Picking Careers

As a first-year in Sauder, I am constantly bombarded by questions about my future: What business am I interested in? What will I major in? Will I go to graduate school?

As of right now I have no idea if I even want to pursue a career in business. I am enjoying my first year at Sauder, so assuming I meet the minimum requirements, I’ll continue on here next year. With that in mind, I have to begin choosing my career path, which is something I am not ready for.

Thankfully, Penelope Trunk simplifies the process in her blog and makes it less exhausting for me to choose a career. According to her, a career isn’t a job, but rather it’s a lifestyle. I should love what I do, not count down the minutes until I go home. I can’t overcommit myself–instead I should test many options and see what fits. Finally, I shouldn’t believe the hype of the job. I need to learn for myself what I enjoy and hate, and it shouldn’t matter what that job is, if it feels right to be a garbage man, a garbage man I should be.

I should be happy with the career choices I make in life 🙂

From Enterprize to Energy Aware

Energy Aware is a local company that was created at the Sauder School of Business. In 2005, the company, which was comprised of a mix between B-Com and Engineering students, entered and won the Enterprize Business Plan Competition. The company’s product is a device (PowerTab) which gives feedback on how much money is being spend on electricity in the home. This information is instantaneous, and the PowerTab can even be set to alert the homeowner when they reach certain rates of electricity use.

The PowerTab Display

I was fortunate enough to meet Janice Cheam, President and CEO of Energy Aware, who spoke about entrepreneurship in class. While I already knew that her company had won the Enterprize Competition, I was surprised to learn of some of the struggles she faced following the initial success. Janice was unable to go to the banks for a loan because they were not willing to invest in such a risky project. Instead she was forced to find Angel Investors, which meant giving up full ownership of the company in exchange for financial backing. This is an example of when an entrepreneur has to relinquish stock of their company, rather than just take a bank loan.

A New Target Audience

Target brings a new identity to the retail business in Canada

Recently the American company Target announced their occupation of 220 Zellers stores in Canada. This gigantic takeover is creating new competition in the Canadian retailer market, particularly between Target and Walmart. Shasin Hamal believes that Target should establish themselves in different locations that are more accessible to lower-income families. The competition doesn’t matter because of the steady Canadian economy and thus all the companies will remain successful.

I believe that Target will not bring competition to the Canadian retail industry, but rather it will recharge it with positive energy. An article in Canadian Business Online states: “Canada is currently littered with sad-sack shopping plazas formerly anchored by Zellers. You can recognize them by the peeling paint and the potholes in the empty parking lots. But come this spring, those lots will once again be full, the cash registers will sing, the aisles will buzz with eager shoppers. I would imagine the other stores in those plazas are looking forward to this.” I believe the Canadian market will pick up rapidly with the arrival of Target. Retailers will share customers, while thousands of workers are being hired, boosting the Canadian economy further.

Mickey Mouse: The Jedi Continue

In a blockbuster transaction that rocked the ‘house of mouse’, Disney has purchased Lucasfilm Ltd, and along with it the Star Wars franchise. The deal, worth over 4 billion dollars in cash and stock, comes on the heals of Disney’s recent purchases of Pixar in 2006 and Marvel in 2009. The Financial Post reports: “Disney already has a great portfolio and this adds one more,” said Morningstar analyst Michael Corty. “They don’t have any holes, but their past deals have been additive.” While Lucasfilm productions historically have large grosses in box offices, the addition of the company will boost sales of toys and other products for Disney. 

I believe this is a chance to reinvent two of the most classic series in Hollywood: Star Wars and Indiana Jones. The name of each film alone is enough to make a profit, but the quality has been downhill over the past few years, particularly that of the most recent Indiana Jones film, which was received poorly by critics. Disney can inject new life, through new production, direction, or acting, and recreate the popular series, much like those of James Bond and The Pink Panther.

A Divine Social Entrepreneurial Venture

When people think of Aero, Kit Kat, and Snickers, they immediately associate with chocolate and happiness. Claudia Pisarek wrote an article about how Divine Chocolate  buys cocoa at a fair, stable price from the farmers. In reality, cocoa prices are volatile, and Divine is working to give fair wages and support to the farmers while educating them on business opportunities through involvement in the company and community.

This intrigues me, as I am very interested in traveling abroad and participating in social entrepreneurship opportunities, learning about services such as micro finance. Divine mostly operates in West Africa, working towards:

-increased power and representation within the market for the farmers

-social, economic and political empowerment

-enhanced women’s participation in all its affairs

-environmentally sustainable production processes

This organization reminds of Sauder’s Arc Initiative; the organization is going into a foreign, third-world country, and teaching basic stills and techniques for locals to operate successful businesses. This is a field that is both rewarding and eye-opening, and one in which I would thoroughly enjoy the experience and the opportunity to make a difference. With all the inntiatives at UBC like the Arc Initiative and Social Entrepreneurship 101, it is good to see external companies embody responsible purchasing.

