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Alumni outside the box: Joanna Clarke
Alumni Outside the Box is a regular column profiling Health alumni who are using their degrees in new or unique ways.
Growing up in Ottawa and Calgary, Joanna Clarke (BScRec’09, BMgt’09) planned a career in chemical engineering. Second thoughts brought her to the Recreation Management program at Dal. “I grew up skiing, figure skating, camping and hiking - I could make a career out of being in these areas? A fun program with fun jobs out of it? Win!,” says Joanna.
She wanted the experience of living away from home for university. Her love for the Maritimes, and the fact that nowhere else in Canada was offering a dual degree in Recreation Management, earning both a Bachelor of Science (Recreation) and Bachelor of Management degree, made Dal the easy choice.
You learn how to learn
“My Dad always told me that ‘in university, you learn how to learn.’ Until I was in the workplace, I never really knew what he meant. It makes so much sense”, she says. Looking back, Joanna realizes there are so many day-to-day skills throughout the Recreation Management program that she took for granted but through time she realized their true value. She learned skills including leadership, delegation, project management, working with other people and presentation skills. “I cannot tell you how many times I have utilized those skills. It prepared me to come into situations in the work place and volunteer ventures with ease, confidence and the ability to be an impressive, trusted and skilled candidate,” she says.
The versatility of the program, through a combination of required courses and available electives allowed her to broaden her mind. Entrepreneurship courses, environmental management courses (which sparked a passion for the environment which she never knew she had), business classes, and marketing challenged her career choices in ways she never expected.
Business is business
Sport has always been a part of Joanna’s life. She completed a final internship for Recreation Management at Skate Canada in Ottawa. She then spent a couple of years working at lululemon athletica and really enjoyed working with the community and athlete ambassador side of the company, which lead her to discover areas of passion in community relations, sport and the environment. It seemed a natural fit to accept a position with WinSport as the Coordinator, Sport Management. WinSport owns and operates Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, the Bill Warren Training Centre at the Canmore Nordic Centre in Canmore Alberta, and the Beckie Scott High Performance Training Centre on Haig Glacier in Alberta. Through WinSport, the legacy of the 1988 Olympic Games is being maintained through allowing people of all ages to discover, develop and excel at sport. This role allowed her to draw on her management skills within the recreation field in facility management, profit maximization and cost recovery, supervision, training, hiring, performance reviews, working on a business plan to support roll-out of a company sustainability program, policy and procedure development and statistical tracking for usage of sport facilities.
The flexibility and adaptability to work within various contexts and situations that Rec Man fostered so strongly in her as a student, coupled with her endless desire to learn, led Joanna to expand her horizons on what would be considered a non-traditional career path. She is currently working for Murphy Oil Corporation, as a Water Administrator. Learning new information daily about oil and gas and how it operates has been eye-opening for Joanna. She has taken the opportunity to enhance her new career with attendance at national conferences and several local events around energy and energy transition, keeping her engaged and inspired every day. From learning new database software, getting involved in industry and company meetings on water and regulatory affairs, helping plan the company’s charity golf tournament, providing a swath of various elements of support to the surface land team...it is a busy day-to-day! Joanna is enjoying applying and further developing her transferable skills, growing her career portfolio and being involved in an industry with global relevance, seeing changes and transition play out in real time, being in a globally and nationally recognized hub for the energy industry!
It has been an interesting cross-over from recreation into the oil and gas industry, but Joanna sees many parallels that become apparent when you have worked in more than one industry. “You realize to an extent that business is business - it’s the nuances and niches of a business and its team in the particular focus area that hold the differences,” says Joanna.
Adaptable, flexible and solution-focused
“My current role is a challenge in learning everyday - you should see the glossary that I have built for myself! Using all the skills and experiences from Rec Man that I honed and further developed and tested at WinSport, have really impressed me with this leap that I was able to take into a brand-new industry. My time at Dal taught me to be adaptable, flexible and solution-focused. This has been indispensable.”
Joanna hopes in the future to become more involved in the energy transition, sustainability and alternative energy. She is working on pursuing and developing opportunities around ocean plastics and sustainability (yes, while in land-locked Calgary!) and environmental education (including being Chapter Lead for Connecting Environmental Professionals - Calgary). However, she also notes that Calgary is potentially bidding for the Olympic Winter Games for 2026, so who knows what opportunities there will be between sport, sustainability and business!
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