Category Archives: Alumni Guest Entries

Alumni Spring Social

This spring, a group of MM alumni from the program’s 8-year history came together to celebrate and reconnect. This was the first “reunion” planned across MM graduating years by the Master of Management Alumni Association (MMAA), and it was a huge success! At the event, we played pub trivia to see if anyone remembered anything from the program (surprisingly, quite a lot!), tasted some local craft beers, caught up with old friends, and made some new ones.

It has been truly inspiring to watch our alumni community grow and see how far people have come. There’s something about the MM: our degree is relatively young both at UBC and around the world. Because of this, we think we MMs have a unique bond that brings us together. There’s a sense of closeness and camaraderie that comes from our experience, and together, we’re building a name for ourselves on a global scale.

We’re looking forwards to making this event bigger and bi-coastal next year and want to sincerely thank the planning committee and the Alumni who came out!

Written by Cidnee Vaykovich & Elizabeth Sun (Alumni)

Alumnus Entry

First, thank you for inviting me to write a guest post on the official UBC Sauder MM Blog. It feels just like yesterday when you could find me sucking down double doubles from the Tim’s at Henry Angus at 7:30 AM each morning with incredible zeal, steeling myself for the day’s barrage of intense MM classes and dreaded group meetings – you know what I’m talking about.

In honesty, I look back on my days at Sauder with much fondness and believe that the MM program was a cornerstone decision that’s had a tremendous impact on my life.

I want to take this opportunity to offer a few words of advice and encouragement to those currently going through the program.

  1. Embrace your diversity in background, don’t shy from it.

I think many start the the MM program with a bit of self-doubt. I know in my year, we were only the third cohort coming out the program, so there was really a lot to think and be skeptical about. Wedged somewhere in between the rigorous academic foundation of a BCom and the work experience of an MBA, would I really be ready?

About half a decade out now, it’s very clear how little I had to fear. I still remember many of the stimulating conversations and incredible personalities from the MM program. I really enjoyed the dynamic natures of the people I went to class with, coming from various nationalities and academic backgrounds, who offered up perspectives on our courses and business cases with a perspective different from mine filtered from Science, Liberal Arts, Engineering backgrounds and more. Rarely in business is there only one way to tackle a problem, so learning to see so many different sides of an issue was a great lesson for me.


There have also been practical benefits to the MM experience. In the working world, now more than ever, creativity and new ideas are celebrated. At least in the technology and advertising world, many were fascinated by the story of my Music and Business background and often it’s kept the interviewer’s interest after they had slagged through 100 resumes with the same information, over and over. It shows we MMers have diverse interests, we’re willing to forge a unique path and if nothing else, that we’re interesting people (at least I’d like to think so). Breadth often breeds respect. I’ve noticed that stacking knowledge from different disciplines often enhances and rarely hinders your value to an organization.

  1. The UBC Sauder network is full of incredible connections. Use them.

One of the greatest things about being a graduate of UBC Sauder is that you’ll soon be joining the ranks of our amazing alumni community. A quick LinkedIn search will show you that we’re a global bunch, firmly established in almost every industry under the sun, whether in finance, tech, health, or entertainment – you’ll find us there..

Through the alumni network I’ve made many lifelong friends. I’ve found mentors to help me brainstorm through difficult business and career problems, I’ve secured job interviews while looking for new careers and I’ve found great friends and travel guides to meet up with when I’m visiting new countries, such as Tokyo, NYC and Seoul. Of course, I’ve also done my part to pay it forward when I can, helping make connections and introduction where possible. The reciprocity found in the Sauder community always surprises me and I’m grateful to be a contributing member.

  1. Life is a journey, don’t forget to enjoy the ride

The late nights, myriad exams and numerous networking and study sessions can seem incredibly arduous at times, but let me assure you that it will all be over in a blink of an eye. Very soon, you’ll be walking across a stage, shaking hands with the Chancellor in the Chan Centre and it will all feel like a dream.

So carpe diem. Will yourself to go to all the networking events, take part in the TREKs the school provides, make a few extra visits to the Career Centre, have a couple late nights out with your cohort and drink it all in (pun intended), leave no stone unturned because – to reiterate – it will all be over faster than you think. Say “yes” to more often than saying “no.” Make the most of your time in the MM program and leave no stone unturned. I assure you, it will be worth it.

All the best to this year’s MM cohort and a big shoutout to the amazing UBC Sauder alumni all around the world.

Feel free to connect with me whenever on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/leungalexander/ or read more about my travels, work and life at my blog leungalexander.com

Always willing to help a fellow MM-er in need.

 

Photo: Checking out the Angkor temples in Siem Reap, Cambodia


Written by Alexander Leung ’12

 

Good to Great

Yes, I’m going to borrow Jim Collins’ book title for the title of this blog post. And while it might sound cliché, I truly feel that the MM program took my career path, my personal life and my overall attitude and ambition from Good to Great.

Freshly graduated from the Faculty of Arts at UBC, before entering the MM program I was working as a bartender downtown Vancouver while deciding what my “real” job might be. I stumbled upon the MM program while researching UBC Law online, something I had imagined would always be on my post-graduate path. I am so happy that I chose the MM and Sauder.

