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Leadership at all levels: Nicole Denbow

Current Graduate Certificate in Leadership (GCL) student, Nicole Denbow, shares how the program has impacted her life both personally and professionally.

Aiden Ryde

This interview has been edited for clarity and length. 

Tell me a little bit about yourself and your background? 

I am originally from southwest Manitoba on Treaty 2 Territory in the Turtle Mountain local area. I grew up in a strong Métis community, which I am extremely fortunate to have experienced. 

I went to the University of Regina for my undergraduate degree because I wanted to be far away from home that I could start my own thing, but close enough that I could go home if I had to. I ended up doing my undergraduate in environmental studies with a minor in geology. After nine years I finished my degree in 2019. 

Throughout university, I worked in a variety of areas including sales, surveying, and hospitality, which resulted in the discovery of my love for business. I then started my own photography business in 2018 and I have been running it as a sole proprietorship ever since. 

What drew you to apply to the Graduate Certificate in Leadership (GCL) program? 

I never thought I could do something like a master’s degree, I just didn’t think it was achievable for me. I was also worried about jumping into something as big as the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program because it had been a while since I was in school, and I just wasn’t sure I could handle it. Then the GCL program started. Because the GCL program is only three classes and you can do at your own pace, it was a good next step for me in terms of continuing my education.  

Also, having the opportunity to do the GCL program without having to do the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) or having extremely intense preparation to be able to do it, was very appealing.  

What do you feel you gained from the GCL program thus far, both from a personal and professional perspective? 

The first class I took was a one-week intensive class called Essential Management Skills and it was life changing and validating for me, both professionally and personally. For myself, having worked a lot of different industries and not having an academic background in business, I was not sure where I fit with other people that way, so being in the class made me realize personally, that I know just as much, and I am contributing information that people want to hear.  

Professionally, it validated a lot of the way that I see myself as a leader because I have not really had the opportunity in my previous positions to be a leader per say, but I always love the idea of leadership from the bottom to the top and that you do not have to be at the top to be considered a leader.  

What would you consider to be the best and most challenging part of the program? 

For me, the best part is being able to dip my toe without having to commit to something like the MBA. Also, the flexibility to do it part-time and the classes, although intense are short. The most challenging part for me personally is a lot of it happens during busy times during the year. Finances can also be a barrier, but I am lucky enough to have most of the tuition covered through my employer. 

How is the GCL program helping you in your current position?  

Because I do student and career advising it is natural to take on somewhat of a leadership role. I took a lot of the tactics that I learned so far in my classes in approaching students and being able to have a conversation with them and having more of an alternative conversation than the typical “What's your resume look like?” and having more unique conversations with each student.  

What would you say to individuals thinking about taking the GCL program? 

If you are thinking about it, reach out and talk to the program coordinators; they will give you a real conversation about whether it is a good fit for you. If you are interested in growing your leadership potential, the GCL program is a perfect program for you. There is a lot of different perspectives to learn from, and the team that organizes the program are extremely passionate about leadership and lifelong learning. 

Visit the Edwards Graduate Certificate in Leadership program page to learn more or chat with an advisor. The Edwards GCL program supports current and emerging professionals from all backgrounds who want to elevate their careers and be effective leaders locally and globally. More than a credential, you will have increased self-awareness and heightened inner potential to make an impact through leadership.  

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