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"IOU one degree": Bachelor of Management student makes good

Posted by Miriam Breslow on May 29, 2017 in News

Mark O'Connor with advisor Katie Haigh.

From Dublin, Ireland to Halifax, Nova Scotia and from biology to entrepreneurship, Mark O’Connor has come a long way. This month O’Connor will graduate from the Bachelor of Management program—and finally be able to redeem an “IOU one degree” note to Katie Haigh, his long-time counsellor from the Faculty of Management’s undergraduate student advising office.

“The IOU began as an inside joke between Katie and me,” explains O’Connor. “It was a motivational tool to ensure I was reaching my goals and staying focused on completing my degree.”

When O’Connor crossed the Atlantic to Halifax four years ago, it wasn’t for the Bachelor of Management program. In fact, he was interested in Dalhousie’s marine biology program. “I started in science and soon realized my strengths and interests were more aimed towards the business world,” he says. After speaking at length with both his parents and advisors about his shifting interests, O’Connor decided to enter the management program and ultimately to major in entrepreneurship and innovation. “I grew up in an entrepreneurial environment and have been inspired by my father’s entrepreneurial drive from a young age,” he explains.

Slightly apprehensive about switching programs, O’Connor made extensive use of the advice available in the Faculty of Management. “Working with the undergrad advising office helped me develop a plan and set attainable goals,” he confirms. Haigh, especially, worked closely with O’Connor throughout his time in the program. “Her guidance has had a great impact on my time at Dalhousie and I am extremely grateful for her support and advice over the years,” he says.

While changing degrees, fields and faculties might seem like it would leave little time for extracurricular activities, O’Connor has taken on a few during his studies. Being part of Dalhousie’s rugby team has given him the opportunity to get to know Nova Scotia, and he took some time away from regular classes to study online courses and to work. “Throughout this period I worked in competitive sales environments across the globe,” he explains. “Applying theories and concepts I learned at Dal enabled me to excel in various dynamic sales-oriented situations.”

O’Connor is looking forward to applying the skills he’s learned in the Bachelor of Management program in the working world. “While I believe I can succeed in a sales-oriented environment, I am also considering furthering my corporate experience,” he says. “Moving forward I hope to combine the skills I have developed at Dalhousie with my personal strengths.” O’Connor is also pondering where his career will unfold. Currently he is working in Halifax, but has plans to return to Dublin at the end of the summer. Regardless of where he settles permanently, O’Connor says: “My time at Dalhousie has been an amazing experience, and I will always hold the Maritimes close to me!”

Before he begins his career on either side of the Atlantic, though, O’Connor is eager to graduate, and to make good on his IOU. “The actual piece of paper has travelled across the globe with me,” he says. “It is with great pleasure that I can return it to Katie this summer!”