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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/03/2022 (264 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Getting your MBA while working full-time for the Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba (WCB) would be a juggling act for any parent, but Norie Cunningham did it in just two-and-a-half years.
With two children in hockey, she found extra time for homework during early morning practice sessions at the ice arena – always stopping to watch the game – as well as using earned time off and vacation days. It helped to have an understanding family – and a flexible employer.
Currently a case manager in compensation services, Cunningham joined Winnipeg-headquartered WCB right out of university after getting her bachelor of commerce degree 24 years ago. Since then, she’s moved steadily up in the organization, embracing each new role.
“I had always wanted to do my master’s but life got in the way – I married and had kids,” says Cunningham. “Then when I was in my first leadership role as a supervisor, I said, okay – what do I need to do to go forward? I wanted to differentiate myself.”
WCB paid for the majority of Cunningham’s MBA, promoting her before she graduated in 2019 on the dean’s honour list and in the top end of her class. To get approval for WCB’s sponsorship, Cunningham first had to make a case explaining why taking this particular program would be beneficial to the organization as well as to herself.
“There’s a process within WCB where you work on a career development plan with your leader and our human resources department,” says Cunningham. “The move to get my MBA was initiated by me, but fully supported by my direct leaders and human resources.”
Additionally, Cunningham is the co-chair of the WCB’s United Way Committee, after starting out as a regular committee member some years ago. She’s also part of the joint pension advisory committee.
“Committee work is good way to increase your visibility outside of your department and to further develop leadership skills,” says Cunningham. “I’ve grown up here over the past 24 years and WCB is still helping me to continue growing.”
Shannon Earle, vice president, human resources and strategy, says WCB offers a variety of ongoing training and development opportunities available to employees.
“By investing in our people, we are investing in our organization as a whole by promoting personal growth and job satisfaction,” she says. “We want people to build their careers with us – we invest in them and they, in turn, invest in our organization and choose to stay with us.”
Given the current competition for top talent in Manitoba, Earle says the best and brightest are asking questions about what organizations have to offer and are very selective.
“The next generation is looking for organizations that are progressive, not only in offering formal education and training and development opportunities, but also mentorship programs, cross-functional assignments and the opportunity to work in different parts of the organization to gain additional skills, experience and confidence early in their career,” she says. “They really want an organization that is going to support their development and career journey.”
In addition to providing a progressive, respectful and diverse workplace, Earl says WCB’s core values and mission – to make a difference in the community and help build a safer Manitoba – align with the values of Generation Z.
“People are key to our success as an organization and in being able to deliver our important objectives and mission,” she says. “We want to hire people who are personally motivated to make a difference and continue to evolve our culture.”
This article is produced by the Advertising Department of the Winnipeg Free Press, in collaboration with Manitoba’s Top Employers 2022