Career Pathways: Striking the Right Balance with Shirley Lee

Posted on May 24, 2023
Career Pathways: Striking the Right Balance with Shirley Lee

Career Pathways is a Schulich ExecEd ongoing series showcasing some of our talented alumni. Everyone has something interesting and insightful to share, from independent business owners to corporate managers. We want to bring their stories to life.  

In celebration of Asian Heritage Month, we are featuring two of our incredible Alumni, Shirley Lee and Tina Cui, as they walk us through their career journeys. 

Shirley Lee has over 20 years of experience in the financial services industry and is currently a National Marketing Director at KPMG Canada. She describes herself as an enthusiastic, collaborative and innovative marketing professional skilled in leading teams and developing strategic programs to drive strong business results.

Born in Canada to parents who immigrated from China, Shirley’s experience as a second-generation Chinese Canadian has shaped her perspective and allowed her to bring a unique understanding to her work. When asked about her connection to Asian Heritage Month and the AAPI community, Shirley explained how being a second-generation Canadian has given her the ability to bridge the gap between her parents’ language, beliefs, and traditions and the cultural norms and language of Canada.

The Starting Point

A few months back, Shirley decided to further her education with one of Schulich ExecEd’s professional development programs. She researched multiple programs and made a top five list of criteria she wanted to achieve from the program. Schulich ExecEd stood out due to its high ranking among the world’s leading business schools and innovative faculty. She noted, “I think what really drove me to enrol was the fact that I could kind of take the three modules virtually or in-person because flexibility really was a key priority for me.” This choice model is a hybrid approach which allows participants to attend virtually or in-person.

When asked about her decision to enrol in the program, Shirley explained, “I wanted to learn from the best faculty, I wanted to network and meet others.” As an executive and a parent, flexibility was also a key priority for Shirley, who wanted to continue her career journey while spending time with her family.

Ultimately, with the help of Schulich ExecEd’s advisors, Shirley decided that the Schulich Mini-MBA: Essentials of Management met all her criteria and was the right fit for her. 

The Program

Shirley was impressed with the faculty, stating that they were “super engaging” and able to share the latest thinking and industry expertise while also relating it back to real-life situations. The networking aspect of the program was also beneficial, as the final Action Learning Project required participants to work together to identify a challenge within one of the member’s organizations and create a plan to resolve the issue. This team-based project allowed Shirley to work with people from different industries and ethnic backgrounds, helping her to understand the unique obstacles they experience as professionals.

She explains how she was able to brush up on many of the most in-demand skills in her industry throughout the program, stating that “every industry is evolving, especially after the pandemic and with the current economic times, I’d say being able to think critically, ask questions, and looking for opportunities where they seemingly may not exist are the most critical.”

Shirley believes that the most important takeaway from her experience with the Schulich Mini-MBA is that “change is a constant in any role in an organization.” She added that “the course taught me how to lead with change, uncover the nature of change, how to motivate teams through change, and how to manage resistance.” 

As a translator for her parents at school events, Shirley developed empathy for different perspectives, which she carries with her today. This experience has made her grateful to be both Chinese and Canadian, as she understands the challenges of being a newcomer to the country and sees the opportunities for change.

A New Path Forward

Reflecting on how the Schulich Mini-MBA has impacted her career, Shirley shared, “It really reinvigorated me and gave me a different perspective to apply the learnings in my role.” She found the program well-rounded, covering all aspects of her role, from strategic management to workforce management. Today, Shirley accredits her experience as a second-generation Chinese Canadian and her education through the Schulich Mini-MBA for allowing her to bring a unique and empathetic perspective to her work.

We want to thank Shirely again for taking the time to chat with us about the Career Pathways series. If you’re interested in learning more about Schulich ExecEd’s Mini-MBA: Essentials of Management program, you can read about it here.

Not sure what program is right for you? Our expert advisors can help. Talk to a Schulich ExecEd advisor today.