Category Archives: Where Are They Now?

Grad brings unique approach to job thanks to R&I

Artem Mekshun is a 2019 graduate of Niagara College’s Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), International Commerce and Global Development program. During his studies, Artem spent time with R&I’s Business & Commercialization Solutions team as both a research assistant and then research associate. He is currently employed by General Mills Canada Corp. as a financial analyst.

While at NC, Artem received both a Niagara Scholar Award and an International Student Scholarship, was on the President’s honour roll three times and was a board member for the Niagara College Student Administrative Council.


Tell us about where you work:

I joined General Mills Canada Corp. as a financial analyst in November 2020. The company is a food manufacturer that operates in the CPG [consumer packaged goods] industry. It owns a strong portfolio of famous consumer brands such as Cheerios, Liberté, Yoplait and Nature Valley.

Before assuming my recent position with General Mills, I spent about nine months working as a data analyst at Acosta, a leading retail broker in North America.

Describe your role and what you like about it:

I work in the sales finance function and my main responsibility is partnering with our Loblaws sales team to deliver our company’s financial objectives, such as reported net sales, profit and return on investment (ROI).

What I love about my job is the amount of impact that I can have on the company’s profit and loss statement with my actions. From day one, I was given a lot of opportunities to interact with our customer development managers and assist them with driving growth for our brands on the shelves of Loblaws Companies Limited. Also, I love the fact that I have an ability to work with brands that are enjoyed by millions of people in Canada.

How has your experience with Research & Innovation helped prepare you for your current role?

My work experience as both a research assistant and a research associate were instrumental to my decision to further develop my career in the world of CPG. During my time there, I had a lot of opportunities to work with Niagara-based food and beverage producers and to learn specifics of this industry. As a result, I had a chance to utilize this knowledge and experience to bring a unique perspective to the table both as a data analyst at Acosta and as a financial analyst at General Mills.

A memorable applied research project during your time at R&I?

My favourite project with R&I was a market research project that we conducted for a global manufacturer of alcoholic beverages. This was the first time that I had a chance to work with such a large company and the amount of responsibility that I felt was overwhelming. Nevertheless, together with my team, we were able to establish an effective framework for meeting all the required deliverables. As a result, we were able to deliver the project on time and to fully meet our client’s expectations.

My biggest lesson from this project was the importance of learning how to work in a team. This skill largely benefitted me in my future roles since the success of most of the projects I worked on heavily depended on my ability to effectively collaborate with my teammates.

“During my time [at R&I], I had a lot of opportunities to work with Niagara-based food and beverage producers and to learn specifics of this industry. As a result, I had a chance to utilize this knowledge and experience to bring a unique perspective to the table.”   

What led you to Niagara College in the first place?

I come from the Northern part of Ukraine, from a 1,300-year-old city called Chernihiv. Canada was my No. 1 country when it came to deciding where to pursue my post-secondary education. The reason I chose to go to Niagara College stemmed from its strong reputation in Ukraine and some great recommendations that I received from an agency that was helping me to immigrate.

I really think that Niagara College is unique in terms of the value that it can provide to its students. Can you name another educational institution that takes pride in providing high-quality education to its students and that brews its own beer, distills its own vodka, makes its own wine and grows its own cannabis? The choice to come to NC was an obvious one!

Most memorable experience at NC?

I have two most memorable moments at Niagara College: The first one took place in March 2017, when I heard the results of a student election to the NCSAC [Niagara College Student Administrative Council] office and learned that I had just been elected as a director of clubs for the [Daniel J. Patterson Campus] in Niagara-on-the-Lake. I was filled with joy and happiness.

The second one occurred in March 2018, when I heard the result of a student election to the Board of Governors of Niagara College and learned that I had lost in that election. I felt quite devastated, but I did learn a lot from that campaign.

The bottom line is that two of my most memorable moments at NC are related to participating in the college life that goes way beyond pure education. I strongly recommend any NC student to take advantage of hundreds of extra-curriculum opportunities that the college provides. These opportunities will eventually comprise your most memorable moments of the student life.

Is there a particular mentor at R&I who influenced you?

