June 9, 2023
Beate Ensminger is the Program Coordinator for the Master of Management of Innovation program at IMI. She has a fascinating background which includes extensive experience leading recruitment and admissions activities as well as administrative operations which make her a valuable asset to the MMI program. Beate enjoys working closely with students, faculty and staff, and she sits on the Graduate Education Council (GEC) at U of T as an administrative staff representative. Before joining U of T, Beate worked for several years in Germany for the Deutsche Telekom AG as well as for the Federal Employment Agency. During this time, she developed excellent leadership skills as Head Supervisor of a team with 500+ operators at the International Directory in Frankfurt. She carries with her a key insight from this time - that ‘you have to work with people and not against them’. Beate lives with her husband in Oakville and has two children. Her daughter and son are both in graduate studies at the U of T St. George campus.
You’ve been working in the MMI program for several years now. What motivates you at work each day?
That’s a great question and very easy one to answer: the people, especially the students. MMI is a one-year program so each year we welcome a whole new cohort of students. There is always some new dynamic and it is always interesting to learn about the new class. You never know if the students get along, if there are academic situations I need to address, or if there are other circumstances happening that draw my attention. This makes it a very energetic and lively time at work and it never gets boring. The same applies to the recruitment and admission of prospective students. Talking to students, giving advice and fostering positive relationships, as well as helping students to make the right career decisions, is my main goal. When the MMI students celebrate their convocation in the Fall, I am always very proud of them. It is a time to celebrate the success of every single student in the program and it is so rewarding to know that I supported them through their journey. This is my motivation at work.
You talked about working with different people in the MMI program. What about the program itself? What attracts you to it?
To answer this question, I need to share a little bit of my own experience. When I finished high school in Germany and started my Business Administration studies at the university, I had the feeling that I could not be successful in the program due to my lack of work experience. For this reason, I interrupted my studies for two years and accepted an apprenticeship with a forklift sales company. Imagine – I sold forklifts! This applied experience in different departments of a company taught me the skills and experience I needed to successfully complete my Business Administration degree.
When I talk to students today with a degree in science or engineering, most students find themselves in a situation where they do not really know what kind of career path they can take or even what job they can pursue in the future. As a professional program, the MMI program is a complement to a science or engineering undergraduate degree. The business and management core curriculum enables a career path that the students may not have known about. Most importantly, the internship in the MMI program has an applied aspect and students gain real-world work experience. I am a huge advocate for gaining applied work experience so I find the internship in the MMI program essential.
When you started as Program Coordinator in the MMI program, IMI did not exist. In your opinion, what are the three most impactful changes since IMI was established?
Oh yes, that’s right. When I started in the MMI Program, IMI did not exist. The different professional programs such as MMPA, MBiotech and MMI were located in different buildings/departments at UTM, but there was no real interaction within these programs.
This has changed since IMI was established and the professional programs have created a sense of belonging. In my opinion, the three changes with the biggest impact are that: 1. IMI was/is growing and offers more professional programs (ex. MScSM and MUI). 2. Students from different programs are connected through IMI and they do not feel isolated from U of T graduate studies and 3. More graduate courses/electives are offered within IMI, which establish and encourage collaboration across the programs. Although each program at IMI has a specific student group intake, a different focus and cross-disciplinary studies, we really do feel like an institution, like a family.
Last but not least: What is one of your favourite memories from the past?
My favourite memory of the past – that’s a difficult question. There have been so many nice and happy situations; sometimes I reflect on what happened then. I think my favourite memory of the MMI program is always seeing mature students graduating from MMI. We accept students to the MMI program and they come to us with a very vague idea of their career path. This is quite normal and it is the responsibility of the MMI program to provide all the necessary education, professional development and skills for a successful career.
When the students graduate from the MMI program in the fall semester, I see that the students have changed and grown in the program and they are extremely proud of their own development. Coming in as a student with undefined ideas of a career and finishing the program with a very open and promising career goal, is always nice for me to see.