Tag Archives: U VIC Bcomm program

Contest Update: Be our Boss 4 a Day

25 Sep

Our contest to be our Managing Director 4 A Day wrapped up last Friday afternoon and we are thrilled to share with you the names of the students who entered, in the order their entries were received:

Connor Bildfell – University of Victoria
David Lin – University of Victoria
Alex Rabu – Camosun College
Simonas Uzdavinys – Camosun College
Rebecca Staynor – University of Victoria
Grace Campbell – Royal Roads University
Chelsey Smith – Royals Roads University
Brandon Wright – University of Victoria
Fulya Ozkul – Royal Roads University
Stefanie Watchman – Pacific Design Academy
Phil Sutton – Camosun College
Wesley Yu – Camosun College
Darragh Grove-White – Camosun College

The standard of the entries was amazing and finding 3 finalists will be a task and a half.

Brian Hartz editor of Douglas MagazineKathi Springer of The Pace GroupFortunately, we have help! Kathi Springer, PR specialist and the VP Communications and Corporate Relations at The Pace Group, and Brian Hartz, the editor of Douglas Magazine, have offered to assist in the judging.

On Wednesday we will announce the 3 finalists and conduct a vote on our Facebook page until Friday at 5PM.

We wondered if the applications would come anywhere near the quality we saw during our Zombie Internship Contest in March. The answer is a resounding YES. Wait until you see them!

Thank you to all these fantastic students.


How do you deal with fear?

11 Mar

A number of Copelanders  got a chance to hear Tom Benson, Chief Experience Officer at Wildplay Element Parks, speak last night at the University of Victoria’s annual Business Banquet.

In front of a room full of BComm students and members of the business community, Tom dealt with an issue I have never before heard addressed from other business leaders.


His fears. Our fears. He used it to drive home a point that really resonated with me.

Great leaders have to get past their fear. They have to face it, acknowledge it and act anyway.

When you move into action from a fearful position, he told us, you don’t grow as a person: You reveal something that is already there.

Made me realize we are all born with the capacity to handle fear and act admirably. It isn’t something that belongs to a select few. “Acknowledge your fear and act anyway.” We can all be leaders if we remember that.

I hope the students, our business leaders of the future, were listening.

Networking a room? Here’s some terrible advice.

2 Mar

Fellow Copelander Andrea Merson and I were up at U Vic last night speaking to BComm students about how to work a room. They have a networking session coming up with members of the Victoria business community in advance of their annual Business Banquet on March 10th.

One of the students confessed he was reluctant to come to the talk last night because he had already attended a similar seminar and had learned the right approach:

He was told to memorize a 30-second elevator pitch and use that as an introduction.

I just about spat up my internals.

Worst advice ever.

Better advice would be to not talk about yourself at all, but ask questions about the person you’ve approached.

  • What brings them to the session? Have they been before? Has it been a good experience? Did they find these networking sessions easy?
  • Ask them about their job: What actually do they do? How long have they been there? How has their year been? Where else have they worked?
  • Ask them if their company ever hires interns or co-ops. What’s the process? Have they ever worked directly with one? What do they think makes a good co-op candidate?

Don’t launch The Great Me at them from the get-go and try to convince them how interesting you are. Instead, act interested. Let them come to their own conclusions.

Elevator pitch? That is Networking Suicide. Imagine trying to pull off that approach in a bar!

The business folks at a networking session are people first and foremost and the usual rules of conduct apply.


In the arena

30 Nov

The U Vic BComm students who showed up at the Business Banquet on Thursday night now have an evening of networking under their belts. And it wasn’t nearly as scary as they thought it was going to be. Vomit bags were noticeable by their absence.

At one point I spoke with a couple of nervous students who were watching from the sidelines, and I asked them to identify the most intimidating-looking businessman in the room.

They pointed to the towering Bill Anderson, a retired partner of KPMG, and long-time supporter of this evening. So I dragged them over to meet him and they quickly discovered that their fears were completely unfounded.

And so the evening went.

I asked some of the students to write about the event and here are their contributions. Full credit to Leta Young and Erin Stead for putting on a terrific show, with mid-terms swirling around them.


