To celebrate #AthaU20 Convocation, we are profiling some of AU’s grads. The team at AU is so proud of everything they have accomplished and we are excited to celebrate each one of our graduates leading up to convocation and beyond!
Read on to learn more about Cynthia’s story and her AU journey through the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program.
Why an MBA?
The reason why I chose to do my MBA, was the last few First Nations organizations I managed, had a deficit when I arrived and after three years, I created large surpluses – in the millions. I wanted to find out how I could explain this academically. I researched all MBA programs at each university. The reason I chose Athabasca was because the courses that were offered contained relevant business information that I have used in my past experience, and would increase my knowledge to today’s technological standards.
An education and career that went hand-in-hand
When I started my MBA, I was simultaneously hired as director of economic development for a First Nation Modern Treaty Government. This is a very new way of governing for First Nations. They have all the rights and responsibilities of the federal, provincial, and municipal government. They have their own acts, laws, and regulations. I have had the amazing opportunity throughout my MBA to analyze this new government as it progressively changes and grows stronger.
“When I started my MBA, I was simultaneously hired as director of economic development for a First Nation Modern Treaty Government. This is a very new way of governing for First Nations. They have all the rights and responsibilities of the federal, provincial, and municipal government. They have their own acts, laws, and regulations.”– Cynthia Rayner
A path leading to a DBA
When I graduated, Athabasca signed a partnership with Aboriginal Financial Officers Association of Alberta (AFOA) to create the Indigenous Business program. I was asked to design the Indigenous economic development course, which I just finished. While I was researching material for this course, I collected over 18 binders of information on First Nations economic development. I realized that there are many articles written on First Nations economic development, but it is easy to recognize the writers who have not worked in a First Nation office or understand the cultural protocol. I saw opportunities to further research how First Nations can sustainably create economic development that intertwine their culture and values, so I applied for the Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA). I start my DBA in September through Athabasca University.
Cynthia Rayner’s career in senior management for First Nations spans over 20 years. She has been executive director, administrator, health director, education manager, and presently is the Director of Economic Development. She is certified as a Professional Aboriginal Economic Developer and has a consulting firm called First Nations Management Consulting. She is a First Nations woman who grew up on reserve, and holds a Hereditary Chief’s seat in northern B.C.