Alumni in the Field

Jason McAllister
STU Degree: BA '05
Major: Criminology
Job Title: Senior National Account Manager with Pepsico Foods Canada
Location: Mississauga, ON

What are the duties and responsibilities of your work?
In my role as Senior National Account Manager I manage Walmart’s Canadian Pepsico Foods business which includes brands such as Lays and Doritos. My main objectives are to grow Walmart’s Salty Snack sales while ensuring both Walmart’s and Pepsico’s profits are growing at a faster rate than sales. The majority of my time is spent planning in store strategies and promotions in an effort to have customers add a salty snack to their basket. More recently I have been spending more time on Walmart’s ecomm business. As people continue to shift their grocery shopping to ecomm this aspect of the role will become more and more important.

How can students prepare themselves at STU to work in your field? (eg. volunteer work, internships, extra-curricular activities, specific courses)
My advice to any student looking to start a career in sales would be to gain some basic financial understanding by taking one of STU’s economic courses, get involved with different organizations or activities that require you work in a team environment and make an effort to take on a leadership role, and learn how to communicate effectively.

How has STU and your liberal arts education helped you in your career?
My liberal arts education and time at STU has played a significant role in my career progress to date. Although my major in Criminology does not directly link with my sales career, it’s the open minded problem solving curriculum a liberal arts education offers that’s really helped me in this field. I can also attribute much of my ability to work collaboratively as a team to my time on the Harrington Hall house committee and my time as house president in 2005.

Stephanie Fauquier
STU Degree: BA '11
Major: Political Science
Job Title: Senior Associate, Consulting and Deals at PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers)
Location: Toronto, ON

What are the duties and responsibilities of your work?
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is the largest professional services firm, providing services in tax, assurance and consulting. As an Associate in the Consulting and Deals practice, we are responsible for assisting clients with improving their organizational efficiency, creating innovative growth strategies, reducing cost, and managing risk.We work with clients by designing, managing, and executing these strategies. This work requires strong analytical, communication, and quantitative skills.   

How can students prepare themselves at STU to work in your field? (eg. volunteer work, internships, extra-curricular activities, specific courses)
I believe internships provide invaluable experience, so long as they are truly internships. I interned at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. and did foreign policy research for President Bill Clinton in New York City. Both were unpaid, but an invaluable learning experience. They were both true internships. Be sure when selecting an internship, that you are getting an experience you would not otherwise have the opportunity to acquire. When seeking out volunteer experiences and extra-curricular activities, be genuine about why you are getting involved. Don’t volunteer just to build your resume, do it because you are interested and passionate about the issue. It will do more for your resume in the longer term and your enthusiasm will shine through. In regards to course selection, I also suggest that undergrads take one or two quantitative courses. The ability to write well and interpret numbers is hugely important. It will open up many doors and opportunities. Push yourself to take that statistics course – it will pay off!
 
How has STU and your liberal arts education helped you in your career? 
I think liberal arts degrees are sometimes overlooked, because a future career path is not always obvious or direct. However, the core skills and competencies that you develop at St. Thomas are marketable and attractive to employers. At St. Thomas, I developed strong communication skills, both written and oral, and analytical and critical reasoning skills. These are skills that many young professionals lack. They are highly transferable and provide you with many options to truly find the career and industry that excites you most. Take the time to develop these core skills, as you will be rewarded when you graduate. These core competencies continue to propel my career and have been the reason I landed both of my internships in the United States. Have faith in what you’re doing and know that in a multi-disciplined world your skills are incredibly relevant and valuable.

Vanessa Paesani
STU Degree: BEd ’10
Major: Education
Job Title: Principal, The Folding Chair Group
Location: Fredericton, NB

What are the duties and responsibilities of your work?
I've been working towards taking the leap into entrepreneurship for a while and finally got there in 2018 - it's been hugely exciting and terrifying, all at the same time.  I've freelanced and done a variety of contracts with organizations aligning with my values. I also geared a lot of my volunteering over the last few years around the specific skills I wanted to learn - whether from a project management point of view, stakeholder engagement, sales or financial management. At the beginning of every journey, it seemed like I'd never figure it out. My favourite adage that I continually return to is, 'you can only eat an elephant one bite at a time'.  You can get where you want to go - one lesson and step at a time - if you stay on the path and are clear about your goals.

This year I also launched Amplify East (www.amplifyeast.com), where we're curating profiles of inspiring women throughout Atlantic Canada.  It was my response to the #MeToo movement and asking myself what I could do.  I worried there was little I could do as one person, and then choose to get past my fear.  Through my various work, I've had the chance to meet SO MANY inspiring women throughout our region.  I wanted to help tell those stories.  I hope this project will play a small role in helping to shift our gender-related stats in all sectors - from government to business.

How can students prepare themselves at STU to work in your field? (eg. volunteer work, internships, extra-curricular activities, specific courses)
I think one of the most valuable things students can work on is improving their problem solving skills and confidence in your ability to 'figure it out'.  The ability to see a problem and persist in finding a way to solve it will serve you wherever you go and in whatever field you end up working in. You can work on this in any area of your life - courses, internships, and/or extra-curricular activities and sports. The ability to say 'I'll figure it out' rather than 'I don't know how to do that' will take you really far.

I also think of the most valuable things you can learn is how to manage your own finances (and find someone to guide you) - it will help you take calculated risks in your career. 

How has STU and your liberal arts education helped you in your career?
I studied Education at STU. I didn't end up teaching in a classroom, though I consider myself an educator - the lessons I learned during my teaching degree have helped me in everything I've done so far. STU taught me a lot about how the education system works, and gave me a framework to think about effective teaching and learning, which begins with understanding that everyone is different and it's important to meet them where they are.