A Vancouverite’s Perspective

You’ve already learned about the culturally bountiful cocktail that is this year’s MM cohort – with 15 different backgrounds to constantly peak our perspectives. We sync for many reasons, but one of our key commonalities is the draw towards beautiful Vancouver, BC. While we learn from each other in the safety of our UBC bubble, study breaks mark the opportunity to explore our surroundings.

You may have heard rumours that Vancouver is all beauty and no bustle. But as a native Vancouverite of 13 years, I’ve seen this city bloom into a thriving marvel that’s evolving constantly. With an international brigade by my side, this has given me the opportunity to relive the city through their eyes, and play local tourist myself.

SkatingWe’ve got a myriad of ever-changing & exciting activities, particularly under the glitz and glimmer of the holiday season. Downtown becomes a shimmering spectacle, with its central Robson Square transformed into a skating rink. So for Lady Canadiana, we strapped up our laces and embraced this new experience for many! After 3 months of mutual support through multiple learning curves, we knew we had each other’s backs (and bottoms) on this slippery ride.

And our international cohort plowed through beautifully! Little did we know, we had an Elvis Stojko in our midst in the form of the fashionista himself: Mr. Phaokan! The veterans went hand-in-hand with the rookies, and we were all embracing the ice dance before we knew it.

MarketOur skating success earned us some much-needed refuel, and the opportunity to visit another local hotspot: the Vancouver Christmas Market. This annual favorite is quintessential of the traditional German style, with every kind of yuletide grub available. A perfectly apt representation of our various cultural offerings, and one of my personal favorites. Not surprisingly, we finished the evening with bellyfuls of free samples, from kettle corn to sauerkraut, coco to vino.

But this is just a small dose of the city’s seasonal offerings. Rain or rain, you’re guaranteed to see Vancouverites out embracing our gorgeous surroundings and communal cultures alike. Our eagerness is authentic, as we crave to learn and experience our diverse landscape. From sea to sky, we’re an eclectic, effervescent bunch – always active, always in the moment.

– Sher Najafi

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

MM Finance Stream

Are you interested in working in finance, consulting, or marketing? The MM program offers a unique stream which offers the following intense courses: Corporate Finance and Investment Theory, which prepare students for the challenges ahead in their future careers. Five weeks per course may seem like a lot to handle but, in reality, the key takeaways from these challenging courses may be invaluable for our future careers. Students learn to adapt to a steep learning curve as they are submerged into real life examples in finance from day one. A background in business is definitely not required as the MM program is designed for students without a business background. The quality of students is high and the chance to work with the diligent and clever classmates around you is definitely what makes the finance stream an attractive option.

Does taking the finance stream REALLY help you towards your future career in finance, consulting, and marketing?

This is a question I get asked a lot and, to be honest, a question I asked myself a couple times throughout my own studies. Not surprisingly, my answer would be definitely! Let me give you some examples to support this claim. Taking the finance stream has allowed me to list these courses on my resume and my LinkedIn profile. Most big financial institutions, although not requiring candidates to come from a financial background, prefer candidates to demonstrate their interest in finance and prove their analytical skills. What better way to show these companies your desire to excel in finance and your strengths in mathematics than taking courses such as Corporate Finance and Investment Theory? I have been interviewed by four of the largest financial institutions in the world and the question that always comes up is: Prove to me your interest in finance. Indeed, some banks even asked me to define financial terms and compute financial equations which, without the knowledge I’ve obtained from the finance stream, I would have had a difficult time answering.

All in all, the finance stream is both challenging and rewarding in my opinion. Although five weeks is brief, the amount of extra work you put into these courses will pay dividends in your future career and have a huge advantage to your future job search in finance, consulting, and marketing.

–  Eric Li

MM’s Got Talent

Welcome to the first annual MM Talent Show! I’m your host, Naomi Giberson. It is no surprise to say that we have a very talented cohort. Our diverse cultural and academic backgrounds give us a wide array of skills to bring to the table. I’d like to take a moment, however, to unveil to you some of the hidden talents these fabulous people hold up their well-tailored sleeves.