The 9 months of MM were the most revolutionary in my adult life. Not only did I learn so much from the program courses and professors, but I also went through a major change in my personal life. I was so inspired by the energy, tenacity and drive of my fellow students that I knew I wanted to be around similar people in my professional and personal life. So much so, that Corey (a fellow MM student) and I started dating about half way through the program. We recently became engaged and have plans to marry in the summer of 2018.

Highlights of my time in the MM program include: our case study project on lululemon in Ann Stone’s marketing class, organizing events and social gatherings as part of the Student Exec, and delivering a successful pitch and business proposal as part of the CBP program.

I started working at L’Oreal only a few months after graduating from the MM program. I’m now coming up to my 5 year anniversary at the company, having worked on 2 brands across Western Canada. I would never have entered L’Oreal without the MM program and the help of the BCC. Thanks to them, I now feel more at home than ever at this organization and have my sights sets on a long career with the company.

I owe a huge thank you to all those around me in the MM community for your inspiration and setting me on this path! And to all current and future MM students, wishing you all the best, and hoping that you experience the same “Good to Great” transformation as me!

(Photo: Backcountry skiing with Corey, March 2017)

 

Written by Christine Frieght (Alumna)

Alumni Guest Entry: Mel Gabanna

I was always envious of people who ‘just knew’ what they wanted to do for a living and had a clear post-MM career path to work towards. I had no idea what I wanted to pursue and struggled with feeling like I had no purpose or intention in my job search. It wasn’t until Steven Fitzgerald (our fearless leader at Habanero Consulting, an IT Consulting firm) came to speak to my MM class in 2011 that I started to realize, maybe it doesn’t really matter what I do. As Steven shared stories of Habanero and spoke about the culture and values that drive the company, I vividly remember thinking to myself ‘that’s the guy I need to work for, that’s where I need to be’ without really knowing what Habanero even did. It was a big “ah-ha!” moment for me and I started gaining a lot of clarity about what was important for me in a career and what I valued in a workplace. I shifted my perspective from trying to figure out ‘what’ to do and focused on finding the right people and leaders to surround myself with – the right ‘who‘.

Jim Collins (smart guy, read his books) explains his version of Who vs. What in this little video clip, check it out – (Your Personal Hedgehog – Who vs. What http://www.jimcollins.com/media_topics/all.html#audio=85)

“Far more important than what jobs you take early on is who you work for, and who your mentors are” – Jim Collins

I would have never predicted that I’d end up working in IT consulting, but the amazing quality of people I work with at Habanero and the feeling I get when I go to the office is exactly what I was looking for.  As it turns out, Habanero’s ‘what’ happens to be super interesting to me, so that’s a nice bonus.

My advice to the MMs, especially those feeling a little lost in the job search as May starts to approach, is not to worry too much about figuring out the ‘what’ right now. That will continue to change and evolve as we go through our careers for years to come. If you’re ‘what’ is flexible, start hunting for an amazing ‘who’. They are harder to spot and take more work to find so get out there and talk to people – network, network, network. And use the BCC as much as possible, don’t wait until graduation to realize how valuable those resources are!

– Mel Gabanna, MM ’12

Alumni Guest Entry: Nav Sidhu

I currently work in Marketing for one of North America’s largest real estate investment advisors. So what steps did I take to get here?

The first, and most important thing I did, was decide early on which field I wanted to go into. I always had an interest in real estate, and I knew it was the career trajectory I wanted to pursue. By having a vision about the path I wanted to embark on, I was able to make it clear to the Business Career Centre (BCC) exactly what I was looking for. I feel that this is an advantageous step for all MM students. When career opportunities arise, BCC advisors are more likely to reach out to individuals who have expressed a specific interest in a field over someone who has not.

The second thing I did was focus on building my resume. We were given numerous opportunities in the MM to gain relevant work experience. Instead of trying to gain diverse experience, I focused on acquiring experience that was specific to the field I wanted to pursue. I was able to accomplish this through the Community Business Project, which helped me create a stronger resume, thus influencing my job outcome.

The third, and one of the most important steps I took, was beginning to apply for jobs before graduation. I believe you can never get enough practice with interviews. There will always be questions thrown around that you have not had the chance to prepare for. Going through actual interviews will help you determine your strengths and weaknesses as an interviewee. You then have an opportunity to hone and structure yourself into a better candidate. If you are able to learn from these mistakes early on, it will make it much easier and less stressful when applying for jobs later on.

With the help of the three points I listed above, I was lucky enough to come across an internship opportunity as an Analyst for a real estate investment company. By making it clear to the BCC what I was looking for, through my resume building activities during the year, and by completing multiple interviews with different companies before hand, I was in a good situation when it came this job. Although this position was temporary for the summer, I saw this as an opportunity to gain valuable skills that would significantly strengthen my resume.

Once that role ended, I eventually moved into my current role in Marketing. My success in landing this job is due to all of the above, but also to the extensive time I took to research and understand the company. So how do you stand out from the competition? Study the company. Know the company. When answering questions during the interview, bring in things you learned about the company during your research to support well developed and thought out answers. This is your opportunity to show them that you really want to be there, and that you are already ahead of the competition with your extensive knowledge about the company.