A New Golden Standard in Marketing

On May 26, 2010, Vancouver Science World marketed itself through the creative use of a billboard. Covered in over $6000 worth of gold leaf, the billboard advertised the new treasure exhibit that was soon to open, and even had it its own security guard.

The advertisement was so unique it received video attention from notable news stations including CTV, CBC, and Global.

The advertisement was successful because of its creativity and originality. Science World used a conventional marketing tool in billboards to successfully position their brand. When associating with science world, people thought of a forward-thinking, creative, and educational location that could be enjoyed by all ages. While there are few direct competitors to Science World, the advertisement was still able to attract attention from the local media and differentiate the attraction from other tourist destinations in Vancouver.

I enjoy this advertisement because of it’s differentiability and genius. This add gleams in the light and catches anyones eye. Furthermore it makes me want to see the exhibit at Science World (although I am 2 years late) and thus is a success in my opinion.

Here is a link to the creation the the gold billboard:

The Golden Billboard

Where is Robin Food? The Rich are Starving the Poor in India

A starving man in Indi

year India’s harvests were expected to be record highs; however, the poor will still go hungry. Voice of America states that: “this year’s record production could leave the government with 75 million tons of grain on its hands. With facilities only to store 63 million tons in state-run warehouses, millions of tons could be left out in the open.” Additionally, the government has problems distributing the food, because of the lack for proper funding and organization. This is in dire need of fixing, as 900 million Indian citizens eat less than the government recommended minimums.

Short Video on Child Malnourishment in India

In the state of Uttar Pradesh this issue is taken to an extreme. According to Bloomberg News, “$14.5 billion in food [has gone] missing during the past 10 years,” Business Week says that while there have recently been overflowing reserves located near poverty-filled villages, the food was not being rationed fairly. Instead, the State Food Minister bought the food cheap off the farmers and then sold it to companies at the market price, pocketing the difference. Although there are trials ongoing, no arrests have been made, while there has been no foreign input to push the government into action.

Children hungry in the slums of India




Is a Debt-Free Education Needed?

College graduates in the United States are taking on an increasing amount of debt according to an article in Business Weekly the debt is reaching new highs and may be the cause of the next economic crash. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says that the debt has passed 1 trillion dollars, while the Federal Reserve Bank of New York states: “It grew by $300 billion from the third quarter of 2008 even as other forms of debt shrank by $1.6 trillion.” In some cases, this debt totals ridiculous amounts of over 300 000 dollars. These loans are causing students to mortgage their futures and find quick and easy work immediately after graduation because of the need for income. While researching my post-secondary choices, I realized that the cost of learning in the USA was too high for my family. I save 50 thousand dollars a year by living at home and commuting to school. While it is necessary to have some debt that schools can invest in, the soaring cost of education will force potential students to find alternatives to university.

some statistics about university tuition and debt




The USSR and Russia Bonding?

A bond issued by the USSR Government in 1982

In the mid 1990s the newly restored Russian Government promised investors that it would repay the 1982 issued Soviet bonds. Now, Russian President Vladimir Putin must find a way to repay the approximately $785 trillion his government still owes. According to Bloomberg the debt would be “equal to almost half of Russian economic output.” Business Week describes a plan the government has to repay the debt, but it is slow and inefficient. The government was paying 50 billion rubles (Russian currency, approximately 3 Canadian cents) back per year; however the debt is 25 trillion rubles. In April, Putin halted the payments, which will resume in 2015, as a stall tactic to buy more time to plan. Putin is still paying the oldest owners of debt, but other citizens disagree with his methods. People have begun to go the European Court of Human Rights to aid them in receiving back their owed investments. While it seems Putin has managed to postpone the payments, I wonder when he will be forced to repay the remaining balances. This would cause a massive financial hit in Russia, most likely effecting the whole worlds economic status.


A Brief Summary of the Crisis in Russia (short video summarizing cause and effect)




Can Eating Pizza Leave a Bad Taste in Your Mouth?

The Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company is a local diner on the West Side of Vancouver that has made supporting green initiatives a “part of the values of the company.”  The company operates around environmentally friendly practices such as buying “local, organic and carbon-neutral products wherever possible.” Customers are also given the option to pay an extra 1% carbon fee that is added onto their bill. The ethical issue, however, is that the carbon tax is automatically charged to the customers, who must specifically request to void the fee. This is referred to as negative option billing. This practice has already been made illegal across several industries throughout Canada. For example, in 1999, the federal government passed legislation forbidding cable companies from implementing negative option billing for additional services. While it is not illegal for Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company to automatically charge a carbon fee on every purchase, it begs the question of whether or not it is ethical to force customers to opt out, even if it is a small amount for a good cause.