MA Leadership alumnus helping people with disabilities integrate into the workplace
MA Leadership alumnus Amani Hitimana is committed to serving the vulnerable population and bringing positive change to his community and abroad. He has always had the passion to help others, but If you ask him it was his the University of Guelph's MA in Leadership program which gave him the tools and skill set he needed to achieve his professional goals. Amani is currently working as the Program Manager for Christian Horizons, an organization that supports individuals with developmental disabilities. He has also been named the Director at Large at Ontario Disability Employment Network (ODEN), helping to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Both of these roles allow him to combine his passion for working with people in need and improving his community.
He was also the 2016 recipient of the Connor, Clark and Lunn Group Award and the 2017 Leadership award from the College of Business and Economics for his work within the community.
In this Q&A, Amani describes his experience at the University of Guelph and how the program helped him empower his leadership skills.
What drew you to the MA Leadership program at the University of Guelph?
In 2004, I took a one-week course on leadership offered by the University of Waterloo and I was challenged with the concept of “leading people to effectiveness”. At the end of the course, I approached the facilitator and asked him how I could further sharpen my leadership skills and what program he would recommend. He told me he graduated from MA-Leadership at the University of Guelph and strongly recommended the program to me.
How did the program enhance your ability to lead in the workplace?
The landscape of the workplace has significantly changed. Leading a diverse team can be as challenging as instilling employees’ engagement and motivation. This program has offered me the tools and knowledge to empower my direct supports so they can be engaged and find proactive ways of resolving workplace issues while increasing productivity.
How did it change your career/career path/career focus?
I undertook a major research project focused on persons with disabilities in the workforce. The paper went through a double-blind review and was accepted at the 34th International Conference on Case Method Research & Application held in Graz, Austria. This research was also deemed meritorious for expansion at a doctoral level. Having achieved a grade of 90% on this MRP, my interest in pursuing advanced research on a doctoral level, has grown stronger.
What other skills did the MA Leadership help you develop?
Beyond the knowledge of the concept of leadership, the program allowed me to see the reason I do what I do: understanding social responsibilities and the purpose in leadership. Purpose is that sense that we are part of something bigger than ourselves, that we are needed, that we have something better ahead to work for. Purpose is what creates true happiness. Purpose is what the University of Guelph offered me through leadership studies.
What parts of the curriculum did you find most rewarding?
The Personal Skills: Self-assessment course has helped me to gain understanding of my key strengths and weaknesses and how I can compensate those weaknesses with critical strengths. The art to manage oneself through personal development rather than being only task-oriented was very rewarding.
In your opinion, what is the best part of the program?
Every time that a new course was introduced, I was like ‘wow this is the best’. Up until the end of the program, I was still enthusiastic yet challenged to the highest level.
What advice do you have for people considering the MA Leadership program?
I would strongly encourage every person in a leadership position to take this program.
Is there a quote that could describe your experience within the MA Leadership program?
“If it does not challenge you, it does not change you.”