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 or read more about my travels, work and life at my blog

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


How Sales Sold Me on Business

Flashback to 18 year old me: bright eyed, bushy tailed and hell-bent on pursuing a degree in psychology. Less than a year later, I was already disenchanted with that idea. When I began my undergraduate degree, I was convinced that a career in counselling was my passion. As a full-time first year student it was required that I select five courses and the first four were easy: Psychology, English, Philosophy and History. Politics became part of the mix through process of elimination – I was the least opposed to it as compared to any other option. By the end of first year, I had declared a major in Politics.

Upon reflection, it felt so necessary that I know exactly which path to pursue fresh from high school. Naturally, as an 18 year old I was fully equipped with all the necessary experience to reach some sort of informed decision about the direction of my life. Right? Wrong. In fact, fast forward to the end of my bachelor’s degree four years later: still bright eyed, still bushy tailed and absolutely certain that I was going to law school.

For about a year after completing my undergrad, I worked as a server in a local waterfront restaurant. Simultaneously, I studied for the LSAT and prepared several law school applications. Unfortunately (or, perhaps fortunately), my efforts were unsuccessful and now I found myself at a real crossroads. I felt slightly stagnant and that was uncomfortable. So, I began applying for different jobs in the hope that a career path would present itself. But, I was only applying for jobs that felt familiar or comfortable.

Looking back, my desire to grow and the action I took as a result – applying for “comfortable” jobs – were most certainly at odds. Luckily, the job I ultimately accepted was neither familiar nor comfortable.
About a year after completing my undergrad, I became an outside sales representative in the automotive and industrial sector. Let that sink in for a moment. Here was the girl who was going to counsel people for a living, and also the girl who was going to argue in courts of law for a living, and now she is cold calling on collision and mechanical repair shops and presenting products to customers? My life had definitely zigged and then zagged and then zigged again in the four years between ages 18 and 22. And you know what? Thank goodness for those zig zags.

Finally, I found my groove (well, at least for a short while). Let me tell you a bit about my daily responsibilities as a sales rep. The company I worked for has contracts with about 30 different manufacturers. I began by focusing on several of these product lines, and was directed to traverse the lower mainland stopping in at any business that might have a need. For the most part, these were automotive shops and supply stores, although once or twice I got creative and dropped by a winemaker’s store and a shipyard. At the beginning, before I had developed any sustained relationships with customers, I experienced many suspicious looks that culminated in “thanks, but no thanks” (and this was the nicest version of ‘no’ that I received). My repertoire of rejection only encouraged me, as this was a challenge I simply had to surmount. Eventually, with a little more experience and product knowledge, I was able to create a network. At this point, some sales calls were more akin to talking business with friends than trying not to sweat or blush as I nervously attempted to engage a new customer.

I cannot find the words to express how much fun I had with that first sales position. Nor can I find the words to express how much I learned, even in that very short span of time. Though, as much as I looked forward to work each day, another pinch of self-awareness was creeping up on me. I was experiencing the beginnings of a passion that would not have been possible at 18, or at 22. And I wanted to learn more! It began with a Professional Sales Certificate, completed through Langara College. Still, this was not enough. It was at this point I discovered the Master of Management program. I applied and this application process was very different from the law school application process. Yes, I still had to write a test (LSAT to GRE) and yes I still had to write some creative pieces as part of the application. But, I felt more certain, more committed, and definitely more passionate.

Following graduation, I want to work in a sales position once again. However, if there is one important lesson I have learned it’s that you really cannot ever be sure about where your personal path will lead. I know, very cliché. Also, I promise you, very true. So, craft a plan, follow a direction but always, always be open to the multitude of opportunities that are available. If you don’t feel sure, that’s ok – a little bit of uncertainty adds excitement. Capitalize on that uncertainty and allow it to open you to new experiences.

Stay healthy, my friends.


Written by Savana Caruk ’17

The Art of Networking

You arrive at your networking/info session event in your newly bought business outfit. The feeling of importance may or may not strike you. You look around, spotting the important things:

Food? Check.

