Meet The HEC Montréal MBA Class Of 2019

Megan McNeil

HEC Montréal

“Creative problem solver with a passion for design and innovative technologies.”

Hometown: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Fun Fact About Yourself: I have never broken a bone which is an accomplishment consider how accident prone I am.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Waterloo, Bachelors in Applied Science – Honours Systems Design Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Ciena Corporation, Solutions Engineer

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Spearheaded a passion project which grew into a company-wide sales enablement tool with hundreds of users.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Inspiring. I continue to be surprised in each person that I get to know and their unique perspective. Our diversity and united objective make us a formidable group.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? Focus was the core reason that I selected the full-time program at HEC Montréal. Taking the time out of the work place to focus and deep dive into my individual development. My goal in pursuing this program was to expand beyond my engineering background to balance my skills as a generalist. The 12-month long program is a concentrated investment to give maximum value before re-entering the workplace with a new network and personal growth. In addition, the program is reflective of the community here in Montreal with a bilingual offering with two full-time cohorts – one in French, one in English.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? The activity that I was most looking forward to when applying to HEC Montréal is an elective course called Campus Abroad. Within this course about twenty students from the part-time, the French and English cohort visit a country to meet with business leader there to understand their challenges in their country and region. In December, I went to Japan for 15 days while I have other classmates going to Mumbai and Dubai. I love that we have this international opportunity despite the concentrated timeline of the program.

Another activity that excites me but didn’t know about while applying was the Creative Destruction Lab program. CDL is a seed-stage program with a location in Montreal focused on the artificial intelligence stream. As MBA students we are involved in the selection process and the mentorship of the selected companies. I view this as an excellent opportunity to have a tangible, practical touch point in such a fast-moving industry as AI.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? A career is all about timing and taking this year was a set period refocus on my objectives. I had reached a point in my career that I was ready to take on a new challenge professionally yet didn’t have a defined direction that I wanted to pursue. An MBA was the chance to formally solidify my management skills, giving me this concentrated period to grow rather than a long career to gather these insights.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? The investment matched both aspects of finance and time; the support of education in Quebec allows us to have extremely affordable fees compared to other programs while short program length of 12 months reduces the income earning impact. Both of these make the program an excellent return on investment for a top ranked business school.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Only HEC Montréal; it was my first-choice school and the earliest application deadline. The other schools on my list included the MMM program at Kellogg and the MBA program at Rotman.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? When evaluating schools, I analyzed a few factors including: reputation rankings, return on investments, and networking. Culture was very challenging to pin down, but I would say the in-person recruitment session really gave me a good understanding by analyzing what they choose to focus on. A few schools emphasized aspects which I found less valuable, indicating that perhaps we would not be the best fit.

HEC Montreal had the balance of all of these factors and meant no relocation as I was already living in the city.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? My defining moment occurred when I selected my undergraduate program. It happened when I was walking down the hall of the Systems Design engineering classroom on a tour with a current student. There was nothing glamourous about this dark hallway with yellowing white paint, but I realized in that moment that I belonged there. That sense of belonging never faded and those five years really influenced my approaches still today; this moment showed me that instantaneous decisions can result in great outcomes.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? After I graduate, I would like to be working within a new industry either in a technical services organization or a management consultant. I am looking forward to a new challenge!

Where do you see yourself in five years? An impossible question to answer clearly: when I completed my undergrad, I couldn’t have imagined having the role I was performing in my last position. As highlighted by my career counsellor here at HEC Montréal, the work landscape is constantly evolving and it’s more important to be agile than attempt to predict the future.

In five years, I hope that I am actively working on projects that continue to excite me and expand my competencies.