Tips for the MBA program - How to thrive in the 16 months ahead

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As you begin your journey in the MBA program, I am taken back to my first year of the MBA program. It was an exciting time and I would like to share some tips with you to making the most out of the next 16 months.  

  1. Stay Organized

    You will be juggling A LOT throughout the program, so stay organized.  Utilize you calendar as much as possible and time block meetings and even how long you plan to spend on each assignment.
     
  2. See the Big Picture

    Don’t get hung up on the small details and remember to always take a step back and see the big picture.  You will be given so much work in the program that it is impossible to give 100% on everything, prioritize where you want to spend your time and why.
     
  3. Network, Network, Network

    The MBA program offers you a lot of amazing opportunities to get out and network.  Take advantage of these opportunities and build your skills and grow your network.
     
  4. Build Relationships

    Take time to build meaningful relationships with your classmates, they will likely be your most important network upon graduation.  Also, take time to learn from each of their unique backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives.
     
  5. Have Fun

    The program goes REALLY fast.  Be sure to balance all of your hard work with also enjoying the wonderful city you will be living in.

Enjoy the year ahead,

Lynnfield Mitchell

Top Ten Things to See and Do in Vancouver

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Hello Class of 2016 and welcome to the Sauder School of Business MBA program and also to the beautiful city of Vancouver.  My name is Lynnfield Mitchell and I am a second year student in the MBA program specializing in Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship.  I have also lived in Vancouver for the past 5 years.  Being quite familiar with the area and also being someone who is always out and about, I have been asked to give you all some interesting insights as to what to see, what to do, and where to eat, etc. in Vancouver. Lynnfield

So, without further ado, here is my list of…

Top Ten Things To See and Do in Vancouver

  1. Seawall and Stanley Park

When I think of Vancouver, the first thing that pops into my mind is the Seawall.  This is a 22 km long path that lines Vancouver’s waterfront and acts as the perimeter to Stanley Park, which is Vancouver’s largest park with 400 hectares.  The Seawall offers two lanes, one for walking or jogging and the other for biking, rollerblading, skateboarding etc.  There is nothing more amazing then going for a seaside walk with friends around the seawall, and especially the 8.8km section that surrounds Stanley Park.  Be sure to pack a picnic and relax in Stanley Park afterwards.  Other Stanley Park highlights include Movie in the Park that takes place every Tuesday evening in July and August playing movies outside for free.  Additionally, many amazing concerts are held in Stanley Park, which makes for an amazing outdoor venue.

http://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/seawall.aspx

http://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/stanley-park.aspx

 

  1. Hit the Beach

Vancouver isn’t Vancouver without hitting the beach as much as possible during the summertime.  There are so many beaches to choose from and every one has its certain charm.  My favorites are 3rd beach, Jericho and Spanish Banks, Wreck Beach, and the Dog Beach (Hadden Dog Park).

3rd Beach, located in Stanley Park, offers a really beautiful and serene beach perfect for families and picnics.  It also offers temperate waters perfect for swimming.

Jericho Beach and Spanish Banks, which are both fairly close to UBC, offer clean beaches, BBQ facilities, beach volleyball, and concession stands.  These are great spots to meet up with friends and enjoy a BBQ together.

Wreck Beach, another favorite, is located right on UBC Campus making it really convenient.  This is Vancouver’s ONLY clothing optional beach, so if you’re feeling adventurous check it out.  The people watching here is pretty amazing and you’ll be really surprised to see how many different sports people can play naked! It also offers a lot of great vendors and concession stands during peak season.  Be prepared to get your exercise here though because there are A LOT of steep stairs to get down to the beach and after a relaxing day in the sun, these can be quite challenging on the way back up.

Finally, my # 1 beach of all is the Dog Beach (Hadden Dog Park) because I have a 10mth old puppy.  This beach is one of the only beaches in Vancouver where dogs are allowed off leash.  It makes for such a wonderful environment for your pets to socialize, swim, and tire themselves out.  All the people who frequent this beach are really friendly and it makes for a very welcoming community.

http://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/beaches.aspx

http://www.wreckbeach.org

http://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/hadden-park-dog-park.aspx

 

  1. Eat Somewhere Amazing

In Vancouver, we are very fortunate to have some of the best eats around.  With a very multi-cultural city, you can get your hands on just about any type of food you desire.

