John Holt

Challenge to Change | BCom teaches alum how to stand out at Google

From the Norwegian Navy to Google in New York, the Bachelor of Commerce repositioned Severin Gresvig for a global career.


Severin Gresvig joined the Norwegian Navy immediately after high school. But after a year of seascapes and grueling training he wanted more out of his career than a life on the icy northern waters of Scandinavia.

“I knew early on I wanted to live and work all over the world,” he says.

Realizing his decision to join the navy wasn’t going to get him where he wanted to go, Gresvig set his sights on a degree in business, something he thought would open doors around the globe.

To improve his chances, he chose the University of British Columbia, a school known to be among the most culturally diverse in the world.


“In the Navy I experienced extreme highs and lows,” Gresvig says. “It forced me to confront my own limits, showed me how I cope with stress, with change, and with brutal feedback.”

But sometimes good learning experiences teach you just as much about what you don’t want to do.

The rigidity of the navy taught Gresvig that he wanted a different type of career, one that allows for creativity and diversity. And so he went looking for a school that would push him in that direction.

“As I was comparing BCom programs, it became clear to me I didn’t want a school that would be too narrowly focused or tied to a local economy, because the city I studied in might not be the city I spend my entire career,” he says.

“I wanted an international perspective, so I chose to do my BCom at UBC Sauder which is known for preparing students for the global marketplace.”

Severin Gresvig quote


When Gresvig first moved to Vancouver, he found the multicultural makeup of UBC Sauder - its faculty, his classmates, and the city itself, very welcoming.

“If I had started in a place like New York, I would have been swallowed up,” he says. “Vancouver has a similar vibe because it’s a very multicultural community, but it’s less intimidating.”

Less intimidating perhaps, but no less challenging.

“I worked a lot more than I expected to work,” he says. “The BCom is very competitive; people are there to learn.”

While it may be competitive, it’s also collaborative. Gresvig found the Intrapreneurship course, and all it taught him about innovating within an organization and excelling in a team, especially useful.

“In Intrapreneurship we were assigned to one group for the whole year,” he says. “Because it mimicked what the working world would be like, it taught me how to work collaboratively day in and day out.”


UBC Sauder also prepared Gresvig for the workforce by equipping him with the resources to land internships that led to a sought-after role with Google.

“If I hadn’t gotten those internships, I might have landed at Google eventually, but it would have been many years later,” he says.

Today, Gresvig is a Brand Account Manager at the tech giant where he acts as a consultant for the brand’s media agency partners all across the United States.

“UBC Sauder taught me how to stand out in a team of very talented people,” he says.

“When I started at Google I was well prepared because of my BCom.”


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