MIKE GLOVER > This was the first time that many students had the chance to network of their own accord, and because of it, it was quite a frightening experience. While business reps are quite human and not the hyper-intelligent killer robots that some students make them out to be, it still takes a lot of nerve to go make first (peaceful) contact. When speaking with one representative on the matter he commented to me “It’s always hard trying to break the third years from their packs and it doesn’t even change with the fourth years. I’ve been at these banquets for years, and I just get a kick out of navigating my way into their cliques to make conversation.”

For some, the feeling one gets when walking into a room crowded with business representatives and students could be reminiscent of the feelings of a roman gladiator who’d been thrown in with a pit of sleeping lions. Our social networks are our sword and shield, they protect us and make us feel secure in foreign situations where we don’t really know what to do. But, from when I surveyed the room at the reception, there were still many great students who’d thrown those swords and shields aside and jumped in head-first looking to arm-wrestle the biggest lion in the den for a business card.

RUSSELL MURRAY > I did not quite achieve my “quota” for the evening, however, I was able to initiate a couple of quality discussions. One such discussion was with Paul Cumberland of the CMA’s of BC.

Now, I don’t have the faintest desire to become an accountant (right now, I plan on becoming a lawyer). I have been known to avoid accounting reps at networking functions like I owe them money. That’s not to say that they are bad people. I was just always intimidated by the competitiveness of their recruitment, and the urban legend that they only want to talk to accounting majors. However, I saw him standing by himself and decided to take a chance and jump out of my comfort zone. After a few minutes, I found myself chatting with him like we were old school mates.

I have followed up with him, not for a job, not to see if he knows any lawyers, but to learn from his experiences. As our guest speaker, Tim Vasko quoted “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get”. I learned that networking provides opportunities to learn and grow and that sometimes these opportunities arise in the people you would never think to engage or have falsely written off.

GRAHAM ROGERS > This was the first networking event for the majority of the students, and many were more stressed over it than their exams.

The most memorable moment of the evening was one encounter three other classmates and I had with a representative from PricewaterhouseCoopers. All four of us were as shy as a fifteen-year-old on a first date. I looked over at my friend, who had butterflies in this stomach armed with tridents that were prodding him on the inside. It was awkward at first: we were sweaty and stuttering. As the conversation progressed, we realized something important; this person wants to give us advice. We started drilling her with questions, and that’s when we all started to relax and learn about her background.

Since this was my first networking event, I expected my opening encounters with the business community to be a challenge; I’m no Sean Connery. I plan to take advantage of more of these events to practice and improve my interpersonal skills. Hopefully years later I can look back on the CSS Business Banquet of 2009 as a learning experience that contributed to my success… before I hop into my BMW and drive to work.

The kids in the hall

9 Nov

On November 26th, the 3rd year BComm students from the University of Victoria will get a chance to put their networking skills to the test at the annual Business Banquet.Networking(1)

Readers of this blog will recall that things didn’t go all that well last year in the reception hall at the start of the evening. So we met recently to come up with a game plan for working the room this year.

Among the suggestions (which anyone might find helpful when faced with the daunting task of introducing yourself to a roomful of business heavyweights):

  • Have plenty of business cards.
  • Arrive early. It will get harder to break into ongoing conversations as the evening progresses.
  • Nurse a drink. Alcohol may give confidence but it’s a judgement thief.
  • This is not dating. You are not looking for phone numbers here.
  • As an ice breaker, thank the person you’re talking to for coming. Acknowledge that the event is cutting into their personal and family time.
  • Listen. Networking is all about getting to know new people, and you can’t get to know someone when you’re yammering on about yourself.
  • Try to stick to business. Leave the talk about sports teams and weather to the TV news anchors.
  • Don’t ask them if there’s a job at their company for you!
  • Nervous wreck? Work the room with a buddy until you loosen up.
  • Stuck in a dud conversation? Sneak a glance around for someone you might invite to join in. The chemistry may change and if it doesn’t, you can slide out without leaving the person you were talking to all alone.

Main thing to remember is that the people you are meeting are humans, even though they may seem terrifying. Treat them the way you wish to be treated.

And for heaven sakes, don’t kiss their rings.kissring

Once the evening is over, it’s time to add your new connections to Linkedin and follow up with emails of appreciation to everyone you got a business card from. It’s not enough to feel good about the evening. You have to make it count for something.