Learning essential business skills to support a career change

Posted 2017-07-04

After completing the Part-time MBA program (now called the Professional MBA) at UBC Sauder School of Business, Caterina Papadakos launched a new career in the banking industry. Today, she leads the Western Canadian division for Silicon Valley Bank where she’s responsible for connecting the bank’s clients with capital and resources to help them grow. 

The last decade has been intense, but Caterina says her education is one of the best investments she’s ever made

“The role I’m in now is really multi-faceted, so the broad education I got through the PMBA has really helped me and supported my career across the board."

Caterina’s job encompasses not just financial analysis but also risk management, client relations, sales, marketing, negotiating and more – skills she was taught at UBC Sauder.

Back in 2009 during the economic crisis, Caterina was working for Tourism BC. She was looking for ways to advance her career, but jobs were scarce. A colleague suggested she go back to school. 

A quick look at the UBC PMBA

Within months of starting the part-time MBA program, her career began to lift off. She was hired by the provincial government as an international business development manager. Starting a new role and attending class on weekends was daunting at first, but the schedule allowed her to immediately put into practice her new skills and knowledge.

“It was a broad education in business management. The Negotiation class with Dan Skarlicki was really valuable and I still use it a lot. The other course that was one of the most valuable experiences of the program was Technology Entrepreneurship.”

Shortly after graduation, a chance conversation with a banking executive led to Caterina making the leap into the banking sector. She was hired by BMO in client management and gravitated toward Vancouver’s flourishing tech community. When the bank introduced a lending program for the Canadian tech sector, Caterina was picked to lead the program in B.C. After gaining four years of experience in commercial banking, she pivoted to a boutique venture debt fund called Espresso Capital.

“During my time at BMO and Espresso, I was able to work with some incredible leaders in the tech scene and help them scale their businesses,” says Caterina.

When their son Henrik was born, Caterina took a break from work. The couple was enjoying parenthood and exploring the outdoors around their home in Squamish, B.C. when Caterina received an offer she couldn’t refuse.

“Silicon Valley Bank is a commercial bank known as a great partner for founders and investors in the tech sector. I was thrilled when they called and asked me if I wanted to lead the bank’s expansion into Western Canada.” 

It’s a leadership role that allows Caterina to practice her passion; structuring deals and working with innovative founders and CEOs. The days can be long and the deadlines intense, but with her husband’s help and childcare, she’s able to enjoy the best of both worlds – motherhood and an exciting job. 

“I definitely would recommend the PMBA. Not only did it open up new career opportunities, but I also thoroughly enjoyed the learning experience and met some amazing people. Some remain my closest friends.”


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