Commercial Real Estate Finance Specialist
Canada ICI Capital Corporation
How did you end up in the Alberta BCom program and what did you specialize in?
Going to the U of A was a natural fit because I grew up in Edmonton and my family had also gone to the U of A. I had always been interested in business and investing, and I thought the BCom program was the best foundation to start with. Because of my interest in investing I specialized in Finance, but I also focused on Operations Management and Accounting as much as I could. In retrospect I'm very happy with the courses and the direction that I took.
You’ve accomplished quite a bit in the 10 years since you graduated — implemented a nationwide network phone service, worked in business development, and now you're in the finance and real estate . What did you take away from the Alberta BCom that helped you succeed and progress your career so quickly?
The BCom helped me in three ways:
1) It gave me a broad foundation in business and investing. Learning the basic terminology and concepts in each respective field gave me confidence in dealing with the various facets of running a business. This has served me well as my role is very diverse.
2) It gave me specific tools that I use every day. Building and analyzing spreadsheets, building PowerPoint presentations, analyzing financials, database concepts, and even public speaking are all basics that I learned in my BCom.
3) It gave me a great network of graduates and contacts. Many of my friends going through the BCom are now in related jobs and industries, and those relationships have carried forward in our ability to do business together. I've also maintained a strong connection with the School by staying in touch with key professors, by guest lecturing in classes, and by attending networking and speaking functions.
Do you have any advice for young people who are either thinking of starting a BCom degree or are working towards one?
Don't be concerned if you don't know what you're going to specialize in just yet. Although it feels like you are choosing your entire career path, you can really do anything after graduating with a BCom. This same advice was passed along to me while I was evaluating my options, and in retrospect it is excellent advice. Applying what you've learned, a good personality, and interest in the job you're applying for will be the winning factors during the interview process.
Learn to speak in public. Whether you are interviewing for a job, negotiating a contract, or speaking on stage, you need to be confident and articulate.
I would also recommend getting relevant experience while you're in the program. Start a small business, get a job in a related industry, or even volunteer. The classes and information will be so much more relevant and you will get a lot more out of the program. If you want help with this, the Co-op program might be a good fit for you.
And last but not least - a guest speaker in one of our classes passed on this same advice - take accounting classes! At some point down the road you will need to read and understand financial statements, whether they are your own or another's. I would also recommend focusing on finance and operations classes.