scholarships and bursaries.IMG_8047

Thank you to all employers and associations who attended this year’s event:

Hyatt Regency Calgary

Oasis Wellness Center and Spa

Lasya Healing Centre

Optimum Wellness Centres

Momentum Health

Inspired Minds Wellness Centre

Leela Eco SpaIMG_8049

Soma Hammam and Spa

Prema Health

Massage Addict

The Centre Spa & Wellness

Sandpearl Mobile Spa

Strive Physiotherapy

Kinetic Performance Center

Fifth Avenue Club

Massage at the Club

Backstrong Heatlh Group

Mama Massage

Massage HeightsIMG_8048

LCP Health

Southridge Village Chiropracic Centre

Willow Stream Spa, Fairmont Banff Springs

Essence Wellness Clinic

Apex Massage Therapy Ltd.

Urban Roots Wellness Centre

CBI Health Group

Landmark Collaborative Health

Natural Health Practitioners of Canada

Remedial Massage Therapists Association

Massage Therapist Association of Alberta

-submitted by the Massage Therapy Program

Registration information here.


Shoppers Optimum


Sabrina Falconer

The Employee of the Month has been crowned at the Millrise Shoppers Drug Mart. Her name is Sabrina Falconer and she’s a student in MRU Continuing Education’s Transitional Vocational Program (or TVP) and she is, as her manager described, “a ray of sunshine.”

Pasquale Tumato is the Front Store Manager at the location, further describes the honouree, “She’s got an infectious personality.”

A committee that includes Tumato chooses the Employee of the Month title. “We solicit opinions from the staff,” he says, “whoever possesses the most attributes we’re looking for in that month gets it.” As to why, after a mere five months in this position, Falconer should be granted this title, Tumato explains, “She has an excellent attitude. Her customer service skills and the fact that she’s willing to do anything at any time… with her smile and outgoing personality.”

Along with bragging rights, Tumato mentions that she gets, “the public recognition, and that of the staff. She gets a letter from the association and a gift card as well.”

All of this is exciting for Falconer. She glows, “It made me feel amazing. I work so hard. Trying my hardest and becoming the Employee of the Month is, like… awesome!”

Her position has a variety of roles for her to explore. She notes, “I do stock. Put the order out onto the floor or in the back. Chips… I fill the chips and beverage carts.” All of her responsibilities seem to rely on her sunny disposition since they’re all client facing.

Her favourite part is, “Coming in to see the customers. I’m a big people person.”


Falconer ‘Checking out’ Shoppers’ work experience

The toughest challenge, she admits, “I’m learning cash. How to do the lottery.” This high-demand ticket checking and selling system is something that even Tumato admits to being stumped by. With her character-defining positivity, she adds, “But the best part about life are the challenges and learning.”

This is the first time Tumato has arranged a work placement with MRU’s TVP Program, and it won’t be his last. The experience has been wonderful. We’ve had a couple other programs that didn’t work as well. This one (MRU) has worked really well.”

To give credit where it’s due, “Sabrina is a huge part of the success, but the support she gets is huge.” Tumato states.

She has an equally sunny outlook on her program. “I would recommend it to others who have learning disabilities or to others who are having trouble getting into the workplace. “

Falconer values her association with Shoppers. She’s scheduled to be here until the end of March, but says, “I could extend the contract until I get hired, or might try another work experience (placement).” But for now, she knows, “I’m enjoying it a lot.”

-by JLove


Take Your Next Step

S16_ce_ybh_header_Paul_850x260Paul Gray is a ‘glass-half-full’ type of guy.

Despite being diagnosed with Rhabdomyosacroma (a rare form of cancer usually found in children) upon starting his PFT program at MRU Continuing Education, he persevered and graduated the program this last spring.

But that’s not where his journey started.

His first career was as a consulting accountant in the oil and gas industry. “Oil companies employ a huge number of accountants,” he quantifies, “25% of their workforce.” A self-described accounting problem solver, Gray was involved in a start-up company with a friend. “I was the accountant. So, I did everything – all revenue, production, financial statements… you name it.”

He was good with numbers, but his calling came from elsewhere. “My ultimate dream was to get into outdoor pursuits.” Feeling the winds of change, he faced his reality, “I would have stayed in that career if I could do it for three days a week, but they kept hiring younger.” Answering the call, “I registered for the Personal Fitness Trainer Program.”