In November, during our Creativity Class, I wrote a Food Blog for my final project called Lynnfield Eats Everything.  Here I challenged my classmates to join me as guest judges at 15 different restaurants, over 15 days, each for under $15.  Feel free to check it out for great restaurant ideas.

http://blogs.ubc.ca/lynnfieldeatseverything/

My Favorite Vancouver Restaurants Are:

Red Wagon: amazing diner style brunch food

http://www.redwagoncafe.com

Nicili Antica Pizzeria: authentic Napoletana pizza

http://www.niclipizzeria.ca

Bao-Bei: Asian sharing plates

http://bao-bei.ca

Les Faux Bourgeois: awesome French cuisine

http://www.lesfauxbourgeois.com

Toshi’s: my pick for best sushi in Vancouver

 

  1. Hike the Chief

Hiking the Chief in Squamish is another favorite pastime for Vancouverites.  Located approximately 1hr. from Vancouver, this hike boasts some of the most breathtaking views from the top.  This hike takes approximately 3 hrs. round trip and requires a lot of physical exertion, so if you’re looking for a leisurely hike, this isn’t it! Ladders, chains, stairs, rocks, all make up the steep and advanced hike, but all the hard work pays off when you look out over beautiful Squamish at the top.

http://squamishhiatus.com/squamishhikes/thestawamuschief.html

 

  1. Granville Island

Granville Island is a great place to spend an afternoon and somewhere that everyone visiting Vancouver should check out at least once.  Located under the Granville Bridge, Granville Island offers an eclectic community of artists, galleries, theatres, restaurants, studios, cafes, and one of the most amazing food markets. Walk around and check out some of the awesome vendors, have lunch on the pier, and  shop for dinner at the market.  If your feeling like trying something new, rent a paddle board and take a tour of False Creek by board.

http://granvilleisland.com/

 

  1. Ski or Snowshoe the Local Mountains.

Vancouver is totally spoiled having 3 local mountains in our backyard (Grouse, Cypress and Seymour).  Skiing or snowboarding a local mountain is a must during your time in Vancouver.  Or if you want something a little more relaxing rent snow shoes and take a winter walk through some of the amazing trails.

https://www.grousemountain.com

http://cypressmountain.com

http://www.mountseymour.com/

 

  1. Go Sailing

I have just taken up sailing this year through the MBA Sailing Club.  I am loving the experience and I highly recommend all of you take part in the Sailing Regatta at the beginning of the year, it's the best opportunity to network with your new classmates and 2nd years.   If you enjoy your time on the boat, definitely sign up for the MBA Sailing Club where you will learn everything you need to know about sailing, plus there’s a Regatta in Italy that we take part in.

 

  1. Visit Whistler

Whistler in our little mountain resort community that serves as a great weekend getaway from Vancouver.  Just 2-3 hours from Vancouver, Whistler boasts Whistler Blackcomb Mountain, which is one of the best ski hills in Canada.  Whistler also offers an amazing town filled with wonderful shopping, excellent dining, and great lakes and hikes surrounding the town.  My favorite place to check out, when I’m not skiing the slopes, is the Scandinaive Spa, which features an outdoor circuit of hot and cold pools making for an oh-so-relaxing experience.

http://www.whistler.ca/

http://www.scandinave.com/en/whistler/spa-resort-experience/

 

  1. Shopping

Vancouver offers some excellent and very diverse shopping depending on the area you visit.

Robson Street and Pacific Center (downtown) offer all of your big name brands (The Bay, Holt Renfrew, Club Monaco, Zara, Gap, Apple, Top Shop, J. Crew etc.).  You can do the bulk of your clothing shopping here.

South Granville, located on Granville Street between 16th Ave and West Broadway offers a wide variety of shoe stores, high fashion brands, and several home interior brands (Anthropologie, James Perse, William Sonoma, Pottery Barn etc.).

