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Photo of a smiling Alison Wiley carrying a large backpack and holding out a cellphone.
Alison Wiley. Photo by Kate Wiley
Business

“Everything in Life Requires Confidence”

How a U of T prof taught Alison Wiley the art of negotiation

My MBA education provided me with something essential: self-confidence. In a second-year course on business negotiation, I learned a lot from Prof. Glen Whyte about securing a fair salary. We went over tactics, and role-played scenarios where I presented opening positions and what to do if I didn’t get my ask. We spent a lot of time practising, and I received constructive feedback from Glen – it was excellent training.

One assignment was doing a real negotiation in our lives. I had just been offered a job at Weston Foods’ head office, and I discovered a classmate was offered a similar job there but would be paid significantly more than me. I decided to try to renegotiate my salary. I reviewed my class notes, and when I walked into the boss’s office, I was prepared to make my case. Thankfully, he absolutely agreed with me. He checked into the discrepancy with HR, and had my pay increased to the same level. It was such a positive experience.

I went on to work at Weston Foods for 10 years, and built a rewarding career in operations and brand management. In 2008, I started Live Out Loud Adventures, a company that specializes in leading classic hikes around the world. We not only guide, but we train and prepare you to be the best you can. I also enjoy being an athlete, and finished fourth in my age group at the 2010 and 2011 World Triathlon Championships. Everything in life requires confidence, especially in business. Confidence is an accumulation of positive moments, such as that experience in my MBA class. Glen built me up, and now I try to do the same for my travel clients – I get them to see they have what it takes.
 
By Alison Wiley (MBA 1991), as told to Sharon Aschaiek

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