Gustav Staprans grew up in Silicon Valley. Yet it was the time he spent at UBC Sauder in “Silicon Valley North” that set him up for a cutting-edge career in technology.
“Growing up surrounded by the tech industry gave me a deep love for technology and computers,” he says. “But I knew if I really wanted to make an impact, I’d need business knowledge.”
That’s why Gustav decided to pursue a combined major in business and computer science. When he arrived in Vancouver, home to so many startups it’s often called “Silicon Valley North,” it reminded him of home. “Vancouver takes some of the best parts of Silicon Valley and gets rid of some of the worst,” he says.
Gaining valuable career skills
At UBC Sauder, he found a well-rounded approach to business and discovered an interest in subjects he never expected to enjoy.
“UBC Sauder’s instructors are really excited about what they’re doing and that rubs off on the students,” he says. “I never thought I would be interested in marketing, for example, but my marketing instructor made it fascinating.”
This business acumen served him well in his career right from the get-go.
“You’re building valuable skills and you can see early on it’s paying off,” he says. “I went into my first internship interviews armed with knowledge beyond what other engineers had.”
Not only did his business training help him get more comfortable with the interview process, it equipped him with the knowledge to impress hiring managers.
“In one interview we talked about the technical side for a few minutes, but spent the bulk of our meeting talking about the business; how we can use data to better inform business decisions,” he says.
“I believe I got hired because I could speak to the non-technical side of the business.”
Gustav says this level of career preparation extended from UBC Sauder’s classrooms all the way to the Undergraduate Office and the Business Career Centre.
"Everyone at UBC Sauder had my best interests in mind, and no matter what was going on, they were always available to help. I can’t stress enough how valuable that was."
Without UBC Sauder I don't think I would have gotten the opportunity to intern at Microsoft. It helped me understand the broader scope of the technology industry.
A start-up in Silicon Valley
Through his co-op program, Gustav landed two extremely competitive internships at Microsoft.
While he learned a lot during his time with the industry leader, Gustav says he wanted to experience a startup atmosphere so he left to join the analytics company Looker in Silicon Valley.
“I wanted to be at a place where I could contribute to the decisions that are being made,” he says. “I wanted to be closer to management, closer to the reasoning and logic and decision-making.”
At Looker, Gustav is using the technical skills he acquired in the computer science portion of his degree, as well as the broader knowledge he acquired during the business portion of the program.
“I understand the entire process – how we build a product, get it out the door and support it,” he says. “I can trace that back to UBC Sauder and my instructors’ passion for their areas of expertise.”
“I think bigger because of my UBC Sauder education.”