Telling Our Stories: UPEI eMBA

Hannah Bell MBA - Executive Director, PEI Business Women's Association

When you graduate high school at only 16 years old there’s a pretty strong chance you are going to rack up some serious life experiences. How else can you explain the fact that since she graduated from high school Hannah Bell, Executive Director of the PEI Business Women’s Association has travelled all over Europe, volunteered with Médecins Sans Frontières in Africa and developed a training program that was licensed across the United Kingdom to help adults achieve literacy and numeracy in a short amount of time which is still being used today? One thing that was always on her to-do list waiting to be done? Get her degree. Before pursuing her EMBA at UPEI Hannah had never attended University. Hannah attended a trade school in the United Kingdom and holds a technical certificate in telecommunications engineering, and is a specialist in data and data communications and digital voice systems. In fact, Hannah was the first woman telecommunications engineer ever qualified in London, England in 1993!

So, what was so appealing about the UPEI School of Business EMBA program? “The program is specifically designed for people who are professionals.” Hannah, at the time of starting school, was a single mother to a two-year-old daughter and working full time for DVA running the national project management office. Going back to school was going to mean some big changes both personally and professionally. “I had to learn how to learn, learn how to study and actually learn the content. I also had to learn how to properly manage my time.”

There is a strong focus on peer learning and peer mentoring throughout the program, and Hannah ended up working with a close-knit group of five people. Hannah’s group made a conscious decision not to work on the elements that they were already good at individually so that they all learned to be better at things. For Hannah, a natural born leader, this meant taking a step back and not being in charge. Pursuing an EMBA isn’t going to be easy, but it will be worth it.

While still studying for her EMBA at UPEI Hannah set up her consulting company, The Solution Agency, won the provincial and regional entrepreneurship competition Advancing Canadian Entrepreneurship (ACE) and went on to represent the Island in the national competition as well.

When Hannah decided to pursue her EMBA her original expectations had to do with career path progression, she had advanced as far as she could without the French qualifications, and had never considered that when she graduated she wouldn’t be working for the same organization as when she started. Working on her EMBA made Hannah, who had always felt drawn to working in the non-profit sector, feel empowered to pursue new opportunities. “I use my EMBA more now than I ever would have had I stayed at dva.”

Hannah has been in her role as Executive Director with the PEI Business Women’s Association for three years. During her time as head of the organization she has implemented new policies and procedures, seen significant changes in membership, delivered 64 training events, and over 1000 advisory sessions. More recently Hannah was invited to present to the provincial legislative standing committee on economic development as well as presented at the policy hearings on Supporting Women Entrepreneurs to Scale-Up and Financial Literacy for Entrepreneurs while attending Startup Day on the Hill 2016.

Not too shabby for the girl who read ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’ when she was only 9 years old.


“When you invest that much time in learning, you’re not only going to learn what you’re taught, you’re going to learn way more about yourself than you ever expected to. And what happens with that sometimes are really large things. They could be large professionally or large personally”

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