From Student to Executive: 5 Ways to Grow from Within

“You don’t build a business – you build people – and then people build the business.”

The words from Zig Ziglar have never rang more true than today – Survey data from LinkedIn shows that corporate investment in learning and development (L&D) is at an all-time high. To build a strong company, you need a strong foundation – the people.

It wasn’t that long ago when people left school, found a job and worked there until retirement. It didn’t mean they were happy with their career but the mentality was you stick with it, regardless of the limitations. Now, people today often quit their jobs because of the lack of learning and growth opportunities made available to them.

To avoid a high turnover rate, and the cost that is associated with it, companies need to go above and beyond to find what their employees are looking for in their careers and deliver on it. My history with MMB Networks is a shining example of why investing in your employees is vital to achieving business growth and success.

A Brand New Beginning

I joined MMB Networks shortly after I completed school. Although I’d achieved multiple degrees, I had very little work experience and was not entirely sure of what I wanted to do with my career. At that time, MMB was truly in the start-up phase, and we all had to wear multiple hats to get the job done. I was doing everything from administrative work and customer relations,  to assembling, packaging, and shipping products.

We had a part-time accountant who came in on a bi-weekly basis to reconcile the books. He would spend a few hours looking at our books, bring over a pile of paperwork, and then rapidly fire off a bunch of questions that almost sounded like a foreign language to me. I had studied social sciences in school and had absolutely no knowledge about accounting. 

Now, as the Director of Finance, I have the same responsibilities to my team – to encourage growth and provide opportunities.

Love at First Balance Sheet

Soon, just seeing the accountant would cause me a lot of anxiety. To get past this, I asked the office manager if I could learn our accounting program.  They happily handed over a lot of the general data entry and bookkeeping tasks. 

To my surprise, I quickly fell in love with accounting. It made perfect sense to me, and it was not the same High School math that I loathed. Three months later I knew that I wanted a career in accounting and I began to investigate how I could become a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA).

Within my first year at MMB Networks, I completed all of the prerequisite university courses needed to even get started. Next, was a year-long intensive accelerated program and examination to get into the CPA program (which was another two years after that). So, within the span of four years, and while working full time, I went from someone who did not know what a balance sheet was, to someone who is proud to be called a professional in the field.  Now, as the Director of Finance, I have the same responsibilities to my team – to encourage growth and provide opportunities.

Investment + Support = Growth

I can confidently say that I would not be in the position I am today without the support from MMB. It is also important to note it’s not just one singular thing companies need to do – providing financial support is great but if there is no genuine interest shown, the employee doesn’t feel as motivated. With MMB, they provided a full circle of support – even as a start up company. 

Now, on to the major proof points. These are the five ways MMB Networks supported me throughout my journey;

Exposure to New Ideas and Work Challenges:

If it weren’t for the opportunity to get hands-on experience in accounting, I would not have discovered my interest. A small company meant I got to explore all areas of accounting, rather than be boxed into one function.

Offer Mentorship:

My CFO became a great mentor and taught me more than any course could.

Provide Meaningful Support:

The entire team at MMB was extremely excited about my journey. They wanted to stay up to date on my progress, and celebrate all of my milestones. One of our engineers even took a couple of courses with me at University of Toronto, we competed intensely to get the best grades in class. A little healthy competition never hurts. 

Give Financial Support:

MMB reimbursed a portion of my course fees, provided that I passed. This kept me accountable and motivated to succeed.

Be Accommodating:

The casual work environment at MMB meant that my study group could meet in the office boardroom after hours and on weekends to prepare for our exams, board reports, and presentations.

Proof is in the Numbers

If I look at MMB Networks’ relatively short history, I am not alone in celebrating these kinds of achievements. Our engineers have gained numerous professional designations, while others have pivoted to earn other designations such Project Management Professionals (PMP). Our co-op students have come back as employees, while others have gone on to do great things in the IoT field. For a company that’s almost 13 years old, our average tenure is over 5 years. This is a statistic that we’re particularly proud of and will always strive to improve.  

MMB places immense value in the skills that our team is able to obtain through opportunities in professional development, whether it be with further education programs or simply gaining valuable experience in the field. For companies that aim to continuously grow and improve, remember that your most valuable assets are the people that you hire. They’re well worth the investment.


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