Congratulating three leaders from the BCom Graduating Class of 2020
(left to right) Cheryl Yip, recipient of the Dorothy Anne Dilworth Memorial Prize; Matthew Yong, recipient of the Matthew H. Henderson Memorial Prize; Michelle Ng, recipient of the Stanley Hamilton Award.
How did you get through COVID-19? This will be a popular question in the months ahead, but for UBC Sauder Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) graduates, their answer will become part of their career story.
More than 800 BCom students are set to graduate this Spring from UBC Sauder and as they turn their attention to launching their professional careers, they face unique challenges. While some graduates have confirmed employment offers, many others are actively job hunting. It’s too early to tell what the job market will yield in the months ahead, but the skills and knowledge these students have acquired over the past four years remain just as valuable to employers; perhaps more so now than ever.
Three graduates who are choosing to view the future with hope and optimism were recently recognized for their outstanding contribution to the UBC Sauder community.
Cheryl Yip, recipient of the Dorothy Anne Dilworth Memorial Prize
Cheryl Yip arrived at UBC Sauder knowing only one other student. She joined the UBC HR Management club as a way of building her network. The following year she was appointed Co-President and through this leadership opportunity, discovered a passion for mentoring and coaching. Yip launched a mentorship program for students and took on additional roles that included Career Peer Advisor, Teaching Assistant and Co-Director of CUS (Commerce Undergraduate Society) Sustainability.
Last summer, Yip leveraged her HR skills to develop a mental health initiative for a municipal fire department.
“In my first meeting, the fire chiefs were looking at their phones and not taking me seriously. But then I spent time interviewing firefighters about their health and safety and building trust,” she says. “When I presented my final project, the chiefs listened to what I had to say and implemented two of my recommendations right away.”
Yip credits her professors for providing a transformational educational experience, and she is grateful to the team at the Hari B. Varshney Business Career Centre (BCC) for supporting her ambition to become an HR professional.
Matthew Yong, recipient of the Matthew H. Henderson Memorial Prize
Matthew Yong is reflecting on his future prospects as he waits out the COVID-19 outbreak in Singapore, separated from his family in Vancouver. He had begun his term abroad and was taking classes at an international business school when COVID-19 hit. Classes were moved online and these days Yong can only step outside to exercise and grocery shop. Despite his lack of freedom, he is still enjoying the learning experience.
“I think we need to remind ourselves that this situation is temporary. We went to this great school and learned such useful skills that we have this career insurance,” says Yong. “We’ve got something that’s permanent – our education, our connections and an understanding of our capabilities and where they can take us.”
During his four years in the BCom program, Yong served as Chairperson of the Chasing Sustainability Conference and Vice-President of Finance for the CUS. He also excelled in case competitions and competed in 15 local and international events. These opportunities sparked an interest in management consulting; a career he intends to pursue upon graduation.
“If I look at myself four years ago, I’ve not only transformed but every aspect of my personality has changed for the better,” says Yong. “I didn’t have the kind of perspective of the world around me as I do now.”
With extra time on his hands, Yong is working hard to become fluent in Mandarin; a skill he hopes will make him more marketable as an international management consultant.
Michelle Ng, recipient of the Stanley Hamilton Award
Michelle Ng is waiting to hear whether the job she landed in the digital customer consulting division of an accounting firm will still exist when she graduates. She entered UBC Sauder four years ago with the intention of becoming an accountant, but her curiosity took her down a different path. She created UBC’s Strategy Consulting Initiative, interned at a local startup, competed in over 10 case competitions and served as VP of Competition for Sauder Summit. By her fourth year, Ng knew her talents were better aligned with business consulting.
“I think when you’re young, you should be exploring different interests, especially if they aren’t obviously synergistic,” she says. “Every skill that you learn, every job you take, you are going to build some valuable skills that are going to be conducive to the career you eventually pursue.”
In contemplating the future economy and labour market, Ng is hopeful something positive will come out of COVID-19.
“It’s definitely accelerating the pace of technological innovation and breaking down the social barriers of working from home and holding events online,” she says. “There’s also less pollution. The question is, can we replicate these improvements to improve our future by having less activity and less waste?”
These top BCom students, along with the rest of their graduating class, are uniquely positioned to leverage their educations and build meaningful careers in a drastically different world; one that will require fresh ideas and new approaches to doing business.