Forget the rat race to the corner office. Graduates of the School of Business are all about making the world a better place. They’re climbing the ladder to bigger and better things, and here they lay out their passions, dreams, goals, and even insecurities to talk about what brought them to MacEwan and where they will go from here.
Adi Agrawal Bachelor of Commerce, Accounting
I dropped out of engineering secretly and enrolled into business because I wanted to rapidly increase my knowledge in multiple areas to better align with my goals. In the beginning, I faced a lot of criticism from people close to me and had to move forward without support. My first year of business was horrible and I came very close to being required to withdraw. As I was hanging on tightly, I realized that even though we have an amazing peer support program and academic advisors, there needed to be an element of inspiration for students, especially for those in a situation similar to mine.
I knew that I could really make a difference through the Commerce Club, so I applied. When an executive position opened, the president asked me where I saw myself in the club and I pointed to where she was sitting. It was a very bold move. I knew exactly where I wanted to be, and that’s where I ended up a year later. Fast forward to 2016—we won the SAMU Club of the Year Award. It was a huge win for my team, our alumni and faculty and staff who contributed to the club’s progress since 2008.
My advice to all students is to just go for it. Failing can teach you something valuable and it’s much better than spending your entire life thinking, “What if?”
I graduated high school and came right to university. Realistically, I had no idea what I was doing. I knew I didn’t want an arts degree because I didn’t think it suited me, so I tried business. For the first two years I actually hated it.
In my second year, I thought about transferring, but it wasn’t going to be any different. I said I would give it one more chance and make the most of it, and then I met some amazing people and made some amazing friends. If you surround yourself with people who are doing really well and enjoy school a lot, then you’re also going to enjoy school. After that, I wanted to be here every day, and decided to enjoy my time here, because I knew that when it was over, I was going to miss it.
Going into case competitions was my greatest accomplishment, so far. I knew the people who did it last year and they gave us a lot of information on what to do. We learned from them and turned their advice into three competition wins. We already have a huge business school here, but winning these competitions helps the School of Business grow and establishes us in a more prestigious category, which definitely doesn’t hurt.
Donovan Cai Bachelor of Commerce, Supply Chain Management Co-op
Finding a good school/life balance was really challenging for me. I often found myself sacrificing eating proper meals and getting enough exercise during the school year when I became too focused on school work.
When I first started my courses in supply chain management, I felt a little uncertain about my choice. Mostly because I couldn't apply the theories I was learning, and I had no previous experience in the industry. But when my first co-op work term started, things clicked and the more I learned from my work, the more practical my classroom learning became. I would still get frustrated though—because not all of my learning could be applied. But the lesson I got out of university is to just be patient and ride out the storms.
Having obtained a real job after graduation, I really appreciate all that I have learned because of the holistic nature of supply chain management, and even though I am still not using everything I learned yet, just having that knowledge about everything else is helping me with my day-to-day work.
I got accepted to Queen's University to do my Master of International Business and Master of Science in Marketing. In five years, my goal is to live and work in either Europe or Asia.
Natalia Chiles Bachelor of Commerce, International Business
I grew up in a multicultural home—my mom’s Mexican and my dad’s Canadian—so there were always things that one of my parents wouldn’t understand about the other. I think that got me interested in culture clash from a young age. International business was a great opportunity to learn about culture, people from around the world and diversity.
I went on an exchange to Barcelona and I had a bunch of friends that were all from different parts of the world—45 different countries, and that was just so cool. I learned how to speak a little bit of Spanish from my mom, but never learned to read or write—that I had to study in school. Now I probably would say I’m fluent. When I went to Barcelona, I didn’t realize they speak Catalan in that region of Spain. So when I was there, I thought, “My Spanish is so bad, I can’t even read the signs! I need to brush up on everything!” No—it was a different language. That one time I moved to Spain to learn Spanish and I didn’t.
I would also say that student clubs had a big impact on my experience. In my few years at the university, I was president of the Meditation Club, events advisor for the Marketing Club, and vice-president of community relations for the Oikos International Club. I truly believe it is the opportunities that MacEwan offers and that its students choose to take that make MacEwan unlike any other university.
Kennedy Doyle Bachelor of Commerce, Accounting Governor General's Silver Medal
In high school, I took a financial management course, which I thought was banking, but it was literally Accounting 311. I fell in love with it. I would go home on Friday nights and work ahead in my workbook. My mom was like, “What’s wrong with you? It’s Friday night—you’re not a normal teenager.” It clicked, and it was really clear to me that I was going into accounting, which was good for me because I’m usually a really indecisive person.
