Degree: Applied Research
Year of graduation: 1991
True Calling: Applied research graduate Bette Madigan talks about her five-career journey
One could say that Bette Madigan enjoys taking chances: while most people have one or two careers in life, she’s already had five to date — accounting, sales, applied research, volunteer services manager and owner of a Bowen therapy clinic. “This process evolved organically,” she says. “After my son went off to school in 1987, I wanted to discover who I was and decided that I wanted to have a new career every five years. And when you decide what you want to do, the universe presents it.”
Madigan’s original career was in the accounting and banking fields where she worked for approximately 28 years. When her son started postsecondary at Georgian College, she picked a career out of the newspaper and began working on commission sales at Canadian Scholarships, where she rose to the position of district manager.
Then, in keeping with her new five-year plan in each career, Madigan chose to come to Sheridan for its applied research program. “I had a grade A education,” she says. “I was 52 at the time — the oldest one in my class — and found Sheridan to be very progressive. I really learned how to learn there.”
Upon graduation in the early 90s, Madigan worked at Statistics Canada in the postsecondary division doing research for two years, but decided she wasn’t a good fit for government. She went back to school again and received certification at Algonquin College as a manager of volunteer services, which she promptly put to work in social services at the Salvation Army, and then as a manager of volunteer services at the Magnetic North Theatre Festival at the National Arts Centre. After a role working in the box office at the Ottawa International Animation Festival, Madigan became a registrar at the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama.
During this time, Madigan was also undergoing what she calls a spiritual quest, which led her to a mountaintop in Thailand with 60 other Canadians and a master for two weeks in 2006. “We were all expecting to find out what we would be doing next,” she remembers. “Nothing came, until two months after I returned. I was watching Dr. Marla Shapiro on television and she had a Bowen therapist on as her guest, and I thought, ‘this is what I want to do’.”
Ten years ago, Madigan opened Bowen Therapy Clinic in Ottawa. Bowenwork involves stimulating receptors in the tendons, muscles and ligaments of the body, and as her clinic’s founder and director, she has helped patients suffering from chronic back pain, shoulder pain, sciatica and more. She especially enjoys working with young autistic children. “I find it beneficial,” she says. “I originally started working with children between 12 and 18 (who were aggressive and self injurious) and I could see that they benefitted greatly in relaxing. And with younger children, I enjoy working with them so perhaps they don’t have to go through the anger when they are older.”
Although her plan to change careers every five years has been temporarily put on hold, at 77, Madigan still feels like she is on her journey. “I’ve learned that I want to keep learning,” she says. “And all of the things that have led up to my owning my own business and being successful – accounting, sales, research, managing – make me think that all my life, I was heading in this direction.”