Long before he learned the term ‘entrepreneur,’ Shamus Menard referred to himself as a ‘starter.’ Even as a child, when something needed to be done, he was quick to take initiative. His industrious attitude translated into his athletic career in competitive dragon boat racing, and again when he launched his own social enterprise, Twin Paddlesports. As a recent graduate of the UBC Master of Management, Menard now has the tools and knowledge to turn his natural predisposition into a fulfilling career.
Menard credits his background in competitive sports for his focus and drive. As someone who works full-time and has an entrepreneurial venture on the side, he relies on the lessons he learned in competitive dragon boat racing to juggle it all. He’s a Project Coordinator for BC Renal, which plans and coordinates the care of patients with kidney disease throughout the province of BC. He’s also the co-founder of Twin Paddlesports, a social enterprise that aims to grow paddling communities and provide access to high quality paddling gear.
“Racing taught me the value of preparation, how to work hard, how to hone my mental focus, and how to lean on others when I need support,” says Menard. “And then the UBC Master of Management taught me how to channel that drive by shaping the way I approach problems with an objective lens.”
Equipping the paddling community
Menard and his twin brother created Twin Paddlesports in 2018 as a way to serve their beloved paddling community. In addition to offering high quality gear for both dragon boat and outrigger racing, Twin Paddlesports is involved in coaching and founding teams, and offers financial support in the form of scholarships and donations to those in need. Menard and his brother consider Twin Paddlesports a social enterprise since their focus is on providing value to the paddling community rather than making a profit.
“Our goal is not to make as much money as possible, but rather to offer the products and services that we love and have used ourselves for several years,” says Menard. “We sell this gear so that we can then support programs in our community.”
Igniting an interest in business
Setting up Twin Paddlesports was a tall task with a lot of up-front work. Menard and his brother worked tirelessly to develop relationships and contracts with suppliers, create a website, and streamline marketing channels. The hardest part, Menard says, was learning how to follow accounting principles and create financial statements before he formally learned those skills at the UBC Sauder School of Business.
Despite the challenges, Menard fell in love with the problem-solving component of running a business. He had a Bachelor of Kinesiology and had long planned on a career as a physiotherapist, chiropractor or RMT. After launching his first entrepreneurial venture, he wasn’t so sure he was destined for that path anymore.
Menard decided to pursue a Master of Management (MM) at UBC Sauder and began the program in late 2020. Just as he had hoped, Menard says the classes developed his problem-solving skills and encouraged him to approach challenges with objectivity and from different angles.
“Having such a diverse set of learning opportunities helps students to approach problems in various ways,” says Menard. “Courses in strategic management, as well as ethics and sustainability, really shape the way you think.”
Menard says the case-based learning throughout the MM degree helped prepare him for his current role with BC Renal because it taught him how to analyze complex problems, delve deeply into every scenario, and ask thoughtful questions.
“The lessons I learned at UBC Sauder enable me to ask the right questions, gather the right information, and make well-considered decisions in my work today,” says Menard.
Rethinking the course of his career
Above all else, Menard says the greatest takeaway from his time at UBC Sauder was the realization that a successful career can be fluid as long as you have foundational skills that can be applied broadly, and an open mind.
“UBC Sauder drastically changed the way that I approach a career. I used to think about my career as being one profession that I choose, and sticking with it for the rest of my life,” says Menard. “My schooling has enabled me to pursue a path with many turns, where I can navigate the workforce more freely, finding work that aligns with my values and interests while always having the flexibility to try something new.”