Strategy

MBA student profile: The soldier

A Canadian Forces base in Kabul, Afghanistan, isn’t a place you’d expect to find a Cape Breton University student typing her final paper.

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(Photo: Farzana Wahidy)

Maj. Nevenka Bruic, Shannon School of Business, Cape Breton University

A Canadian Forces base in Kabul, Afghanistan, isn’t a place you’d expect to find a Cape Breton University student typing her final paper. Yet Maj. Nevenka Bruic has made the spartan surroundings into her own little study hall. Bruic, 34, began her MBA while at the military base in Kingston, Ont., in 2008. The Canadian Forces encourages its officers—who must already hold undergraduate degrees to gain that rank—to pursue graduate degrees while in the service because it helps them think critically, explains Bruic. “If you have a problem, they want you to be able to see it from many different angles,” she says. An MBA in Community Economic Development at Cape Breton seemed the perfect complement to her work as an expert in signals—the military term for communications. “If you take a course in organizational behaviour, you can apply it to a situation to see why people are doing something, or where they’re coming from,” she explains. “You can understand what their motivators are, why they’re acting out.” Bruic spends her days now working at the Afghan army’s two-year-old signals school, where she advises Afghan officers on communications networks and training. In the evenings, if she has a few hours, she works on her final MBA research paper. “Sometimes it can get quite busy here,” she deadpans. Born in the former Yugoslavia, in what is now Croatia, Bruic immigrated to Canada during the conflict in the Balkans in 1992 and joined the Canadian Forces at the end of high school. When she decided to pursue an MBA, she needed a program that fit her busy schedule—not to mention deployments abroad—but she preferred in-person interaction to an online degree. Cape Breton was very accommodating, she says, allowing her to travel to its satellite campus in Oshawa, Ont., every second weekend to take classes. “In the military, you never know six months down the road where you’re going to end up,” she says. “So flexibility is good.”

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