Ever think of ditching the student life and starting a band instead? If so, I know exactly the students to go to. I’m not sure when Sauder decided to turn the MM lounge into an aviary, but I for one am glad that the song bird himself, Jino Guzman has graced us with his vocal talents. Beginning his guitar practice at the young age of 12, Jino’s subdued confidence takes over the moment one is placed in his hands. With a voice that could sell ice to a polar bear and sunscreen to a Vancouverite in November, Jino has a way with music that makes you drop whatever it is your doing, whatever it is you’re thinking, simply to listen. When he’s not halting MM students in their tracks by playing in the lounge, you can find Jino and his friend Jan capturing the audience at the Pit’s open mic night. Come on out and see him in action!

Jino is not the only musical talent we have in the cohort. A great number of us play instruments as well, like Sylvia Ma who has recently began to learn guitar and Apoorv Gupta who’s Stairway to Heaven will take you exactly there. Want to add a new twist to your rock group? Coco Wu and her gu zheng will surely add the flare you’re looking for!

Art comes in many forms other than music. There is no denying Terry Shin’s artistic finesse and passionate dedication to his clothing line, Black Merle. His talent for combining quality fabrics with a striking black and white palette turns the wearer into a walking canvas, creating art to be lived in. Check out http://www.blackmerle.com/ to get a piece of your own.

The talent continues, folks! Our class is constantly proving that jocks can have brains too. Some of you New Zealand viewers of today’s show may recognize the name Renee Cadenhead from the cycle scene. A vivacious individual with too much energy to trap behind a desk used to teach spin classes in what I can only hope was a full-piece, aerodynamic suit. Yanna Baiman began her life somersaulting out of the womb and at the age of 8 began training rigorously as a gymnast here in Vancouver. Quick and nimble Phoakan Thooptong was once a tightrope walker and, last but not least, let’s not forget that Zach Robinson played hockey.

The purpose of today’s show was to demonstrate there is a lot more to an MM student than meets the eye. These are but some of the toolkit of skills this cohort possesses. From Yash Doshi’s Bollywood dance and talk show skills, to Eric Li the poker protégé, and Leonard Lin’s voice acting potential, we all have a variety of talents that make us who we are as a class, as a cohort, and as a family.

–  Naomi Giberson

Diwali Celebration – MM Style

As this is our first blog post of the year, I’ll share with you a bit of background about the program so far! There are 46 of us in the MM 2016 Cohort, and we are from over 15 different countries. If you’re worried about making friends, don’t be, because by week 2 it felt like we had been friends for years! Everyone is here to learn, and more importantly, support each other. We have made it a big part of our year so far to celebrate different cultures and different backgrounds. Our first celebration was the Lunar Moon Festival, where some of our classmates taught us about their culture and shared their very yummy moon cakes with us! More recently, we have been able to celebrate Diwali, which I would highly recommend to any incoming classes!

HennaDiwali: the festival of lights. Unfortunately, due to our event venue, no fireworks were lit… but we didn’t let that bring down the celebration. An array of Indian cuisine was arranged by our classmates, and I’m hoping they are bringing leftovers for the next couple weeks. Mehndi (otherwise known as Henna) was beautifully done by one of our very own, and certain beverages were also consumed. Most importantly, however, was what I think was the highlight of the night… watching our boys dance! Lucky you, I have attached a short clip to go with this blog post, as I really feel like you need to get the full effect to appreciate it. It is safe to say that celebrating Diwali was definitely a highlight of the year so far, and probably has a lot of us wishing our “white girl moves” could be translated to those of our classmates. Not to fret, however, as I’m sure if I ask for a lesson, I will receive one, because that’s the way our classmates are. Kind, generous, and most of all fun!

I hope you enjoyed reading this post, and be sure to follow along with the MM Life Stories Blog 2016. There are a lot of awesome people in this cohort, and I think its safe to say that I now will have someone to visit on every side of the world.