There have been a few times when I doubted my path. Hearing about how being an accountant is so difficult and that you have no time for your family and friends—at those times I really doubted if this is what I wanted to do because family is really important to me. At the same time, this is something that I’m really passionate about and if I do have to sacrifice for a few years to get where I want to be, then I can figure out that balance from there.
I went through the recruitment process in September and October of 2015. I went to all the interviews and all the meet-and-greets. I signed with KPMG—and will do my CPA with them—this fall.
Matthew Gaudet Bachelor of Commerce, Marketing
My last term was absolutely crazy and I never thought it would be like that. I was working four jobs, taking four classes and doing research. It was totally overwhelming, but so worth it. I got a couple of papers published, had an incredible experience trying new things, landed a full-time job at an ad agency, and made some amazing friends. I forced myself to have balance too; going to Towers between writing papers, making time for things I wanted to do, and trying to take nothing too seriously. Graduating feels terrifying, but I think I’m going to be okay.
The next five years? My boss asked me this in a meeting last week and I almost had a panic attack. I don’t know what I’ll be doing in five years. Some people graduate and they have a whole plan, but I don’t think it’s bad to say I have no plan at all. Ultimately I have a big fear of missing out on anything. I want to try out and explore different things, and keep pushing myself. If a new opportunity comes up, I want to be there to take it.
Eric Leonhardt Library and Information Technology
A library is not about putting books on a shelf. That’s part of the job—a lovely part—but the real job is to focus on building communities, and making sure that information is accessible regardless of people’s personal situations. Being a librarian is about being compassionate. It’s about making sure that if it’s in your power, you support people in their growth and continuing education as a person.
My job prospects were great—until I broke my leg. Now I am out for the remainder of the summer. Everyone in the Edmonton area and in northern Alberta area is always looking to hire, they’re always looking for trained staff. They respect MacEwan’s program.
I want to be with Edmonton Public Library for a number of good reasons. EPL is an amazing trendsetter, but the competition is tough. And I’m missing a really great hiring season right now.
Justin Rutley Bachelor of Commerce, International Business
I was originally in the Supply Chain Management program. However, after my first international development trip to Nicaragua, I realized that my passion is in working in international development creating partnerships. The skills I learned in the International Business major were key to my decision to join an innovative nonprofit, Kiva.org, which provides zero per cent microfinance in over 80 countries. I’m currently working with Kiva in San Francisco, but soon I will be moving to Gurgaon, India to join a solar social enterprise.
My advice to future students is to join as many extracurricular activities as you can—you never know who you will meet and where it will take you.
Laura Squires Bachelor of Commerce, Accounting
When I started university, I had no idea what I was doing or what career I wanted to go into. I never doubted going to MacEwan, but I wondered whether I was making the right choice to pursue a career in business. As I took more classes though, I realized that I loved doing accounting. From then on, I had no doubt about my path. Every time I would get to the end of a balance sheet and it balanced, my heart leaped a little bit. Working with numbers was just right and it made sense.
My best advice for future students is to get involved. My first year I showed up for classes and then went home. I didn’t meet many people. In my second year, I became a MacEwan Ambassador, which led to other involvement in clubs. I got so much more out of my time at MacEwan when I was active on campus. Being a part of the Ambassador program was huge for me. I gained so much confidence and met so many amazing people.
My next step is to complete my CPA program. I will be working with KPMG starting in October. Recruiting was stressful, but I’m confident that I found a firm that is the right fit for me. In five years, I should be finished my modules and practical experience requirements. After that, who knows!
Jane Vasylysyna Bachelor of Commerce, International Business
This is actually my second attempt at a degree. The first time I was in biological sciences at the University of Calgary, and realized about two weeks in that it was the wrong program for me. With business, I went in thinking, “I don’t know why I’m doing this. I’m not cut out for business.” But two weeks in, I was thinking that I should have done this to begin with.
I had that eureka moment of “this is what I always wanted to do” when I was telling my mom about one of the classes I was taking—I think it was an organizational behaviour class. I was explaining to her a concept that my professor taught, and all of a sudden I sat down and thought, “I love this program. I love all these really cool things that I’m learning.” Everyone has this perception of business as being full of money-hungry students. It’s a running joke, but it’s not true.
I really want to work in foreign trade for an international entity where mergers and acquisitions happen with sustainable business in mind, whether it involves green practices or corporate social responsibility.
MacEwan University is proud to celebrate the more than 2,200 members of the Class of 2016. Congratulations to this year's graduates, medal recipients and distinguished award honourees.
Watch this very special message from the School of Business:
We acknowledge that the land on which we gather in Treaty Six Territory is the traditional gathering place for many Indigenous people. We honour and respect the history, languages, ceremonies and culture of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit who call this territory home.