"Bridging business and sustainability" MBA alumnus, Brienne Alarcon
Brienne Alarcon, Lang MBA '16 (Sustainable Commerce specialization)
Awards & Scholarships: Graduate Tuition Scholarship, Dean’s Honour List – top 10% in cohort
Position prior to Lang MBA: Community Relations & Consultation Lead, CNOOC International
Current position: Senior Advisor, Indigenous & Community Relations, Suncor Energy
How did your Lang MBA help prepare you to be a leader in your industry?
"The Lang MBA in Sustainable Commerce at Lang helped prepare me to become an effective leader on several different levels. From a skills development perspective, I was able to sharpen several skills, including public speaking, project facilitation, time management, financial management and data analysis. The program also encouraged the use of a macro and microlens in order to define effective strategies and build a plan to achieve them as a team. It also gave me the confidence to engage in difficult conversations in a way that shows accountability and respect simultaneously, whether with peers during the program or colleagues at work. The Lang MBA also taught me the importance of informal leadership and that being a good leader doesn’t require a particular job title. Although informal leadership can be more difficult than formal leadership, it’s still a professional imperative to recognize the distinction.
The program also reinforced the importance of sustainability and the environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations for organizations and investors. Ultimately, my Lang MBA journey has encouraged me to grapple with sustainability and business challenges that continue to inspire and contribute to my professional journey. There are several courses I will remember fondly, such as BUS*6300 (Business Practices for Sustainability) and BUS*6600 (Sustainable Value Creation). As someone working in the sustainability space, these courses provided invaluable perspective on sustainability principles and provided resources I still refer to today. The trip to Frogpond Farm Organic Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake was certainly a highlight, where we had the chance to see firsthand how sustainable practices are implemented in a business’ operations."
Describe your experience during the Lang residential periods.
"Program participants spend so much time on coursework and group projects online throughout the year while juggling full-time work, life and education. The residential sessions provide an opportunity for students to focus on the coursework in a collaborative, in-person environment on the beautiful University of Guelph campus. The residential sessions provided an opportunity for students to work together on challenging projects in a condensed period of time and the experience deepened the relationship between the cohort, which translates well to future online coursework. I was fortunate to work with excellent team members who worked together to deliver exceptional results at every opportunity – this was electrifying.
How did you find the online learning component of the program?
"The online learning component was a great part of the program. One of the reasons I chose this MBA program was because I could continue to live in Alberta and work full-time while completing my MBA. The 24/7 nature of the online platform also allowed me to work on my schoolwork when my work and personal life allowed. Since I worked full-time while completing my MBA, both my employer and the program benefitted from my cross-pollination learning and execution. As mentioned earlier, the residential sessions were a necessary complement to the online portion of the MBA and with both, make this an attractive MBA program.
Can you offer one piece of advice for a student that is about to start their Executive Program at Lang?
"As someone who may be a current or future leader, I will quote from the HTM 6110 Foundations of Leadership course – “Leadership is a gift. Given by those who follow, but you have to be worthy of it. Are you?”"