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Alumni Engagement

News, Profiles and Events

Free virtual event: Will Mentorship Get me a Job? A Fireside Chat

January 12, 2021

You’re invited! Ten Thousand Coffees is hosting a country-wide event with two special guests from RBC on January 21, 2021 at 2 p.m. CST.

The event is free and open to all Red River College students and alumni. Whether you’re already a member of the Red River College Café or new to our mentoring and networking platform, you’re invited to listen in as two experts chat about how mentoring helped them get ahead in their careers.

Join RBC Olympian and Professional Athlete, Sam Effah, and RBC’s Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer, Mary DePaoli, as they share industry tips for landing a job at a top brand like RBC, and how to stand out in a pile of resumes. Learn directly from Sam and Mary as they give inside tips and advice on finding a mentor and job in 2021, and learn the importance of becoming a mentor yourself in this critical time.

Why join?

  • Hear tips to land a job at a top brand like RBC
  • Learn how to find a mentor—and why you’d want one
  • Ask our hosts your top questions about mentoring
  • Network with hundreds of students and alumni across the country

Don’t miss this intimate conversation hosted by Ten Thousand Coffees for Mentoring Month 2021. Registration will be closing soon, so reserve your spot now.


More about Mary DePaoli, RBC Chief Marketing Officer & Executive Vice President

Mary DePaoli is Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer at RBC. She is responsible for building RBC’s brand and reputation globally across its Personal & Commercial Banking, Insurance and Wealth Management businesses through an integrated approach to brand, marketing, sponsorship, social media, communications, and corporate citizenship. In addition, Mary serves as Chair of the Board responsible for overseeing the RBC Foundation, one of Canada’s largest corporate donors.

Prior to joining RBC, Ms. DePaoli held a series of increasingly senior roles at Sun Life Financial. In 1999, she joined the Group Retirement Services business to lead sales and marketing before being appointed Senior Vice President of the division. In 2007, she was named Senior Vice President of Corporate Brand and Marketing, with responsibility for establishing Sun Life’s International Marketing Centre and leading the company’s marketing strategies in Canada, the United States, and Asia. In 2011, Ms. DePaoli was promoted to Executive Vice President, Public and Corporate Affairs and Chief Marketing Officer.

Throughout her career, Ms. DePaoli has been actively involved in supporting numerous causes, including the Hospital for Sick Children Leaders Program and the Canadian Diabetes Association. She currently sits on the Board of WISE (Women in Sports and Events). In 2012, she was named Marketer of the Year by Strategy magazine, and in 2013, she was distinguished as one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women by the Women’s Executive Network. Mary was also named one of Canada’s top 40 under 40 recipients.

Mary DePaoli holds an Honors BA degree from Western University in Ontario, and a post graduate degree in International Journalism from American University in Washington D.C.


More about RBC Olympian, Sam Effah

A native Albertan, Sam has represented Canada at 3 World Championships, 3 World University Games and most recently – the 2018 Commonwealth Games. As a 2-time Canadian Champion in the 100m, Sam has an innate enthusiasm for sport, marketing, and the Olympic movement. But it doesn’t stop there.

In 2019, he was cast on The Amazing Race Canada – Season 7, where he inspired audiences with stories of injury, resilience, and the hunger to be Canada’s fastest once again. Being selected for Canada’s #1 watched reality TV show – and placing second – is a testament to his marketability, strong storytelling talents, and drive to win some of the show’s toughest challenges.

On the corporate side, Sam has a passion for marketing, loves to speak, and is driven when it comes to sponsorship and community development projects. At RBC, Sam works at RBC’s head office in Brand Marketing, managing 18 Olympic athletes across the country. He’s also worked behind the scenes on sponsorship campaigns like The World Junior Hockey Championships, The Winter Olympics, WEDay and RBC Training Ground. As a 2020 Olympic hopeful while working in corporate, and excelling, Sam provides a unique perspective unseen in today’s industries.

For more mentoring and networking opportunities, join the Red River College Café, powered by Ten Thousand Coffees.

Resilience on the frontline

December 1, 2020

This time of year is when we normally share milestones achieved by our students, faculty, and alumni over the last twelve months. And even though this year looks unlike anything any of us could have imagined, there is no doubt that 2020 will always be a year we remember. Read on for exciting alumni updates, as well as how Red River College is preparing frontline workers to fight against COVID-19 and help rebuild Manitoba’s economy.

Many of our alumni can reflect back on their time at RRC as an important part of their personal journey, and the stepping stone that helped them reach their career goals. Whether is was an instructor who took the time to give you constructive feedback, a work placement that connected you with your current employer, or a classmate who showed you a different way of doing things – the connections you made at RRC have helped you to be where you are today.

Will you support our future leaders?

Building a Better Future – Giving Tuesday

RRC has an unmatched legacy of responding to urgent industry and community needs. As Manitoba’s leading institution of applied learning and research, this is what we do — and in this critical time of need for our province, we require your help to keep that legacy alive for future learners.

Today is #GivingTuesday, a global initiative that reminds us to think of others and to give back to our communities. When you give to Red River College, you are empowering students to grow their skills and confidently graduate into an ever-changing workforce.