–  Tayla Westgard

MM Culture Presentations

As an initiative to celebrate our multiculturalism and learn about and share each others’ cultural traditions, this year we began an initiative called the MM Culture Presentations. The idea is to have classmates volunteer to do brief presentations on their cultural background, followed by a small Q&A during lunch breaks. Initially, I wanted these to have a strong focus on how business is conducted in different cultures, however, with time it became apparent that the presentations should focus on the cultures themselves. Although we started late, I believe that having this initiative helped our cohort bond even further and many found the presentations engaging and inspiring. Current students have presented about Russia, Taiwan, India, Ontario, the Jiangnan area in China and Turkey. I believe there is potential in turning this into an interest-based presentation series similar to the ones held by the MBA Society. For the future, I hope this develops into a sort of Lunch&Learn, a concept that is becoming popular in small businesses/start-ups to increase employee engagement.

Below are some testimonials from presenters. Please have a read.

“It was an honor to do a cultural presentation on Taiwan in front of a class full of students with different backgrounds. Doing this presentation not only gave us the opportunity to introduce our culture, but it also reminded us of those cherished memories we have about our home.”

“We got to see how others thought and felt about our culture, and had the opportunity to speak about topics they were most interested that we hadn’t thought of even presenting on at first.”

“I think we didn’t realize how much we wanted to share. Before we even knew it, time was up! Many people came up to us later to express how much they learned and enjoyed the presentations.”

I am very proud to have been a part of this initiative and to see many of my classmates ask great questions, learn about each other, and gain insights into how business might be conducted in different cultures. It is my hope that this initiative continues for years into the future so that MM students can always take advantage of the cultural learnings in our diverse cohorts.

 

-Parawin Adisayathepkul, VP International

Shoreline Cleanup – Last Installment of 4-Part Local Volunteering Series

Sunday April 26th – A small, but mighty group of our class went out to Spanish Banks West/East to clean up the beach in our own MM Shoreline Cleanup.

The Shoreline Cleanup is a local initiative run by the Vancouver Aquarium and the World Wildlife Foundation. Anyone can organize a local cleanup at the beach of his or her choice by going to http://www.shorelinecleanup.ca/.

Although you wouldn’t think there is a lot of garbage at Spanish Banks, we managed to collect over 6 full bags of garbage! Among the expected bottles and cans, we picked up some unusual items including: a pillow, one shoe and one sock, a pair of gloves, and a road sign.

This was the last event in a series of 4 volunteering initiatives which included: a day at the Vancouver Food Bank, running in UBC’s Run for Rural Medicine, cooking a meal at the Ronald McDonald House and lastly, the Shoreline Cleanup. Although there were a variety of volunteer options, each event had the commonality of great, hard working volunteers. It was so rewarding to have the opportunity to make a difference in our community together as a class. We hope to see the local volunteering initiatives carried on with the next MM cohort because we know that they will get as much out of it as we did.

– Marni-Lyn Fox

Nearing the End of the Road

 

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When we started the MM program in September, I remember alumni and faculty telling our cohort that the program would be done before we knew it and to make the most of it. They weren’t joking! Period 5, our last and final set of courses, has arrived! Just five more weeks of classes and we will be on our merry way – out of the comfort of room 337, the MM Lounge and breakout rooms – and into the real business world. No more Mikes Bikes simulations, just real world decisions!

As we near the end of the program, many questions fill our minds – “What’s next? More school? Will I be deported after my visa expires?” and the scariest of them all, “Will I get that job I’ve been working toward?” But as we contemplate our future and look forward to May 25th, let’s not forget to enjoy the moment. I mean, where else can we get free lunches, sweet treats that magically show up in the lounge when we are stressed, or a personal support team that is dedicated to our careers! But above all, the thing that I will miss most is the camaraderie with my fellow MMs. Never was one of the late nights I spent at Sauder without a little fun and laughter. In a few years, I may not remember what TQM stood for or whether something is a debit or credit. But what I will remember are those many study sessions always filled with laughter, food and friendship. I value the new friendships I made and the people I study with because of the genuine respect and concern we have for each other. While some of us want to work in the same industry and are pursuing the same positions, never do we hold back from helping each other apply for those same jobs. These are the kinds of connections and friendships that I’m happy to leave the MM program with.