Main Street and Gastown both offers a lot of unique, hipster-inspired, boutiques.  These are great areas to check out when thrift or vintage shopping for both clothing and home furnishings.

 

10. Take a Yoga Class

Vancouver is has a huge yoga culture inspired by the fact that we place a high importance on health and fitness and also because Lululemon (the largest yoga apparel retailer in the world) was founded here.  My favorite class in all of Vancouver is the Moksha Music class at Moksha Yoga.  This class offers one hour of hot yoga (room heated to 40 degrees) with live musicians serenading you while you sweat.  Another popular brand of yoga in Vancouver is YYoga, which offers excellent facilities and locations all across Vancouver.

http://vancouver.mokshayoga.ca

Design Thinking - Passes the Test

By Haley Shoemaker During our trip to Singapore, I was assigned to work and research the Retail Industry.  The most valuable insight about the industry came from our group sessions at Accenture because of the new mediums that the Accenture consultants showed to our class.  Accenture used Design Thinking techniques, which we have used throughout our MBA but until Accenture’s workshop I had never seen how valuable these tools truly are.

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The Accenture room that our sessions were held in looked like a giant shell, with entrance and an exit on either end of the shell.  The walls were all painted using paint that worked as white board and we could draw all over all the walls in the room.  It seemed like a cross between a futuristic business and a child’s playground.  Throughout our time there, we were encouraged to map out our ideas visually on the walls and on various screens and projectors throughout the room.

One of the most interesting activities was our Retail industry group had to make predictions as to where we see the industry going in the future based on new technology.  Our group focused on the clothing industry, so some of the conclusions that we came to were that the industry will use data from purchasing history, facial recognition and their information from various social media platforms, to target advertisements right to customers.  Also because the stores will have increased knowledge about customers, they will be able to make customers feel as though they have a personal stylist as they are shopping.

Our team came to these conclusions by starting with technology on one end of the wall and drawing out the effects that it could have on the industry, using a Design Thinking layout.  This process, in conjunction with my team, taught me the benefits of thinking visually and put a creative spin on our project.

The Singapore team

On the plane ride back, I picked up the latest copy of Elle Magazine and read an article called Brave New Store, by Maggie Bullock who discusses the latest trends for the retail industry.  I can proudly say that our Accenture retail group was spot on, and the techniques that they taught us, pushed us to see what was happening in the industry, although none of us are currently working in retail.  The article discussed how stores are using purchasing history from credit cards and facial recognition to create the smartest and most highly advanced stores in the world.  Brands are also growing stronger using this technology and gain more insight into their target market.

 

Originally posted on C-Lab Project.

Networking Breakfast

by Stephanie Claggett I must admit that networking is not my cup of tea. Unfortunately - or fortunately - for me, we've been doing a lot of it recently. We got a small warm-up with alumni on our last career centre day. Two days later, we had the Leaders Reception, a fancy event in a beautiful location (the fabulous Terminal City Club!), where we got to meet business leaders from all over the community. We also had the pleasure of hearing an inspirational speech from Christine Day, the CEO of lululemon, and eating entirely-too-delicious chocolate covered strawberries.

Our most recent event was this morning's breakfast networking reception at the Westin Bayshore. Now, as I said, I am not a fan of networking in the abstract, and I am even less a fan of 7:15 a.m. for any reason, but I was determined to take advantage of this opportunity. Internship season is almost upon us, after all! So I trudged my way through the slush-covered streets at a completely unholy hour of morning, hoping all the way that there would be a cup of coffee at my destination.

Much to my surprise, when I checked in one of the lovely ladies at the BCC had my shiny new name tag for me! To backtrack a little - I had been certain before our first networking event that my name tag was secure in a particular place in my house, but of course the night before I needed it, I couldn't locate it for the life of me. So, for the past two events, I had been managing with a sticker awkwardly placed on my jacket. It only occurred to me yesterday that I could actually order a new name tag! The BCC told me I could pick it up at some point today, and I had resigned myself to another day of stickers, but in yet another instance of things that seem small but make all the difference in the world, my name tag was ready and waiting for me (thanks Carly!)

