Gareth Hales


The last three years I spent as an MBA Financial Services student at Dalhousie have been among the most rewarding years of my professional career.  

Gareth Hales, MBA FS, 2017

Director Role Design & Execution Practices – Business Financial Services, RBC
Rowe School of Business Director Award Recipient for Highest Academic Achievement

I had always planned to pursue a post-graduate education and my journey began with the Professional Banking Program through the Canadian Securities Institute, where I earned my FICB designation.

My manager at the time (was) a Dalhousie MBA (FS) graduate and she spoke very highly of her experience in the program. In addition, I was encouraged by the fact that Dalhousie provided credit for my existing financial designations towards their MBA program.  

Why did you choose the MBA (FS) program at Dalhousie?  What are the key features of the program that you liked best?

When I began working with larger and more complex clients in Commercial Financial Services, the timing was right to invest in developing my business, strategic and financial acumen. Taking a sabbatical from work to complete my MBA was not an appealing option and Dalhousie’s blended MBA program truly provides the best of both worlds.

Dalhousie’s CEGE professors host virtual classes and post recorded lectures online, providing you with the flexibility to work through the content on your own schedule. While the online program provides you with tremendous flexibility, my favourite part of the program was the face-to-face Intensives. This is where the professors bring everything together and prepare you for your exams.  The Intensive also provides you with the opportunity to connect and network with other students, an experience that is particularly fun when you visit Halifax in the summer.      

How has your experience in the MBA (FS) program affected your personal and professional life?  What are your major take-aways? 

Balancing a demanding career and managing graduate courses can be challenging, but it is also a very rewarding experience. To begin with, I think I learned to manage my time much more effectively and I find myself frequently reflecting on how to keep myself and the organization moving forward to create the right value in the right way for all of our stakeholders. To this end, I strategically selected the order of my classes in a way that enabled me to maximize the impact and apply these learnings to my work with RBC’s National Office.  

While the program does an excellent job covering the core elements you expect of a graduate business program in Accounting, Finance, Economics, Marketing, Information Systems and Strategy etc., I also found the courses in Management Skills and Corporate Social Responsibility to be quite innovative and differentiated relative to the classes I experienced in my undergraduate studies.

Overall the program strikes the right balance of developing expertise in the financial services industry, while examining the external environment to understand the key success factors and forces of change that are relevant to all organizations. 

What’s next in your life?

I have had the pleasure of working in three diverse geographical regions – Alberta, Southwestern Ontario and the Greater Toronto Region – during my career with RBC, serving as a Small Business Relationship Manager, Branch Manager, Community Market Manager and as a Commercial Banker prior to joining RBC’s National Office Strategy team in 2016.

Completing my MBA will help to set the tone for the next 20+ years of my career.  I will continue to set ambitious goals for myself and I have confidence that I can adapt to changing circumstances in a dynamic business environment.  

Working with and learning from exceptional leaders at work and in the academic world energizes me. I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from professors and managers who lead with purpose, recognize my strengths and encourage me to continually invest in developing my skills and capabilities. My hope is that I will be able to positively impact the lives and careers of others in the same way that these exemplary leaders have influenced me.  

Finally, I have learned that effective leadership is part art, part craft and part science. To this end, one cannot learn how to become an effective manager in a classroom alone. You must also learn to reflect, to draw upon your own experience and to tap into the experience of others around you. I have learned so much from my colleagues and classmates during my time at Dalhousie and I look forward to seeing the class of 2017 continuing to flourish in the future.