That little miracle to inspire that fierce inner confidence called alcohol? Check.

If not, then it is just you and your nametag.

You find a seat. The presentation starts. One of two things may happen: you may zone out trying to think of questions you can ask to “stand out” during the question period, or try to think of conversation topics that would last more than a few seconds – attempting to think of methods you could use to seem calm and interesting. You sit through the presentation. A company seems kind of interesting. Now you realize the presentation is coming to an end – the dreaded networking is about to happen…

For those “social butterflies”, meeting new people can be exhilarating and rewarding. However, for others, the mere thought of meeting new people could elicit significant anxiety. Now, what may be the underlying cause of this discomfort, and how can we overcome such uneasiness to enable a more pleasant and an impactful experience?

Understanding the root causes of anxiety-related problems is an essential step in overcoming the challenge of the networking fear!

handshakeIt has to do with the mismatch between modern and ancestral environments. The characteristics humans possess today are a result of adaptations to a multitude of social and physical challenges our ancestors faced, which may not be well-adapted for life in our modern society. Unfortunately for us, social fear is the result of this mismatch.

Psychology says our brains have evolved to compete for “attractiveness” – to make good impressions on others because these are related
to obtaining important social resources and investments from others. Being ostracized carries many negative consequences. So, your brain activates “submissive defensives”, which trigger characteristics such as self-consciousness, eye-gaze avoidance, inferiority, or submission, leading to interference with our confident performance.

But, there is good news! Our brains can be tricked into maintaining our awesomeness when we need it most.

  1. Reappraise Those Body Sensations

What is the difference between a “social butterfly” and a person with social anxiety? Conscious or unconscious appraisal of the bodily sensations. More or less we experience the same amount of stimulation in social situations. New situations trigger the adrenaline rush that increases our heart rate and oxygen delivery to the brain allowing us to be quicker on our feet. The trick is to understand that the sensations of “nervousness” are actually positive signs from our body to use to our advantage rather than an evil mechanism that inhibits our thinking. This is in line with the well-known self-fulfilling prophecy.

  1. Increase Certainty

The uncertainty of meeting new people induces anxiety. Therefore, one way to trick your brain and reduce this anxiety is to create a sense of certainty around the situation. First, there is certainty in knowing that not everyone is going to like you, no matter what “show” you put on. So be yourself – it is much easier to be in your own skin than in someone else’s. Second, create more certainty around the topic you will talk about by preparing 2 – 3 questions (the trick here is not to be lazy about it!). Third, reminding yourself that nothing horrible will happen if you say something rather “awkward” and you can be certain no one will even notice because no one is thinking about you. Everyone is too busy thinking about themselves.

  1. “Meeting Friends” or “Game”

Language is a powerful tool. Language and words we use trigger emotions and our emotions propel us into particular actions. Therefore, calling “networking” something else may alleviate the many stresses you have around the notion of meeting new people. Try calling it “meeting friends”. It’s just talking to nice people with whom you get on well and talking about things that you’re interested in. Or call it a “game”, and actually create small games for yourself prior to attending an event. For example, “today I will talk to 4 people, and find one interesting fact about them”. It doesn’t have to only be the company representatives. Networking opportunities are everywhere.

Of course, the list is not exhaustive in terms of what you can do better your experience. Just remember: people are people, and even CEO’s of big companies are nervous about new, social situations, yet, it does get easier with practice.

