How UBC Sauder sets students up to change the world
Toronto is home to some of the most sought-after tech jobs, here’s how UBC Sauder School of Business is doing its part to help students land their dream job
Just a year since she received her Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) degree from UBC Sauder, Vivian Mak has already had an impact–enabling some of Canada’s greatest changemakers to scale and bring their ideas to life.
As a venture success coordinator, program operations at Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District—where the mission is helping innovators change the world—Mak is tasked with finding ways to remove barriers and accelerate progress by leveraging data and innovation.
“It’s a mixture of product, project and program management,” Mak explains. “One of my main responsibilities is managing the volunteer advisor program, connecting our ventures to industry experts and executives. I also work on improving operational efficiency by automating processes and implementing improvements within our existing systems and products.”
A launch pad for new ideas
Mak says her time at UBC Sauder not only helped her to understand the power of innovation to help deliver world-changing ideas—it also gave her the tools she uses every day to do so.
“UBC Sauder is a great launching pad for students like me who are hoping to drive innovation and make a difference in the world. Right at the outset, I remember in my first year we were taught there’s more to business than just profit and to consider the triple bottom line—not just profit but people and the planet,” she says.
But even more than the right outlook, Mak says the multifaceted education she received at UBC Sauder—a mix of in-class and real-world experience, with access to world-class teachers and business leaders—gave her the practical knowledge to hit the ground running in delivering meaningful change.
“One experience I really value from my time as a student was the Applied Methods in Technology Start-ups at CDL course,” Mak says, referring to a program conducted in partnership with Creative Destruction Lab Vancouver. “I learned so much about start-ups that I’ve been able to apply to my role at MaRS. I gained a lot of confidence and saw that I truly had the ability to contribute value in the start-up space. I felt purpose working on meaningful projects that would have real impact.”
More than just a school–it’s a partnership
It’s experiences like Mak’s that UBC Sauder’s dean, Darren Dahl, believes set the school apart, winning accolades such as Best Business Program in Canada for seven years straight in Maclean’s Magazine’s annual university rankings. “It’s truly experiential education,” says Dahl.
“So often students go to university and they sit in a seat and just get lectured to–old school,” he says. “What we’re trying to move towards is more of a partnership.”
From a program that sends UBC Sauder students to Nairobi to coach and learn from budding Kenyan entrepreneurs to a venture fund where they invest real money in early-stage start-ups, Dahl says courses are carefully developed to ignite students’ passion and sense of possibility and give them the skills to further their interests throughout their careers.
“Something I think about a lot is what is the real role of university? Why take a degree? I would posit that the most important reason is, it’s life-changing. People look back on their university experience as where they made great relationships, where they found their purpose and where they were given the tools to succeed,” he says. “My goal is to make sure students have that portfolio of experiences that make university meaningful.”
For Mak, there is simply no other place she believes would have set her up for the professional experiences she’s now having. “Whenever I had an interest, there were so many ways for me to explore that at UBC Sauder,” she says. “If it weren’t for all these different learning opportunities, I wouldn’t have been able to narrow down my career path as confidently.”
Says Dahl, “We’re creating a sandbox where students can really develop and find themselves and discover.”