So there it is, some of the important steps I took during the MM to help develop my career. I advise you begin your search now. Good luck!

 – Nav Sidhu, MM’15

Alumni Guest Entry: John Holt

Let’s be honest, if you’re in the MM program, it’s likely because you want to add one final piece of the puzzle to get a job. I was no different. I had a Bachelor of Arts from UBC, and had taught English for a couple years in Spain and wanted to do something in business, whatever that meant.

My job search was varied and I applied to a range of jobs that had little in common. The first piece of advice I’d give is apply to anything you think you could do. The worst case scenario is that you get another live opportunity to test your interview skills. The day you sit down for the job you really want, you’ll be amazed how much more comfortable you’ll feel if you’ve already sat in the hot seat a number of times before.

The second piece of advice is really understanding the job you’re applying for and what you bring that makes you a great candidate. I applied for HSBC’s International Management programme. I was fortunate, I had a broad first degree which gave me a firm base in world politics, experience moving and living abroad in another language and the MM program gave me the finance angle that I was lacking previously. It seems so simple, but it’s your job to really make sure the interviewer understands the relevance.

Finally, I’ll echo something I know other MMs have written about, your classmates. Network is important, and to be clear not networking, but your network. Networking is often shallow and meeting people is great but I highly recommend you foster a network of people you really know and trust, and then invest time to keep up with them. I invested a lot of time in the MM program when I was going through it and would recommend you do the same, at a bare minimum get to know your classmates over the course of the program to make sure you can all help each other. You’ve got a built in opportunity to meet likeminded people over a relatively long period of time, use it!

In the end, I looked for something international, and wasn’t too focused on the industry. It meant I went for a number of interviews, often unrelated. I noticed in the interviews the question I always asked the interviewer was what international opportunities existed in the company. When I interviewed with HSBC it just clicked, I could identify what made me a good fit for them, and the rest is history. I’ve now had the great fortune to have worked for the bank in Paris, London and now Bangkok. Your ambition may not be international work, but whatever your driver, it’ll come out through the process. Let it happen, and good luck!

– John Holt, MM ’10

Alumnus Guest Entry: Kian Khoshnevis

Sauderatnight

One aspect of the MM program that never ceases to amaze me is the speed at which it flies by. Of course, when one is immersed in its peak moments – with readings, assignments, group work, and test prep consuming every single waking hour – it seems never-ending. But really, when you take a step back, 9 months is no time at all.

So, as an MM alumnus who graduated from the program back in 2012, my one piece of advice for the Class of 2015 and all incoming classes, would be to embrace all that the MM program has to offer. Have fun, challenge yourself, don’t take things too seriously (like I did), and make sure to develop those relationships – you’ll thank yourself later.

Trust me when I say you’re going to miss school – especially the camaraderie you build with your classmates. Many of my best friends today are those I met four years ago at Sauder in the MM.

For those of you who are looking to start your careers right away, you’ll soon find out that the stakes are a little (or way) higher, depending on where you end up. An organization has invested in you to perform. You need to do everything in your power to succeed and achieve results – not to mention make that paycheck (not to discourage you!).  It’s an entirely different thrill. With that being said, use the MM as a lab – make a ton of mistakes, learn from them, and have a blast in the process!

Speaking of those personal relationships, one in particular from my MM experience led me down the career path I’m on today.

Back in May of 2013 I was finishing up an internship at HootSuite – the Vancouver social media startup. I wasn’t necessarily looking for work, as I wanted to see how my internship would play out. But one day, I got a group message in my Facebook inbox. It was from one of my MM classmates saying the following:

Hey guys!! just wanted to send out this message and see if any of you might be interested in potentially working at SAP – someone I met a few months back just emailed me with an opening in their Sales/Marketing/Customer Service division…. please let me know if any of you would like me to put your name forward- since I’m already working I would be happy to recommend you guys or anyone else from our class you guys think might be interested!”

I thought to myself – “Oh, what the hell, let me apply! What’s the worst that could happen?”

The worst would have been not getting a callback. The best, I guess, is what ended up happening. I got the job, started working for SAP, worked as hard as I could, and, after eighteen months, got promoted to my current position as the Team Lead for the North America Inbound Marketing team.

The moral of the story is that your professional network and the relationships you build today can have a great impact on where you end up in the future.

Without my classmate, I would have never come across the job posting or pursued the role in the first place. Even had I applied online via a database or job board, I may have never made the crack. Because my classmate had already established a relationship with the SAP hiring manager, her endorsement went a long way and helped me move through the interview process with ease and confidence. Sure, I still had to win over the hiring manager, but going in hot is always better than cold.

So whether you’re currently in the MM program, or simply on this blog to check things out, start today! Go out there and build your network, develop those relationships, and meet as many people as you possibly can. It can only add value to you in the long run.

Oh, and if you’re reading this (classmate who endorsed me), I owe you a huge thank you and a few rounds at the bar! That’s for sure. Thanks for reading and good luck.

– Kian Khoshnevis, MM ’12