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Alumni Profiles

Brenda Clare

Brenda Clare

Pilon School of Business
Year of Graduation: 1971
Program: Business Administration - Accounting

Market Research Pay Offs

In 1968, community colleges were a new postsecondary choice for students that were graduating from high school. The teachers would all be from the working world rather than from academia as is primarily the case with universities. Despite being accepted at a university in a physical education degree program for the fall of 1969, I chose Sheridan because of the practical education that it would offer me, one that I thought would serve me well in the working world and, it was a good decision.

Back then Sheridan was housed in the “old” Brampton High School; by my third year we had moved to the new facilities in Oakville. My biggest disappointment was the non-existence of sports for women. Having been very active in sports in high school I missed the competition and camaraderie that sports offered so I delved more into my love of horses and competing with my horses.

My most memorable time was in second year. We had started with three classes in the first year and this had dwindled to two classes by the second year. In October of the second year the other two women quit the program – I was the only female student in two classes of men. You might think this would be a great social situation but having grown up as one of three girls this petrified me – I came close to quitting the program. Memorable teachers for me were Dave Tinker, Market Research – who helped me start my Market Research career; and Dorothy Curzon, Accounting – who encouraged me to go on as the only female student in that second year.

After graduation in the spring of 1971 I worked for the Continuing Education Department of Sheridan organizing and reporting data from a recent Market Research project. Little did I know that this would become the focus of my career.

In the fall of 1971, I began as a Market Research Statistician at what was then called G. D. Searle, a pharmaceutical company located in Oakville. My career at Searle spanned 22 years and took me into many exciting career paths: Manager of many different departments – Market Research, Administration, Customer Service, Information Technology; installation of the first “mini” and “personal” computers at Searle; member of a new product development team; member of a management process improvement team; and development of a Call Reporting System.

When I was at Sheridan I met my future husband, Paul, and we were married in 1973. We now have a son who is in pre-law at university. In 1993 I decided to leave Searle to spend more time with our son. I continued my career consulting in market research and new business innovations and initiatives. We have decided to semi-retire and travel but I still enjoy the thrill of completing a market research project!

Also during this time, Paul and I had identified a business opportunity that combined my two loves – business and animals. We developed a farm raising miniature horses and other more unusual animals. Through hard work we had grown the business so that we had the largest herd of miniature horses in Canada with the most diverse selection. We had developed the business (to the point) where we had referrals from the Government and customers from around the world. We built the business on a basic theme – treat your customers as you would like to be treated. We still stay in touch with some of these customers. In early 2000, the developers put pressure on us to sell our property. We closed the farm in June 2004 – a very sad day for us.

Not one to quit being an entrepreneur, I started up a custom embroidery business specializing in animals. This now takes me to animal events across Ontario. As well, I am an enthusiastic quilter that enjoys creating original designs – one of which is in the background of my photo. We are excited as there is a new business on the horizon for us which is still in the development stage.

Sheridan has changed a lot since my time – a residence for students, much larger facilities, and different programs – but I think the basic philosophy has not – a practical education that will lead to a career. A student at Sheridan has the opportunity to learn from teachers that have working experience, take this learning and grow with it to develop a wonderful career. Never turn down an opportunity to gain experience – you never know where it will lead!