We're celebrating 25 Alumni to Watch

 
25 Alumni to Watch
We're celebrating grads who show the world looks different from here.

Trailblazers. Altruists. Luminaries. Cosmopolitans.

For Gustavson's 25th birthday, we're shining the spotlight on alumni who embody our School's spirit of seeing things differently.  Our alumni are adventurous and innovative, have a global mindset and embrace the triple bottom line.  Their unique blend of business acumen and creativity makes our alumni ones to watch.

Articles profiling the 25 Alumni to Watch are excerpted from the 2015 Spring/Summer issue of Business Class Magazine and written by Robin Brunet, Carol Crenna, Rachel Goldsworthy, Laurie Jones, Sashie Steenstra and Elise Wren

Bennett

Bennett Coles

Bennett Coles

Founder, Promontory Press

MBA '07

Apparently, I’m a risktaker,” says Bennett Coles. This naval officer turned author and CEO/publisher is changing the architecture of the publishing industry, one book at a time. He started Promontory Press, a publishing house committed to supporting new authors. The company was born out of necessity—to get his own novel Virtues of War to market after some cold rejections from literary agents. By becoming a publisher and producing the book under his own imprint, he was able to receive full royalties, control the look of the final product and resonate with his target market. Coles’ international success has now allowed him to extend this model to fellow authors. Promontory Press, a hybrid between traditional and self-publishing, seeks out new, unknown and niche authors to publish. Coles says that to effect change, you have to play by the traditional rules, but then take risks within those rules. He advises, “If you want to change minds, you need to know what those minds are already thinking and speak in their terms, making change enticing.” -EW

Derek

Jeremy Bryant, Andrew Hall and Derek Juno

Andrew Hall

Co-founder, Mealshare

BCom '11

Derek Juno 

VP Business Development, Mealshare

BCom '11

We’re the TOMS shoes of food,” jokes Andrew Hall with Derek Juno. “Mealshare was more about seeing an opportunity than seeing a classic entrepreneurial problem.” The social venture, co-founded by Hall and Jeremy Bryant, is a “buy one, give one hunger relief program” leveraging on the eight million people who dine out in Canada every day. Mealshare partners with top restaurants across the country, puts its Mealshare logo beside menu items, and if the customer selects that item, they not only get their meal, but also provide a meal to someone in need. As a conscious choice for social dining, Mealshare acts as the broker between the restaurant and the charity. Deciding to leave a comfortable job with Deloitte, Hall encouraged Juno, his close friend from UVic, to leave his post-grad travels and join him in the venture, launched in 2013. - EW

Christian

Christian Kittleson

Christian Kittleson

Assistant Deputy Minister for First Nations Negotiations

MBA '06

Christian Kittleson has come full circle on his career path. After being the CFO for CHC Helicopters in Australia, running the Asia/Pacific region for the world’s largest helicopter company, he is back in Victoria. Now, as the province’s Assistant Deputy Minister for First Nations negotiations, he has found a niche that perfectly combines all his past experiences. “My specialty had become transformative change so if an organization or an entity is looking to implement a new strategy, I’ve become good at driving that change,” he says. “The future of First Nations rights and title will impact many generations to come. It’s an exciting time.” Now happily settled back in BC’s capital with his young family, Kittleson is ready to apply the skills he acquired during his global career to work toward solutions to some of British Columbia’s most challenging issues. -LJ

Greg

Greg Smith

Greg Smith

CEO, Anthem United Inc.

BCom '00

After chartered accountant Greg Smith joined the mining industry in 2000 because it was “full of cool people flying around the world,” he quickly racked up a startling list of achievements as an executive and then director of various mining companies. Smith’s achievements include raising more than $400 million in debt and equity financing, closing over $1.6 billion in mining mergers and acquisitions, and co-founding Anthem United Inc. in 2013, now worth $27-million. Smith is also co-founder of the Vancouver-based Young Mining Professionals (YMP)—a non-profit association of mining professionals who share the goal of advancing the global profile and leadership of the Vancouver-based mining and exploration industry. Smith remarks, “YMP is a forum in which industry veterans are invited to share their insight and experience with our members. This can be a tough industry and these guys have seen it all; the knowledge transfer is invaluable, but the confidence boost is equally important.” -RB

