UBC Sauder’s nine-month Master of Management (MM) gives ambitious candidates like Brianna Brown the business acumen to enhance their non-business Bachelor’s degrees and gain an edge in a competitive market.
Brianna Brown’s career goal was a noble one: she wanted it to be socially and environmentally aligned. With the help of her MM, she’s now working for a forward-thinking startup in Toronto, the social finance capital of Canada.
“I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of the citizen as a consumer,” says Brianna, who completed her undergraduate degree in political science and economics.
“I loved learning how different systems interrelate, but I wasn’t sure where a liberal arts degree would take me,” she says. At the time, academic and policy work were options – she had job opportunities in both – and the legal world was open to her as well; she’d been accepted into law school.
“But when I looked at what type of impact I would be making on the world, I felt like my future was in social and environmentally minded businesses,” she says.
Which is where UBC Sauder comes in. Brianna decided to pursue a Master of Management (MM), a program designed to give candidates from non-business backgrounds tangible, actionable business skills and experience.
Coming from an environmentally and socially aligned ideology, business made a lot of sense for me because it has such a weighty impact on the world, It can be a tremendous tool for good.
Gaining real-world experience
Throughout her UBC Sauder experience, Brianna pushed herself out of her comfort zone. Her entrepreneurship class, for example, gave her experience in the business world to complement the knowledge she was gaining in the classroom.
“I never thought I’d be involved in entrepreneurship,” she says. “I’m not a natural risk-taker so it wasn’t an arena I felt comfortable in at first.”
As part of an applied project, Brianna was tasked with conceiving a new venture, researching its viability and then pitching it at the end of the course. Her idea? A hand-warming system for skiers. To test its market potential, Brianna interviewed potential stockists, an exercise that felt very foreign to her.
“I learned a lot about myself and realized I’m actually a risk-taker in a lot of ways,” she says.
While Brianna never intended to turn that particular venture into an actual business, she did make a broad impact with a project she initiated through UBC’s SEEDS Sustainability Program; she developed sustainable packaging for the UBC bookstore.
“Because it reduced their environmental impact and saved them money, it was a real win-win,” she says.
Charting a course in Social Finance
These days, Brianna is using her entrepreneurial skills and experience in her first post-MM role: as Impact Manager for a package-free grocery store called Nada, which had previously been operating under a pop-up model and is now in the process of launching a permanent location.
“Working with a small team means I have to pick up different types of tasks all the time, many of which are new to me,” she says. “The MM gave me fluency in different business departments so I’m able to be flexible.”
Brianna’s currently working for the Vancouver-based concept store all the way from Toronto, where she now lives as she’s exploring her passions of social finance and responsible investing.
“The MM set me down a path I’m very excited about,” she says.
"I felt like my future was in social and environmentally minded businesses."