As we move into our last term, I want to encourage each of you to finish strong. Not just academically but in every aspect of the MM experience. Make connections, develop your brand and above all build lasting friendships. Ask yourself, “what do I want to leave with after MM,” then make it happen over the next five weeks we have left together. Make the most of the rest of your MM experience!

Peace out – Brennan Lee

Volunteering at the Greater Vancouver Food Bank

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MM Students at the Greater Vancouver Food Bank – Instalment 1 of the local MM Gives Back initiative, which engages students with the local community.

 

Instalment 1 of the MM Gives Back Local Initiatives:

10 MM students from the 2015 cohort followed in the footsteps of the 2014 cohort by volunteering at the Vancouver Food Bank

One of our tasks was to assemble the emergency food bags. We were shocked by the small amount of fresh produce available to give to each recipient. At this time of the year no local produce is growing and therefore, the Greater Vancouver Food Bank has to make due with what is available. We had no idea how many families rely on these services and it was a chance for us to understand the magnitude of the problem and reflect on ways to give back further.

The Greater Vancouver Food bank provides for over 100 meal-providing agencies that help over 13,000 people each week and relieve families across Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster and the North Shore. It is incredible, the 26,000 square foot warehouse is packed full of generous donations from the community. Even so, there is still a growing need for help. It was a very eye-opening experience, and I think I can speak for the whole group when I say that we took a lot away from volunteering our time.

What we found very interesting was the direction that they hope to take the Food Bank in years to come. They are currently in a transition phase starting with the transformation of their depots into hub centers. The new centers will create a “shopping experience” rather than an assembly line approach to giving out donations. Our group was very impressed by this improvement, primarily, because it dignifies the process. Another unique element is the café in their North Vancouver hub, which allows people to sit and eat a meal together. The idea behind this is to foster a sense of community amongst food bank users. Overall, the Food Bank is trying to revitalize their framework and focus on empowerment and education.

We are so happy to have volunteered our time and we hope that the next MM class will come together to continue on the legacy.

 – Marni-Lyn Fox

Alumna Guest Entry: Bethany Bohme

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Wreck Beach

 

My name is Bethany and I’m an Account Executive with Robert Half Technology. What that translates to, is that I have a career at a recruitment firm in which I specialize in consulting with executive level management at the best companies to work for in BC about their Tech/IT hiring needs. Many of the companies we consult with are growing tech start-ups. When I wake up most mornings I spring out of bed, have a solo dance party and walk to work with a smile on my face.

The most important skill I acquired from the MM program was learning how to effectively negotiate. Most things in life are negotiable. The sooner you’re able to really narrow in on honing this skill, the more satisfying outcomes you’ll experience in business and life. Whether it’s your first salary, rent on a new apartment, or where to go for dinner with your friend, negotiation is key. Negotiation isn’t about winning or losing, it’s about compromise. Ultimately, being an effective negotiator will make you a more desirable colleague, employee, and partner, because it requires you to actually listen to what the other party is saying. The value of this can never be understated.

My advice for potential applicants to the MM program is to connect with as many people as you possible can, and never stop. During the program I forced myself to go to networking events every couple weeks, even though at the time this was very much outside of my comfort zone. Even now, I constantly remind myself that everyone else at the event also showed up there for the same reason – to meet new people! If you can connect with 1, 2, or 5 people an event, those are valuable connections. No matter whom you meet there’s a very good chance if you just ask, that they know someone in the industry/career that you’re interested in, and can facilitate an introduction. Vancouver is very, very small. Treat everyone you meet like gold.

