How one HR professional found her calling in serving community

Alice Zywert Morales
Posted 2022-08-09

When Alice Zywert Morales started her Master of Management studies in 2020, her goal was to take the knowledge she acquired from her undergraduate degree in Health Sciences and develop the business skills she needed to effectively serve her community. She wasn’t sure when she started where the road would take her, but thanks to her experience at the UBC Sauder School of Business, she found her true calling as an HR professional in the health field. Here’s how she discovered her purpose.

The UBC Master of Management (MM) is a nine-month program designed for university graduates with non-business undergraduate degrees. Morales was hopeful that the experience would point her towards a fulfilling and community-minded career path. In her view, the program offered some key benefits that would enable her to gain a competitive advantage, acquire consulting skills and map out her future. What stood out most for Morales during her program? These are her highlights.

A confidence boost from consulting

For Morales, the Community Business Project was a particularly formative portion of the MM program. She and her classmates were matched with different organizations across the province to tackle real-world challenges and gain valuable consulting experience. As a perfect complement to her health sciences background, Morales—representing her UBC Sauder team as a communications manager—was tasked with working to provide consulting services to the Digital Lab at BC Children’s Hospital.

"One of the things I had to do was liaise with the Senior Director at the hospital. That equipped me with the skills needed to interact with and present business recommendations to senior business leaders,” says Morales.

Through the four-month experience, Morales learned how applicable her newfound business skills were in a not-for-profit organization. She found even deeper value in what she learned about herself.

“The Community Business Project instilled in me the confidence that I could become a successful communicator and work within the consulting sphere. It made me believe I was starting my journey into the workforce with skills to be competent and successful in whatever I do," she says.

Morales was all MM at her graduation
Morales was all smiles at her MM graduation
Identifying values of responsible leadership

As her MM coursework laid the foundation of business fundamentals, guidance she received from the Hari B. Varshney Business Career Centre (BCC) at UBC Sauder cemented Morales's vision of becoming a responsible leader.

She worked with Carly Boettcher, Manager of MM Careers at the BCC. Together, they charted out the core values that would be the guiding posts for Morales's career.

"Two core values came into sharp focus throughout my conversations with Boettcher and the team at the BCC: giving back to society and leading responsibly,” recalls Morales.

"Having those regular meetings with Boettcher, career development sessions and workshops were extremely helpful in planning my career path, expanding my network and mapping out my short- and long-term career goals."

The personalized career support also pointed her in the direction of her now-employer.

"We had different assessments at the BCC which helped me evaluate the type of jobs that aligned with my values and strengths. And this eventually led me to applying for an internship at the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA).”

Morales has been with the FNHA since the summer of 2021
Morales has been with the FNHA since the summer of 2021
Building capacity for community transformation

Fast forward two years and Morales is using her business education to contribute to positive change and social good at the FNHA, where she transitioned an internship into a full-time position as a Recruitment Coordinator.

“The MM courses helped me understand the role of each department and how they collaborate to help an organization function,” says Morales. “This helped me immensely in my employability, particularly in my current role, as UBC Sauder taught me the skills to interact with different teams as an HR professional.”

The FNHA seeks to transform health services for Indigenous peoples in B.C. The organization serves as a health and wellness partner to over 200 diverse Indigenous communities and citizens across the province.

"One of our top priorities at FNHA is to find top talent and create a culturally-safe health care system for Indigenous peoples. This job is a great fit for me after completing the MM program—a place that gave me the business skills, shaped my core values and nurtured my passion to serve communities," says Morales.

On course for the next achievement

Morales says that her time at UBC Sauder gave her clarity of vision, and her work at the FNHA convinced her to aspire to a career in leadership.

Morales is now pursuing the Chartered Professional in Human Resources (CPHR) designation. The nationally-recognized achievement will be the latest step in Morales’s ongoing commitment to advancing her expertise and gaining a competitive edge.

She says she hopes the designation will help her better assist the FNHA in affecting positive change for the communities it serves.

"We're working towards improving the health of Indigenous communities in B.C.,” says Morales. “With all that I've learnt at UBC Sauder, I want to be able to contribute in a bigger way to improve the health and social outcomes for Indigenous communities and become a leader in this cause."