Faculty Rock Star: Andrea Wilson

Written by Anju Kakkar

Faculty Rock Star: Andrea Wilson

Faculty Rock Star: Andrea Wilson, Professor, Faculty of Business

“I am an industry expert, teacher, innovator and researcher. I would say I’m a doer!” – Andrea Wilson

Research can be conducted in many ways (applied research or capstone projects) and to solve many problems (a new product, process improvement or simply a new tool for success). Humber College offers programs and hands-on learning opportunities that are career-focused and responsive to changes in competitive global job markets. Students are propelled along the journey of research and discovery, giving them a platform to develop skill sets that can get them job-ready.

Andrea Wilson, a faculty member and passionate enabler, does precisely that: she enables her students! Andrea brings vast industry experience and has researched and developed a learning methodology (ACHIEVE™) with tools and strategies that help learners achieve holistic success in five key areas of their lives: Relational, Wellness, Spiritual, Career and Financial.

Following her True Calling!

Andrea is an action-oriented leader. For 20 years, she climbed the corporate ladder in senior leadership roles in the automotive, manufacturing and service industries. Andrea shares that she reached a point of stagnation and dissatisfaction when she recognized that her values no longer aligned with the corporation she was associated with.

“I am deeply motivated to make a difference. I’m always looking for ways to improve a situation. When I meet someone for the first time, I remind myself that there must be a reason we met. I want my legacy to reflect that what I did mattered and that I lived with purpose and with a smile.” – Andrea Wilson

In pursuance of her life’s purpose and a desire to live her most authentic life, Andrea challenged herself to reinvent and joined the noble profession of ‘teaching’ and ‘learning’. She felt that the reason she was put on this earth was to impact people to become leaders they were created to be by achieving their full potential so that they can live their best life. As a faculty member at Humber, Andrea felt this new role would enable her to have the impact she craved.

Andrea joined Humber College in 2015 as a part-time faculty. Her expertise spans project management, supply chain, customer experience & sustainability, quality management, community engagement, youth empowerment and leadership. She has worked across industries: Ford Motor Co., Velcro, and Staples, as well as a few years’ faculty experience with Redeemer University College facilitating learning in Operations Management and Sheridan College in Leadership Development. At Humber College, Andrea facilitates learning in Supply Chain Management, Project Management and Career Development for The Global Business Management Post-Graduate Program in the Faculty of Business.

“One of my strengths lies in identifying gaps. My engineering background has sharpened my logical thinking skills, and I can quickly identify and figure out how to effectively and impactfully fix or fill those gaps. My goal as a teacher and researcher is to help others develop these skills, along with creative problem-solving and critical thinking.” – Andrea Wilson

Illustration by GoodStudio from Shutterstock

Research Mindset

“You mentioned you are a doer, a researcher!” we prompted Andrea. “It is research that got me to Canada!” Andrea asserts that before coming to Canada, while working for a Canadian-based aluminum company back home in Jamaica, she aspired to rise and grow in her career. She observed that her peers (from Canada) had educational and employment opportunities that she did not. It didn’t take her long to carve out her future, and soon after, she was pursuing her Engineering Degree followed by an MBA in Canada; “and the rest is history,” she shares. She is quick to add that although she is pleased with her accomplishments to date, what she is most proud of is being the mother of three extraordinary young ladies. Andrea is also a member of a variety of business and charitable organizations, which include The Experion Group, The Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council (CAMSC), The Canadian Christian Business Foundation (CCBF), Fridays In The Woods (FITW) and the Home Hospice Association (HHA).

“A few years ago, I planted trees in our backyard. I was overwhelmed as I had initially come to Canada to study with every intention of returning to Jamaica, and now I realized that I have put down roots. It has been a rewarding journey, and I am at a stage where I can say that I love what I do, and I am doing what I love.” – Andrea Wilson

“Following a long and successful ride in the corporate environment, I felt called to honour my purpose and be an agent of change, especially in the lives of young adults,” proclaims Andrea. “I had the opportunity to draw from my role as National Director of Customer Experiences and Sustainability and my work with Junior Achievement of Canada to now teach young people real-life skills through applied learning, real-life class projects that develop their soft skills as well as give them an advantage in employability” shares Andrea. She expresses a deep joy for her teaching profession and shares admiration for her students’ resilience and willingness to engage in discussions, dialogue and project/research participation.