 – Bethany Bohme, MM ’13

Trek Toronto and the Career Path Conundrum

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Students at the TD Tower in Toronto with Jeff Balin, MM Career Manager

The question that many new MMs are faced with regularly is pretty common in our society: “So what do you want to do?” Most of us have a pretty good defense sound byte that we can repeat on command but what we’re really thinking is “I’m not sure – that’s why I’m here!” Obviously this isn’t true for all of us, but it sure was for me.

Much of the way we are classified in terms of our future career is based on what industry we each want to work in. For certain industries you write different cover letters, focus your resume to highlight particular traits and attend industry-based info sessions. For me, one of the toughest parts of the job search has been figuring out what industry I want to work in in the first place! The trick, in my experience, has been diffusing the concept of “industry” and looking at the problem with both macro- and micro-scopic lenses.

Micro

I had the chance to be a part of the MM crew that participated in Trek Toronto only a few weeks ago to meet with companies in the downtown for four days of info session-style events. After seeing a dozen companies – some of which were in the same industries – I can tell you that my logic in choosing the “industry” I wanted to work in was flawed as a result of one assumption: that all companies within an industry are roughly the same. As it turns out, they can be vastly different. This was news to me. Learning this first hand in Toronto helped me realize that my employment search should be undertaken at the level of the company and not the industry.

Macro

This realization brought me to my next set of questions: “What kind of companies do I really want to be a part of? What things will I value the most in the first part of my career?” Through this reasoning and a little self-reflection, I discovered that I am, above all, longing to work for a company with a fast paced, strong entrepreneurial culture where I can exercise my creative skills, take initiative in providing excellent deliverables and be accountable for the quality of my work. Guess what? This culture is not limited to any one industry. In fact, I saw it first hand in Toronto at Deloitte and Google, among other companies. As a result, I’m currently scouring the earth for organizations in several industries that claim to sustain this cultural environment along with a healthy opportunity for experiential learning. I just narrowed my search and I’m feeling pretty good about it because now, in response the question “So what do you want to do?” I can answer straight from the heart.

If you’re leagues ahead of me at this point and you already know all of this stuff, then thanks for reading this far. You’re a champ. For everybody else, the lesson that I learned is simple: in order to find a really great job you have to know yourself, you have to know what’s out there and you have to show exactly who you are to the employers that you think align with your values. To any current, past or future job seeker, MM or not, my advice is to take any opportunity possible to get out there and actually see what companies are really made of! Trek Toronto was my wake up call and thankfully the BCC was there to provide that experience.

– Adrian Dingle

An International Classroom: Carnaval

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It’s that time of the year again where everyone forgets about their problems, dresses up as someone else, and puts on their heart-shaped glasses: It’s time for Carnaval! (…at least in Brazil!) Being in the MM program, you get to learn, work, and build relationships with people from around the world. Considering the global world we now live in, this is a huge learning opportunity and we quickly realized that sharing our cultural experiences is crucial to understanding each other better and growing as future business leaders. Through this brief blog post I hope to share with current and prospective MM students at least some of my passion for my favorite celebration of the year.

Waking up at 5am, getting costumed up, and rushing out early to begin the celebration is a must for Carnaval. The street parties in Rio de Janeiro act like an alarm clock for the city. Hearing the drumbeats coming up my street, my blood starts to bubble with adrenaline and excitement. Drums are playing, singers are entertaining, and people are dancing. People from different ethnic and social backgrounds gather together to celebrate washing away the worries of everyday life; violence, corruption, and the fear of being on the streets are, at least for a moment, forgotten.

Although the mercury reads 40 degrees Celsius, the heat of over one million people dancing in the streets brings it up to 55. But that does not stop anyone from having a good time. The heat is one of the things that makes Carnaval so unique in Brazil. Since childhood, Carnaval has been a big part of my life and I strongly believe everyone has to experience such an event. It is a party where you lift your spirits and let go of the usual day-to-day. It is not a rave, it is not a festival, it is not a drinking event, it is Carnaval and those who experience it will look at life in a whole new way.

– Gabi Maia