Michael

Michael Smith

Michael Smith

Founder, Whistler Skydiving; Director of Finance, Mark Anthony Group

BCom '03

Michael Smith has turned his passion for skydiving and beer into a career and family business. After graduating, Smith went to work for KPMG. After six years with the company, Smith decided to prepare a list of industries where he could apply his skills. “Beer came first because I thought it would be fun,” he laughs. Smith joined Granville Island Brewing as finance manager and helped grow the business by 50 percent. Today, as director of finance for Mark Anthony Group, he is growing business for Turning Point Brewery. As for skydiving, he was bitten by the bug as an international co-op student in Switzerland, and this eventually led him to co-found Whistler Skydiving. Smith stresses that his international travels facilitated by Gustavson were invaluable. “I became proficient in a remarkable sport, plus I was first exposed to accounting while working in Norway for Deloitte & Touche,” he says. -RB

Michaela

Michaela Tokarski

Michaela Tokarski

Founder, Creekside Communications; Co-Founder, Coastal Contacts

MBA '01

As the youngest in a family that includes four brothers, Ontario-raised Michaela Tokarski sought a venue of higher education that would stoke her entrepreneurial aspirations. She found it at the Gustavson School of Business, where she graduated in 2001 at age 24. “Its entrepreneurship model was uncommon and enabled me to see all sorts of career opportunities,” she says. While still in school she co-founded Coastal Contacts Inc. with her brother Roger Hardy; last year it was sold to Essilor International for $435 million. In 2009, having returned to Ontario, Tokarski launched Creekside Communications, a highly regarded Internet marketing firm whose revenue she aims to double this year. Aside from gaining technical aptitude, Tokarski credits Gustavson professors for encouraging her to spread her wings. “One of them, Eric Morris, convinced me to take risks, and shortly afterwards Roger and I launched Coastal Contacts,” she says. “Who knows where I would be today without that kind of support?” -RB

Sybil

Sybil Verch

Sybil Verch

SVP, Western Regional Manager for Raymond James Ltd.

BCom '97

The only things Sybil Verch wassure of when attending the Gustavson School of Business were that she had a head for numbers, a talent for problem-solving, a way with people, and a desire to control her own future. Today, as Senior VP, Western Regional Manager for Raymond James Ltd., Verch is widely respected for getting things done. While acknowledging that the landscape has improved from her early career days, Verch encourages fledgling female entrepreneurs to “be authentic to yourself, determine your own strengths and capitalize on them—and then never deviate from your course. It’s the best way to succeed, as long as you don’t do so at someone else’s expense.” Verch, whose Raymond James Network for Women Advisors 2013 Women of Distinction Award is one of many accolades she’s earned over the years, will continue to dispense financial (and leadership) advice via a book currently in the publishing stages and a new television series, The Wealthy Life with Sybil Verch, premiering this fall on CHEK. -RB

Paul Chaddock

Paul Chaddock

Paul Chaddock

Vice President/CFO/Partner, Finest at Sea

MBA '07

Paul Chaddock makes it easy for his Finest at Sea employees to do good work, like when they organize Victoria’s annual Fresh Herring Sale fundraiser for Fishermen Helping Kids with Cancer.

• 2014 was the third year Chaddock and the crew got aboard for the fundraiser.

• 20 Finest at Sea staff in Victoria and more in Richmond gave their time.

• The one-day fundraiser in Victoria and Richmond in December 2014 netted almost $70,000!                         

Every cent raised at these events supports kids with cancer at BC Children’s Hospital. “How can you not be moved and awestruck,” asks Chaddock, “knowing that you’ve been part of a team who’ve contributed in some small but very meaningful way to a child and their family, battling cancer. “The volunteers get so excited that they don’t leave when their shift is over. To me, that embodies the spirit of the event.” To the kids receiving treatment at Children’s, Chaddock and his team embody the spirit of care. -RG

