Grace Chiu had been working in the non-profit industry for many years, from heading up corporate sponsorships for a local Vancouver hospital to raising funds for a children’s hospice. It was incredibly rewarding work, but she was looking for a career shift into the for-profit sector. Deciding that an MBA would help her make the leap, she enrolled and after five years of working full-time and studying part-time, she recently graduated from Trinity Western University’s School of Business.
Nestled in one of Canada’s most majestic landscapes along the banks of the Fraser River in the historic village of Fort Langley, British Columbia, Trinity Western University (TWU) is a liberal arts institution offering up some of the country’s most exciting and agile MBAs. At TWU’s School of Business, students are springboarding their knowledge and experience into exciting new careers, while immersing themselves in an exciting network of classmates and instructors.
Chiu’s plans to relay her work experience and MBA into a new sector were a success – she is now a Senior Manager, Regional Marketing at Scotiabank, Canada’s third-largest, multinational bank.
MBA classes at TWU consist of a wide variety of students – there are more recent undergraduate students looking to get a leg up in the business world, individuals who have years of work experience that they are looking to parlay into new industries, budding entrepreneurs eager to give context to their ideas and spirit. They come from across Canada and from different corners of the world. Together, this diverse batch of students is able to forge an incredible network of friends and peers, leading them to tap into new opportunities and gain different insights. TWU embodies the values of support, camaraderie and friendliness in helping pave the way to success for its alumni.
“If you make the effort to reach out to the people in your courses, you can really make strong connections,” says Chiu. “There are about six people I still keep in contact with from the programme, and we all reach out to each other on various things. Plus, when you make connections with people who aren’t in the same industry, you also gain insights into other industries which could also lead to other career paths.”
Top-notch professors and the flexibility of the programme were major draws for her when she was deciding what school to go to. She also highlights the opportunity that students have to delve into electives and case studies as being a major decision factor. These were elements that would support her career-shifting aspirations.
“At TWU, you have the flexibility to complete the course how you want to. I was working on it part-time, but you can also complete the MBA in 18 months if you want to by taking intensive courses,” she explains. “The professors here are also really supportive, and they show you how you can apply concepts in the real world instead of just learning from theory.”
Another positive MBA experience that Chiu recalls were the healthy debates and discussions among students and professors. She found them helpful, preparing her for the real-world workplace where she must negotiate, remain flexible and be adaptable in her thinking and approaches.
“Fifty percent of the students here are coming right from their undergraduate programmes, while the other 50% are more experienced professionals. You may not have that real-world experience, but you can discuss with different people in all stages of their careers and see things from their points of view. For some, they only see through the lens of theory while others have that real-world knowledge. Having those discussions and debates where theory meets the real world was really amazing for me,” Chiu reflects.
Developing entrepreneurial skills through practical learning experiences
For international graduate Tara Quan, her MBA provided her with the skills needed to turn her passion into a career. Originally from China, she decided to study at TWU as she wanted to learn how to start and grow a business within the competitive music industry.
A chamber musician, concert pianist, and music educator by training, she wanted to make a shift to entrepreneur. She has always had a dream to inspire people through classical music and wanted to know how to turn her idea to do this into a solid business model.
“As a musician, people in my industry tend to think inside the bubble. The MBA programme gave me the chance to look at my career, and even the whole world differently. Professors encouraged me to think outside the box, and I gained key advantages that allowed me to be successful in my industry,” Quan says.
What she loved most about the programme was the small study groups. Here she could speak directly to professors and develop closer relationships with peers. “These are all essential for better learning opportunities and building an extensive business network,” she says.
Quan also enjoyed an internship she secured at the prestigious Vancouver International School of Music, which helped her understand the local music industry and market. As an arts graduate, Quan was also worried that she wouldn’t be able to grasp complex business concepts. Professors like Dr. Chen Liu and Dr. Mark Lee helped ease these worries with their real-world methods of teaching.
“Dr Chen Liu who teaches Managerial Finance uses vivid examples to explain complicated theories, which made the course easier to understand for me. I also enjoyed Mark Lee’s class, who used an online shoe factory simulation game to create real-world business chaos. That was the first time I felt really close to handling an international compact organisation.” she explains.
Networking opportunities, friendly culture, and the supportive atmosphere at TWU are what set their MBA programme apart. Here, you truly gain the business knowledge and tools needed to discover your career potential.