April 2, 2014

History Graduate Alumni Spotlight: Jonathan Durance

Branch Manager - TD Bank
Johnathan Headshot
Johnathan Durance Headshot

When I graduated with an M.A. in History (2011), I was uncertain about my future career plans and even less sure about the vocational merits of either the degree or my training. My two-year program had been intense and enjoyable, but it was hard to see how it would benefit me in the marketplace. Twenty-four months later, I had advanced from a position of Financial Service Representative to a Branch Manager at TD Canada Trust and am now a Senior Regional Manager of Change Support with TD for all of Western Canada as of 2020.

In retrospect, my history degree provided me with skills and a disposition that positioned me for success in the private sector. The skills I acquired directly relate to the need for leaders in the banking world to process information and innovate efficiently and analytically. Our industry is going through intense change; consequently, banks value employees who embody the leadership principles that show efficient, excellent judgment, in addition to critical and relevant information assessment. This can only happen if one knows how to survey the decision-making environment and apply these principles in a thoughtful way. The study of history and the process of going through graduate school honed these skills and provided me with a solid foundation in each one of these areas.

The graduate history program left me informed about my world and interested in it. It also instilled in me a desire to continue growing and developing because it taught me how to engage with complex concepts. I realize now how rewarding it is to keep developing intellectually. Increasingly, the private sector with which I am familiar values employees who develop themselves not only at work, but personally. While working at the bank, I had the pleasure of pursuing my love for history and learning. For example, I was able to publish an article based on my M.A. research (cf., History of Intellectual Culturehttp://www.ucalgary.ca/hic/issues/vol10 ). I was also able to give a lecture at a local college near my TD branch. The bank also recognizes my M.A. as a relevant degree for pursuit of executive roles that typically require graduate degrees (most often MBAs). In fostering an attitude toward the pursuit of learning, the graduate degree in history has positioned me for success and prepared me for life in the private sector. If the contribution I make to my company and my community is deeply valued, it is thanks to the training I received in my M.A. program. Today, I can say unequivocally, the degree was an excellent investment of time and money.

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