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Online Program Enhances Career Success for Recreation Manager

Carla Thebeau

Carla Thebeau is a student in MRU’s Event Management program, which she will complete this year. She takes classes online while working full-time as General Manager for the New Brighton Residents’ Association.

“Our community centre hosts all sorts of events – activities, programs, recreational opportunities. We also take care of some of the amenities within the community,” Carla says.

She is originally from Nova Scotia, where she attended St. Francis Xavier University. Like many maritimers, Carla made her way west in 2001. She fell in love with Alberta’s outdoor recreation opportunities such as kayaking, hiking and spending time in the mountains.

Throughout Carla’s career, one opportunity has led to another. “I’ve always loved planning special events, whether for student council or in my community,” she says. “I was lucky to start a career in recreation management very early. I was Recreation Director in the community of Lake Louise and then on to the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. I also had the opportunity to work on Disney Cruise Lines and with the Delta Lodge at Kananaskis.”

Carla always wanted a formal credential to bolster her on-the-job knowledge and experience.

“When I arrived in Calgary I found the Mount Royal program to formalize the event management education,” she says. “I wanted something to solidify all I had learned though experience. Experience is fantastic but it’s awesome to also get the education.”

Carla is hoping to improve her management style and organizational skills. The MRU program is also helping her to find ways to interpret her creativity and to bring her ideas to reality.

She is taking most of the courses online. “I didn’t know that I would be successful at taking it online, because I love interaction. But it’s actually so well laid out that it’s foolproof. The thing that I love most about it is I’m able to do it on my time, especially with working a very busy full-time job,” she notes.

Carla has already seen the benefits of the program on the job. “Prior to taking the marketing class I was able to raise about $5K in sponsorship. After taking the class this year we raised $15K.”

For those interested in event management, Carla advises, “Just go for it, if you have the passion for it, I believe this program can help make it happen. It provides you with the tools you need to be successful in this type of career.

Carla met her fiancé online last year. “Career and school takes priority right now,” she says. “But it’s nice because all the pieces of my life are finally falling into place.”

See more of Carla’s story.

by Karen McCarthy
— photo by Sandra Loeppky

Instructor Helps People Understand Their Finances

Michael Kolodnicki

Just in time for RRSP season, we chatted with personal financial planning instructor Michael Kolodnicki.

Q: What courses do you teach?
A: I teach Basics of Investing, and Stocks, Bonds and Your Portfolio in the Personal Financial Planning area.

Q: How long have you been teaching at Mount Royal?
A: I have taught evening classes at MRU for nine years. My day job is Investment Portfolio Advisor with TD Wealth Management & Investment Advice where I manage a $200 million portfolio.

Q: What is your teaching philosophy?
A: At work, I coach clients to make sure that they don’t get hurt and that I explain things very plainly. The financial industry can get caught up in acronyms and buzzwords and people speaking very fast. Teaching these classes helps me to slow it down, so I can help both my students and my clients really understand. I joke with my colleagues that I get to enlighten and entertain at the end of a long work day.

Q: Are the courses that you teach directed at the consumer rather than the financial professional?
A: Yes. Mount Royal delivers the Basics of Investing course on behalf of the Alberta Securities Commission. The Stocks, Bonds and Your Portfolio course is also aimed at people who want to take charge of their personal finances.

Q: What changes have you seen during the time that you have been teaching?
A: Students are more informed. They’re coming to class with laptops and personal devices and they’re checking on some of the facts that I’m quoting to them. We’ve got a big range of participants, from 25 to 80 years old. Some are experts – lawyers, doctors – who are very good at what they do but are brand new to the field of finance. They’re tired of not understanding how to manage their money.

Q: What questions do your students most frequently ask?
A: They like to know what the current events are, whether the headlines and political talk are impacting their savings. So we integrate a disciplined curriculum with real life. I try to go from the terminology and evolve it to, “this is how we apply it in the real world.”

Q: Do people ever come in thinking that there will be one or two stocks they can buy that will make them rich?
A: There’s always one that’s looking for tips. But a little bit of information is not helpful. We cover off the fundamentals that people need to be aware of so they don’t get hurt and can help their savings grow.

Q: Why is MRU a good place to come and learn about personal finance?
A: This is a phenomenal institution with a great reputation. There are similar ones in Calgary but there’s a culture and a vibe at Mount Royal that make it a great post-secondary institution, and for the continuing education component, it’s fantastic.

– photo by Krystal Hurt