Jeffrey

Jeffrey Harris

Jeffrey Harris

Global Alliance Director, Oracle Corporation

MBA '95

With more than 18 years of senior management consulting experience, Jeffrey Harris helps maintain and expand the capabilities of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), one of Oracle’s strategic partners. Downtime for him is no less prolific: as vice-chair of the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF), Harris has lobbied on Capitol Hill with the US Congress and Senate. “I use my business skills to help advance the organization’s mission and profile,” he says. “It’s important to me; I’m inspired by a friend who had melanoma.” The lobbying has contributed to the MRF raising more than $125 million in the past five years—$50 million this year alone. With a home base in San Jose, California, Harris, 45, may seem far removed from the Gustavson School of Business, “But I wouldn’t be here without the experience I gained at Gustavson,” he says. “My background in entrepreneurship and international business coupled with the program’s emphasis on developing students who are comfortable working in a variety of situations, locations and circumstances serve me to this day.” -RB 

Tim

Tim Morris

Tim Morris

Independent Consultant

MBA '04

Tim Morris’ career has spanned international boundaries from Australia to Canada, to Africa and beyond—utilising his UVic MBA throughout the journey. After success with KPMG he began working with World Vision, combining scientific know-how with business acumen to deliver land restoration, agriculture and renewable energy projects. “I was able to bring a venture-based approach to international development,” he says. “We switched traditional welfare recipients into venture participants, promoting increased partnering and community income generation. For my team, it was the difference between giving a hand-up, as opposed to a hand-out.” Having recently left World Vision after establishing a number of notable achievements with associated honours—including the 1st Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Afforestation/Reforestation project to generate carbon credits and revenue for community cooperatives on the African continent and the 1st Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)/UNFCCC Energy Efficient Stoves Program of Activities established in Ethiopia—Morris has started independently consulting to organizations that fund international development. “To work with some of the poorest people in the world, towards a more sustainable future, has been a truly humbling experience. Unfortunately, increased risk in vulnerable regions could undermine ongoing economic development and this is something I now wish to turn my attention towards.” -LJ

 

Chantal

Chantal Schauch

Chantal Schauch

Consultant, Junxion Strategy

BCom '03

Chantal Schauch advises leaders of mission-driven businesses and non-profit organizations across North America on business, brand and marketing strategy. She also coaches entrepreneurs and project leaders on how to run successful crowdfunding campaigns.  For more than 10 years, Mike Schauch has held leadership positions in the investment and wealth management industry. With his passion for speaking and story sharing, Mike has delivered leadership keynotes to more than 1,000 post-secondary students at major universities in North America. 

Together, Mike and Chantal have guided individuals and teams around the world in running, climbing, and adventure campaigns for charity. They’ve led charity climbs and expeditions, and produced and directed two documentary films, Colours of Edziza (2015) and Beyond the Gates of Phu (2012), both official selections in several international film festivals.

Their passion for adventure and mountains takes them to remote communities and mountain ranges around the world. Together they support the learning and health of several students of SMD School for Himalayan Children in Kathmandu, Nepal. The couple, currently building an environmentally responsible home in Squamish, BC, move seamlessly between their professional and personal lives. Their values drive their professional work, their community projects help them grow, and their outdoor adventures energize and bring meaning to it all. “It’s all integrated in who I am and what I love to do,” says Chantal. “We address our values with every action we take,” says Mike. And they hope that those actions inspire other people to make better choices for themselves and their communities—wherever they live, work and learn in the world. -RG

Mike

Mike Schauch

Mike Schauch

Partner, Sjostedt & Schauch

BCom '03

For more than 10 years, Mike Schauch has held leadership positions in the investment and wealth management industry. With his passion for speaking and story sharing, Mike has delivered leadership keynotes to more than 1,000 post-secondary students at major universities in North America. 

Together, Mike and Chantal have guided individuals and teams around the world in running, climbing, and adventure campaigns for charity. They’ve led charity climbs and expeditions, and produced and directed two documentary films, Colours of Edziza (2015) and Beyond the Gates of Phu (2012), both official selections in several international film festivals.

Their passion for adventure and mountains takes them to remote communities and mountain ranges around the world. Together they support the learning and health of several students of SMD School for Himalayan Children in Kathmandu, Nepal. The couple, currently building an environmentally responsible home in Squamish, BC, move seamlessly between their professional and personal lives. Their values drive their professional work, their community projects help them grow, and their outdoor adventures energize and bring meaning to it all. “It’s all integrated in who I am and what I love to do,” says Chantal. “We address our values with every action we take,” says Mike. And they hope that those actions inspire other people to make better choices for themselves and their communities—wherever they live, work and learn in the world. -RG

Janet

Janet Bonaguro

Janet Bonaguro

Founder, Thinkspace Performance

MBA '05

Some women don’t dream about success, they work for it. Janet Bonaguro has worked with more than 150 organizations in the US, UK and Canada in her 20 years in business consulting. She founded Thinkspace Performance in Vancouver in 2011 to improve small businesses. With a network of 20 consultants, Thinkspace focuses on the factors Bonaguro feels have the most impact on business success: interpersonal and communication skills. She also educates adult students at BCIT and mentors other consultants.

