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Grad profile: Denise Hinds finds new perspectives and gives back to her community

Posted by Erin Elaine Casey on October 21, 2020 in Students

(provided photos)

Denise Hinds has big plans for her Dalhousie University Class of 2020 T-shirt. After she wears it to her online convocation on October 21, she’ll make it into a throw pillow for her couch. “That way I see it every day and it’s a perfect memory!” she says.

Hinds graduates this fall with an MBA focused on leadership. She completed her degree through Dal’s Centre for Executive and Graduate Education (CEGE), which offers blended online/in-person programs designed for working professionals.

After 29 years in the banking industry, Hinds was ready to take on a new challenge. She started at the bank while in high school, worked her way up and first applied to Dal while she was still a financial advisor in the branch. “I didn’t have the credentials to get in. I let 10 more years go by, and was now working in the head office of Scotiabank. I had my Personal Financial Planner (PFP) designation and project management designation.”  

This time, Hinds was ready. She started attending Dal alumni events in Toronto. “Talking to Dal alumni made it seem possible to have a career, a family and do it all.” She applied again, was accepted and enrolled in 2015 with the intention of doing all her coursework remotely from home in Toronto. “But I did end up coming to Halifax five times,” she laughs, “which was wonderful for me. I got to experience Halifax in both summer and winter.”

“This particular program offered the best work-life balance for me, being a brand new mom with a full-time job with crazy hours,” Hinds explains. “The other selling feature was the AACSB accreditation and QS Global MBA ranking. For 2021, we’re in the top 10 for Canadian universities—Dal proud!”

"Life-changing" courses

Hinds has standout memories from every course she attended, but four in particular stand out. Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility with Dr. Kent Williams “brought out that self-awareness and really connected us to the social-ecological perspective and the UN sustainable development goals.” Leading in Complexity and Management Skills Development with Dr. James Barker were “self-reflective, deep courses that helped broaden my perspective and allowed me to grow as an individual. These courses were life-changing.”   

Finally, International Business with Dr. Carolan McLarney allowed Hinds to put some of her newfound knowledge to work. “A new virtual simulation was introduced, where we could form teams and compete with one another as companies in a global market, applying real-world knowledge in operations, marketing and financials.” Among the 10 companies in the class, Hinds’s team won the in-class competition and was invited to the GLO-BUS Best-Strategy Invitational to compete against other business schools around the world. Hinds and her classmate Patrick Law represented Dalhousie in 2018 and became grand champions.

Broadening her perspective

Hinds was excited to speak at the first-ever online orientation session for CEGE in August, and shared a message of resilience with the incoming graduate students: “My advice as you embark on this journey is be open to the topics, absorb as much as you can, and embrace the connections. You will discover that it is this amazing network of people that will inspire you to do more, learn more and become more.”

Today, in addition to teaching her 8-year-old son at home, Hinds volunteers for Working Skills Centre (WSC). This Toronto not-for-profit organization offers programs to help individuals overcome barriers to employment and move towards economic self-sufficiency, particularly immigrant women. She was recently elected president of the board and looks forward to growing the organization over the next few years.

“I’m probably going to seek some entrepreneurial pursuits as well,” muses Hinds. “I have a passion for facilitation, training and teaching. My husband and I have been thinking about starting or purchasing an education-related business in the private sector.”

“The MBA program has really broadened my perspective and gotten me out of my bubble. It’s about being a global citizen and taking on that altruistic lifestyle.”