“A degree in Physical Education and Recreation, is a degree of passion” was a quote from alumnus Rebecca Yohemas when asked how her degree prepared her for a career. “Everyone I encountered during my time in the faculty, from students to professors, were so passionate and knowledgeable.” The passion for leadership, health and well-being that she experienced in the faculty is the same passion Rebecca brings to both her career and the many committees where she holds a leadership role.
Rebecca graduated from the faculty in 1999 with a degree in Bachelor of Physical Education and a concentration in Active living, Health and Well-being. In her final year of study, her desire to expand her practical knowledge led her to do an exchange abroad at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia in Human Movement and Science. There she worked for a corporate fitness company within a hospital to promote staff wellness though personal training, fitness classes, and providing staff with health related educational material. Establishing relationships with fellow students and professors and taking advantage of as much hands on experience as possible is something that Rebecca recommends to all students in the faculty. “Go on an exchange, do a practicum, try and find people that can offer you mentorship. If you take advantage of that, lots of great things will come your way!”
In her current position as sales director for Novartis Pharmaceutical, Rebecca gets to live the same passion she developed during her time in the faculty through her day-to-day work. In her 15 years with Novartis, Rebecca found that Pharmaceutical sales afforded her the opportunity to incorporate all of the practical skills and knowledge she gained throughout her degree at the University of Alberta. “The science background allowed me to understand everything from statistical analysis to clinical papers to anatomy and physiology. In Physical Education and Recreation, there is a large focus on human health. In pharmaceutical sales, the focus is the same. There are a ton of similarities.”
Her job also utilizes another skill set that the faculty provided her, leadership. Many of the classes Rebecca took throughout her degree focused on how to effectively coach and lead people. “In my job, there is a lot of strategic thinking involved and a there are a lot of people to manage. I really like leading teams, and setting the strategy to do so. That is something I learned through my degree.” Additionally, Rebecca attributes her ability to drive performance to her time in the faculty. “There is such a sport and performance culture, it really teaches you the value of working hard and inspiring other people to do the same.”
Rebecca’s leadership expands beyond the responsibilities of her job. She is a member of many committees including; the Diversity and Inclusion Committee in Novartis, the Women’s Executive Network, and the Attractions Committee for the Calgary Stampede. It is important for Rebecca to create a work environment that respects and welcomes diversity in all areas. She strives to empower women and mentor them in various business ventures. “It is something I do that brings me a lot of satisfaction. I want to be inclusive in the way I go about my job and I want to empower other women in any way that I can, I want to see them realize their full potential.”
Rebecca plans to continue to progress and nurture her career as to continually enriche her business acumen and allow her to lead great teams and contribute to making a difference in the lives of those around her. For Rebecca, creating experiences that allow her to have fun and learn along the way has been an important factor in all the stages of her life. “I fondly look back on my time in university. Not a lot of my friends have that same fondness about their faculty.”