BAA: Can you tell us about your journey since graduating from university?
Jonathan: Right after university, I started [working] at TD Waterhouse. After my tenure at TD, I went to AIMCo in their client group. AIMCo manages funds for 31 clients. Our goal is to manage current investments and look into new opportunities.
I am currently at their private investment group, specifically in timberland and agriculture. Along with another team member, I manage about $2 billion dollars worth of timberland and agriculture investments.
Shree: I was with Xerox in their account management group after university. After two years, I went to Bluetrain, which is a local digital marketing firm. Currently, I am at Flow Link Systems, which is our family business. I am the Client Relations Manager for North America. We manufacture valves for pipelines and have been around for 20-25 years. Our company employs 800 employees in India.
BAA: How was student life for you? What student groups were you involved in?
Jonathan: I was involved with multiple student groups and conferences. I was the co-president of the Investment Club, which is now the Business Finance Association. I was also involved with PRIME, which is a student run Canadian equities investment fund. When I was there, we were managing about $1.2 million dollars. I also attended numerous student conferences and competitions like RMBS, Rotman International Trading Association and the Global Investment Research Challenge.
One of the most impactful classes for me is Management Science 468. It was a business consulting class. It really felt like we were business consultants. We would bid on multiple projects, go through an RFP process and present to a board of directors. I learned a lot from that class.
Shree: Nithya Ramachandran, who is my cousin, was very involved with AISEC when I got into business school. She encouraged me to join AIESEC and be involved in other student groups. In my last year in business school, I was the President of AIESEC Edmonton. We ran it like a small business. We would connect international students to local businesses and facilitate student exchanges. I learned how to manage relationships from that experience.
I also competed in JDC West for two years. We did not place in our first year, but won the HR case competition in my second year. It was a very rewarding experience as I honed my presentation skills and met other students from different universities.
BAA: What was the impact of your involvement in student groups?
Jonathan: It was great! I explored what positions were out there for me and where I might fit. Through PRIME, I had the opportunity to manage real dollars. I had the chance to validate if this is what I really wanted to do. Through this, I met many people that are vital to my career.
Shree: I had the opportunity to apply what I learned in school in a real life setting. It was a great environment to test my skills.
Without being involved, I don't think I would be where I am at today. Through AIESEC, I met Diana Wyley, who is from XEROX and one of the sponsors of AIESEC. She helped me land my first job after university. Bryan Smith, the Founder and President of Bluetrain, is an AIESEC alumnus. He is supportive of AIESEC and that connection helped me land the job at Bluetrain.
BAA: Are you still involved with these student groups?
Jonathan: Yes! I would often host students at AIMCo. I would also meet with students for coffee to talk about a finance career. There were people that mentored me when I was a student and this is my opportunity to pay it forward.
Shree: After university, I volunteered as a case competition coach for JDC West. In this role, I would give pointers and provide industry opinion.
In 2017, I joined the JDC West Board. The role of the board is to make sure that the competition runs smoothly, guide the organizing committee, and manage different stakeholders. In March of this year, I will be moving into the chair position. I am very excited about that! (Editor's Note: This interview was conducted in January 2018.)
I am also still involved with AIESEC. I am part of the Board of Advisors for AIESEC Edmonton.
BAA: How can other alumni be involved? What is the value in alumni involvement?
Jonathan: The Alumni Mentorship Program is great place to start. I was paired up with Bruce Rigal, who I believe is an '87 U of A grad (Editor's Note: Rigal is a '84 BCom graduate). He did his MBA in Chicago and was the COO of Deutsche Bank in London. He helped me reflect on what I want to do with my career and guided me on some decisions.
Student groups are always looking for speakers. That is another way to be involved.
Shree: I know you can support the school financially. As a young professional, I did not have the resources, but still wanted to support. I thought being involved with these groups and providing mentorship to students is a great way to give back.
For alumni, this is a great place to network and find talent. It can be rewarding for alumni and valuable to the students.