First Name: Brenda
Last Name: Whiteside
Job Title: Associate Vice-President - Student Affairs (retired)
Company: University of Guelph
Hometown: Toronto, Ontario
Area of Study: Economics/Finance
With an undergraduate degree in management economics, a graduate degree in economics and more than 30 years of experience working at the University of Guelph in various teaching, advising and administrative roles, it’s difficult to believe that Brenda Whiteside was once an aspiring nuclear physicist.
As the Associate Vice-President of Student Affairs, Brenda oversaw six departments that provide essential services to students at the University of Guelph. Her journey to this role started when she developed a passion for economics and management, an education she says she uses daily because it taught her the value of critical thinking and gave her the foundation she needed to manage budgets, staff and marketing initiatives. As a student, she says she excelled in “any business management type courses that emphasized a group work structure and problem-based learning.”
One of her favourite courses was organizational behavior, an experience she counts among her fondest memories. “The whole class was exhilarating,” she said. “I was put in a group with another extravert. At one point we asked to switch groups as we were always clashing. Our professor, Bill Braithwaite, said ‘No, this is what it’s all about.’ We had to learn how to work with each other. I have relied on many of the valuable group dynamic skills learned in that course as much of my work involves teams.
Her organizational behavior class also gave her the opportunity to get to know someone who would play a major role in her personal life, husband Harold Whiteside, who is now Vice-President of Finance at Samuel Strapping Systems Group. Outside of her work, Brenda is an avid soccer and squash player, and spends much of her free time giving back to her community with her volunteer work focusing primarily on marginalized youth.
Reflecting on her student experience and career at the University of Guelph, Brenda says future graduates should set goals, but not limit themselves when opportunities arise. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without Mordechai Rozanski convincing me to move to Student Affairs – a position well outside of my comfort zone,” she said. “Each job I have held is the result of a mentor challenging me to take risks.”
Each job I have held is the result of a mentor challenging me to take risks.” - Brenda Whiteside