Profile - Marnie McNiven embarks on Japanese Study Program

Phys Ed grad returns for MBA

Marnie McNiven is probably not what Japanese workers expected in an MBA student. "I think they thought I had two heads. I'm five-foot-ten, have red hair, and I'm over 50. They didn't understand what I was doing there," laughs the recent graduate who went to Hitachi City in Japan as part of a work study program through the Centre for International Business Studies.

But even though the former PhysEd teacher and mother of three is not the stereotypical MBA graduate, she is adamant that taking the degree was a great idea. "It's never too late to go back and to learn. I went back to get an education. Now that I've done that, I would like to be employed in something that will use my skills appropriately."

McNiven is not a stranger to business and industry. For seven years, she was the director of marketing for Tourism Saskatoon. "I loved it, but I guess I reached the stage in my career where I had gone as far as I could go. I felt ready to do something else," she explained.

She said that although she had taken an undergraduate degree in physical education from the University of Manitoba a long time ago, her reasons for attending school and her approach to learning were very different this time. "I didn't work really hard the first time. I had a good time. Academics came second," she admits. Although there was a large discrepancy in ages between her and some of her classmates in the MBA program, she says there seem to be more and more older people in school, many of whom are making career changes.

"The younger students were great, although I believe the best scenario is for the student to have some employment background. You have a whole different perspective when you have experience," she said. She says one of her main interests is in human resource practices, and she found her work study program in Japan to be eye-opening. "I was particularly interested in the role of women in business or the lack of women in business I guess. The traditional expectations are changing there, though. I would say they are like [women] here were 30 years ago," she states.

Her next step is to find a job, preferably in community development, marketing, strategic development or organizational behaviour. But wherever her path leads, she is happy she chose to return to university. "I gained a great deal from my program, but I hope I contributed too."