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A beautiful thing - OC student's work helps industry

An Okanagan College student’s class project is turning out to be a valuable resource for B.C.’s estheticians and spa owners.

Faye Hughes, a fourth-year student in OC’s Business Administration degree program, has produced a 50-page human resources manual as part of her Social Entrepreneurship course. She worked closely with Heather Stewart, the Co-President of the Estheticians and Spa Professionals Association British Columbia and the organization’s board to understand and address members’ needs for HR information and direction.FayeHughes.jpg

“She was just amazing and her manual went far beyond what we initially expected,” says Stewart. “Faye and I will be presenting the manual at our convention in February in Vancouver and will be giving all the members an electronic copy.”

That convention draws about 5,000 people.

Hughes was able to draw on her own working experience as she prepared the manual: before returning to school at Okanagan College, she was certified as a hairstylist and worked in the industry for a year and a half.

“When I saw this on the list of potential projects we could undertake as part of our course, I thought immediately ‘this was tailor-made for me.’”

And from Stewart’s description of how the project bloomed under Hughes’ efforts, it was destiny at work. “She trained as a hairstylist, she worked in a spa, she knows the industry. Faye really went above and beyond. The scope and depth of material covered in her manual was beyond what we had initially envisioned.”

“Amazing” is a word that Stewart uses frequently in the conversation about the project. “She is a young woman who takes initiative, communicates well, uses technology to bridge a broad geography and connect with a diverse board.”

The manual is focused on helping the owners of small- and medium-sized businesses understand and implement good human resources practices, explains Stewart. Already, there is interest from a college in the Lower Mainland to use the manual in its esthetician training program. And Leading Spas of Canada – the national organization of spa owners – is reviewing it for distribution as well, reports Stewart.

For Hughes, the project is memorable for a whole host of reasons. It was satisfying to work with a professional organization with well-defined needs and being able to address those, she reports. But more than that “it was incredible how everything I’ve learned over the past four years in business at Okanagan College in human resources and other courses came into play with my experience on this.”

“Each year there are several of these success stories coming out of our student projects,” explains OC Business Administration Professor Dr. Kyleen Myrah. “Since we started offering this course in 2007, students have completed more than 200 projects with approximately 125 different organizations. It’s testament to the outreach of our program, but more than that, it is a testament to the quality of our students and what they are able to achieve as a consequence of their education.”

Hughes is set to graduate in June with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree.