Equipping out-of-the-box thinkers with business acumen
Meet Mia Vorland and Seth Book, two UBC Bachelor + Master of Management (B+MM) graduates who are leveraging their creativity and analytical thinking skills to build their careers and set themselves apart. With backgrounds in sociology and fine arts, respectively, these alumni are challenging traditional notions of the type of professional who pursues a career in business.
Ever since Mia Vorland was a child, she’s been fascinated by how social customs and norms differ among countries. Having been expatriated to Japan with her family for the first 10 years of her life, she says she was struck by the cultural differences she observed when her family moved back to Canada.
“In Japan, the social custom is to call your neighbours ‘aunt’ and ‘uncle’,” recalls Vorland. “After returning to Vancouver, I found that neighbours were introduced and called by their first name – which is something I never did in Japan.”
At the time, Vorland didn’t realize that her observations about everyday components of society form the basis of an academic discipline: Sociology. When she first started her Bachelor of Arts degree at UBC, she wanted to explore as many subjects as she could. After taking Sociology 101, she was intrigued by the course teachings on complex and diverse societies.
“I was interested in exploring the reasons for the cultural differences I was experiencing and had experienced,” says Vorland.
Though she was interested in the study of human societies, Vorland says she always knew she wanted to pursue additional education in business and marry the two specialties for her career. She graduated from the UBC Bachelor + Master of Management (B+MM) Dual Degree in May 2021 and now works as a Business Analyst at the Provincial Health Services Authority.
“I don’t think I could be doing my job as successfully as I am now without my B+MM degree,” says Vorland. “The program is fast paced, so it helped me develop my skills in communication, organization, and prioritization while under pressure.”
Vorland was recently tasked with helping to develop a health app for clinicians. She designed a section of the app, consulted with coworkers to seek input on which components should be included, and then invited clinicians to evaluate the app and give feedback. Vorland says she relied on the project management skills she gained during her B+MM to field input from multiple stakeholders and steer the multi-faceted assignment.
‘The biggest value’ of the B+MM
Vorland says the UBC Sauder network, particularly the Hari B. Varshney Business Career Centre (BCC), played a big part in helping her find a job after graduation.
“My one-on-one coaching sessions with the BCC helped me narrow in on what I wanted to do,” says Vorland. “The Manager of MM careers, Carly Boettcher, helped me when I was applying for jobs and connected me with fellow alumni for coffee chats to learn about their day to day.”
Though the course work offered valuable lessons and honed her skills, Vorland says the bonds she formed with her classmates has been the biggest value of the B+MM degree.
“I’ve been able to form a strong network because we’ve all gone through the experience together,” says Vorland. “Knowing that, even five to 10 years down the line, I can message my classmates – it’s hard to quantify the value of those relationships.”
Contemporary artist turned marketer
One of those classmates is Seth Book. Like Vorland, he’s a fresh graduate in the midst of navigating his first job. Book says he fidgets with the class ring on his finger during moments of self-doubt – it serves as a physical reminder of his credentials and broad skillset.
Book is a contemporary artist at his core, both self-taught and classically trained. He doesn’t stick to any one medium – a defining feature of his practice. He paints, draws, does metalwork, photography and graphic design. A lot of his art has been influenced by his maternal grandfather, a formative figure in his life and a Holocaust survivor.
“He was an important point of information for me, not only for awareness of Holocaust survivors and their stories, but also for current day antisemitism,” says Book. “He inspired me to explore the way the world interacts with different groups of people.”
Artwork by Seth Book: “A Series I Do Not Want to Continue” is an introspective examination of a ‘series’ and its ability to open an idea and subsequently close it with a finite nature. The six-piece series of vinyl adhesive decals on melamine boards comments on this notion through a visual storytelling of Book’s grandfather’s journey surviving the Holocaust.
With such depth as an artist, it may come as a surprise that Book is also well-versed in marketing, project management and finance. He works in marketing at Timebomb Trading Inc., a full-service distribution company that builds brands for Canadian consumers and offers expertise in areas like ecommerce, brick-and-mortar retail, and customer service. Book tackles complex issues every day, from working with vendors, to driving awareness of brands based as far away as Sweden and Denmark.
Gaining a super power
Book complemented his Bachelor of Fine Arts with a Master of Management from the UBC Sauder School of Business. He says the dual focus of his education equipped him with a competitive, and uncommon, combination of skills.
“There are a lot of people with analytical sides to their brains who can turn a profit, but it’s so hard to make ground-breaking changes when you can’t think differently,” says Book. “Having someone who thinks outside the box but who also understands the logistics of what you can and can’t do, that’s a super power right there.”
Preparing for the future, personally and professionally
Book says the knowledge he gained in the B+MM degree not only helps him thrive in a fast-paced and complicated work environment, but also guides him in important aspects of his personal life.
“When I started taking business classes, I realized how applicable the content was, especially for making decisions about selling my art, or marketing myself,” says Book. “The classes also taught important life skills like accounting, managing my own money, and understanding stock markets and the global economy.”
A highly engaged member of the UBC Sauder community, Book served as president of the UBC Master of Management Student Society. Since he and the rest of his cohort completed the entire Master of Management portion of their degrees online because of COVID-19, there was leftover money in the student society budget that was normally allocated for in-person events. Students voted to purchase class rings to commemorate their journey together.
“Wearing my class ring every day reminds me that I am qualified, and I can handle a lot of issues,” says Book. “I have a wide-spanning background that will help me grow into a professional who is confident in a lot of different areas.”