How working professionals can advance their business skills

Furthering your business education can give you an edge in the workforce and transform your career.
Andrea Yu
Back view of a businessman raising his hand on a seminar.
Rear view of a businessman raising his hand to ask the question on a seminar with large group of his colleagues.

Are you feeling stuck in your career? You’re not alone. Farid Bin Noordin, manager of strategic recruitment and enrolment for Athabasca University’s business programs, says that he often sees working professionals take leadership courses or a Master of Business Administration to help get “unstuck” from their careers.

If these feelings resonate with you, here are many ways that a business education can help you progress further in your career. If you’re looking to get promoted or gain a leadership position at your current company, Bin Noordin says that a business degree, like an MBA, can help you stand out among your peers. “Once you get an MBA and have those three letters behind your name, people higher up [in the company] will start to take notice,” he says. Skills learned in a business education, such as critical thinking, leadership and communication, can be practised and implemented in your current role and workplace.

Alternatively, if you’re thinking of switching jobs to a new organization or pivoting to another industry entirely, taking a business course or degree opens you up to a network of working professionals–from fellow students to course instructors and special guest lecturers. “The power of your network will help you pivot to a new industry or career more easily,” explains Bin Noordin. With working professionals from many sectors of business, students gain insights into other industries and learn how different decisions are made between them.

If you’re feeling lost and uncertain about what your next move might be, a business education could offer you exposure to discover a new line of work that really resonates with you. “In our program, we have students from many, many different industries, like not-for-profits, oil and gas, insurance, even the military,” Bin Noordin explains. “Our program puts everybody in a big pot. You learn from the same textbooks, but then apply those theories to practical models. Everybody will bring in their own unique approaches.”

Whether you’re planning a vertical or horizontal career move, Bin Noordin says that a business education helps you “land on your feet” wherever you end up. “Everywhere you go, you still have the same business issues and business functions, like marketing, leadership and project management,” he says. “Every company has those pillars.”

With the pandemic changing the way we work, and challenges like inflation and a recession impacting our day-to-day work, getting a business education helps ensure your skills as a working professional stay relevant to current needs. “You will gain solid leadership skills and learn how to lead people, either remotely or in person,” he says. “Now that inflation rates are going high, and with the possibility of recession, how do you stay relevant and be resilient?” asks Bin Noordin. “How do you maintain that flexibility when things are tough? An MBA can help you navigate those challenging times and also prepare you for the times ahead.”

Whether you’re looking to move ahead in your current place of employment, make a career change or discover a new path entirely, having a business education will help nudge you towards your next step. “It really gives you that boost of confidence and a sense of achievement,” Bin Noordin says. “You’re able to make better decisions based on data and develop your critical thinking skills. It makes you a more well-rounded person in the business world.”