This may seem silly, but I felt far more confident entering that room with my official Sauder name tag. I felt like I was part of the team, not an interloper who showed up at the last minute. (I am completely convinced, though, that my old name tag is going to resurface within the next week, now that I have acquired a new one.)

Of course, I was still woefully lacking in caffeine, so I made a beeline for the food table. For the first few minutes, I stuck close to my classmates. I knew I should have been getting a head start on meeting people, but I had two very good reasons for avoiding that. First, I was not nearly awake enough at that point to make polite and/or pleasant conversation with people I didn't know. Before I have caffeine in the morning, I can barely string two words together, and chances are those two words are not going to be very nice. Second, I wanted to avoid that awkward moment where you take too large of a bite of food, which inevitably happens just when someone asks you a question.

Finally, armed with my new name tag and a sugar-filled cup of coffee, I wove my way through the multitude of students, both UBC and SFU MBAs, all avidly scanning the room for the best possible connections. As many people probably did, I took a tour of the room, glancing at the company names posted at the various tiny tables before making any conversational commitments.

The members of the business community - or, as we thought of them, the potential employers - were mostly there in twos and threes, and everyone seemed surrounded by a group of eager MBAs. Some groups were certainly more popular than others - the executive recruiters, for one; the big banks; and Clearly Contacts, who the Sauder MBAs as a class worked with earlier in the year.

It was at this point that I got stuck. So many of the companies were financial institutions, which is an excellent thing for my classmates who are specializing in finance. I, however, am focusing on HR, and while there were HR people there, few if any of them were looking for HR interns. Beyond my personal dilemma, too, we all have the same issue: How do we make ourselves stand out? How can we make the five minutes we spend with this person the most memorable conversation they have out of all the dozens of conversations they will be having in that brief two-hour event?

I floundered. Even with two other networking events under my belt, I wasn't sure how to move the conversation beyond talk of the weather (which, to be fair, was very remarkable) and onto talk of business, information gathering, and those elusive internships.

As I said, I am not a natural networker. I am not a natural socializer, for that matter. I generally prefer listening to talking, especially with people I don't know well. I do best with extraverts who, given any topic, will happily carry the conversation with minimal input from me. However, this approach obviously wasn't going to work in this situation.

My solution? To rifle through my collection of stock questions to come up with something interesting to start off a conversation. How is your morning going? Too generic. Have you met any interesting people so far? Good to ask fellow classmates, but not so much for anyone else, and a close-ended question to boot. How was your commute here this morning? Also generic, guaranteed to start a conversation about the weather. How did you get involved with Company X? Aha! A potential winner! It opened the floor for talk about the company, and about the individual and their experiences. Not exactly a great opening line for talking about me and my internship, but that wasn't what I was looking for.

And herein lies my quandary with networking: I hate asking for things. I hate asking for favours. I despise feeling selfish. And networking, especially when we're supposed to be searching for internships, feels inherently self-serving. To be fair, some employers made it very easy. They started off the conversation with 'What are you specializing in?' or even 'We're looking for an intern to do X'. These conversations were easy for me, but also invariably short. They weren't looking for me. They were looking for someone to work in finance, IT, marketing... everything except what I am able to and love to do.

About halfway through the event, I encountered an employer who I thought could be a perfect fit for one of my classmates. After an appropriate wrap-up to our conversation, I immediately grabbed my classmate and dragged him over to this table. At this point, I had a revelation. This event wasn't about me or my fears of social awkwardness. It wasn't about making connections for myself. I could use this event to help other people make the connections they needed to find their internships.

With this in mind, the rest of my conversations became magically easier. I didn't need to wrack my brain for an appropriate segue into me and my life. I could just do what I do best: ask questions, and truly listen to the answers.

Now, is this the perfect solution to my networking dilemmas? Probably not. It is extremely unlikely to find me a job or an internship. And networking is definitely a skill that I need to work on. But in the short term, it helped me find a way through what originally looked like a morass of daunting task after daunting task.

And in the future, I hope it will allow me to look forward to networking events, rather than treating them like nasty but necessary cough medicine.