Alumni At Home: Authentic advice for IBEP grads
Tiffany Monkman may be modest about her recent accomplishments, but Ace Burpee is not. Last year, the media personality named her as one of our most fascinating Manitobans – and for good reason.
In 2017, Monkman [BComm (Hons)/12] was one of 10 Indigenous youth chosen to visit Parliament Hill to share their stories and ideas with the Senate. She was also one of nine Canadians chosen to represent Canada’s young leaders in Japan, strengthening trust and understanding between the two countries through the Kakehashi Project.
Fostering relationships between communities is something the Métis woman does naturally, and is serving her well in her current role at First Peoples Economic Growth Fund.
UM Today sat down with Monkman, an alumna of the Indigenous Business Education Program (IBEP), to talk about her career path and advice for this year’s IBEP students who will be graduating on Thursday.
WHAT’S A TYPICAL DAY AT WORK LIKE FOR YOU?
I’m a Loans/Account Manager so a typical day for me involves analyzing business plans financially and economically; meeting with potential and current clients in or out of the office; and producing support, loan, and grant submissions that will eventually be presented to our board.
What I like the most about my job is I get to support the Indigenous community. To be able to help an Indigenous entrepreneur start their dream business or help a First Nation community start a business that will aid economic development in their community is so rewarding.
Another perk is the people I work with. I’m a strong believer in team work and First Peoples Economic Growth Fund has a great team who all strive for the same thing.
ARE THERE SKILLS YOU LEARNED AT THE U OF M THAT ARE HELPING YOU IN YOUR CAREER?
I am so glad that many Asper courses had presentations in the curriculum because they get you prepared on how to handle how much work goes into a presentation, what types of questions you may get, and what speaking rhythm works for you.
I’ve been an athlete most of my life and what made me enjoy classes at Asper is most classes had a very similar vibe as to how athletes train. What makes you better is practice, practice, practice and we did presentation after presentation, case analysis after case analysis. The more you do something, the better you will be at it.
University group projects were tough for a variety of reasons, but it trained me to be able to work with an assortment of personalities. Everyone is different and works differently, so to be able to be exposed to working with different types of people in university definitely aided me at all of my jobs post-graduation.
IS THERE SOMETHING YOU FEEL YOU PERSONALLY BRING TO YOUR ROLE?
I want to be able to encourage individuals to be authentic. In business, it can get quite savvy and competitive at times and I want to show people you don’t have to change yourself in order to get to a certain place in business. It’s all about enhancing yourself instead. I 100 per cent believe in the statement, “when you allow yourself to be authentic, amazing things can happen”.
IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU’RE SPEAKING FROM EXPERIENCE.
I was fresh out of university when someone who has been in the business community longer me recommended I change who I am because I am too shy and reserved.
I’ve learned some people are going to like you, and some aren’t, and that’s okay. I’m not a person who has a ton of accolades behind my name or is the most outspoken person; but I have proven that a reserved, shy person has the ability to achieve out-of-the-ordinary things.
The way I came about appreciating who I am and enhancing myself instead of changing myself, was through my culture. I feel safe and appreciated with my people and I take that with me every day. I know I have the strength of my culture behind me, supporting me.
I have IBEP to thank for that. They taught me so much about my culture, how best to speak with Indigenous people, and how when a community comes together amazing things can happen.
WHAT’S YOUR BEST MEMORY FROM IBEP?
The community. I know it’s a broad answer, but it’s something I will never forget. I felt so welcomed at the IBEP offices and the IBEP lounge. It was so nice to know I had somewhere to go after class and to this day I’m still in contact with IBEP alumni.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR THIS YEAR’S IBEP GRADS?
Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way and stay true to yourself. If you get invited to a conference or an awards dinner, say yes. You never know who you will meet and be able to network with. I know networking is sometimes uncomfortable for people – it was for me in university – but it’s amazing how one conversation with someone can change the path of your career for the better.
I mention being true to yourself because it’s your life, do what you want to do. It’s tough sometimes with social pressures or people telling you what you should do, but when you go after what you want, amazing things happen.
Things take time and mistakes happen, but trust me, there will come a time when things come together. I’m proof of that.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU?
I want to continue mentoring Indigenous Youth and I hope to grow my career at First Peoples Economic Growth Fund.
A dream I’ve had since graduating university is to be a public speaker and I hope in the near future I will be able to add this to my resume.
I will also continue to be one of IBEP’s biggest fans. I have been fortunate enough to be with IBEP in three capacities: student, employee, and alumni. I’ve seen first-hand what this program can do for so many people and I know this program will continue to help people achieve their dreams. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for IBEP.