Your gift will provide today’s students with the same mentorship, guidance, and hands-on training you received as a student, and allow RRC to continue its role in training the leaders of tomorrow.

Donate Now Read More →

Thanks for entering our contest by joining Ten Thousand Coffees!

November 18, 2020

Ten Thousand Coffees is RRC’s free online networking and mentorship platform that connects Red River College students and alumni through virtual coffee chats. More than 1,700 current students and alumni members have signed up, and more than 14,000 connections have been made so far in 2020!

Learn more about how Ten Thousand Coffees works >

*Contest Now Closed*

Thank you to everyone who joined Ten Thousand Coffees and entered this contest!

Congratulations to our winners:

  • Dustin Pernitsky – Creative Communications, 2015
  • Iryna Lazar – Management Development, 2020

If you didn’t win, don’t worry – you can still join RRC’s hub on Ten Thousand Coffees to start working your network today. Also stay on the lookout for future opportunities to win great prizes.

Have you made a great connection through Ten Thousand Coffees? Send us an email to share your story!

Killer concept: Grads serve up hair-raising thrills at horror-themed escape rooms

October 27, 2020

The thought of starting a business in the middle of a pandemic would send chills down anyone’s spine. But that doesn’t mean the timing can’t be eerily, utterly right.

That’s certainly how it feels for Lisa Bernstein and Chris McMillan, two Red River College grads who opened the horror-themed Killer Noob Escapes at the start of October.

Not surprisingly, Killer Noob is a perfect match for the spookiest month of the year. After their shared love of all things scary led to some business-idea brainstorming, Bernstein and McMillan served up a fresh spin on the escape-industry standard.

“We’ve always loved escape rooms,” says Bernstein, who graduated from RRC’s Creative Communications program in 2010. “Three years ago, we went to a horror-themed escape room in Las Vegas and we could not stop talking about it. We loved the aesthetics, we loved how it looked. It was like walking on to a movie set.

“But we also talked about what we would do differently, partially because we found the puzzles to be lacklustre. So that started the ball rolling of planning what types of rooms we were going to do, what our theme was — and in January 2018 we bit the bullet and created the business, and slowly started chipping away at props and puzzles.”

While Killer Noob’s room names (“The Funhouse,” “Buried Alive,” “The Chamber,” and soon “The Upstairs”) might make the squeamish nervous, the goal isn’t jump scares or dumping guests into a haunted house. Rather, the set-ups require visitors to make skillful escapes, solving all manner of puzzles to get out of stressful situations.

As long as group sizes are limited, escape rooms can provide a safe form of COVID-era entertainment — so business at Killer Noob has been steady, with over 100 bookings in the first month. Read More →

Blazing a trail for self-care: Nursing grad eases quarantine stress with new guide for local hikers

October 13, 2020

If Jaime Manness tells you to take a hike, heed the advice. After all, she wrote the book on the subject.

After graduating from Red River College with a Bachelor of Nursing degree in 2009, Manness began her career as an emergency nurse at Health Sciences Centre. While a challenging and rewarding environment for a nurse, Emergency is also intensely stressful, particularly for a recent graduate.

Manness took to the trails to de-stress. The hikes evoked fond memories of family camping trips as a youngster, complete with hot dogs roasting over the campfire.

“I was chasing that restful, tired feeling at night,” she says. “I wanted a kind of mental and physical exhaustion to a point where I would get a good night’s sleep.”

“The more I hiked, the more peaceful I felt. I started to fall in love with the idea of what I might see next.”

Manness started volunteering for Trails Manitoba in 2015, giving recommendations — and just as important, reassurance — to weekend hikers.

“I realized that what was common to me was not comfortable to others. People wanted to know a little bit more about what they might find.”

If that was the seed of an idea for a book, Manness give much credit to her then-boyfriend and now fiancé, Ed, with bringing it to fruition.

Cover of Hike Manitoba guide“He’d remind me every month or so — ‘You should write that book.’ Then it was every two weeks, then every 10 days,” she recounts with a laugh. “It’s like he had a calendar set to remind me to write the book.”

The result was Hike Manitoba, a compilation of 51 hikes, all within the province. Launched June 30 — just in time for the Canada Day long weekend — the volume is lightweight and coil-bound, designed with a hiker’s needs in mind, Manness says. It includes trail tips and etiquette, evocative photos, hand-drawn maps, and lovely watercolour cover art.

Demand for the book has far exceeded her expectations, Manness says.

“We sold our first 100 copies within a couple of days. We’ve now sold more than 2,200 copies.” Read More →

Competitive drive pushes Graphic Design grad to shake up financial industry

October 1, 2020

Talking to Martin Bshouty, it’s clear that a typical day job will never be his cup of tea.

“My wife asked me the other day, ‘What would you do if you had to work a nine-to-five job?’ I can’t even imagine it, I would call that retirement,” Bshouty chuckles.

That ability to self-motivate has led Bshouty — a 2014 graduate of Red River College’s Graphic Design program — to a tech entrepreneur career that’s already seen dazzling highs in just half a decade.

