For April’s Alumni Highlights series, we spoke with Don McIntosh (BSP’87), a graduate of the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition. He is a management consultant with Sierra Systems Group, an IT Services and Management Consulting firm in Vancouver, BC. Don practiced for many years in acute care. His career transitioned into the deployment and optimization of information systems to enhance capabilities within health care. He serves as a board member for the Alberta Network for Health Information eXchange.
Tell us about the campus when you went to the U of S; how is it different today?
There are many differences! Most notably, campus infrastructure. The new Health Sciences Building, expansion and re-design of the Royal University Hospital, the re-developed Place Riel and the new infrastructure around and including the Canadian Light Source Synchrotron. At the time, there was very little development near that yet-to-be-built world-class facility!
What’s one of your favourite memories you had outside of the classroom?
Freshman week when we were back on campus; sharing stories of what happened over the summer and, of course, it was just great to see and connect with friends again. Several of my classmates were from Ontario and World Series games were always an enjoyable diversion from studies, particularly if the Toronto Blue Jays were in the pennant race. Most of all, it was just making long lasting friendships, eating out at small neighbourhood pubs/restaurants on weekends and just enjoying student life. With reflection, it was such a remarkable experience!
Overall, how was your U of S experience?
Irreplaceable. There is no question it is a beautiful campus (and I have visited many over the years), however the U of S is far more than that. It continues to be ‘quietly reserved’ in its many accomplishments and international reputation. We are all recipients of these and I am truly grateful. In one word, foundational.
How did going to the U of S shape your career?
Even though I was considered a mature student at that point in my life, I was quite shy. As a future pharmacist, the requirements of combining solid science with essential people skills provided the basis for me to grow professionally, and personally. In many ways, it provided me with the confidence to undertake and welcome new challenges and to recognize that in many ways success really does come from just ‘standing up’. My time on campus also provided the basis for ‘how to learn’ and a desire to continue to learn – both continue to this day.
What did you wish you would have known on your first day at the U of S?
To become involved in student leadership opportunities and to more fully embrace campus life as it truly is a transformative period in your life. I would have embraced the opportunity to seek out a ‘student coach’, if you will. Once on campus, your personal and soon-to-be professional life expands tremendously with not all potential opportunities being obvious. Although my professors were engaged, knowledgeable and caring, additional coaching in ‘navigating the maze’ would have been an additional benefit.
Check in for monthly Q&As with alumni from all the U of S colleges, as talk about their life after the U of S and how being on this campus shaped their careers. In case you missed any previous features, you can read them here.