For Tammy Nguyen, studying abroad was a long-term goal. Through the MBA program at the University of Saskatchewan’s Edwards School of Business, she was able to accomplish this goal, and move her career from Vietnam to Canada in the process.
Although she’s a chemical engineer by training, Tammy realized during her undergraduate degree that her interests lay elsewhere.
“I realized that marketing was my real career aspiration,” she explains.
Although she began her career in sales for a chemicals company, Tammy soon managed to pivot into a communications job with marketing giant, Ogilvy.
The role taught her a lot about marketing, and after another two years she landed an assistant brand manager job at Unilever.
“After about nine years in marketing, my career roadmap reached a certain point, and I felt it was time to pursue my dream of studying abroad,” Tammy reflects.
Without any formal training in marketing or business, she decided that an MBA would be a logical next step, opening up new options—and a whole new country to explore.
Coming to Canada
When Tammy researched where she would study, Canada quickly stood out. She would be moving abroad with her husband and daughter, and had certain requirements in mind for her new home.
“We had been talking a lot about which destination we would like to grow our family in,” she explains. “Canada became our priority because we knew that it’s a top country for education, and would provide a great lifestyle for our daughter.”
Canada is a common choice for today’s business school applicants. In 2019, it was the third most popular study destination for an MBA. The country is known for its student-friendly visa regulations, which allow graduates from certain programs to work for up to three years.
Canada is also one of the happiest countries in the world, according to the 2019 World Happiness Report.
When Tammy’s husband was awarded permanent residence the province of Saskatchewan, she looked into local schools and settled on Edwards.
“I had done a lot of research about the school, the instructors, and the career opportunities in Saskatchewan after graduation,” she explains.
Over the course of the MBA, Tammy expanded her expertise into unfamiliar areas—especially finance and economics.
“These modules gave me a lot of skills and knowledge, so I could understand data-driven decision making within an organization,” she notes.
The diverse professional backgrounds of Tammy’s classmates made for interesting debates in class, she adds.
In Tammy’s cohort alone, professional backgrounds ranged from engineering to fine arts—and everything in between.
Drawing on local knowledge
Tammy’s diverse classmates not only offered various perspectives in the classroom, they also became the start of a strong Canadian network.
“I now have friends across Canada, and can share my career progress with them,” she explains.
At the same time, the program brought Tammy into contact with local professionals from Saskatchewan, who would often come in to speak.
“Through our individual assignments we worked closely with instructors and professionals in the province,” she says. “This gave me a lot of insight into how business operates in Saskatchewan.”
Another highlight of her MBA was the Essential Management Skills Retreat, Tammy reflects. During this experience, students travel to rural North Saskatchewan for one week of interpersonal and self-development coaching, with the goal of becoming a better manager.
“Usually we think of management skills as work-based, but the core of the class is more about managing your life and yourself, before you can manage other people,” Tammy reflects.
Insights for a new role
After graduating from her MBA in 2019, Tammy soon found work with local college, Saskatchewan Polytechnic.
The careers service at Edwards helped her make this transition, providing a mentor to walk her through the challenges of setting out on a career in a new location.
“When I was applying for jobs, employers saw that I have an MBA from Edwards, and highly appreciate that,” she adds.
In Tammy’s current role as international marketing consultant, she is responsible for marketing the school in Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, and South America.
She also helps coordinate the school’s international projects, she says. These range in scope from sustainable prospecting in Columbia, to a teacher retraining program in Vietnam.
“The role needed someone with international insight,” Tammy reflects. “I was an international student, so I understand the barriers and challenges that affect international students when they first come to Canada.”
With her family settled in the country, and an MBA under her belt, Tammy feels confident about the future.
“I want to remain in Saskatchewan for the long-term,” she says. “There hasn’t been a minute I felt regret about the decision to move and study here.”
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University of Saskatchewan: Edwards School of Business
Saskatoon - Canada