Kathleen Ong cites both the city and school as inspiration for the future
Tight-knit business community? Check. Start-up hub? Check. Innovation and sustainability leadership? Check. Active lifestyle, multi-cultural, scenic ocean and mountain views? Check.
When you ask anyone about what it’s like to live in Vancouver, Canada, they’ll tell you all of these things and more. After all, earning the number one spot on The Economist’s World’s Most Livable Cities in 2011 is no small task. Yet, dig a little deeper and you’ll find, encased in what used to be an old bank building, Simon Fraser University’s Segal Graduate School at the Beedie School of Business. As a member of the 80-student Master of Business Administration graduating class of 2011, I set out 10 months ago associating so many career goals and dreams with this very building. The question is not why Vancouver and why Beedie, but rather why not?
My school is different from the others. Looking back at the last year, I like to think that the school chose me and not the other way around because of how well we fit together. With four years of work experience, including two years as a marketing and communications manager, I wanted to take a leap into a formal business education. Beedie’s requirements, an undergraduate degree in areas other than Business, two years or more of work experience, the GMAT, and diversity in backgrounds, has created a unique and rare program for people like me. At Beedie, everyone is brought in on an even playing field; your previous work experience, GMAT scores, academic history, and industry expertise are appreciated and acknowledged in a team environment, while still maintaining a sense of competition and challenge within the classroom. As a general MBA program, we receive an intense variety of many different course subjects over the year. This healthy mix gives me a way to link and combine knowledge from marketing, finance, operations management, and strategy into valuable lessons for the future.
Academic coursework, career workshops, and events and student groups are all hard work and stimulating, but truth be told, the peers that I have met in my class have been the greatest asset of enrolling in the program. New friendships have resulted in invaluable lessons about different cultures and countries, ways of thinking, world perspectives, ideas, and skill sets. Nowhere could you find so much talent, commitment and passion as within my classroom.
And so, as the last three months of the academic portion of my MBA are approaching, this is a bittersweet moment. Although I’m not off the hook just yet, I look forward to applying both business and life lessons to the career goals and dreams that have given me the energy to keep shooting for the stars.