When Kushal Mohee was in his early teens, his father arranged for him to take a tour of a data centre in the budding tech hub of Ebene, Mauritius. Standing in a building that looked like part-office, part-factory, with servers and flashing lights all around him, was the first time Mohee had been exposed to the infrastructure and back-end of data. “It debunked the myth that it was all magic,” he recalls.
The field trip proved to be a seminal moment for Mohee that led to a lifelong fascination with what he describes as “all steps of data.” Several years later, when it came time to apply to university, Mohee discovered the UBC Bachelor + Master of Management Dual Degree (B+MM) and set off on a journey that would combine his love of data with business fundamentals.
Deciding on the dual degree
Mohee opted to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Cognitive Systems with a specialization in Computational Intelligence and Design as the first stage of his post-secondary education. The interdisciplinary degree is part of the UBC Cognitive Systems program, which sits at the intersection of computer science, linguistics, philosophy, and psychology. Mohee knew early on that he wanted to specialize in the field of computer science, but he also recognized the value in a business education.
“Both my parents started their careers in technical fields and soon after transitioned into management roles. They had to learn a lot of management skills on the go by reading books and attending seminars,” explains Mohee. “I figured that if I had a formal education in business, it would give me a head start.”
The B+MM alum didn’t intend to pursue a traditional career in finance or marketing, but he figured the blend of business knowledge and data prowess would set him apart from his peers in the long-term. “I wanted to rely on my technical expertise in the jobs I got immediately after graduation, but then have that skill set to allow for future progression.”
Building a personal brand
Two years after graduation, Mohee is living out his career aspirations as a Junior Data Engineer at tech start-up, VINN Automotive. Based in Victoria, B.C., VINN is an automotive e-commerce marketplace that works with car buyers and dealerships across North America.
Mohee credits his learnings from UBC Sauder for helping him stand out among the competition as he navigated life as a new graduate and entered the workforce.
“The Master of Management (MM) portion of the dual degree made me think about my brand. Even though I have a wide range of interests, I learned that I can’t give mixed signals and I need to create a brand around my abilities,” says Mohee. “The program taught me to view myself as offering a value proposition to the world in what I specialize in.”
One particularly enlightening moment of the B+MM program was Mohee’s completion of the RocheMartin – Emotional Capital Report (ECR), an assessment that gives participants an emotional intelligence score on 10 leadership competencies.
“It was quite a telling exercise that was useful in a personal and practical sense, and it made distinctions that were really interesting,” says Mohee. “For example, there’s a difference between self-reliance and self-confidence, and being able to speak with a supportive UBC Sauder staff member about my assessment uncovered things that were important for my self-awareness.”
Adding consulting experience to his resume
Another memorable part of the dual degree was the Community Business Project. Mohee and his team of classmates were matched with the Outdoor Recreation Council of BC and asked to tackle a real-world business problem.
They created a fundraising strategy for the organization and Mohee says it was gratifying to work on a project that had a far-reaching impact beyond the task at hand.
“Properly maintained recreational trails enable people to see the beauty of British Columbia, which invites tourism, which then grows the economy,” explains Mohee. “That’s what I found really interesting – by solving the immediate, smaller problem, we were enabling a whole supply chain behind it.”
As a Junior Data Engineer, Mohee’s role is partly dedicated to automating processes. He uses machine learning and computer vision techniques to enhance VINN’s online marketplace. The other half of his role is dedicated to uncovering metrics for different departments across the company.
Mohee prides himself on presenting the data in an intuitive and easy-to-understand format and says his B+MM degree taught him how to reconcile business requirements with technical requirements. “I can see what stakeholders are trying to achieve and understand why it is important.”
As he thinks back to his childhood awe of the data centre in Mauritius, Mohee now has a different perspective on the magic of data. Though he has an intimate understanding of the back-end and infrastructure that makes it all possible, he has a greater appreciation for its potential to be harnessed for positive impact.
“Many people are trying to solve the world’s problems,” says Mohee. “I believe business brings the ability to solve the problem, and data and tech enable businesses to do it in a sustained, scalable way.”