A Lesson worth learning: One Alum’s education on preparation
How Doug Collier knows that being prepared is worth the effort
It’s been a long and winding road from growing up in rural Manitoba to becoming a high profile marketer and international leader for a globally successful company, but University of Manitoba alum Doug Collier [BSc/87] wouldn’t have taken a different path for anything. Growing up in Portage La Prairie to a physician father and a very active mother who is in the Manitoba Golf Hall of Fame for her work provincially and nationally, Doug initially considered studying music. This was unlike his three siblings, one of whom studied engineering and math, the other two opting to study business, all at the U of M. In the end, Collier chose the Faculty of Science and pre-Med, driven by the potential of following in his father’s footsteps.
Living in residence at University College for two years, Collier remembers fondly time spent playing intramural hockey along with other typical social experiences of a young university student. “Living on your own for the first time is such a formative and sometimes disorienting experience, so having the social and living structure of res was a great way to ease into becoming responsibly independent.”
It was during that time the Faculty of Science student learned how to study effectively, as well as the importance of preparation; factors which Collier knows help him to this day.
“During high school, I didn’t focus as much on studying as I should have, but given the pace and level of learning in my under-grad at U of M, it wasn’t possible in certain classes, such as Physics, to cram and be successful. Marketing in our digital world is similar…you can’t wing it. You have to have deep knowledge and understanding of a rapidly changing set of digital and other marketing choices, and to do so you have to apply yourself to continuous learning and preparation, or you’ll very quickly be left in the dust.”
As tends to happen to the best laid plans, Doug’s underwent a change. After consulting with his elder sister, a successful advertising executive, he decided that becoming a doctor wasn’t for him and set his sights on a career in business. With his Bachelor’s degree (focus in Zoology) in hand, Doug headed to the University of Toronto to get his MBA.
Flash forward to today, and Doug is head of marketing for La-Z-Boy Inc. as well as running the business outside of North America. One of his proudest achievements has been the acceleration of the company’s global expansion. At this point in his life, traveling and cooking are his favourite pastimes, with Italy, Thailand and New Zealand as standouts for the food and the people. He stays close to Winnipeg virtually by following Jets hockey and through his brother Andrew, who is general manager of the Winnipeg Goldeyes. He also remains connected through the many publications and emails he receives from the University. Doug says it’s a great way to stay up to date with what’s going on at his alma mater, besides staying in touch with his family here.
On reflection, the U of M alum believes that a post-secondary education is the price of admission to a successful life, as it provides the tools required to adapt and thrive in a globally-connected, knowledge-driven world. Collier credits his B.Sc for many things, including: teaching him to learn differently through preparation and thorough immersion in a subject; setting him up for life with its diverse subject matter, and allowing him to immerse himself in a variety of experiences, from social to athletic to musical to learning.
When asked for his advice to current U of M students who may feel pressured to make a life-altering choice, Doug says:
“Don’t force it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life honestly until I started working after my MBA. Focus on learning how to learn and getting exposure to a lot of subject matter. Be curious. You never know what might grab and inspire you and lead down paths you didn’t know existed.”