Both Gray’s process of learning and his road to recovery were elevated by the culture of camaraderie within the program. “The support I received from my fellow students both in the year I started and the year I finished was exceptional.” he admits. “I am so appreciative for this program, the knowledge base, the instructors, the MRU facility and my fellow students that I feel it was one of the best decisions I ever made.”

After chemotherapy, radiation and surgery on his affected leg, Gray’s tumour has been removed and he is three-years cancer free. All the while, he has been forwarding his next career.

As a personal fitness trainer, he is now focused on supporting others’ adventures and fitness goals, while he continues to train and heal.  “I had an idea for a business,” Gray declares, “Kachina Fitness, named after the Hopi kachinas which are the spirits that represent all the essences of life.”

Kachina Fitness is focused on helping others plan and train for their adventures. “My target demographic all along was my friends, the aging baby-boomers, who are not getting their regular exercise.”

Gray has a lot of goals and a lot of optimism that he (and his clients) will achieve them. At age 55, and rebuilding his endurance in his leg, he admits, “I feel accomplished for me. My success is just thankfulness and gratitude to be alive and with hopes and dreams of skiing, climbing and hiking across the Grand Canyon again.”

A new career is a new journey and, as Gray reminds us, the saying goes, “every journey starts with a single step.” Paul Gray coaches those making similar transitions to reframe their success. “Life now is – don’t look at what I can’t do – look at what I can do.” Measure it not by what has been lost or taken away, but what you can do with what you have left. “I want to measure my life on how many times I visit the Grand Canyon.”

Start your own adventure here.

Click for MRU Spring/Summer 2016 Calendar

Click for more info on Personal Fitness Training Program

-by JLove


Don’t Give Up Your Daydream


Dawn O’Byrne is like many young women. Her reality wasn’t quite fitting her dream.

“I actually came here (MRU) a few years ago to do Open Studies,” she attests. But, like many, her grades weren’t what she wanted them to be, her focus waivered and her heart wasn’t in it. It seemed she needed time to find herself before she could find her career.

O’Byrne describes her post high school choices, “I really struggled in the past to find a career direction and I felt like my focus at that time was more on my identity.”

She recently enrolled in MRU Continuing Education’s Education Assistant program. “Now,” she says, “I feel like my focus is on where do I see myself career-wise.“

Her story is a familiar one to many of the full-time programs at MRU Continuing Education where a student might not find their stride in traditional education streams. Like O’Byrne, they have to ask themselves if they’d like an office job, or something different.

“I really like helping people,” O’Byrne suggests, “I want to be in a profession that gives back.” Her current practicum placement at Bishop Carroll High School is offering her the opportunity she needs to do just that. And what’s more? She’s succeeding.


Dawn O’Byrne

“The difference between then and now is that I take my work very seriously.” She glows. “So, I’m more academic now and my grades are wicked!”

As an educator, O’Byrne longs to pass this experience onto others. “The commitment is huge,” she admits, “But having a sense of belonging makes me feel like a stronger individual. I can just be myself.”

That sense of enthusiasm is an enviable one. It’s the sense of pride of one who is actively fulfilling a life-long passion. “Now, when I wake up,” she relays, “I’m not stressed. I can’t wait to get to school… and my practicum.”

“It’s even more fulfilling because this is a career I know I can still be happy doing in twenty years or more.” She smiles, ”I feel like I’m living my dream. I couldn’t be happier.”

Click for Spring/Summer 2016 Calendar

Click for info on MRU’s Education Assistant Program

-by JLove





Things are looking up


When you meet Kofi Wiafe in the office or on the basketball court, it’s clear that the success he’s had has all been on his own terms.

A self-driven individual, Kofi was feeling trapped in a decade-long comfort job in manufacturing. He explains, “I didn’t want to get stuck in a position where there was no growth and no opportunity.”

“In manufacturing,” he instructs, “you’re seeing he raw inventory and building it into a finished product.“ Kofi knew the inside of the business inside out, but outside his manufacturing position, there was more to understand about the logistics and procurement of the products being manufactured. “I wanted to be able to learn more,” he admits. So, he went to his manager with five words, “How can I move up?”

His manager suggested the Supply Chain Management program at MRU Continuing Education. He completed his certification, while working full-time, in just two years.  His reason was his drive, “I wanted to keep the information fresh in my mind.”

