The day I got my admission letter to the MM Program was also the day my father suffered multiple strokes. For 7 days, I sat outside the ICU until he opened his eyes. His nurses knew me by now as the kid who never left, even after visiting hours were over.

On that 7th day, I got a phone call at 4am,”Usman? Your Dad woke up, he’s asking for you”. I was at the pharmacy, getting his medicines. I am sure I had an overdose of adrenaline in my system as I ran to the ICU.

I approached his bed; he looked into my eyes, the first thing he said to me “Did you get in?”. I held back the tears but they kept pouring as I nodded,”Yes”. The second thing he said to me, “Why are you still here? Go! I am Okay”.

A year later, I arrived in Vancouver. I knew no one. I was staying at an AirBnB for 7 days during which I had to find a long term place to stay. I did not know how to get around, Google maps was very new to me, as were working transit systems. I was overwhelmed to say the least. Immediately stress started to pile on.

During Orientation Week we were pushed to get out of our comfort zones and all I could think to myself was, “How much more out of my element, could I really be?”. I pushed on and I met Kristen Underwood who not only found me a place to stay but also became nothing less than family in this now exciting and new city. She was followed by 54 other individuals in this cohort who showed me nothing but love and helped become a part of this beautiful city and country.

But 6 months later, stress started to pile on again as I got close to completing the course and was nowhere close to finding a job. Once again, Sauder pushed me to get out of my comfort zone, holding networking events and pushing us to make something happen for ourselves. At one of these networking events I met Ania Cox, the Director of HR at Western Forest Products who asked me if I was looking for a job, when I smiled, she handed me her business card and 3 weeks after my last class (and countless sessions with Carly Boettcher) at Sauder, I had the offer letter in my hand.

I am now living on Vancouver Island and I have 6 months to come up with ways to enhance a multi-billion dollar business. This time, I am not stressed about it. Because Sauder’s MM gave me everything I need to take this challenge head on. I have worked hard to get where I am, but I am hungry for more. Nothing is impossible. Take a step back, breathe and close your eyes. Ask yourself; what do you crave? What will you do to get it? Remember, “Tuum Est” (It’s Upto You).

Group photo

– Usman Bhatti, MM’17

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