The Business Career Centre’s outgoing Assistant Dean looks back at six years of innovation and success

Image of Denise and Hari B

The Hari B. Varshney Business Career Centre (BCC) plays a crucial role in the career success of Sauder’s graduates. It provides a wide range of programs and services that help students and alumni develop career management skills and connect with the business community around the world.

Over the past decade, the BCC has grown in size and prominence, making it a strategic driver in the increasing worldwide reputation of the Sauder School of Business and setting a standard for university career centres across Canada.

After nearly six years as Assistant Dean of the Business Career Centre, Denise Baker is leaving the Sauder School of Business.

And she’s leaving behind a legacy of innovation and success.  

Building an international reputation for excellence

The centre has played a key role in Sauder’s growing international reputation. Successful graduate employment outcomes have contributed to the school’s steady climb in the Financial Times ranking of international MBA programs. In 2013, the UBC MBA program, offered by Sauder’s Robert H. Lee Graduate School, was ranked 57th globally, up 25 places from the school's 2012 ranking.

The BCC has also helped cement Sauder’s position as a preferred source of top talent for employers worldwide. In 2012, recruiters ranked the school 15th in North America for the employability of its MBA graduates, marking its continual climb from 32nd in 2009.

Increasing employer engagement

As Assistant Dean, Denise led initiatives to increase the involvement of local, national and global organizations with the school. She has guided effective strategies that have resulted in a 250 per cent increase in employer connections, a 311 per cent increase in the number of postings to the school’s internet-based employment portal Career Options On-Line (COOL), and a 160 per cent growth in website traffic.

These initiatives have also led to strong recruiting partnerships with a wide range of organizations across all industries, including top Fortune 500 companies, such as Google, Microsoft, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble and Target. 

Under Denise’s leadership, the BCC has also spearheaded initiatives to increase alumni and business community involvement with the school, running more than 250 speaker, panel, networking, and workshop events each year that provide valuable opportunities for students, alumni and employers to connect.

“Denise is a talented leader. I envy the lucky organization that brings her on board,” says Ian Christie, director of graduate careers.

Fostering career success

Under Denise’s leadership there has been an annual increase in student employment rates and a 9 per cent increase in student placements outside of Vancouver. Student satisfaction levels with the career centre have also risen, with the latest BCC satisfaction survey (conducted in March 2013 with Bachelor of Commerce students) showing a 90 per cent overall satisfaction rating (up from 83 per cent in 2012).

“The school has come such a long way in the past decade and I’m thrilled to have been a part of it,” says Denise. “It has been a privilege to work with such great people at Sauder and to see their dedication and commitment to the school and the students.”

Launching innovative programs and services

Striving to meet the changing market demand and student needs, Denise has also expanded the BCC’s career and professional development programs and services. She was the driving force behind the MBA Leadership Mentor Program and the Finance Mentor Program.

She also introduced new events focused on developing female business leaders, including: No “Girls” Allowed: Secrets of the Executive Suite,Negotiation Strategies for Women (a graduate-level workshop), and the Miss Representation: Film Screening & Panel Discussion, which raised substantial funds for the Minerva Foundation for BC Women in January 2013. 

“I am very proud of the women’s programming and the mentor programs that I helped launch, develop and grow,” said Denise. “It has been extremely rewarding to help students connect with amazing people from the business community and to see the impact that these relationships have had on both parties.”

“I plan to continue to support the school as an active member of the business community.”