And really… at the end of the day, ask yourself, what’s the worst that can happen?MM NetworkingMM Networking Exchange 2016

–  Yanna Baiman

Location, Location, Location

It’s crazy what can happen in a year isn’t it? This time last year, I was living in a different city, with different friends and learning a completely different subject. Choosing to do a Masters, let alone which school to do it at, isn’t an easy decision and I can’t tell you if the MM program is right for you. Most of our cohort chose the program because we wanted to gain business knowledge to complement our undergrads, shift directions from our undergrads or get a different perspective on management. Yet even with similar intentions, I know our end games will be completely different. So, if you were hoping that I could make your decision easier.. I’m sorry! However, if you are like me and not from Vancouver, part of the MM experience is moving cities. While that can be difficult, this is a great opportunity to live in one of the most beautiful cities in Canada. Here are a few options to consider when moving here:

Apply To Res

Living on campus is probably one of the easier transitions you can make. Living so close saves you time getting to class and most of the residences are pre-furnished, which can save you money on furniture. If you do choose to live in a residence building, remember that there is a possibility that you may have roommates who are not graduate students, but first or second year undergraduate students. Other residence options to consider are the graduate college such as: Green College, St. Johns College or the MBA house. If you do want to live in residence, apply now. Or yesterday. There can be a huge waitlist and it’s first come first serve with applications, which open even before you are accepted (personally I was waitlisted until December and chose not to accept a room at that time). For more information visit UBC’s Website.

Live On Campus

Renting in University Village on campus or in Wesbrook Village is a great option. It’s about a 10-20 minute walk to the Sauder Building or there’s a bus. The area itself has everything you need including coffee, food etc. but if you are one who goes out a lot, UBC is a bit of a journey to get to downtown late at night. Both options can also be a tad expensive with unfurnished studios starting at $1350. If you are looking to live close to school and save a bit of money, consider looking for a roommate posting on Craigslist, and rent a two-bedroom instead.

Live Off Campus

Common areas for students are around Kitsilano, Point Grey, and Dunbar. Other students also live in the Olympic Village and even Downtown. Point Grey has more of a neighbourhood feel and rental options are often in houses, basements or some apartment buildings. Kitsilano is about a 20-minute commute to campus and is close to the beach and shopping on both West 4th Ave and Broadway. Downtown is about a 30-45 minute commute to campus and offers a number of often smaller rental options and lots of activities. The Olympic Village has a great community feel and is made up of newer units, also about a 30-minute commute. Here is a link to a map of all the areas:

Vancouver is expensive. On average, a shared room will cost approximately $800, Studios: $1000, One Bedrooms: $1250 and Two Bedrooms over $1600, plus utilities and internet. Typically, the further out, the less expensive it will be. Side note: In speaking with classmates, many of us are paying much more than these averages depending on the quality of the unit, expectations and when we signed the lease, but many people found great deals too!

Craigslist is your best option in searching, but be aware of scams, particularly against people from out of town. In my opinion, the most important thing to consider is how long are you willing to commute? One method for searching is to look for locations near express bus route stops. These buses (such as the 99, 84, 44, 258 etc.) have less stops than regular buses, shortening your commute, and they run more frequently in rush hours. For stops closer to UBC, express buses can fill up and pass the stop, so take that into consideration (there’s always regular buses too). Most likely if you are near an express stop, the area will have everything you need such as groceries, take out etc. One last thing to consider, every other student is searching for a place to live starting in September, so if it is at all possible to start your search before that rush, do it!

– Ruth Treasure

Should I Take the GRE or the GMAT?

When thinking about the application process for the MM program one of your key decisions will be whether to take the Graduate Records Exam (GRE) or the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT). Both tests are standardized testing methods that aim to evaluate your verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, analytical writing and your critical thinking. Your results from one of the tests must be submitted with your application, so let’s try and help you decide which one to take!

The GMAT test is primarily used for graduate programs at business schools such as the MM and MBA programs. The structure of the test is broken down into four sections: verbal, quantitative, analytical writing and integrated reasoning. The GRE is primarily used for graduate and doctoral programs from varying academic disciplines and contains verbal, quantitative and analytical writing sections but does not include the integrated reasoning section found in the GMAT.

