Faced with an ever-changing oil and gas industry, looming restructuring and outsourcing in his field, 40-year old Dwayne Zandbergen came to Yorkville University in search of a piece of paper—Yorkville’s Bachelor of Business Administration would ensure that he had the accreditation necessary to stay relevant in the rapidly shifting oil and gas sector. But within a few courses, he found himself engaged in the content and uncovered a new love of learning. Now, having graduated and excelled in his studies, this father of three and Shell employee has been chosen as the Bachelor of Business Administration program valedictorian for the 2016/ 2017 graduation.
“When I started with Shell I was 22. I was a college grad and I studied information systems with a background in (administration), but with a focus on coding and back-end support, including warehouse management systems and lab managements systems,” Zandbergen explained.
But when he started to see many tech jobs similar to his being outsourced to other countries, Zandbergen knew it was time to bolster his credentials.
“I was able to switch jobs four years ago, moving from IT to the business side as a quality manager,” he explained. “I had some other supporting educational pieces, including my leadership certification through the Ontario Development Management Program, and my Green Belt Sigma, but I realized that I needed to step up my game and get myself a degree.”
Zandbergen resolved to complete the program in as short a time as possible, taking a full course-load in addition to working full-time and parenting.
“I wasn’t sure when Shell would do another restructuring. There is a process here called ‘managed open resourcing’, and it’s a global process and actually rather harsh,” he explained. “The way it works is that [management] decides at a very high level that they’d like to reorganize a particular department. I like to call it a kind of career musical chairs. There might be 20 people in North America who do a particular job, and they will be asked to re-apply for jobs when there are only 16 jobs available. There is no interview, so it all comes down to the internal skills, reputation, performance feedback, and educational background, so that was a big part of my motivation.”
But despite this initially practical incentive, soon after beginning the Yorkville BBA program, Zandbergen found himself engrossed in, and inspired by the course material, and impelled by an intrinsic desire to excel, above and beyond the requirements of his job.
It was this underlying motivation that kept him going through a course of study that has rightfully developed a reputation for being thorough and challenging—something that the manager who recommended Yorkville’s BBA program warned Zandbergen about.
“When I started, I thought, to be honest, that I just wanted my degree–I just want my piece of paper,” he admitted. “That lasted for maybe two courses, but after that I started to really get engaged and to care about the program and the classes and I really put a lot of effort into it.”
In contradiction to his earlier self-concept around his own aptitude for learning, Zandbergen excelled in the BBA, earning an impressive 3.9 grade point average.
He is now looking forward to the graduation ceremony, and to sharing his thoughts on what it takes to be successful in business and as a lifelong learner, with his fellow-alumni, their families, and Yorkville University’s faculty and staff.
“I think there are many students who have already had a taste of the workforce but who are missing a critical education piece, who would excel in this program,” he said. “It takes a lot to balance school with family and work, but it’s worth it.”
Zandbergen, from Brockville, Ontario, is now eagerly anticipating the chance to go on a road-trip with his wife and three daughters, who are equally excited to be able to spend more time with him, now that his course is almost complete.
“Most days I work nine or ten hours a day, and I would come home and do two or two and a half hours of school work, and then ten to fifteen hours on the weekend. My kids and my wife have certainly had to make their own sacrifices in order for me to [complete my degree]. All the time I wasn’t available for activities…” he mused.
“If it weren’t for their support, I wouldn’t have been able to do this. So this is as much about them.”