The British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA) is a big brand doing great things. As a member-based organization with a progressive corporate culture, it needs to recruit the very best. Step forward the Sauder School of Business, which has seen more than a dozen students and graduates recruited for positions across the organization since 2011.

In the past few years, BCAA has enjoyed steady increases in both membership and revenue. Membership, which includes benefits such as roadside assistance to drivers and cyclists, has had 50 consecutive months of growth as of May 2014 and now stands at more than 818,000.

BCAA's success follows a conscious shift to put more emphasis on strategic marketing, driven by consumer insights, to ensure it continues to stay relevant to its members and customers and is always able to meet their needs. 

And Sauder students and alumni have played a leading role in the significant growth enjoyed by the organization.

Since 2011, BCAA has hired more than a dozen Sauder students and graduates in positions across the organization, with the marketing department seeing the biggest influx.

The company hired Heidi Worthington as its Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer in 2011 and she reached out to Sauder to find the talent to join her in enhancing how BCAA is perceived in BC, particularly by the millennial generation.

"The organization is continuously growing and exploring new ventures and we see Sauder as a key partner in continuing to provide the skills and talent we need.”

- Heidi Worthington, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, BCAA

Opportunity for growth

“We are well known for our roadside assistance, but actually two thirds of our revenue comes from our insurance business and there’s a huge opportunity for growth in this area and in others,” says Worthington. “The organization is continuously growing and exploring new ventures and we see Sauder as a key partner in continuing to provide the skills and talent we need.”

Among other recruits from Sauder is Agatha Entote (BCom 2014), Marketing Coordinator, Travel Insurance, who completed an eight-month Co-op work term at BCAA and was hired after graduation. Stephanie Hunt (MBA 2014) became an Associate Marketing Manager, Membership after completing her MBA summer internship with BCAA, and Susan Dong and Katrina Warren are MBA 2015 candidates working as interns with the organization this year.

The 60-strong marketing team must have expertise in everything from analytics and strategy to communications and advertising, all of which are core parts of program curriculums at Sauder.

Kerry Costello is another former MBA intern who joined BCAA after graduation. She’s now Marketing Manager, Membership after graduating in 2013 and loves the work she’s doing and learning from her team.

“The brand is flexing new muscles,” she says. “We’ve got our eyes on the millennial generation and we have strong leadership that’s driving change. There is a great entrepreneurial spirit here where individuals and individual units have the license to innovate, which you wouldn’t necessarily expect from such a large, established organization.”

This innovative ethos ties in well with the education on offer at Sauder and the two organizations have formed a mutually beneficial relationship. The MBA Internship and BCom Co-operative Education programs have been win-wins for both parties, according to Worthington.

And BCAA's commitment to developing fresh talent doesn't end there.

“We focus a lot on skills and career development, and invest in our top talent," Worthington says. "Our aim is to develop our people, helping them to round out their skills and progress to more senior roles – it’s great for them and great for us as it supports our ambitions for growth in the coming years.”

Valuable connections

“Important things we look for are the individual’s passion, personal integrity and team spirit,” she continues. “We want people that will care about our members and are willing to go the extra mile for them. These programs are a great way for us to really assess talent and they have been a strong pipeline for full-time hires.”

"We really appreciate the help we get from the Hari B. Varshney Business Career Centre. They connect us with top talent who think strategically and know how to work effectively, making it easy for us to hire for positions across the company.”

As for Costello, she says her UBC MBA has helped her find exactly what she was looking for in a career and was the perfect preparation for a job at BCAA.

“This company is the best of both worlds for me,” she says. “It’s a large organization with an established brand, but it also has an altruistic goal in terms of providing value for its members. We try to make a difference in their lives and that’s very rewarding.”