The integrated reasoning section is the only major difference in content between the tests. It is a new section on the GMAT that aims to evaluate your ability to evaluate data presented in multiple formats from multiple sources. However, your score on the integrated reasoning section does not contribute to your overall GMAT score. The GRE has an experimental section that could be either verbal or quantitative that tests new questions so therefore is also not part of your overall score. Apart from the content of each test, the total test time is comparable at 3.5 hours for the GMAT and 3.75 hours for the GRE. Your results from both the GRE and the GMAT are valid for 5 years after your test date, but the GRE is cheaper at $195 compared to the GMAT at $250.

The overall perception of the two tests is that the GRE focuses more on vocabulary rather than grammar, the quantitative section is easier and you can use a calculator. However, the best thing to do is to take a practice test of each and see how you score and how you like each test. Pick the one that you think you can improve the most in to reach those goals sooner! Also, it’s also a good plan to think ahead – maybe you’re going to apply to another program after the MM, which also accepts the GRE! Whichever test you pick, the online or in class prep courses give you great study tips and materials to help you reach your desired score. I hope this answers some of those burning questions so you can pick a test and get studying! Good luck!

– Samantha Bisnaire

Advice for Incoming MM students


When entering a new program it is hard not to have preconceived notions of what to expect. Personally, I was quite nervous to start the MM degree. I could not visualize how I would balance the demands of the program. Yet as with most things, this experience could not have been more different from what I had envisioned.

As I am sure you have been warned, this program is very fast paced. Although I am used to busy environments, I still had to quickly adjust and time manage more efficiently than ever before. For me, this really boiled down to prioritization. I needed to figure out how to manage my time and focus on what assignments were most important and form a hierarchy. Therefore my suggestion is to get used to time managing right away and don’t let things fall behind.

As undergrad was my only frame of reference, I had carried some expectations over to this program. If you happen to be coming straight out of an undergraduate degree, this master’s could not be more different. The anonymity of a large undergraduate class is no longer relevant as you are with the same small class every day. Not to mention the grading system and class expectations are completely different as well. Leave your undergrad mentality behind and prepare for an entirely new environment.

I could never have predicted how much group work we would be doing in this program. One of the most valuable things I have learned is to be a good team player. This includes not only showing up, but also being a good contributor. Even if your strengths may not be represented in the task at hand, help out anyway! The working relationship you will build in this program is one of the most rewarding aspects of the MM program.

Lastly, have fun! It’s too easy to get wrapped up with the hectic schedule during the MM, but it is important to make time to socialize and meet your new classmates. During the first period I did not take the time to go out and have fun because I was so focused on school. That was a big mistake because meeting the great people in your class is one of the best parts of the program. Some of the friendships you make could be lifelong and help you in your future career.

The MM is a truly a wonderful program. It imparts the value of time management, adapting to new environments, team work and friendships. I am happy to report that my original preconceptions of the program are untrue, as the experience has exceeded my expectations.

– Marni-Lyn Fox

View Marni-Lyn's LinkedIn profile View Marni-Lyn’s profile

3 Months In

Sauder Image


Coming into the MM program, despite poring over all the marketing materials, I was still nervous about what the program would really be like. Taking on this degree was a big step for me. Having a background in Science and wanting to pursue clinical work, I was unsure how I could have a completely different degree work in my favor. Many questioned this next step of mine. However, something felt right when I read the description of the program two years ago.

Not knowing what the coursework in this program would entail, I was quite nervous. Meeting everyone in the class and getting to know them all eased these nerves quickly throughout the first weeks. I was quite interested in everyone’s backgrounds and knowledge, which they brought to the program. However, this program has been life changing in multiple ways.

Most importantly the type of information I have been learning in the classes has changed me as an individual. I have more confidence in my ability to succeed and I have become a better professional and public speaker over the past three months.

The marketing, accounting, organizational behavior, and finance classes have changed my perspective on how I approach thinking about organizations and even the world. Even after this short time, I am able to understand how businesses are organized, the varieties of companies and how they operate, and the difference between company structures. In a short period of time this program has matured its students in understanding what it means to be a business professional.

This program is life-changing from the students to the staff. Everyone cares for one another and are willing to help those around them. It is amazing to see how interconnected you can become with a group of people in a short time and have it change your life.

