The building blocks of a great career

Inspiring professors, engaging programs, international opportunities, and a potential route into management consulting – James Lee is building a successful career at the Sauder School of Business.

James has a civil engineering degree from UBC and spent six years working as a transportation engineer in Vancouver for Bunt & Associates, a firm that specializes in transportation, engineering and planning in Western Canada. His enthusiasm for Sauder began when he was researching potential MBA programs.

“Way back when I had my first interview with Bunt I said that I was thinking about doing an MBA later on,” says James. “Then I found myself at a stage in my career and my life where I wanted to try something new. The plan was also to try to raise my career ceiling and to maximize my potential and I felt that MBA at Sauder would do that.” Before starting the MBA itself, James took part in the MBA Prep Program, a non-credit series of refresher courses covering key concepts in quantitative methods, statistics and accounting.

Favourite instructors

“It gave me a good warm up for what was in store,” he says. “The accounting course with Steve Alisharan was excellent. It was surprisingly intense but it really gave me a good preview of the program. For people like me without an academic business background it was very helpful.”

Now that he’s a full-time UBC MBA student, James also singles out Helen Michelson, Adjunct Professor in the Strategy and Business Economics Division, and Joey Hoegg, an Associate Professor in the Marketing and Behavioural Science Division, as two of his favourite instructors. “They go the extra mile to make their classes engaging,” he says. “You look forward to being there and it’s just a great educational experience.”

James’ plan after graduation is to move out of engineering into a consulting role in strategic management. As a result, he has enrolled in the Strategic Consulting Mentorship Program (SCMP), which is run by Sauder alumni who are working in strategy consulting. The SCMP is a highly challenging initiative unique to Sauder that offers participants the chance to interview with the top six global consulting firms.

New business culture

But the biggest highlight of the program so far for James was his Global Immersion trip to Shanghai. “I had never been to China and it was great to be able to team up with other MBA students from a completely different business and education culture,” he says. “We worked on a consulting project for Cheung Kong, a large property developer, and got to present our findings to executives at the company.”

The project tied in nicely with James’ pre-MBA experience in property development and strengthened his enthusiasm for the consulting industry further. Thanks to Sauder and the connections it has given him, he says he’s confident about his future.

Want the same feeling yourself? The UBC MBA can get you there. Find out more.


Name: James Lee
Title: MBA candidate 2015
Track: Consulting and Strategic Management
Nationality: Canadian (Parksville, British Columbia)