June 9, 2017

Class of 2017: Workplace realities steer journalist to re-energized career path with MBA

Tara Weber combines skills, experience and education to keep current in her field

The constant job cuts and workload increases Tara Weber was witnessing after two decades in journalism finally drove her to reconsider her career path.

She decided she would build on her skills and set off on a path that might lead to new opportunities. Little did she know that her decision to enrol at Haskayne School of Business to earn an MBA would lead to a more fulfilling job in journalism.

Weber didn’t envision pursuing another degree. But her grandmother’s words of wisdom echoed in her ears: “Education is the lightest thing to carry around with you.” Reinforced by career counselling, she made the decision to try a new area of study.

“I kept coming out strong in business … the MBA just kept coming up,” Weber says.

It was the polar opposite of her previous degrees, English literature and linguistics anthropology from UBC, and journalism from Ryerson University.

MBA studies lead to journalism job offer

Two years after enrolling at Haskayne, Weber graduates with an MBA in global energy management and sustainable development June 9. She’ll also continue as the western correspondent for Business News Network (BNN), the job she secured while studying at UCalgary.

“They saw I was getting an MBA and called me up,” says Weber, who uses a wheelchair after she broke her back in a car accident when she was a teenager. 

The fact BNN noticed her continuing education confirms something Weber believes: “The new reality of needing to continually learn and improve your skill set in this economy.

“Like all industries, journalism is facing a lot of challenges,” she says. “Those who are in it need to constantly explore new routes and develop new skills. It's important to stay current.”

Weber initially thought her arts background would make her an “outlier” in “classes full of finance and engineer grads.” But she surprised herself. “I wasn’t a numbers person in high school, but I turned to be better than I thought.”

Weber's experience provides unique perspective to classmates

Her journalism experience allowed her to bring a unique perspective to her classmates, and she excelled at making presentations. One in particular stood out for Professor Sandra Malach, who taught Global Environment of Canadian Business.

“She is the only student I have ever taught who also was a guest speaker. She facilitated the last class of the term by hosting and participating in a team of journalists to discuss media relations,” says Malach. “Tara made many valuable contributions to the class by utilizing her journalism experience to put events into a broader context, as well as bringing the most recent news into our class discussions.”

Weber feared the workload at Haskayne would be daunting while working full-time, but she found ways to shift her priorities. “The expectations are high, but the professors understand you have a lot going on.”

Before heading back to work full-time, Weber took a couple of weeks to travel around Europe for a much-needed break. At work, she says her studies will make her a better journalist.

“It’s given me an extra level of understanding of what’s happening around the world in the field,” Weber says. “It’s also given me a lot of contacts in the oil and gas sector.”