Serena Myles ('22 MBA, '16 BCom)

Jenna Marynowski, BAA Communications Committee Volunteer - 12 June 2022

Serena Myles (‘22 MBA, '16 BCom) initially connected to the Alberta School of Business for her undergrad but kept in touch with the school through the Business Alumni Association, and eventually returned to pursue her MBA. In this month’s profile, Serena reflects on the lasting impact the Alberta School of Business has made on her life and career and offers advice on developing your career in lockstep with your personal development.


BAA: Tell us about your time at the Alberta School of Business. How was student life for you? What were some of your favourite memories?

The Alberta School of Business is essentially my second home. My undergraduate degree is where I grew up, where I found my voice, where I came out of my shell and where I made lifelong friends. Fast forward to my graduate degree, and the Alberta School of Business is the home where I returned to broaden my horizons and truthfully rediscover who I was.

During my bachelor of commerce, I was extremely involved in student clubs and attending events. I once did the math, and I literally spent more time at the Alberta School of Business than I did at home (wow talk about a lot of meals at Hub Mall lol)! My student life during my undergrad was my entire life. My favourite memories include being on JDC West’s Marketing Team and studying abroad. JDC West is where I overcame my fears of public speaking. I went from a fast-talking auctioneer to a normal-ish human speed (lol). The 2014-2015 JDC West team will forever hold a place in my heart; the camaraderie was unlike anything I have ever experienced. Secondly, studying abroad at the U of A’s School in Cortona was life-changing. Living the Italian lifestyle taught me that there is so much more to life than getting a 4.0 GPA. By embracing the Italian culture, I better understood the importance of family, rest, work-life balance, being in the moment, embracing uncertainty and of course a love of wine and pasta.

My MBA student experience was complicated but just as rewarding. I was working full time, and completing school part-time, and my experience was half in person and half remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic. My favourite memory is attending Maria David-Evan’s Women and Leadership class in my final semester. This class provided me with a safe place to share stories, resources, opinions, and questions on potentially controversial topics. It was a collaborative class with countless inspiring female guest speakers and classmates. It was the highlight of my degree.

BAA: How did your career develop from your undergrad graduation to today?

It was a rollercoaster. When I started my career, I didn’t know how to be myself in the workplace. I learned that professional development had a lot to do with personal development. To grow at work, you need to understand who you are. So, my career development was years of journaling, self-reflecting, asking for constructive feedback, asking tough questions and making mistakes. Today I focus on continuing to build my self-confidence in the workplace, trusting my strong work ethic and giving myself the grace needed to make mistakes to grow.

BAA: What influenced your decision to pursue an MBA from the Alberta School of Business?

I have always been an academic and wanted to pursue more education. I simply have a love of learning. But, three years after graduating I had just survived a global restructuring at my company. I remember visiting my family and thinking wow, I survived but now what. My parents reminded me that I now had the required work experience to apply for my MBA. The rest was history. That afternoon I wrote my application, contacted my references, and applied before the deadline which was in a week’s time. My “now what” turned into now I am going to go back to school, expand my mindset and learn something new for myself.

BAA: Can you tell us about your current job? What kind of work are you doing?

As of January 2022, I am working as a development officer at the University of Alberta. As a frontline fundraiser, I work within the Leadership Annual Giving Team, which is responsible for gifts between $1,000 to $50,000. A part of my role is connecting with alumni and donors to assist them in staying engaged with the University and to assist individuals to fulfill their philanthropic goals.
This is a new chapter of my career, and I am very excited! I learned so many amazing skills through my education at the U of A, which helped me launch my career. Now, the same University that built me up, has now given me a chance to showcase everything I have learned and give back. It’s a full-circle moment.

BAA: You stayed in touch with the Alberta School of Business as a volunteer with the Business Alumni Association. What was that experience like? How can other alumni be involved, and what is the value of being involved as alumni?

My experience with the Business Alumni Association (BAA) was the epitome of what the BAA represents: connection within our business community. I joined the BAA by scrolling through Instagram and seeing a fellow BCom alumnus tagged in a photo at one of the BAA monthly meetings. Being the millennial that I am, I slid into her DMs (direct messages) and landed a volunteer position. My volunteer experience eventually grew into becoming a Co-Chair for the Communications Committee as a Board Member. Through this experience with the BAA, I was then able to attend the Rocky Mountain Business Seminar (RMBS) to co-facilitate a breakout session. At this event, I met an alumnus who was facilitating a different breakout session who then recommended me for the job I have today at the University of Alberta, almost two years after meeting one another.

These are just two examples of how being involved as an alumnus can be so important. There is power in connection. Staying connected to your business community and continuing to grow it once you are graduated is a part of being a lifelong business alumnus. To this day, when I meet someone and learn they also have their BCom or MBA from the U of A, I immediately feel connected to them.

BAA: Do you have any advice for new graduates just starting out in their careers?

My advice for new graduates is to not take life too seriously. As a Type A+ personality, the hardest lesson I have had to learn - and am still learning - is that you can’t control everything. Don’t waste your time trying to control an outcome or someone else’s actions because you will exhaust yourself. Be in control of your own actions and have fun. Stop worrying about climbing the corporate ladder; it will come in time with hard work. Be sure to spend time with your friends & family, travel as much as you can and make yourself and your overall well-being your number one priority.

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