As for the course content, Wiafe says, “the instructors were great. The information was fantastic.  It was all real-world experience, which I appreciated.”

Always striving for his personal best, Wiafe admits there were some challenges along the way, “Sometimes it’s really easy to quit.” he says about the workload, “but committing yourself to a program while working full-time really shows the type of drive a person has.”

He didn’t walk through the doors of MRU without a second thought, Kofi admits to being scared initially. “Even though I knew that going back to school would be a scary thing to do, the reward that would come after was greater than the fear.” Its times like these where he assessed his motivation and decided, “I’m just going to do it… for the growth, for the career development, personal satisfaction — and it’s rewarding financially.”

Once his certification was complete, he realized that his current company couldn’t offer further growth or opportunity.  He had hit his ceiling.  So, despite friends and colleagues saying, “You’re crazy.  Why would you leave an environment you’ve been in for ten years? You know the system, they treat you well here… why would you want to leave?” Kofi put himself in market for a new position.

Again, drive conquers fear.2016-03-11_ce_blog_kofi_portrait

“I figured if I could get into the oil and gas industry at the time where it’s down and be able to ride the wave, then in the upswing,” he planned, ”I’d be there for years and years ahead.”

Kofi was offered a job at TransCanada Pipelines.  He traded in his manufacturing t-shirt and lab coat for a suit and now occupies an office in downtown Calgary.

And the rewards?  “Financial benefit.” He sites first.  “There’s no worrying about if I’m in the right position or if I’m making enough money to take care of my family today, tomorrow and ten years down the road.”  Not one to over-indulge in luxury, he admits to some practical perks, “vacations and activities change a little bit. Instead of one week’s vacation, I can take a two week one in Mexico…or wherever.”  With a smile, he also fulfils a personal victory, “It allowed me to purchase a new vehicle – a 2015.  It’s dependable and reliable.  I don’t have to worry about putting money into it.”

He also mentions some intangible benefits regarding his future, “Growth.  There’s endless room for opportunity. “I came in as a senior Performance Management Specialist,” he states, then strategizes, “my goal is to work towards management, then director, and VP.”  He lays out the game plan, “The goal was to get in the door and work my way up.” If we were to look at the running scoreboard, it’s a sure bet that he’ll achieve all of these goals.

Looking back from his high-rise office, Wiafe reflects on the achievement, “Wow I did this.” He sighs. “I made a commitment to go back to school and look for something better – and achieved that.” To others contemplating taking a big risk to break through their own personal ceiling, he has this simple advice, “You’ve got to let your fears go – and take the next steps.”

As if the time was running down on the basketball court’s shot clock, he stops reminiscing to turn his thoughts again to strategizing what’s next.  With a score like Kofi Wiafe’s, you know he’ll always take the shot.

Click for Spring/Summer 2016 Calendar

Click for info on MRU Supply Chain Management

-by JLove


Fitting In

“We have a lot of educating to do.” Karen Dodge, Manager of MRU Cont. Ed.’s Languages Institute instructs, “it’s not only the people coming in that need to be educated.  The people that live here need to be educated too.”

With new Canadians, including some controversial Syrian refugees, integrating into our culture, work and lives in our hometown, there has to be more attention paid to both sides of the conversation.  “Calgary is a multi-cultural community,” she declares, “ESL is a Canadian reality right now.”group with Canada balloons

The MRU Languages Institute is well aware of the cultural acclimatization needed to succeed in a new region.  Regarding recent reactions on our home turf, she identifies, “The ‘them verses us’ mentality is discrimination. Calgary is going through what England was going through thirty years ago.”

Karen Dodge is an educator and the world is her classroom. She knows cultural differences first-hand.  A self-described internationalist, Dodge has lived and worked in Spain, China, England, Oman, Saudi Arabia and more.  Landing here in 1998, she is an ESL (English as a Second Language) and EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teaching specialist.

The program focuses on three main branches, the popular English Language Program, World Languages (and customized training) and Teacher Education.

The first is to teach English to both local and international students, in fact it’s a 50/50 split.  Some are learning for work or studies, as they must qualify for the English language requirements for admittance to programs while others are studying for life in a different culture.

