Hanne Madsen is the Executive Director of Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland.


Alumni Feature: Meet Hanne Madsen

March 08, 2021

SFU Degree(s): Executive Management Program (EMP) 2007; BBA 1985

"As a proud SFU Alumna I have stayed engaged with my university community. It’s been three decades since I completed my BBA but the embedded learnings and the friends I made are everlasting.

In 2007 I returned to SFU to enrol in the Executive Management Program. I feel so fortunate to have met another cohort of like-minded individuals who I consider to be my circle of support.

Currently, I am the Executive Director of Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland. Our vision is to help all young people realize their full potential. Through life changing mentoring relationships, we ignite the power and potential of youth.

As Alumni, I reflect back on our educational and professional journeys. I know that we have all benefited from mentors who have helped guide us on our life choices. I am delighted to be leading an organization that is making a meaningful impact in the lives of youth in Surrey, a city where I work and has been my home for 14 years."

What drew you to your area of study?

"In high school, I set my sights on becoming a physio/occupational therapist. I applied to the UBC School of Rehabilitative Medicine and was accepted into the program. Following two consecutive job placements in this field of study, I realized that it was not the right fit and I needed time to re-evaluate my career choices.

I took a pause from academia and was hired by an international manufacturer of bedding products. I was recruited to the most junior position at the organization but was fortunate to be mentored and offered more challenging positions. I ascended within the organization until I hit a wall; I could not interpret financial statements. In my entry level role, I typed financial statements for the CFO and President, but to me, the figures were meaningless numbers on a page. If I wanted to continue to advance in my career, it was evident that I required further education. This revelation resulted in my application to SFU BBA program. Family and friends are not surprised that I returned to university to pursue a degree in business. I was raised in a family of serial entrepreneurs. Everyone else saw the obvious path forward except me."

What is your favourite memory of your time at SFU?

"There are so many favourite memories of my time at SFU. I was an “older” student, returning to SFU after 4 years out of high school. Anyone that I had graduated high school with had already graduated from SFU. Since I knew no one attending classes on Burnaby campus, I knew I needed to find a way to meet people. My first semester at SFU, I ran for B.A.S.S. (Business Administration Student Society). I papered the campus with my election posters and was successful being elected. I also joined A.I.E.S.E.C. (an international association of students in business and economics). AIESEC SFU partnered with AIESEC UBC and together we coordinated an exchange program with AIESEC Sherbrooke, Quebec. We travelled to their cultural milieu and them to ours. The AIESEC members have dispersed around the world, but so many of us remain connected and I consider them some of my dearest friends."

Connect with Hanne on LinkedIn.

Our alumni go on to engage their community in a variety of ways. Read more alumni stories here.