I believe that multiple people at R&I were crucial for my personal and professional development. Among them are: Paula Reile [research project manager, Business & Commercialization Solutions], Kristine Canniff [research project manager, Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre], Neil Wilkinson [former research project manager, Research & Innovation]. All of them made their contribution to my learning and development, for which I am very grateful.

What advice would you impart to current research students or future alumni?

Never underestimate the power of teamwork and diversity of opinions. Quite often, having a well-rounded brainstorming session with your project manager or fellow research associates (even if they are not directly involved in your individual project) can constitute a difference between a successful project and a failure.

After being in the workforce, what have you learned?

In the real world, simply being book-smart is not enough. Companies are built on relationships and therefore one’s ability to effectively bond with other people is valued much more than one’s college grades. During the college years, it is vital for students to learn how to build successful relationships and how to effectively collaborate with others.

Proudest achievement since graduating?

My proudest achievement since graduating is proposing to the most beautiful girl in the world (Yuliia) and organizing an amazing wedding celebration a mere two weeks later.

After proposing, Artem and Yuliia were married two weeks later and live in Toronto.

Interests outside of work?

Outside of work, I am pursuing the CFA designation and, as a result, I often burn the midnight oil studying corporate finance and preparing for the upcoming exams.

Also, I love travelling and exploring new places. Every long weekend, I am doing my best to discover another natural gem of this beautiful country. My other passions include football, exploring new cuisines and playing board games with my friends.

If you could have a billboard message seen by many, what would it say?

Every human heartbeat is an entire universe of opportunities. Take them!

Also, Bitcoin is overpriced 😊

Grad hired thanks to 3D design experience with R&I

Anusha Qureshi is a 2020 graduate of Niagara College’s Mechanical Engineering Technology program and was a mechanical research assistant for Research & Innovation’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (WAMIC) for eight months in 2018. Anusha is employed as a technical specialist for Tetra Tech Inc., working as contractor with Ontario Power Generation.

Tell us about where you work:

I was hired by Tetra Tech Inc., an international consulting and engineering firm, as a technical specialist. Tetra Tech provides engineering solutions to clients working on water, environment, infrastructure, resource management, energy, and international development.

Through Tetra Tech, I have been working since August 2020 as a full-time contractor-draftsperson at Ontario Power Generation (OPG) in Bowmanville, Ont. OPG is one of the world’s largest power production companies in North America, and works with hydro, nuclear, biomass, gas and solar as generating sources.

Describe your role and what you like about it:

My job is to draft and modify mechanical/civil engineering drawings using 2D design software. I draft fabrication and construction drawings for Darlington Nuclear plant refurbishment, maintenance and training purposes. The refurbishment drafting includes drawings for concrete, steelwork, fire plan drawings and roadways.

I really enjoy working for a company that is providing for the country every day in the form of electricity and environmental safety. It is a great feeling. When I was in college, I recognized I was a good CAD designer, and I also seemed to enjoy doing it throughout my program. It makes me grateful to think that I have landed a job for something I enjoy doing. I am so grateful for the amazing professors at Niagara College who taught us the software so well that it has become a full-time job that I enjoy doing.

How has your experience with Research & Innovation helped prepare you for your current role?

It is safe to say that my experience at R&I helped me get this job. I am saying this because I got into OPG as a co-op student initially, and I was told on my first day by one of the supervisors that the reason my resume stood out was my experience with 3D design technologies at my previous co-op at Research & Innovation. R&I provided me with the opportunity to put my hands on new technologies such as 3D printers, 3D scanners and laser cutters at an early stage of my program — not only technologies, but at R&I, I developed my project management, writing, presentation, and speaking skills.

A memorable applied research project during your time at R&I?

I had the opportunity to work with OKE Polymer Systems at R&I. The project was to design an aid using their polymer-based material that would help immobile and bed-ridden patients. More than a project, it was an incredible opportunity to work for a good cause. Working on this project was an all-encompassing experience as I worked on so many skills. I worked on my 3D CAD-designing skills, where I learned about mold design function in CAD and became familiar with mold designing in general.

