Roti Akinsanmi has been an instructor in the Project Management program for two years. Taking the program himself was one of the first things he did upon arriving in Canada from Africa. We spoke with Roti about his philosophy in the classroom.
Q: Tell us about yourself and how you came to teach in this field.
A: In 2007 I moved to Canada. I decided to study Project Management so I took the Mount Royal class. I did the Fast Track, including my Final Assessment, all by Christmas. When I started I said to myself, one day I would like to teach this class.
Two years ago I was working at Cenovus and began to think I would like to give back to Mount Royal and teach for them.
My interview went well and I became an instructor, which has been great. Now, when I start my classes I tell my learners, “I totally understand what it’s like to be sitting out there. I used to take the class.”
Q: You’re changing lives, when you think about it. What’s your philosophy for teaching? Is there anything you really want to instill in your students?
A: Here’s one of the key takeaways from my class. I always reserve the last few minutes of class to make a pitch — not about the tools and techniques of project management, but the people side. I say to them, “You know, by definition your projects must come to an end. But the people that you work with on projects, those relationships don’t have to come to an end.” That comes from my own personal experience. Because projects can get difficult at times and we lose sight of the fact that we’re working with people.
Q: That’s a theme that keeps coming up when we talk to our instructors. You have to be good at working with people as well as knowing the subject you’re teaching.
A: I can teach all the tools and techniques; it’s technical. But let’s not forget, it’s all about the people you’re going to be relating with during the project. I say to my students, do whatever you can to maintain those relationships.
It’s all about the people side. Calgary’s small. The world is small and getting smaller so why not connect with people?
About Roti Akinsamni
Roti is an enterprising professional with two decades of successful business and technology experience. He brings real-world experience to the classroom to create a unique learning opportunity for his students. His portfolio includes Cenovus Energy, Optimal Payments (formerly Neteller), Shaw Communications and The City of Calgary.
As co-founder of mobileXcetera, a pioneer in mobile technology, he led multiple engagements for international brands like Coca-Cola, Unilever, Chevron, Ladybird, Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, MTN Communications, Globacom and Airtel.
Roti is a PMI-certified Project Management Professional, with a BSc in Computer Science and an MBA from Cornell University and Queen’s University.
— photo by Krystal Hurt
At Big Bob’s BBQ on May 20, the MRU community joined together to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Transitional Vocational Program (TVP), which began in 1980. TVP helps to prepare adults with developmental disabilities for employment and greater independence. Many TVP alumni, staff and current students were on hand for the festivities.
The annual event is a fundraiser for TVP and has raised more than $110,000 over its 33-year history.
Big Bob is named for Bob Charlton, a long-time Mount Royal employee in Security Services, who started the event with his colleague Stu Gauthier in support of TVP, a cause dear to both their hearts. Bob retired in 2001 but continued his unfaltering support of TVP and Mount Royal until he passed away last year.
Fittingly, Big Bob’s BBQ took place beside the Charlton Pond in the Gauthier Courtyard. These favourite campus spots were named in honour of the two men who exemplified community at Mount Royal.
There is now a Bob and Christel Charlton Memorial Scholarship, and this year the first Charlton Gauthier Memorial Award was given to Linda Strangward, an employee who is a strong proponent of volunteer culture at MRU.
Gord Gillies of Global TV hosted the event. He helped to hand out the door prizes, including a $500 Costco gift card, a weekend for two at the Delta Kananaskis Hotel, and hand-crafted patio furniture, as well as numerous other prizes donated by TVP supporters within Mount Royal and from the surrounding community.
Entertainment was provided by the Calgary Fire Department’s Cappy Smart Band and an MRU faculty ensemble called the Pre-Fab Four and the Accidentals.
Calgarian Gerry Law spearheaded the creation of the Vocation Development Program at Mount Royal in 1980. Gerry’s son Jamie was born with cognitive and developmental disabilities. At the time, there were not many options for people like Jamie. But Gerry could see the spark in Jamie and decided his son would have the same opportunities and experiences as everyone else. He worked with Mount Royal to create those opportunities.
After successfully completing the program, Jamie went on to work for Canada Safeway — a position he’s held for 35 years.
In the years since Gerry’s initiative, Mount Royal’s Transitional Vocational Program has served over 4,000 adults with developmental disabilities, teaching them skills to realize their full potential.
“I can’t think of a better example of community at MRU than TVP,” said President David Docherty. “One of the great joys in my life is delivering flowers around campus with TVP students.”
This feeling was echoed by Dean Charles Webber of the Faculty of Continuing Education and Extension, who said, “I have a soft spot for this program and the important work it does. I’d like to recognize the staff of TVP, an amazing group of people providing support to the program.”
“I am so proud to be part of the legacy (past and present) of this program,” said TVP Program Administrator Craig Baskett. “It has worked with thousands of Albertans with developmental disabilities to give them a post-secondary experience while receiving support to transition to independence and inclusion in the community.”
