Supporting teams to reach the next level of excellence

Posted 2021-05-27

Parasto Sadeghi is an expert when it comes to leading companies through large-scale transformation projects and supporting teams through change. These days, the UBC Sauder School of Business MBA alum and management consultant is busier than ever as organizations of every size and description seek to reinvent themselves in the pandemic era.


For Sadeghi, her work has always been about helping people learn and grow. After completing a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology, she became a student recruitment officer at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. While she enjoyed supporting students in achieving their university dreams, after five years, she began to think about a career change.

"I’d come to a point in my career where I was really good at this one thing and it felt as if I had hit a plateau," she says, “and I knew it was the right time to reorient my career.”

Sadeghi found herself at a crossroad; should she go back to the familiar territory of psychology and plunge herself into research or pursue a different career altogether.

While investigating options, she discovered the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program at UBC Sauder. This career direction would not only complement her existing skillset, but also give her an opportunity to harness new leadership and business management skills.

"The strength of the program is that the classroom becomes a hub for people who draw from their varied experiences. Because the class size is small, the atmosphere of learning is intimate and you really get to know your classmates and professors,” she says.


Blending psychology and business

When Sadeghi enrolled in the MBA program in 2016, she didn’t know that the courses, classroom interactions, experiential activites, networking events and faculty lectures would lead her toward a career in consulting.

“Having a background in psychology, I found myself immersed in the intersection between psychology and business at UBC Sauder,” Sadeghi recalls. “It was fascinating to explore topics like organizational behaviour, consumer behaviour and strategy as part of the MBA program.”

Two instructors in particular created a transformational learning experience. Tracey Gurton taught Organizational Behaviour & Human Resources. “Tracy encouraged me to see business through the lens of human-centred solutions. Her classes underscored the idea that human motivations and behaviour are at the core of every successful organization,” says Sadeghi.

Adjunct Professor Phil Arrata, who taught Management Consulting & Decision Support, shared his industry experience as a consultant with Deloitte and McKinsey & Company. "Phil's lectures were crucial because he provided a rigorous framework for problem-solving and gave me the opportunity to apply skills I had learnt throughout the program. So his classes became a bridge between the classroom and the management consulting industry,” she says.


A natural fit for human capital consulting

Parasto Sadeghi on her graduation day at UBC

By the time she graduated in 2018, Sadeghi knew consulting was the right career choice. She landed a role at Deloitte Consulting in the company's Human Capital division in Vancouver.

Working with clients across a variety of industries, she helps facilitate organizational transformation. Her work entails strategic planning, communications, project management and other responsibilities. Ultimately, she helps to reposition organizations for a sustainable future so they can better respond to internal and external forces.

“Change management draws upon psychological applications that help explain why people think and act as they do,” explains Sadeghi. “My work is about figuring out how I can change behaviours so organizations are able to lead successful transformations. I really love solving large-scale people-oriented problems."

One recent project involved overseeing the launch of a new division at a B.C. crown corporation. Sadeghi and her team helped set up an e-commerce platform and distribution centre and ensured people with the right skills were hired to fill close to 150 newly-minted roles.

"Throughout the whole process, you develop great relationships with the people on the ground—the workforce that essentially drives these transformations. You start empathizing with their pain points, and as a consultant, you find out how you can improve mindsets and capabilities to sustain the transformation.”


Leading transformation projects in a pandemic

It’s no secret the pandemic has sent shockwaves through many industries and upended businesses. In these times, Sadeghi sees herself as a valuable asset in helping organizations adapt to change—not to merely survive, but to thrive.

“In the world of consulting, we see opportunities to restructure organizations so they’re lean, implementing new digital solutions that can elevate work or coming up with hybrid work models,” says Sadeghi.

Sadeghi sees more opportunities for human capital consultants, as organizations seek to adapt and stay ahead of their competition.

“Organizations are increasingly being held accountable for the well-being of their employees and their strategies have to address how jobs are structured to meet the needs of individual workers, especially in the post-COVID world,” explains Sadeghi.

With her unique expertise stemming from an education in business management and psychology, Sadeghi has built a name for herself as a change management professional. Although the scope and scale of her work has changed since she worked with students, she still gets to do what she loves: supporting people to stretch themselves to tackle challenges, reach new milestones, and achieve their version of success.

“My career trajectory has been about embarking on opportunities that allow me to do purposeful work by making a true difference in the lives of others. I don’t look at success as being stagnant. In fact, my eyes are always set on learning and growing to scale another height in my personal life and career. I think this growth mindset is what pushes me to want to be better.”