I was also introduced to 3D polyjet printing and print iterations. We did endless trials and errors, where I enhanced my troubleshooting skills and bit by bit improved 3D printing every time I used it to design a different model. At the end of the project, I made a detailed final report, where I demonstrated the report-writing skills I learned in college and also learned new aspects of report writing. I was able to challenge myself throughout this project with so many new skills.

What led you to Niagara College in the first place?

My brother went to Niagara College and took the same program as I did, so I followed in his footsteps. When my brother was a student at NC, and I was in Pakistan, he introduced me to Niagara College. He would also talk about his projects and co-ops and how the professors, career advisors and international advisors had helped him. It was a depiction of how international student-friendly NC is and how innovative the programs are designed.

“I got into OPG as a co-op student initially, and I was told on my first day by one of the supervisors that the reason my resume stood out was my experience with 3D design technologies at my previous co-op at Research & Innovation.”


Most memorable experience at NC?

I had the opportunity to go on the ‘Be World Ready’ trip to Germany with some students and professors from NC’s School of Technology. We were able to visit the factories of Porsche, BMW, and Volkswagen. Wow, I can never put it into words how incredible the trip was. It was amazing to learn how people from similar professions are operating in a different part of the world. With lots of learning, we had endless fun. I would highly recommend current students to take part in at least one Be World Ready trip.

A faculty member who influenced you?

Well, it would be extremely difficult to pick one. I am so grateful for all the professors I had during my program. I have heard horrible stories about professors from friends who went to other colleges or universities before me. I was lucky because I was taught by amazing professors all along.

The most amount of time I have spent in classes were with professor Neil Walker [Mechanical Engineering Technology] and professor Aaron Shatkosky [Mechanical Engineering Technology] because they taught us in almost every semester. I do not remember going to Aaron with a question and coming back without an answer. He was always there to help during class or after. His lectures included a lot of learning, a little bit of humour and delicious cookies.

There were no bad questions in Neil’s class because Neil would answer everything with such expertise that it would reflect his experience. The way Neil addresses every student’s concern in such a huge class is commendable. I was influenced by Neil’s dedication and teaching skills throughout the program. He nailed each and every subject he taught (and they were not easy). He has just figured out the art of teaching.

A mentor at R&I?

It was a pleasure to work with everyone at R&I. I mostly worked with my project lead, Gordon Maretzki [now centre manager, WAMIC]. He was a great mentor to me during my co-op at R&I. Even though it was my first-ever job in the field of engineering, he gave me full responsibility for the projects and kept me challenged throughout. He made it very clear that he trusts every student, which made me strive for solutions without fear of messing up. In one of our final project reports, he wrote a paragraph to recognize my work on the project, which today still encourages me every time I read it.

What advice would you impart to current research students or future alumni?

To future alumni, I would like to say: Do not be afraid of trying out new things. Be experimental with co-ops and new interests. Try everything, and, in the end, you might find what you enjoy doing the most. College is the best place to make mistakes and to learn from them.

To current research students: There are endless opportunities and learning at Research & Innovation. Between projects, try to interact and explore new technologies that they have to offer.

Proudest achievement since graduating?

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, our last semester was completed online. It was new and challenging for all the students and professors. Therefore, I was proud to complete my semester with desirable grades. I worked really hard on the job search and finally got hired during a pandemic.

Interests outside of work?

Now that I have graduated, I have some free time after work, in which I have started to invest in learning some music. I recently started to learn to play the guitar.

If you could have a billboard message seen by many, what would it say?

Never associate happiness with the destination. Be happy and enjoy the journey. The destination would itself become desirable.

Anything else you want to say?

Any guitarist reading this? I would love some free lessons! 😀

Learn more about Anusha: https://www.ncinnovation.ca/ar/anushaq

Where Are They Now?: Featuring Digital Technology Solutions alumni

Through applied research activities, NC’s Research & Innovation division is preparing the workforce with the right know-how by providing an array of researcher expertise, supported by leading-edge facilities, technology and equipment.