Recent TVP grad Kim Fraser spoke about the support of her instructors and fellow students in making a big difference in her personal and professional life, and helping her to attain her current position at Toys’R’Us. Kim is often complimented for her excellent customer service in her job.
Carol Galbraith and her husband Bob were in attendance, along with many other alumni. Carol graduated from TVP in its first year and went on to a 30-year career with Panda Daycare. She and Bob are active with Special Olympics.
Retired Program Administrator Donna Sharman was with TVP for 16 years, starting as an Employment Specialist. “I love coming back to see the great community at Mount Royal. It’s always amazing to see what students can accomplish given the right supports.”
Elaine Danelesko, now Program Director for Business and Professional Education in Cont Ed said, “From 1985 to 1999 I was proud to be a teacher and then leader at the TVP, a forward-thinking, inclusive education program within a college setting. I believe the program remains progressive and should be applauded for supporting hundreds of students to achieve their goals.”
“We all want to add value in this world, and our students just need a little extra support,” says Program Administrator Craig Baskett. And the Mount Royal community is happy to help them do just that.
Read an article about the TVP Anniversary in the Calgary Sun.
— by Karen McCarthy
— photos by Michael Poon and Mitsue Kudo
Kristi Peterson has experienced steady growth in her career with the Land Department at the Pengrowth Energy Corporation over the past 15 years. She is now a Contracts Analyst. “I’m working my way up into actually drafting the agreements. I’m working with the partners and working with precedents, but I’m actually negotiating and doing the various agreements within Land. I’m not just reading them anymore, I’m writing them,” she says. She is a graduate of MRU’s Petroleum Land Administration: Land Contracts Extension Certificate as well as a previous certificate, Petroleum Land Administration: Foundation.
Kristi started at Pengrowth in 1999 as the office clerk. “I saw the Land Department and it looked like they were having fun. So I talked to the supervisor Diane Scott – she’s still my supervisor – and she got me going to the Mount Royal courses. And I got promoted to be the Land Assistant, then Mineral Land Administrator, and then Contracts Analyst, working in contract land. I love it,” she says.
Kristi completed her certificate programs while working at Pengrowth. “It took me about ten years to do the Foundation certificate [the previous Land Administration program]. Having kids and being pregnant, I’d take one course a year and try to keep going,” she says. “I was able to be promoted even before I finished the certificate.”
Kristi’s role revolves around working with partners. “If we want to drill a well, we have to acquire the lands, whether they’re Crown or freehold. We do a Joint Operating Agreement (JOA). If you have a partner with whom you’re going to drill that well, then you need an agreement to govern those working interests. If it’s a gas well, you have to pool it, and then there’d be a pooling agreement. There can be multiple partners – the main role in contracts being working with partners,” she notes.
She is also a busy mom with two children aged 6 and 9. They are busy with after-school activities including soccer, hockey and gymnastics. Kristi is coaching soccer this year. “I volunteer a lot at school,” she says. “Actually I’m able to work four days a week so I’m very involved in the school.”
Kristi’s husband works at Shaw and was a great support as she went through the certificate programs. “It’s good to have one of us out of oil and gas with it being so volatile,” she says.
Calgary’s oil patch can be a small world. Kristi’s instructor for the MRU Land Agreements course, which she took while pregnant with her second child, was Curt Hamrell, a 30-year veteran of the industry. “In that class we taught the most used document in the industry, the NOA (Notice of Assignment).”
When Kristi returned to Pengrowth from her maternity leave, she found that Curt had joined Pengrowth as a consultant in Acquisitions and Divestitures.
“Occasionally we’ll do a little work together,” Curt says. “I’m A&D and she’s day-to-day, so if her area’s affected by a sale she will be contacted and kept in the loop.”
“Curt’s always there, too, to answer questions if you need him to, for his contractual needs,” Kristi notes.
Curt has been teaching at Mount Royal for ten years, starting when he was volunteering with a leading energy industry association, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Land Administration (CAPLA).
“Once you get into Land you realize how much there is to learn,” Curt says. “I’ve been at it for 30 years and I’m still learning every day. I find teaching is the best way to learn because I have to know the answers.”
“The students at Mount Royal usually already have experience — from one or two years to ten or even twenty years — and they want to get that certificate and add to their education. There’s a lot of people who have taken the same certificate and have it posted on their wall,” Curt says.
“Both mine are on my wall,” Kristi says. “In oil and gas, when it’s good it’s really good. And when it’s bad it’s really bad. So far I’ve made it through every recession, able to keep my job and just hope for the best. We know there’s going to be an upswing, you just kind of hang on and wait it out,” Kristi notes. “It’s a good time to dig into those agreements you just haven’t been able to get to.”
“We all know that it’s going to come back. It’s just a matter of when,” says Curt.
— by Karen McCarthy
— photos by Karen McCarthy