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Faculty Rockstar: Audrey Wubbenhorst

Written by Anju Kakkar

 

photo of Audrey with quote & title

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Audrey Wubbenhorst, MA, MBA, ICD.D

Professor: Public Relations | Faculty of Media and Creative Arts

Another pioneering Researcher Rockstar – we spoke to Audrey Wubbenhorst in-depth about her transition from the field of banking to academia, from corporate culture to research culture. At Humber, we are privileged to have the expertise of many of our dedicated faculty members, like Audrey. They approach education and impart knowledge gathered from the insights and experience they have acquired while dealing with real-world situations and problem-solving. Audrey is a communications strategist turned educationalist, and we highly appreciate her dedication and contributions to the field of education and research. Humber College is committed to principles of equity, diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and this commitment reflects ongoing productive engagement within and outside the Humber community.

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Background & Expertise

Audrey’s educational journey began with acquiring a Bachelor of Arts in English & History (Honours) from McGill University in 2000, soon followed by a Master of Arts in Communication & Culture from Ryerson University in 2003. She further pursued a Master’s in Business Administration from Dalhousie University in 2008. She gained the prestigious FICB (Fellow, Institute of Canadian Banking) Silver Medalist award in 2008 and acquired the ICD.D designation representing a lifelong commitment to excellence in the boardroom in 2019.

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Having spent over 13 years in the banking sector (2001-2015), Audrey shares that her transition to Humber College resulted from a passionate approach to imparting knowledge. “In 2013 I was delighted to be asked by one of my former colleagues to sit on a career panel in his marketing class at Humber. The experience was extremely fulfilling, and I expressed my interest to teach; six months later, the journey began.” Since 2014, Audrey began as a part-time professor, and in 2017 she humbly states that she was fortunate to continue teaching as a full-time professor at the Faculty of Media & Creative Arts, teaching Public Relations in the diploma and post-graduate programs offered by Humber College. She has led a capstone marketing course and continues to be a mentor to students through Humber’s Centre for Entrepreneurship.

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Audrey brings with her vast experience in public relations, human resources, business strategy and social media. In her previous role as Vice President, Canadian Board Diversity Council, Audrey excelled in leading marketing projects related to corporate communications and public relations. Audrey’s passionate desire to play a productive role furthering the cause of equity, diversity and inclusion has led her over the years to engage in several pioneering roles, to name a few: Chair – Ernestine Women’s Shelter (2003-2008), Director – Toronto Community Housing Corporation (2011-2015) and National Diabetes Trust (“Clothesline” program 2017-2019), also as a former Member of Humber College Equity Diversity & Inclusion Committee. She is on the Advisory Board of Learnful Labs and CNIB Lake Joe. In 2019, Audrey was invited to give lectures at Rotman (University of Toronto).

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On Research

Audrey excitedly states that getting involved with case studies which eventually led the path to work on a research project approved through an NSERC Engage grant, has been an eye-opening experience. Some of them:

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  • 2020-2021: Audrey recently wrapped up the research on an NSERC Engage grant project, details below.
  • 2020: Audrey led a team of 2 students and implemented the “Communications in the Time of COVID-19” website: www.covid19communications.ca – case studies focusing on corporations navigating the crisis.
  • 2016-2017: Audrey participated in four Teaching Innovation Fund projects through the Centre for Teaching & Learning. She developed case studies such as Canadian Tire’s implementation of Facebook at work, CISCO System’s Connected North program connecting Indigenous communities, and Daily Bread Food Bank’s mobile food bank program.
  • 2015: Research Collaboration on board diversity. Audrey led the project and managed the research team.

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Here is a summary of the recent NSERC Engage research project led by Professor Audrey:

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Governance Best Practices: Looking Outside the Box


This project filled a gap in existing research looking at governance models outside of the credit union industry for best practice models of director recruitment, committee structure and board effectiveness. Partnering with Humber College, Professor Audrey Wubbenhorst and her team built on her governance expertise to investigate and subsequently draft a best practice study for a Credit Union in BC with a goal to ensure that its governance practices are leading edge. The credit union industry has become increasingly agile, innovative and technology-driven.

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Audrey proudly shares her appreciation for the continuous feedback and support from Humber Research & Innovation during the grant application and throughout the research process, expressing her thanks for the opportunities provided to faculty to participate in different types of research projects and availing the chance to work with different industry partnerships. This is what Audrey had to say about her involvement with Humber’s research community:

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“I have been able to use research to stay current in my field and collaborate with a number of different partners along the way.  Humber’s Research & Innovation team has provided a ton of support, from structuring the projects to advising on the day-to-day administrative work.  The funding has also enabled me to hire and work with students more directly and over a longer period than the classroom allows. It’s great to see the outcomes of my projects!”

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When we asked Audrey what, in her view, were the most significant gains from her experience thus far in getting involved with research projects, she aptly replied, “It has changed the way I teach and positively impacted my students. Every research project provides great content material to discuss and further study in-class due to its relatability with students. It is amazing, as a College, to be able to deliver such research opportunities to students, which is not very common, in addition to providing them with employment prospects.” We are profoundly thankful and enthusiastic to have a Researcher Rockstar like Audrey Wubbenhorst, and we thank her for her constant engagement with education and research.

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Get to know Audrey a little better; here are 4 things you didn’t know about her, in her words:

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1. When I’m not at work, I spend quality time with my children and playing with our adopted cat.

2. A favourite book: An all-time favourite: ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

3. A website I visit most often Twitter. I’m more inclined to listen to a podcast or a book on audible.

4. Coffee or Tea: Definitely Coffee!

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Research is an opportunity to expand one’s knowledge and help impact real change.”

– Audrey Wubbenhorst