World Languages offers customized training to individuals or groups who are either in business with another culture or are planning to visit. “If you want something specific,” Dodge promises, “we can facilitate it.”  There are countless benefits to an introduction to a foreign language for business people.  “We can teach a businessman fifty key words in Mandarin,” she says, “which goes a long way in building relationships.”  The point isn’t always to become fluent in another language, it’s to demonstrate a vested interest.

The Teacher Education component leverages many of the almost eighty partnerships that MRU has with other academic institutions around the globe. “In South America,” Dodge explains, “professors are required to teach their discipline in English.”  This is the case in many international institutions as English is, “the language that has become dominant.” she admits.  In this program, foreign professors are brought to MRU for training which is delivered face to face. “Our aim,” Dodge says, “is to help international partners develop their own way of training.  It’s a train-the-trainer model.”  Most recently, a team of ten professors from Guanajuato, Mexico benefitted from this experience where they learned teaching strategies as well as specific English for the classroom vocabulary.

MRU’s Languages Institute knows that learning the language is just one component to actually fitting in.

“Fitting in,” she advises, “can be everything from defending yourself, standing up for yourself, putting forward your cultural viewpoint and earning respect.” In the end, it’s about empowering the student not just teaching proper verb usage.

“Cultural norms for us are not norms for everybody.” Dodge declares. To succeed, or fit in in the workplace, she notes, takes an understanding of soft skills from “being understood at the water-cooler” to “following hockey scores.”

-JLove a.k.a. JAmour


Conflict Actually: Conflict Management Tips for the Holidays

To paraphrase a modern Christmas classic film, Love Actually substituting their main theme of ‘love’ with our topic word of ‘conflict’, one can almost hear the prime ministerial tones of Hugh Grant in voiceover, “It’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends… if you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that (during the holidays) Conflict actually is… all around.”


Let’s face it; along with the festive cheer, the season’s greetings and such, many holidays are filled with conflict. Whether you’re in line at a department store with the season’s latest must-have or the passive-aggressive gravy boat spill at the forced family gathering, tensions run high during the holidays.

We at MRU Cont. Ed. have asked Shannon Geoffrey, Program Administrator for Business and Professional Education, to provide us with a few mindful tips from our Conflict Resolution courses to help you successfully navigate the trials of your holiday.

“First,” she itemizes, “prepare.” Like a high performance athletics coach, she encourages research and visualization. “Knowing that someone is going to be confrontational or that someone is going to implode, that’s the first step.” Then, she recommends, “Visualizing in your mind what could happen and becoming comfortable with it before it happens.”

What if knowing is not enough? How can you calm the aggressor or diffuse a tense situation? Geoffrey uses paraphrasing. “Summarize what the person is saying. If someone says something that’s ‘way out there’, it’s not about agreeing with them, but it’s just saying ‘I hear you; I just see it this way.”

Then, there are the people who carry the dread of the encounter throughout the holiday. Even while visualizing the encounter and preparing coping techniques, everyone has that one particular sister-in-law who tries to manipulate everyone against them each and every family get-together. This anxiety adds to the normal holiday stresses. “Be very clear and upfront with people.” Geoffrey says.

“Sometimes it takes time. Sometimes you have to step away from that moment and put some space between you and that person in order to come back in a better frame of mind.” This needn’t be solved at the holiday table. Instead, Geoffrey suggests, “Set a period of time; a new year’s resolution to sit down with this person so that they’re in the right frame of mind rather than when they’re in high conflict and thinking irrationally.”

As dutiful parents remind children, “it takes two to tango.” In reality, it can be difficult for all of us to realize, through our egocentric lens, that we ourselves might be the problem. This is where MRU’s Conflict Resolution employs its philosophy of looking inward. Geoffrey thinks everyone must first, “understand yourself in conflict before you can manage others.” She continues, “find out what gets you going and what’s eating (you) up inside. Only then,” she explains, “can we learn the problem.”

“A lot of people get sucked into the emotion.” Geoffrey advises, “We need that introspection to figure out what is it that is creating that emotion and how do I learn how to manage that.” Using techniques like self-talk and journaling, you can gain the skills to manage the moment. “The program teaches you to look inward, but learn what to do outward.”

Like the movie, with time, understanding and a panicked trip to an airport, Conflict Actually teaches us, “people only get together right at the very end.”

-JLove (First Lobster)