Transforming Lives: Moving Beyond is a testimonial series written by AU students and alumni who want to acknowledge how AU has helped shape their lives.
It’s a space for those who want to thank the people who have helped to support and transform their AU experience to achieve their greatest successes, all while looking forward to their future educational and personal potential.
Their story is worth shouting from the rooftops! Have an inspiring story of your own to share? Email us! We’d love to hear it.
The start of my journey
Technology. This one word has changed our society in many ways. For me, technology and I just “clicked.” From building computers to designing new programs, all of it just came naturally to me. When I began my career, I knew I wanted to work on the latest and greatest technology; I wanted to design applications that would be used by people all over the world. Through my experience as a consultant I had been given the opportunity to see a new landscape on every project that I worked on.
But, I started to see a reoccurring theme everywhere I went that as a consultant. You are brought in to solve a very specific problem and you focus solely on that problem—often turning a blind eye to other needs in the organization that you were not brought in to solve. Many consultants are focused solely on technology and IT operations with minimal business acumen, while others are strictly focused on the strategic needs of the company with a limited understanding of how technology can facilitate those strategic goals.
“Many consultants are focused solely on technology and IT operations with minimal business acumen, while others are strictly focused on the strategic needs of the company with a limited understanding of how technology can facilitate those strategic goals.”– Robbie Madan
Finding the middle ground
This is what brought me to Athabasca University (AU) and the MBA program. I wanted to find the balance and middle ground between these two worlds and strengthen my understanding of business. The academic environment at AU was built with strong professors that guided the courses using their real-world experience to challenge students to go beyond their comfort zone and put a new perspective on the discussion. By being in the presence of peers from around the world, each at a different level of their career, the experiences and viewpoints brought into the discussions are a benefit to all students.
I enjoyed the many opportunities to discuss theoretical concepts and case studies with other students. I was able to learn from the experiences of my peers and explore challenges in a safe environment where ideas can be discussed and judgements aren’t passed—we were all learning together, but also at our own pace. The friendships and professional relationships that I have grown over the years with other students have opened a new network that I’ve been able to reach out to when a challenge presents itself and for a moment, it feels like we’re back in the discussion forums re-visiting weekly challenges.
Journey to his MBA
Attending AU is an amazing experience, but it’s not without its challenges. My journey to complete my MBA lasted almost four years and the importance of Athabasca’s strong online program was critical to my success as I needed to juggle so many different priorities. I began the program when my first daughter was less than a year old and I was working full-time at Microsoft; the countless nights when she wouldn’t sleep, I would rock her in my arms and read textbooks to her. Unfortunately, while it may have put me to sleep on occasion, she didn’t enjoy them quite as much. My second daughter was born while I was completing my thesis near the end of the program; she would often sleep beside me as I pored through editing my work to make sure it was perfect. I cherish those memories and look back at the level of dedication and perseverance that I developed, and it taught me that no matter how many things get thrown at you, it can be overcome.
“I cherish those memories and look back at the level of dedication and perseverance that I developed, and it taught me that no matter how many things get thrown at you, it can be overcome.”– Robbie Madan
The future and beyond
AU taught me to apply a new perspective when looking at the world around me and that mindset has lead me to a successful career; while I’ve hit a significant milestone by moving into C-level role (CIO), the future still holds so much more to explore. I’m looking forward to taking on new and exciting challenges and I’m confident my experience at AU has prepared me to tackle those challenges head-on.
“The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”– Marcel Proust
Robbie Madan is the Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at ALCANNA – North America’s largest publicly traded liquor and cannabis retailer. Robbie focuses on evolving traditional business practices into digital by being able to stitch together different processes in order to achieve strategic goals. He continues to foster his passion for life-long learning through his engagement with the technology and startup communities, providing advisory services and guidance to entrepreneurs starting out on their journey.