The Hub John Lyotier: MBA grad learns lessons in leadership
Transforming Lives: Learners at AU

John Lyotier: MBA grad learns lessons in leadership

By: John Lyotier

Transforming Lives: Learners at AU is a testimonial series written by AU learners and alumni who want to share how AU helped shape their lives.

It’s a space for the people who have provided support and encouragement throughout their journey. It’s also a forum for sharing how AU is helping them achieve their educational goals and realize their future potential. Their stories are worth shouting from the rooftops! Have an inspiring story of your own to share? Email us! We’d love to hear it.

Like many early baby boomers, I was the first in my family’s history to graduate from high school.

Career aspirations in teaching ended after second-year practicum, when I realized that 40 years of “Good morning, children,” was not my bent. Then life intervened and I worked in several settings from construction to mining to the forest industry.

I was the breadwinner for a family of four. My career grew in the field of personnel, now called human resources. Living in northern industrial communities, my wife and I raised two university graduates. As the kids grew, so did my career. Responsibility and influence increased; however, I always felt that not having a degree was a limitation.

MBA grad John Lyotier beside a sign with Mount Robson in the background

“I always felt that not having a degree was a limitation.”

– John Lyotier

By age 50, I was a senior manager with a major Canadian forest products company. It was always a scramble to keep up with the realities of globalization, consolidation, and strategic change. As a mature student, I enrolled in Athabasca University’s (AU) Master of Business Administration (MBA) program. It was a scary move but what a leap to take—and it was online too!

RELATED: Go the Distance podcast Ep. 8: The thrill of a life in business

Extremely remote learning

I lived in a northern Ontario resource town. The internet connection at the time was by dial-up—so slow by today’s standards but for me, in the late 1990s, it was a wonder.

I spent my evenings and weekends learning and loved it. I was able to apply my learning to my job on almost a daily basis. I was excited, challenged, and happy.

My grasp of the work environment mushroomed. I understood aspects of the business and was able to relate more effectively to my colleagues; of course, that helped my personal credibility and effectiveness. And more importantly, I realized what I did not know. I asked intelligent questions and was grateful for the answers. To say I grew would be an understatement. Again, greater responsibility carries its own motivation—if you like responsibility. It seems I wore it well.

“My grasp of the work environment mushroomed … To say I grew would be an understatement.”

– John Lyotier

Thankfully, the AU MBA program accommodated a couple of important breaks to allow me to focus on work. For my final project, I wrote what I knew: Industrial Change on Canadian Natural Resource Frontiers. More lasting than the data I presented was, and continues to be, the application of academic rigour to any enquiry. It is a light tool to carry but so worthwhile.

On a funny note, a couple of years ago I was elected president of my strata complex on Vancouver Island. The developer was one of the case studies we learned about in the MBA program. The complex started in 1996. As president in 2019, I found it necessary to go back to basics, refocus, and ask the strata council, “What is our business, and what is our mission?”

MBA grad John Lyotier with Transforming Lives text on photo

John Lyotier is an AU alumnus and graduate of the Master of Business Administration program.

  • August 20, 2021
Guest Blog from:
John Lyotier