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Alumni News

A Thrilling Success

October 10, 2013

When Karen Wood entered Sheridan’s doors in September 2000 she was more than a little nervous. “I was a 32-year-old stay-at-home mother looking to build a new career. Everyone was younger than I was. I hoped I was making the right decision.”

Her fears were unfounded, however, and Karen went on to make her mark both inside and outside the classroom. “I didn’t have any trouble adjusting. The teachers were extremely supportive and I enjoyed the work.” In fact, Karen received a class excellence award and landed a job a month before graduation.

Today, she is Vice President of Thrillworks interactive media agency which made Profit magazine’s 500 fastest growing companies three years in a row. The agency ranked #168 on the 2013 list, boasting 382% five-year revenue growth.

After graduating with a BA in English from McMaster University in 2000, Karen was searching for a satisfying career path. She found digital design to be the “perfect blend of all the things I love: art, communications and technology. I can’t imagine a better fit for me.”

Following a couple of stints working in design and managing a software development team, Karen joined Burlington-based Thrillworks in 2007, becoming one of many Sheridan alumni who have been part of the company’s rising success. Today, eight of Thrillworks’ approximately 40 employees are graduates, contributing marketing, illustration, graphic design as well as technical expertise.

Many of the employees who make up the agency’s A-level team gained top-drawer experience from Toronto firms before coming to Thrillworks, says Karen. “As they started families, numerous professionals were looking to settle in the suburbs and cut out the commute. We have benefitted from that trend,” she explains. What’s more, the talent Thrillworks has attracted tends to stick around. Designer, John Maher (Interactive Multimedia, 2000), has been at Thrillworks for a dozen years.

“We have a team of people who are genuinely passionate about what they do and that is very motivating,” says Karen. “As much as I enjoy working for a technically-based company, it is the people who get me up in the morning.”

Herein lies Karen’s advice for current students and graduates. “Seek something that you are passionate about, even if it means waiting. You can love what you do. It’s not a pipe dream.”

Karen’s connection to Sheridan extends beyond the professional level. Her husband Ian Wood is a 1999 Media Arts grad (and former IMM faculty member), and her son entered the first year of the Media Arts program in September 2013.

More about Sheridan’s Interactive Multimedia Program