Stuart Dixon talk into a microphone

Finding newfound purpose

May 9, 2024

From classroom to career: Stuart Dixon

After graduating from high school, Stuart Dixon was looking for an inclusive and creative educational environment that also fostered community connections. Stuart found that at Vancouver Island University (VIU). Stuart started pursuing Geography and returned later on to complete a Master of Business Administration. Stuart says VIU’s commitment to working with First Nations, Métis, Inuit and other Indigenous groups made the university a more attractive choice to pursue graduate studies.

Stuart graduated in 2018 from the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program and is now the Director, Economic Development, Partnerships and Tourism at Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC).

Why did you choose VIU for your education?

I chose VIU to get an inclusive education for my post-graduate studies. After my first two years of my undergraduate, I transferred to Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) to complete my GIS Degree. I missed the components of having grassroots education and creativity. Even though my time at SAIT was wonderful, my heart was at VIU due to the commitment that leadership has demonstrated towards advancing socio-economic reconciliation for Indigenous people in British Columbia. VIU’s inclusive approach to education and professor-student relationships fostered a climate of trust that many academic institutions are falling short of. The impact my professors had on me is still evident in my career success to date.

Headshot of Stuart Dixon

Stuart Dixon

Where were you in your life when you realized education would help you achieve your goals?

For my undergraduate studies, I was fresh out of high school wanting to learn more about our world and people, so I studied Geography up the hill but left after year two to pursue more industrial education. When I returned home after industry experience, the decision to pursue business made me ponder about values and our future. As a Métis citizen, learning more about challenges and opportunities to develop and decolonize the economy was a big interest of mine and VIU’s commitment to working and advancing opportunities for Indigenous people made my decision all the more attractive. 

Tell us a bit about your experience at VIU and in your program.

My experience was incredible. I studied with 79 peers from more than 19 different countries and learned a ton about international business. Those practices and concepts made it even more transferable to the creative and Indigenous economies that I wanted to work in. I found a newfound purpose for how creative I could be in my work. I am still very close with many of my amazing peers to date many of whom are working for some of the largest and most creative enterprises in North America and across the globe. Shoutout to 71 Wall Street!

I think what makes VIU so unique is the fact that even without the prestige, entrance requirements and elite standards other academic institutions have for their graduate programs our graduates emulate to be more and to do better.

Were there any unexpected benefits you discovered after becoming a student?

I discovered way more in my blind areas of who I am (things others knew about me, but I didn’t know about myself) and I became vulnerable to allow for my façade window to become open (things I knew about me, but others didn’t). If you’re familiar with the Johari Window, you know what I speak of. Overall, I learned more about myself and developed a deeper identity of who I wanted to be in my career. I also learned how important it is to practice lateral kindness. This practice in my opinion taught me the most about my self-awareness and has made me a more emotionally intelligent individual. 

How did your program prepare you for your current role?

This program leveraged my undergraduate skills to apply technical knowledge with qualitative practices to achieve quantitative success for all that I am doing in developing economic stimulus. I have worked in a ton of industries because of my synergies within the program. It “unlocked” my potential. I believe this program is the foundation for success in entrepreneurship, leadership, executive management and overall business execution. The MBA is a rite of passage for all and does not discriminate on your background coming into the program.

Can you share an experience where one of your profs made an impact on your learning experience?

Without question I learned a ton from Drs. Rosmy Jean Louis, Harry Sackey and Daniel Simons to practice the economic way of thinking; all of whom are magnificent individuals in their own right. This thinking along with contributions from Drs. Charles Schell and Andy Lin helped me become the eclectic manager I am today. None of this would be possible without the support from Drs. Bonita Russell and Steven Purse on being an effective manager. The key being is I blended economics, finance and effective management and leadership into my day-to-day.

What’s next for you?

I am laser-focused on diversifying and growing the economic sustainability of MNBC, our chartered communities, the economic welfare of our Métis entrepreneurs and collaboration with the First Nations community on developing robust, diverse and unique economic partnerships. Kaa-wiichihitoyaahk (we take care of each other in Michif).

What are you most proud of since completing your program at VIU?

I am proud to be in a position where every day I am making efforts to advance the welfare of not just Métis people in British Columbia, but First Nations and all Indigenous people in British Columbia. I believe we are on the precipice of radically transforming our economy in British Columbia as a global leader for reconciliation.

What advice would you give VIU students following a similar trajectory as yourself?

Be more. Do better. There is nothing in this world that cannot be conquered without a little courage, don’t live in fear or sensitivities realize your gifts and what makes you unique. Never give up. 

Is there anything else you would like to add?

None of my journey would have been possible without the mentorship, time and wisdom that I received from my monthly check-ins with former President Dr. Ralph Nilson. Ralph would always make time for me with requests for coffee and lunch. 

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