College Professor, Okanagan School of Business
EDST Degree/s and graduation year/s
Educational Studies—General – Educational Leadership & Policy
Kelowna, BC, Canada
Kyleen Myrah, EdD ‘04
Kyleen resides in the beautiful city of Kelowna and has been a Professor of Business at Okanagan College teaching in the areas of management since the late 1990’s. Her doctoral work at UBC explored a more integrated and expansive approach to entrepreneurship, and led to a focus in teaching, research and writing on the area of social entrepreneurship. Kyleen has also run her own corporate training company for over 20 years specializing in leadership development and strategic planning. She believes greatly in the importance of service to community and has held a wide variety of board and committee positions within her region; most notably, she recently co-lead the City of Kelowna’s Task Force on homelessness (2017-18), and was the inaugural Chair of the Central Okanagan Journey Home Society tasked with implementing the community’s five year plan to end homelessness. Kyleen’s current research focuses on social enterprise development using the case research method, and she has published in case journals, is a regular case reviewer, was a special edition editor for Case Research Journal (CRJ) and is on their editorial board. Kyleen is also a founding member of the interdisciplinary Kelowna Homelessness Research Collaborative (https://khrc.ok.ubc.ca/) where she has been producing work around the vulnerabilities to homelessness, and allyship in research. Kyleen has also been a Faculty Advisor for the award-winning student organization, Enactus Okanagan College (https://enactusoc.ca/), since the team’s inception in 2006, whose mandate is use social entrepreneurial approaches to conduct outreach projects that positively impact their community. In her spare time she enjoys all the outdoors have to offer (hiking, skiing, biking) with her active family and her ‘woodle’ dog named Stella.
Tell us more about your (current or previous) position. Describe your role.
College Professor, School of Business, Okanagan College (OC). I teach in the management areas (social entrepreneurship, leadership, organizational behaviour). I am also a Faculty Advisor for the EnactusOC team; a student led leadership group that runs community based projects to address social, environmental, and economic needs in our region. I conduct applied research, mainly in the social enterprise area, and focus mainly on writing, teaching and publishing case studies of social entrepreneurs using their organizations to address important social issues in our community. I am also involved in service roles in the community, most recently addressing homelessness in my city.
How does a day at work look like?
I teach a class and perhaps have office hours or meetings with students. I meet with our Enactus students to discuss a project they are working on. I may have a community meeting or an internal committee meeting. I could also be working on a case study (interviewing the organization, writing or reviewing cases, preparing for a conference).
What gives you meaning and fulfillment in your work?
The growth and development of our students. Helping to guide and coach students to contribute in meaningful ways to our community. Hearing stories of organizations making a difference in their community. Using my research work in my classroom to inspire students.
What are some of the challenges you have faced?
Managing a healthy balance of work, personal recreation and important family time. Finding enough research support and time to do research. Adapting classes to an online environment in a short amount of time (covid-related)
What are some accomplishments or highlights that you are most proud of?
Developing a social entrepreneurship course that has helped hundreds of non profits in the community Starting an EnactusOC chapter that has won numerous awards and supported the growth of engaged, and socially responsible students. Written, published, and incorporated case studies into my teaching practice, exposing students and faculty to organizations making a difference in our communities (Canadian case studies) featuring female protagonists (who are highly under-represented)
Tell us a bit about your path leading to your graduate degree. Why did you decide to pursue graduate studies?
I was feeling ‘stuck’ in my job and it was not the right fit. I wanted to get back into the educational arena. I had some interesting questions I wanted to explore further and I also wanted to learn from a cohort.
How has what you learned in your graduate program informed your work?
It got me think more deeply about certain areas, and to critically evaluate my assumptions. I learned about to manage work, studies and a family by working on my EdD in combination with other parts of my life. I learned a lot from my professors and my cohort members about how they were trying to use their educational goals in their line of work, and what was possible in mine. It also made me realize I needed to be in education for my full-time career.
How does your area of work relate to your dissertation?
My dissertation transformed my teaching. It taught me to consider a more expansive view of entrepreneurship and shaped my future teaching, research and volunteer work. I developed courses, supported nonprofit organizations, and developed a case research practice all centered around social entrepreneurship. It lead to the development of a volunteer student group at the College (EnactusOC) which has gone on to do really important work in our communities and grow and support socially responsible leaders. I also have continued to run a training and coaching practice where I use the skills and knowledge I have learned to support organizations in reaching their own goals in leadership development, and social enterprise.
What is your most memorable experience from your time in EDST?
I was at a EdD retreat. I was pretty close to finishing my dissertation and was also pregnant with my 2nd child. I really believed if I did not finish before this child was born, I would not finish. I was in a new job as a professor of business at Okanagan University College and was already struggling to learn a new role, manage a young child and finish my doctoral studies. One of my cohort members told me I needed to get rid of things that did not lead to finishing this goal, and in my case, this was all my volunteer work (because it would always be there when I had more time) so I could be laser focused on the end goal. I took her advice which had a significant impact on my ability to find time to finish my dissertation, which I did on a Wed evening and had my son 2 days later on a Friday morning. It is also worth mentioning that I am not sure I would have survived the defense or the additional changes I needed to make without the support and direction of Dr. Butterwick who was pivotal in me completing these final requirements while having a new baby. I am incredibly grateful for how my dissertation work has led to an incredibly fulfilling and engaging career in an area I believe has important value, and the ability to share these learnings with others. And for all those who helped me along this journey.
What is something that you needed to learn (beyond your degree) or unlearn to be able to work in your sector?
I continually need to learn how to say no. There are so many rich opportunities in teaching, research, mentoring, community volunteerism, but also only so many hours in a day. I need to be present and energetic for my personal and family life as well as my career and community work. This requires a commitment to constantly evaluate what I take on and how it impacts the responsibilities and outcomes I create.