New degree. New career path. New lease on life.
In the nearly five years since retiring from his 36-year career in the Royal Canadian Navy, Paul Stonier hasn’t skipped a beat in his successful settlement into civilian life – thanks to some help from Yorkville University.
Stonier first enrolled in Yorkville’s online Bachelor of Business Administration degree program in the summer of 2014 while still serving as a Chief Petty Officer 1st Class in the Navy, and graduated less than two-and-a-half years later in December 2016.
The soon-to-be 60 year old said it was a combination of factors that influenced his decision to pursue his business degree through Yorkville’s online delivery mode – first and foremost, the university’s recognition of his military training.
“Yorkville offered me a lot of credit. I was an electronic technician, so when they did the PLAR (Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition) process, I was just two credits shy of a college diploma,” he said, noting that he was on Vocational Rehabilitation leave from his Navy duties when he enrolled, and retired by the time he graduated.
“I had done a lot of the business side of things in my last bunch of jobs – business planning, strategic management, and the human resources aspect, which I really liked. That’s why I chose the business degree at Yorkville.”
Another aspect of Yorkville’s online BBA program that came to hold much appeal, Stonier said, was the diverse backgrounds of his classmates.
“I found the interaction with the other students from across the country really interesting, because they were so many different experiences – we had people who were firefighters, small businesses owners, project managers in engineering in the oil and gas industry, school teachers,” he said.
“The diversity of the students and their perspectives in talking about the various topics was really beneficial, I thought. That exchange of ideas was certainly a good learning experience.”
Since graduating, Stonier said his Yorkville degree has likewise been helpful in opening a number of different professional doors to him.
He not only credits having earned his BBA for allowing him to finish his Canadian Human Resources Professional (CHRP) certification, but also for helping him land his new job at Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) – the federal government agency that works to improve the standard of living and quality of life for all Canadians by promoting a highly skilled labour force and efficient and inclusive labour market.
As a Senior Business Analyst and Talent Manager for ESDC’s Innovation and Information Technology Branch, Stonier’s is a tele-management human resources role that encompasses everything from recruiting and on-boarding, to career management, professional development and succession management, right through to knowledge transfer when somebody retires.
“This is a five-year tele-management commitment, and the idea is to effect culture change…and to get people thinking about managing talent. Everybody always says that people are their greatest resource, but proving that is something else,” he said of his new duties, which he commenced Oct. 15.
“You prove it by keeping your employees engaged, by helping them with learning and development, by making sure they meet their career aspirations, and by treating each one as an individual – and that takes time.”
Calling the new job “a really good challenge,” Stonier said his duties have been made that much more manageable thanks to the solid business education he received during his BBA studies at Yorkville.
“One of the main things I learned from Yorkville was the financial management side of things – understanding the whole budgeting process better, how budgets are designed, how money is perceived in organization,” he said.
“Also, organizational behavior and the many insights into that, and actually just learning how to research things properly in order to back up your business case, and effective case study writing and stuff like that – all of those things I learned at Yorkville have really helped me so far.”
Now that he’s settled into his new civilian career, Stonier said the next professional challenge he’s set his sights on is the pursuit of his Canadian Human Resources Leader (CHRL) credential – a designation he’s halfway to achieving, having already written all the necessary exams.
Earning that designation, he said, will help him achieve his long-term goal of branching off into consultancy work in five years.
In the shorter term, Stonier plans to begin applying to go back to school once again – this time for his MBA – using the upwards of $80,000 in Education and Training benefits available to him as a military veteran with more than 12 years of service.
When asked what guidance he might offer to retired veterans like himself, who might feel overwhelmed at the prospect of going back to school in order to transition from the military into a civilian career, Stonier’s advice was simple: “Just do it.”
“No, really, rather than just sitting around and doing nothing, it’s good to get the brain engaged, to learn new things, and then apply them. Every day I come to work now, there’s young people who are enthusiastic and that’s really made a difference,” he said.
“Even doing my courses, I was engaging with people who were vibrant and excited to learn – and that got me excited that there’s hope. Continuous learning is what (Yorkville) is all about, and I enjoy that engagement.”