– Gurjot Dhaliwal

View Gurjot Dhaliwal's LinkedIn profile View Gurjot Dhaliwal’s profile

Preparing for Opening Week & Business Immersion


Even though I arrived in Vancouver almost a month before school started, I was really not prepared for the beginning of this program. I had found an apartment, my husband had a job, and I was well on my way to learning the Vancouver bus system. BUT…none of this came close to getting me ready for the intensity of Opening Week and Business Immersion. There are several things that I did, and some that I wish I had done, in order to prepare myself for the social, intellectual, and emotional rigor of those first few days.

  1. Get in contact with the administration at least two weeks before the start of the program. They will set you up with all the information you need and take the stress out of figuring out where you need to be. Unfortunately, I did not get in touch with anyone before starting the program and it really hurt me that first week.
  1. Be ready to dive in. Please prepare yourself for the time commitment involved with this program. Whether you are coming from far away, or you have lived in Vancouver your entire life, you will nearly drop everything to be in this program. While you will still be able to have some fun, its way better for you to give yourself over to the MM program.
  1. For anyone not from Vancouver, it is absolutely crucial for you to familiarize yourself with the transit system. It took me at least a week to figure out the timing and routes to the school. Even now, in early November, there are many time I am clueless when it comes to many of the different lines. You will not be able to use your transit card until September though!
  1. If you are assigned work before the week starts, just suck it up and do it. Get it out of the way! You really want to spend this first week getting to know your cohort and soaking up as much information as you possibly can.
  1. Get outside as much as you can! It will soon get dark and rainy, so take this time in late August to go on walks and really enjoy the campus! It’s truly amazing. The first thing I did on campus was visit the Nitobe Zen Garden and I have no regrets.

From personal experience Opening Week will change your life. It’s so incredible to be part such a inclusive and amazing group of people. I hope that these few tips can help anyone coming into this program to gain a little perspective on what the program entails. Keep in mind that these people will be your network, your friends, and some your family during this program and into the future.

– Erica Yan


View Erica's LinkedIn profile View Erica’s profile

Coming to The MM Program

Congratulations on choosing to study in the beautiful city of Vancouver! It’s a very clever choice especially if you’re from countries like South Africa, Dubai, India or the south part of China. You don’t have to worry about not being able to survive the winter, like you will have to in most Canadian cities. With its scenic views, mild climate and friendly people, Vancouver is known around the world as one of the best places to live. And you’ll be studying with some pretty awesome people in one of the best and most beautiful universities in the world. However, all these advantages will be too good to be true if you don’t prepare yourself for an intense program like the MM.

So, what can you prepare to make the best out of this program? The first thing and probably the most important thing is to think about your future. Where do you want to be in a year and what steps can you take in the program to get closer to this goal? With these values in mind you’ll be able to use the precious 9-months more effectively.

The next steps may sound easy but absolutely crucial for your study:

  • Make practical preparations, such as ensuring that your passport and visa will not expire while you’re in Canada and the information on your documents are accurate. You’ll be in big trouble if you don’t pay proper attention to these details.
  • Obtain necessary medical or dental check-ups before you leave for Canada. If you can, prepare enough medication for your period abroad or take a prescription from your doctor. You can’t study well if you aren’t healthy.
  • Have a realistic budget. Ensure you bring enough money to Vancouver for initial expenses!
  • I would also strongly recommend that all students go through the course outlines before the start of the program. And ensure you sign up for MM Prep! The prep courses will prepare you for the intense and demanding nature of the program.
  • Finding a good place to live might be really painful for international students. Luckily UBC has  resources for students to search for both on campus and off campus housing. Tips? Be aware of the time difference and the fact that you can’t meet the landlord in person. And never hesitate to ask for additional pictures of the place, or to request for a Skype house tour.
  • Be prepared for culture shock upon arrival (especially if you come from an Eastern culture). Don’t be surprised if you don’t know what the heck a “toque” is, and be open to different kinds of food even if you don’t fully understand the menu. Learn about the new culture you’re going to embrace before arrival and pack mementos from home that will comfort you when you’re feeling homesick.