“I want to help students figure out what success looks like to them, not what their parents or their peers are telling them. To me, it’s all about holistic success as relational, emotional, mental health & wellbeing are as equally important as career and financial success. Empowering students with tools and measures to discover their authentic self and innate strengths while figuring out how to work on their apparent non-strengths, that’s what drives me.” – Andrea Wilson

Andrea expresses that she was constantly researching ways to improve students’ learning outcomes, immerse them in experiential learning opportunities and assist them in applying knowledge to real-life situations. Her in-depth research, with the sole purpose of assisting and enabling the lives of her students, led to the development of the 7-step process of ACHIEVE™. “When you adopt a research or a researchers’ mindset, you begin to create like an artist,” conveys Andrea.

Developing the 7-Step Process of ACHIEVE™

Andrea co-founded ACHIEVE™ in 2013 with Lisa Scale. “What does ACHIEVETM stand for?” we asked. Andrea remarked, “ACHIEVETM is a proven 7-step trademarked methodology that provides you with the necessary knowledge, tools and support that will help you find balance, achieve your goals, and unleash your full potential”. Andrea and Lisa went one step further and founded Future Achievers as Internship Connector and Success Coach, respectively, to equip the future generation of leaders with sustainable success strategies to create the life they desire and positively impact their communities.

Andrea claims, “We believe a student’s trajectory can be changed through the right mentorship and internship. As a result of our programs, students have increased empowerment, improved goal setting and goal realization, increased networking capacities, while setting them up for a lifetime of success.”

ACHIEVE™ platform. Interface image provided by Professor Andrea Wilson.


Student Empowerment

Andrea proudly shares that she applies the ACHIEVE™ methodology in her classrooms as well. She truly believes that our students are aspiring leaders. This 7-step mindset will help them gain clarity, confidence, tools, and accountability strategies in a supportive community to realize their goals and dreams. She has participated in several capstone projects at Humber through ACHIEVE, offering students a chance to further develop their employable skills through experiential learning opportunities in professional training and management development services. Andrea has coached and mentored over 250 Humber students successfully through capstone projects.

In 2018, Andrea had the opportunity to work closely with Principal Investigator Ammar Al-Qaraghuli, who received funding from Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) under the College Voucher for Technology Adoption (CVTA) program to develop a mobile app for ACHIEVE™ in partnership with Humber College. As a result, several students successfully worked on the project, developed the app, and got paid for it! Andrea expresses her thanks and appreciation to the project team.

Andrea happily shares that the current Operations Manager at ACHIEVE™ happens to be one of her students who interned there; upon graduation, he expressed interest in continuing to work with the team full-time. Another successful outcome of Humber’s partnership with ACHIEVE™ is that two members of ORI’s team, Milan Patel and Nandish Dave, who did their capstone project with ACHIEVE™ in 2018, continue to be active members of the ACHIEVE™ team as Back-end Developers.

Andrea Wilson in the centre surrounded by her student team presenting their capstone project, ACHIEVE™

ACHIEVE™ Mobile App Capstone Project Final Presentation. Photo provided by Professor Andrea Wilson

Andrea particularly emphasized that her teaching methodologies have been enriched through her experiences working alongside students. This is what Andrea had to say about her involvement with Humber’s research community:

“I got into teaching and started Achieve™ because I wanted to make a tangible difference in the lives of our future leaders. Having the opportunity of working with the ORI team, the Principal Investigator, and the amazing students have helped me experience the impact of experiential learning. All our students are gainfully employed and, on their way, to living their best lives. Once you get a taste of the enriching learnings that emerge from research, you will never look back. It gives me the joy to share that many of these students are still actively involved with Achieve.”

Andrea continues to be driven to positively impact change and offer her students a platform to learn and grow. She claims that the highest form of recognition or validation is when she knows that one of her students is gainfully employed and is excelling in their job due to their experience, learnings and skills developed through work-integrated learning opportunities.

Get to know Andrea a little better. Here are four things you didn’t know about her:

  • When I’m not at work: I spend time with my three daughters and extended family.
  • A book that inspires me: ‘The Bible’. ‘Good to Great’ by James C. Collins, and the current read ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear; a reminder on the power of small incremental changes and building effective routines.
  • Websites I often visit: LinkedIn and I’ve recently renewed my Audible membership.
  • Coffee or Tea: Herbal tea, always!