Great skills and relevant experience can take you a long way. But who you know is all important. UBC MBA alumna Taha Rizwan is discovering the benefits of a good network.
Taha’s pre-MBA experience, at CIBC and Great West Financial, had seen her all set on a career in finance. But the Sauder School of Business always opens up new possibilities and, after graduating in 2013, she came to see consulting as a better fit for her. With her fiancé moving to Calgary for a job, she left her home town of Vancouver and moved to Alberta to look for work.
This is where the UBC MBA and the people it connects you with really started to pay off for Taha. She met with a former Sauder student who worked at Deloitte and who put her in touch with others at the company. Having gained insights into what it is like to work there and going through a competitive application process, Taha now has a job in the firm’s Finance & Performance Management Department.
“The most valuable thing for me about the UBC MBA program was learning how to develop and grow a network,” says Taha. “Networking is an essential skill and it doesn’t stop even when you’re working for a company, particularly one like Deloitte where you’re always trying to meet new people, sell your personal brand and get on different types of projects that you wouldn’t otherwise have had access to.”
The majority of the work Taha has been doing is strategy and operations based and, being in Calgary, her clients are predominantly in the oil and gas industry. She credits her MBA-inspired networking skills for her ability to get involved in new types of projects outside of the finance and process improvement work she was doing in the past.
“Professional development is something you need to do for your entire career,” she adds. “You have to keep updating your resume, developing your professional brand and making connections with managers and partners to pick up on interesting initiatives that you may want to be a part of.”
Taha’s current client is a new oil and gas company that is just starting up. Once the corporate strategy was defined by the executive team her role was to work with every function of the organization to design a strategy for them. Now that the process is complete, she’ll be helping them implement it.
The work is a new challenge for Taha and she meets regularly with former MBA peers in Calgary to discuss career strategies. Unsurprisingly, her advice to prospective MBA students is to make the most of the connections that Sauder can provide.
“The MBA program teaches you to be proactive and take control of your future,” she says. “It’s so important to take the initiative and meet a lot of people, reach out to alumni and use the resources that are available through Sauder to help guide where you want to go in your career.”