His latest role is with the creative team at Neo Financial, a new fintech startup headquartered in Calgary that has set out to revolutionize the financial industry. Neo presents Canadians with an online banking experience, one that boasts a simple interface, no-fee banking and instant rewards.

“We want to simplify money and life for every Canadian,” Bshouty explains. “We’re building this financial platform from the ground using modern technology to create a fully digital experience right from your phone. No visiting branches or waiting on hold over the phone — you get full control over your finances right from the Neo app. The hope is to revolutionize the way banking is done in Canada.”

Founded by Skip The Dishes co-founders Andrew Chau and Jeff Adamson, Neo has created a Prairie dream team uniquely qualified to disrupt the Canadian banking industry — 100 employees that include tech creatives and former Olympians. Bshouty fits the billing, as he made a serious splash in 2016 as a co-founder of Geofilter Studio, the world’s largest Snapchat filter producer.

Starting as an idea between Bshouty and collaborator Chris Schmidt in Winnipeg, Geofilter has since created over 100,000 filters that have accumulated over five billion views, attracting business from major corporations like McDonalds and Coca-Cola.

“We saw it as an opportunity, that people can go to a local coffee shop for a quality cup of coffee, or get a streamlined experience at Tim Hortons. We figured we’d be the Tim Hortons of designing geofilters, but with the quality of local coffee,” Bshouty says with a laugh. “So we started an online design agency for designing geofilters for people around the world.”

“We had no idea if it was going to work or not, but then it started to catch on and we would say, ‘Woah, we’ve got as many orders today as we’ve had in the last month.’ And then, ‘Woah, we’re getting over 10,000 orders a week now.’ It pretty quickly became, at the time, one of the fastest growing companies in Canada.” Read More →

Machine Shop alum inspires new grads to keep learning

July 30, 2020

Don Fletcher gives alumni address at February convocation ceremony

Twice a year, Red River College students flock to the Winnipeg Centennial Concert Hall with a gaggle of family members in tow. They don distinct caps and gowns, transforming into a sea of black with flashes of red (tassels – not feathers). They wear their regalia with pride: this is the moment where students become graduates; they’ve earned their wings and now it’s time to fly.

This June, Red River College had to adapt in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, hosting a virtual convocation in place of our traditional in-person celebration. But back in February – what seems like a lifetime ago – we were able to salute our grads at the Concert Hall in style.

Don Fletcher, an RRC Machine Shop Apprentice grad of 1982, welcomed our Winter 2020 grads to the RRC alumni community with a memorable speech.

Read More →

Innovation doesn’t go on summer vacation

July 15, 2020

Big things are happening this summer at Red River College. Like you, we’ve had to adjust to significant changes over the last several months and introduce a few changes of our own – but we’ve been inspired by the creative ways the RRC community has tackled challenge after challenge due to COVID-19. While this situation is far from over, we know our students, staff, and alumni will continue to rise and remain strong.

Now is the perfect time for professional development

Summer is a great time to update your skills, learn something new, or turn that side project into your main passion. Throughout the pandemic, RRC has remained open for business – and that hasn’t changed! Check out RRC’s catalogue of online part-time and full-time courses and programs to kick-start your summer education.

Learn to launch your side business in 12 weeks

Red River College has partnered with The Maker’s Collective to offer Manitoba Side Hustles 101, a 12-week online course that equips aspiring and emerging Manitoba side business entrepreneurs with the skills, tools, mindsets and community support needed to move from idea to a successful business launch.

The course runs Thursdays starting July 23 and includes expert-led training sessions, including guest speakers who have walked the walk. Learns the ins and outs of generating a new stream of income, especially during this time of uncertainty.

There are only 100 seats and alumni can use the promo code RRCALUM to receive a special 10% discount. Register here.

Read More →

Winning the ‘Job Lottery’

July 10, 2020


To an outsider, it would appear opportunities have presented themselves to Wilfred McPherson too often to be called coincidences.

And McPherson — a Red River College grad who’s returned as an instructor following a lengthy career in the trades — is more than happy to share the credit for his success.

“Some people call it being at the right place at the right time,” says McPherson, when asked about his career path’s natural and organic progression.

“It’s like an invisible hand that guides things along… [that of] Kichi Manitou, the Great Spirit.”

Read More →

Thanks for entering our Ten Thousand Coffees contest

June 22, 2020

Ten Thousand Coffees is RRC’s free online networking and mentorship platform that connects Red River College students and alumni through virtual coffee chats. More than 1,500 current students and alumni members have signed up, and more than 5,600 connections have been made so far in 2020!

Learn more about how Ten Thousand Coffees works >

*Contest Now Closed*

Thank you to everyone who joined Ten Thousand Coffees and entered this contest! If you didn’t win, don’t worry – you can still join RRC’s hub on Ten Thousand Coffees to start working your network today. Also stay on the lookout for future opportunities to win great prizes.

Congratulations to our winners, Matthew Paquette and Celina Glesmann!

Have you made a great connection through Ten Thousand Coffees? Send us an email to share your story!