See how these 3 graduates and R&I alumni from the Digital Technology Solutions team are applying their skills and knowledge in the real world:

 

 

 

Josh Hanson is a 2016 graduate of Niagara College’s Computer Programmer Analyst program. Josh worked with R&I’s Digital Media & Web Solutions division.
READ MORE 


 

 

Brontë Bean is a 2016 graduate of Niagara College’s New Media Web Design program and was a Web Design/Develop Research Assistant for the Research & Innovation division.  READ MORE 



 

 

Alex Davis is a 2017 graduate of Niagara College’s Computer Programmer Analyst program. With the Research & Innovation division, he served as Research Assistant from 2016 to 2017 and then Research Associate until July 2019.
READ MORE 

 


» VIEW ALL PROFILES

Innovation in Action

Through applied research activities, Niagara College’s Research & Innovation division is preparing the workforce with the right know–how by providing an array of researcher expertise, supported by leading-edge facilities, technology and equipment. See how graduates and R&I alumni are applying their skills and knowledge in the real world.

Where Are They Now?: Featuring AETIC alumni

Through applied research activities, NC’s Research & Innovation division is preparing the workforce with the right know-how by providing an array of researcher expertise, supported by leading-edge facilities, technology and equipment.

See how these 2 graduates and R&I alumni from the Agriculture & Environmental Technologies Innovation Centre are applying their skills and knowledge in the real world:

 

 

 

Curtis Friesen’s time spent in the Research & Innovation division involved a cooperative and synergetic effort with the research team with the Agriculture & Environmental Technologies Innovation Centre (AETIC). READ MORE 



 

 

Brendan Spearin is a 2013 graduate of Niagara College’s GIS – Geospatial Management program. Brendan worked with R&I in the Agriculture & Environmental Technologies  Innovation Centre.
READ MORE 


 


» VIEW ALL PROFILES

Innovation in Action

Through applied research activities, Niagara College’s Research & Innovation division is preparing the workforce with the right know–how by providing an array of researcher expertise, supported by leading-edge facilities, technology and equipment. See how graduates and R&I alumni are applying their skills and knowledge in the real world.

Where Are They Now? Featuring WAMIC alumni

Through applied research activities, NC’s Research & Innovation division is preparing the workforce with the right know-how by providing an array of researcher expertise, supported by leading-edge facilities, technology and equipment.

See how these 3 graduates and R&I alumni from the Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre are applying their skills and knowledge in the real world:

 

 

 

Jonathan Pinchbeck, C.E.T. is a 2013 graduate of Niagara College’s Mechanical Engineering Technology program and spent one year with R&I in the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre. READ MORE 



 

 

Ursula Susunaga received an Advanced Diploma in Mechanical Engineering Technology from Niagara College in 2014. Ursula worked with R&I in the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre. 
READ MORE 



 

 

Justin Vigneux is a 2013 graduate of Niagara College’s Renewable Energy Technician program. Justin worked with R&I in the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre.
READ MORE 


 
 


» VIEW ALL PROFILES

Innovation in Action

Through applied research activities, Niagara College’s Research & Innovation division is preparing the workforce with the right know–how by providing an array of researcher expertise, supported by leading-edge facilities, technology and equipment. See how graduates and R&I alumni are applying their skills and knowledge in the real world.

Where Are They Now? Featuring CFWI IC alumni

Through applied research activities, NC’s Research & Innovation division is preparing the workforce with the right know-how by providing an array of researcher expertise, supported by leading-edge facilities, technology and equipment.

See how these 3 graduates and R&I alumni from the Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre are applying their skills and knowledge in the real world:

Beatrix Csemer is a 2015 graduate of Niagara College’s Culinary Innovation and Food Technology program. Beatrix worked with R&I in the Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre.
READ MORE  


Jon Weber is a 2016 graduate of Niagara College’s Culinary Innovation and Food Technology program. Jon worked with R&I in the Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre.
READ MORE 


Ankita Mathkar is a 2018 graduate of Niagara College’s Culinary Innovation and Food Technology program. Ankita worked with R&I in the Canadian Food & Wine Institute Innovation Centre.  
READ MORE →