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This MBA grad wanted a rewarding job — and now she's running a non-profit

May is MS Awareness Month! Nicole Duchastel explains why her work at the West Island Multiple Sclerosis Self-Help Group is the best job she’s ever had
May 2, 2019
By Jasmin Legatos

Nicole Duchastel, BA 96, MBA 04 Nicole Duchastel at convocation for her John Molson School of Business MBA in 2004.

Nicole Duchastel, BA 96, MBA 04, is proof that there’s no one path for an MBA recipient.

During her undergrad in economics at Concordia, Duchastel worked at a bank. She then joined paper and pulp giant Abitibi-Consolidated before spending more than a decade in her family’s professional-development and online-learning enterprise.

Today, she’s director of the West Island Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Self-Help Group, a charitable organization based in Montreal’s Dollard-des-Ormeaux suburb. “I don’t like to be pigeonholed,” Duchastel says.

As the head of a small non-profit organization, Duchastel is very hands-on. “It’s like running your own business.” Finance, accounting and outreach all fall under her purview. “I don’t just sit in front of a screen; it’s very diverse.”

On Mondays, Duchastel joins the MS-sufferers and their caregivers at their weekly gathering for chair yoga, conferences or a bit of socializing. On Thursdays, she accompanies them to adapted aqua-fitness classes at a local pool. The rest of the time, Duchastel and her colleague are working on fundraising efforts for the group, which is one of 17 MS chapters in Quebec.

Nicole Duchastel, 2018 Nicole Duchastel (second from right) at an event in support of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada in the summer of 2018.

Every May, during Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month, she organizes a walk to raise funds for the MS Society of Canada, an endeavour that occupies almost half her year. She and her colleague also work with restaurants to get a portion of proceeds from their most popular dishes donated to the cause during that month.

Before joining the self-help group, Duchastel knew no one with MS and very little about the disease. Now she knows hundreds. She’s a resource when they are first diagnosed and she’s by their side when they suffer a setback and end up in hospital.

“There’s a whole human element to my job that wasn’t there in my previous positions and which I really like. It’s very real,” she says. “It sounds kind of kitschy, but the most rewarding part of my job is definitely helping others.”

While helping your fellow human being isn’t necessarily on an Econ or MBA syllabus, the lessons she learned while studying at Concordia are the reasons she can be so effective in her work. It’s thanks to her MBA that she can understand the financial side of her organization. It’s also at JMSB where she learned to multi-task, to be organized, to prioritize and to develop a good work ethic – all skills she uses today.

“It gave me a good basis to succeed in all the work I’ve done,” she says. “But in non-profit specifically, because you need to be good in everything.”


Sunday, May 26, 2019

Bring your family and friends together to share in the start/finish-line activities, team awards ceremonies and amazing stories from people living with MS! We can’t wait to celebrate with you!

Above and beyond the bagels, snacks and lunch boxes offered to all who walk and volunteer there will be a MEGA cake to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the West Island Walk. Meet honorary president Sheldon Kagan as well as local politicians including Alex Bottausci, BA 94, MBA 13, Mayor of Dollard-des-Ormeaux.


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