Program sharpens grad's people skills

Photo by Greg Ehlers

Motivated. It’s a word that Amelia Libonao not only uses to describe herself, but one that exudes from her personality. After moving to Vancouver from the Philippines in 2010, she discovered that despite her prior human resources experience and her MBA, there was still a lot to learn about working in Canada.

 “When you’re from a different country you feel like you’re educated enough… but employment standards are different,” she explains. With this in mind, Amelia began to research further education options and—based on a recommendation from a friend—enrolled in SFU Continuing Studies’ Human Resources Management Certificate.

“I’m one of those students who has a constant thirst for learning. I don’t just study because I want the certification, I want to study because I want to get the most out of learning and apply it to my life,” she says. Within three months of starting the program, Amelia applied her new HR knowledge to land a job as an HR assistant. “I think when my previous employer saw that I was enrolled at SFU, they knew I was someone who is motivated to achieve and learn more.”

Her new role allowed her to apply the concepts she was learning in the classroom directly to her day-to-day work. Specifically, she employed the tools she gained in her Labour and Employment Standards course to help navigate her workplace’s complex, unionized environment.

As if juggling work and school weren’t enough, Amelia had two children while completing her certificate and often sought motivation from her instructors. “I took a class with Kathryn Taft and she was amazing,” she says of one inspiring instructor. “She raised her child while in school and is now teaching. It’s inspiring [to know] that if your professors can do it, why can’t I?”

While Amelia worried about balancing her professional and personal life, she acknowledges that she's "very grateful for SFU for their flexibility and accomodation."

Since finishing school, Amelia has taken on a position as Clerk in the City of Surrey’s Engineering Department. There, she is a point of first contact for a diverse group of customers. The “SFU courses helped me become more people oriented,” she explains. “They taught me a great deal of discipline and understanding of people.”

Looking back, she realizes this humanistic approach began much earlier, with her fellow classmates: “You meet people who have more experience or who are more professional and that motivated me to not just be a better HR professional, but to be a better person.”

Undoubtedly, this enthusiasm for personal growth will follow Amelia into the future. She recently received a promotion and is already looking into part-time Business Analysis courses at SFU Continuing Studies.

 “I’m so driven to acquire more knowledge because I want to support and inspire my family,” she says. “I want them to be proud of mom.”

By Alison Brierley