Building a future in cybersecurity with a UBC MBA
A software engineer by training, Adolphus Bassey feared he might lose his technical skills if he chose to pursue a business education. He was eyeing a future in the technology sector and didn’t want to change course.
Two years after graduation, the UBC Master of Business Administration (MBA) alum is a Security Technical Program Manager at Amazon Web Services (AWS). With the wisdom of hindsight, Bassey now knows he needn’t have worried.
He’s based in Vancouver, the city he fell in love with as a student, after moving from his home country of Nigeria. He’s employed by a global leader in cloud computing. And, he’s at the forefront of the ever-evolving field of cybersecurity, a complex and fascinating field that is in high demand due to significant technology adoption in recent years.
“When I got into business school, I was worried that I would have to sacrifice my technical skills in order to focus on business,” says Bassey. “But the UBC MBA presents limitless opportunities for folks who want to leverage their technical skills to lead.”
Lessons in leadership
After several years as a management consultant, Bassey had one main goal as he entered the UBC MBA in 2018. “I wanted to build the leadership skills that would take me to the next level.”
And, build he did. In his work today, Bassey draws on decision-making frameworks he learned at the UBC Sauder School of Business to work effectively with colleagues, earn trust in the workplace, and communicate with senior leaders.
“The UBC MBA made me self-aware of my strengths and weaknesses, and it taught me how to work with and negotiate with people, how to create a win-win for all parties and derive the optimal benefits for business,” says Bassey.
His clear communication style, which he honed at UBC Sauder, helps Bassey translate technical findings into recommendations that are accessible and easy to digest.
“I can quantify and qualify data and create one holistic bouquet of information that helps leaders make well-informed decisions.”
Weaving UBC Sauder’s values through everything
According to Bassey, UBC Sauder’s values of rigour, respect and responsibility guide his work and are a critical part of his process in building security programs. “To be honest with you, I think about those three things every day.”
Cybersecurity is an industry without borders and Bassey works across different time zones and responds to situations with agility and speed. “The UBC MBA taught me rigour and gave me the tenacity to excel in this fast-paced environment,” he explains.
When it comes to respect, Bassey notes that he works with colleagues with diverse backgrounds. He says the richness in perspectives reminds him of his time at UBC Sauder and seems natural. “I, myself, am a minority in the tech industry, and I give respect to people and expect it in return.”
He is perhaps most passionate about the value of responsibility. “I love ownership and the idea of taking responsibility for things, that’s something else that UBC Sauder instilled in me. It’s an essential trait of leadership.”
Finding his niche
Bassey notes that cybersecurity may not be the most traditional route for an MBA graduate, but that his experience at UBC Sauder helped him forge his own unique path.
“I found my niche and that happens to be stakeholder management, customer and program management, problem solving, data and communications – all of the things that I love.”
Bassey has no doubt moved his career “to the next level” just as he hoped he would. Along the way, he’s also established other areas of focus that keep him motivated and grounded as he navigates his career in a competitive field.
“I’ve grown a lot as a person and I try my best to not work alone in a silo, but to make an impact on people’s lives through my work,” says Bassey. “I also try to serve as a mentor for people who are underrepresented in the tech space. Those are the things that make me happy and excited about what I do.”