Preparing for your studies is a small part of your experience studying abroad but it’s a lot of work. You’ll also have to deal with all kinds of logistical preparations before arrival like getting a credit card, signing up for a phone number, getting your UBCcard, updating your driver’s license, enrolling in Health Service, extending your study permit, getting a post graduate work permit…I can keep going and write a manual for all the items international students have to deal with.

But don’t worry as you have staff, faculty, alumni and your awesome classmates that will be ready to help. Never hesitate to ask questions, you’ll be surprised by how supportive everyone is.


Community Business Project

Hello again! 🙂

In my classmate Mursal Shamsi’s post — “A Taste of the Real World,” he provides you with a broad overview of the Community Business Project (CBP), its significance to our self- and career development, and the matching process that the Business Career Centre (BCC) used to assign students to projects. And so this post will focus on my CBP experience.

We’re now in the home stretch of this 6-month project and in the midst of preparing our final report and presentation for this coming Friday. I believe I speak for many people when I say that I can’t believe we’ve somehow managed to arrive to this point!

Our client is Options Community Services Society (OCS) in Surrey, BC — a non-profit registered charity providing social services in the Fraser Region — whose vision is to improve child care access in Surrey. My team is composed of 3 members, including myself as Project Manager. The other 2 roles are Client Liaison and Faculty Liaison. As Project Manager, my core responsibilities included creating a project schedule to meet objectives and deadlines efficiently, coordinating and delegating tasks based on team members’ strengths, and maintaining effective internal communication to ensure information consistency within the team.

The challenges faced by my team fell under 2 umbrellas — issues with (1) team dynamics, and (2) project tasks.

Throughout the 6-month duration of the project, we had to produce several key deliverables while simultaneously working on multiple other team projects for other courses. As can be expected, the challenge was how to maintain high team performance to meet deadlines, in the face of competing commitments and fluctuating motivation levels. Stress only served to magnify the gravity of perceived problems — an important point to remember for my team. It’s okay to be frustrated at times, but focus on what you can do.

My experience in this project highlighted and reinforced several lessons in team management. You may find them “common sense,” but it’s very easy to forget when you’re in the centre of things.

  • A critical skill to have as Project Manager is the ability to think long term and set realistic goals. There’s much you can do to minimize overall stress by properly prioritizing tasks and setting weekly goals for your team members.
  • From the outset, the team should set some ground rules that all members understand and agree on. This lets everyone know what is expected of them and is an important tool for maintaining efficiency. Also, don’t be afraid to remind them of this agreement when needed. Team meetings should focus on brainstorming, discussions, and decision-making — they’re not time to work on individual tasks.
  • The combination of strengths and weaknesses will not always be ideal, and so you may find that the balance of work may not always end up equal. You just have to make it work. Don’t be quick to judge your team members. Strive to identify individual concerns and address them. I found that to be an effective way to raising my team’s performance because sometimes it’s just an issue of self-confidence. The key is to really understand each member’s strengths and weaknesses, but concentrate on the strengths because that’s what you’ll need to effectively delegate tasks. Sometimes, you may find it necessary to personally guide a struggling team member to get things done because it’s better than not doing anything at all.
  • While it may seem to go against your instinct, trust your teammates. Ensure that everyone is on the same page, but give your team members the latitude to deliver their assigned tasks. Just because it’s not perfect in your eyes doesn’t mean it’s not quality.

With regards to the project itself, the main challenge came from negotiating a feasible project scope and set of deliverables that could be achieved within the time limitations. A lot of teams faced this difficulty because the project scope changed from what was initially proposed during the organization presentations. However, being able to negotiate a project scope is an important skill to possess, as the BCC and our supervisor have reiterated. The required commitment is three hours per week per student, but depending on your project, you’ll likely find yourself putting in many many more hours. Don’t be afraid to offer your insights and suggestions to your client. Utilize your resources — the BCC, your supervisor, the librarians, to name a few.

