Building Sustainable Communities

Reposted from Sauder School of Business

Chris hildWhen it comes to a career in business management, how do you measure success? For UBC MBA graduate Chris Hild, the answer is easy. Find something you love to do and make a difference.

Chris didn’t have to look far to find his “natural fit.” As Manager of the First Nations Development area at the Sauder S3i Research Centre UBC Sauder School of Business, he is passionate about helping First Nations communities develop and thrive.

“Our goal is to identify economic opportunities and find ways to leverage First Nations assets. It’s a role that lets me jump in, roll up my sleeves, and work directly with key decision makers.”

Courage to lead

Three years ago, Chris leaped at the challenge of overseeing the resourcing and integration of First Nations development projects, and he hasn’t looked back. “It’s about cultivating effective partnerships to solve problems,” he asserts.

Though most of his energy goes into pairing MBA graduate students with development studies, he has found himself inspired to reach out on an individual basis – developing business activities, governance strategies, and funding in support of First Nations goals.

It’s a broad role, and he wouldn’t have it any other way. After all, he gets to work with like minded passionate people, craft strategy, and push the envelope. And he’s excited to see his efforts pay off.


For Chris, the key to success was finding the courage to turn his back on an established career in the retail food industry. Though a seasoned manager with 15 years of experience, he was yearning to make a greater impact.

“My work was execution based… I wanted to find a way to interact with stakeholders, make decisions, and provide strategic direction.”

With an MBA in mind, he gambled on the Robert H. Lee Graduate School at the UBC Sauder School of Business. It paid off in spades. Sauder’s “holistic and integrated approach to learning” created a pivotal turning point in his approach to business and leadership.

“Sauder gave me different connections with professors and areas of the university I didn’t know existed. It opened me to new ideas, satisfied my never-ending thirst for knowledge, and provided invaluable mentoring in the area of marketing.”

After graduating in 2008, the opportunity to work with First Nations Development came knocking. Chris didn’t have to think twice. Along BC’s west coast lifestyle, it was a natural fit.

Partnering for success

These days, Chris gladly credits his UBC MBA for his ability to improve the organizations he works with, and to inspire the careers of the graduate students following in his footsteps.

He says the key is developing strong relationships with people – finding out who they are and what their needs are, and then crafting strategies to meet those needs. “No First Nation is like another, so there is room for creativity, strategic upfront vision, and crafting different solutions.”

Seeing communities benefit from new ideas is a huge reward. “It’s not just about financial returns. It’s about social, environmental, and cultural returns … and making a difference.”