The Sauder School of Business’s Robert H. Lee Graduate School has welcomed 86 new students into its full-time MBA program as the class of 2016.

They come from a range of backgrounds that include, among others, high-tech, geology, pharmacy, clinical research, law, and numerous branches of engineering. They represent close to two dozen countries; as with a typical UBC MBA class, the majority of students are from outside Canada.

A few of this impressive group of MBA candidates talked about the reasons they chose to study at Sauder and their plans for the future.

Clea Stone

Country: United States
Planned MBA career track: Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Clea Stone fell into her career path while travelling through India, where she came across some social ventures – for profit companies with a social purpose – that excited her enough to move to Delhi. She began working for Green the Gap, which focuses on upcycling: selling clothes, accessories and décor made from repurposed materials that were otherwise destined for the garbage heap. She says waste is a big issue in India, so after working there for two years she decided to pursue an MBA to set herself up to do more to help companies return valuable materials to the economy in new forms.

“I love the idea of creating a brand around this concept of cool upcycled products, while changing the attitudes towards waste in India. And eventually, I’d be interested in setting up an incubator for social venture capital that provides mentorship and important resources. I’ve worked with a lot of people who are super creative and have great ideas, but don’t have enough of a business background to get their products to a big enough market. So I think my business training could have a real, long-term effect.”

Anthony Fernandez

Country: Canada
Planned MBA career track: Finance

Anthony Fernandez is a mining engineer, with experience working at the Ekati diamond mine in the Northwest Territories – both above and below ground – and at other mines and offices across Canada. He plans to move into making strategy decisions at a higher level, and is pursuing his MBA to acquire the business skills and understanding of finance he needs to complement his engineering expertise.

“There’s a great mining network in Vancouver. I was drawn to studying here on the West Coast, because of the strong emphasis on sustainability, and holistic approach to looking at business that exists out here. I’m somebody that likes to understand things at a deep level and get to the meat of things.”

Tracey Thuy Pham

Country: Vietnam
Planned MBA career track: Finance

Tracey Thuy Pham comes to Sauder from Vietnam, via Singapore and then Ghana, where she worked in brand management for consumer goods multinational, Unilever. She had been thinking about how she could make more of a positive impact in Ghana when she came across the concept of impact investing – using funds from philanthropic causes to invest in companies with positive social missions. She plans to connect with Sauder’s ISIS Research Centre and its work studying impact investing, and eventually work with an impact investment firm or find her own ways of supporting social enterprises.

“I want to do something really meaningful. Impact investing isn’t just giving money to charity – it’s about helping companies with a positive mission to sustain themselves and find their own way to grow and continue doing good work. It’s a great model.”

Renate Diggelmann

Country: Switzerland
Planned MBA career track: Innovation and entrepreneurship

Renate Diggelmann is an engineer from Switzerland, where she was working as a project manager at a wind energy company. She’s big on exploring new ideas and new cultures, having also worked in Ghana, the Philippines and Mongolia. Inspired by the work she was doing in wind power, she’s hoping to take a more active role in sustainability causes.

“I’d like to start my own company that advances sustainability, or else work at an innovative start-up in that field. It would be great if I could use my engineering background in a business, but realistically, I know I could end up purely on the business side of things – and be perfectly happy with that.”