Now on to our project scope… The City of Surrey has been curiously resistant to actively supporting child care, and so our client wanted to look into gaining support from the business community instead, as a temporary solution. My team’s project scope involves developing a business case about the economic benefits to Surrey employers of providing an affordable and quality workplace child care program. Important goals of the project are to create an operating model for setting up workplace child care facilities and to conduct a survey on Surrey employers’ perception of and willingness to support employee child care needs. Certainly, there were several challenges associated with our project scope. However, the value of the CBP project for me wasn’t in how much business knowledge or frameworks were required to complete the project but in the soft skills it has helped me to develop.

Aside from project team management and scope negotiation, working on this project gave me insight into the layers of complexity that organizations have to constantly deal with, such as grey areas and political factors. In addition to dealing with our client, we conducted several informational interviews with various organizations. You may walk in to a meeting with certain expectations of how it would proceed or of what you want to get out of it, but you may quickly realize that the real working environment is less structured than what you supposed. For me, it was particularly interesting to observe the nuances in people’s interactions. As a person who likes order, my takeaway is to prepare as much as I can but be adaptive when things turn out differently from what I expect.

Okay, I’ve probably lost all my readers at this point, stopping now. Well, I hope my ramblings have been or will be useful to you. If you have any questions, feel free to post a comment below!

Until next time,

Rachel Lim (LinkedIn profile)

Rate my Prof.

Let’s take a minute to talk about teachers. A real, 60 second minute.

Yes, those people who painstakingly taught you how to write your own name, do cursive (which I’m sure they now teach on iPads) and basic addition and subtraction. From your pre-school teacher to your favourite PhD toting master’s professor we all have educators we can look back on and appreciate for the impact they have had on our lives as students. Coming into Sauder from my undergraduate degree in Political Science from here at UBC I knew that the quality of the faculty at this school was incredibly high. I had the most incredible professors during my undergrad, with the exception of the occasional research based one who couldn’t care less about actually relaying information to students. You’re always worried about what your professor will be like on the first day of class – it really makes all the difference. Let me just say the first day of every new period has not not failed to disappoint.

The Sauder School of Business is known for many things, but man can their teachers teach. These people are highly accomplished in their chosen field to the point where you have moments in class where you sit back and mumble under your breath things like “genius”. Those are called lightbulb moments and they happen to me all the time. I just want to sit there and soak up everything that they know into my brain, as if being in the same room as these people will make me like them by osmosis. I was truly amazed when I realized I had learned basic finance and accounting, and I’m ashamed to say a lot of it had nothing to do with me. It had to do with my professors, people who made the subjects I was struggling to learn as digestible and learnable as possible. Real teachers, not just researchers who lecture on occasion but people who educate and do it really, really well.

These professors care about your success and learning more than you do at times, and they are of such high quality that you wish you could sit in on their classes until you were 80. You come to appreciate anyone who is truly great at something and I have come to appreciate the educators who have made this program truly great.

Until next time,


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A firm handshake

Early on Friday the 24th of January, 22 MM’s dressed in suits gathered at the Starbucks in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency Hotel for Trek Vancouver.

What is Trek Vancouver?

Trek Vancouver is an awesome event planned and organised by Nate, our class’s VP of Career Affairs. The bible of job hunting states that you should have as many informational interviews with people in industries you are interested in as possible. Trek Vancouver is a super, day-long informational interview with 12 people from three companies and half of the MM class.

Fuelled by caffeine, the MMs headed to the BMO’s palatial offices next door where we were greeted with some more coffee by senior banking executives who were ready to meet starry-eyed students, share stories, and lavishly impart wisdom.

After an enlightening session, we grabbed some lunch and headed to Vision Critical’s trendy and picturesque office on Granville Street. There, we were greeted by 3 MM alumni and given a tour of their offices, which featured a kitchen with a foosball table much like the one in our MM lounge.