Shelbie Vermette, MBA ’18, knows how to get—and keep—your attention. As the founder of a visual branding consultancy, she’s helped over a dozen of Canada’s top publishers strategize and implement a unique “look” for their online and print publications. In the almost four years that she served as director of photography at The Grid Toronto, the weekly newspaper earned 60 art and design accolades, including being named the “World’s Best Designed Newspaper” for three consecutive years.
Recently, we caught up with Shelbie to learn why she decided to pursue an MBA after almost a decade of award-winning work.
Why did you go back to school?
While I was earning my fine arts degree, I found that I really enjoy the business aspects of art: conceptualising and brainstorming ideas, assembling the right team and watching the project take off. My ideal job would be working as a chief marketing officer for a globalised brand that stands for something I believe in. I need an MBA to reach that goal. In addition, doing an MBA is one of the best ways to become a responsible leader.
What are some of your key takeaways from the MBA program?
One of the major aspects of any MBA program is that they throw more at you than you can handle, and you have to learn to get it done, and get it done well. So the MBA is teaching me a lot about prioritizing, time management and teamwork.
Also, because I’m not a traditional candidate—literally everything I knew about business before the MBA I had learned through trial and error—I’m learning a lot about what drives market value, and what I could do better as a leader going forward.
You completed the HEC Paris – Kering Luxury Certificate. How would you describe that experience?
My team was selected to present our idea for a new business model for the Saint Laurent brand. We made a 20-minute presentation to the executive jury, which included CEO Francesca Belletini, CFO Laurent Aymard and the brand’s Global HR Director. Ultimately, my team and I were thrilled to be selected as the challenge winners. We learned from each other, we pushed each other, and we developed the idea to its fullest potential. I loved every minute of it.
What would you say to someone like yourself, who doesn’t have a “traditional” MBA background, but is considering an MBA?
Do it! There’s definitely a huge learning curve and the first semester will be an adjustment, but your return on investment is going to be amazing. Personally, I think that I will grow more than any other student in my intake, just because of where I started from.