When it comes to business advice, Bonaguro has the following tips:

• Recognize what you don’t know; don’t rely on what you think you do know.

• Your network holds far more knowledge than you ever will, find out what they know.

• An ability to communicate clearly and influence others is a greater predictor of success than knowledge.

• It isn’t about who you know as much as about what the people that you know think of you.

• Pick up the phone! Email and text don’t create relationships.

• Pay attention to how others react when you communicate. Consider the frame of reference of the other individual and adapt your style to them.

• Ask really good questions; then shut up and listen! -CC

Kim

Kim Cope

Founder, Early Entrepreneurs

BCom '13

Kim Cope, 23, launched Early Entrepreneurs right out of B-School, igniting innovation among elementary and high-school students, teaching entrepreneurship through experiential learning (and even offering micro-loans to get the kids’ start-ups going). Cope says she’s learned more about life and business in the last year than ever before. We wanted to know: What have these early entrepreneurs taught her about entrepreneurship?

Let go of doubt. “The younger the student the more positive and ambitious they are. They never second guess themselves and that’s why most of our student start-ups are successful.”

Keep things simple. “It always amazes me how much we as adults over-analyze everything when students always manage to keep it black and white.”

Don’t let anyone tell you it’s a bad idea. “A student once wanted to sell duct tape wallets and all his classmates told him it was a bad idea and that no-one would buy them. He stuck to it and made them at home anyway. When he brought them on the day of their market sale he sold every single one and all the other students apologized for not taking his idea seriously.”

Others can help you identify your abilities and strengths. “When brainstorming, there’s a section in the curriculum that asks students to reflect on their own skill set to help them come up with ideas. Every time I teach it, it’s wonderful to see students be the first to point out positive skills their peers have.” -EW

Jill

Jill Earthy

Jill Earthy

Director, BC & Yukon, Futurpreneur Canada

MBA '98

I like to build things.” Jill Earthy has always had an appetite for small business. After building two successful start-ups, Earthy decided to channel her entrepreneurial spirit into helping others. At Futurpreneur, she now aids young entrepreneurs, aged 18-39, to start businesses. Through mentorship and micro-financing, these young entrepreneurs have a 94% national success rate measured by payback of loans. “This past year, we funded 995 businesses in Canada, with 130 of those in BC.” Earthy connects entrepreneurial success to interactive mentorship. “As entrepreneurs, we do have to ask for help and reach a hand forward, but just as importantly, whatever stage of career we’re at we have to reach that hand back and make sure that we’re continuing to support people who are coming up behind us.”

Entrepreneurial Toolbox – Jill’s Top Tips for Successful Start-ups

You don’t have to do it all. We can’t be good at everything. Identify your strengths and your weaknesses, and hire or ask for help in the areas where you need it. Find a mentor. Having someone who can ask you the tough questions on a regular basis and support you is an invaluable resource. -EW

Maya

Maya Kanigan

Maya Kanigan

President & Founder, Women in Leadership Foundation 

BCom '00

Maya Kanigan found her life’s work after she launched the Women in Leadership Foundation in 2001. With the help of her business partner, the Foundation is changing the landscape for women who see themselves in leadership positions. “Our Foundation works with companies that want to see more women in senior positions,” she says. “We also have executive search firms wanting to know how they can partner with us.” The Foundation has seven chapters across Canada with a diverse group of women between the ages of 25 to 45 as its primary audience. “Our youngest volunteer in our chapter executive is 16 and has committed to help with the launch of our newest program, She Can Be, aimed at empowering adolescent girls.” Kanigan emphasizes the importance of volunteer work for women who want to advance their careers. “Volunteering in an industry they are passionate about builds new skills and introduces them to a network of decision makers.” -LJ

 

Paul

Paul King

Paul King

Account Executive (Fuels and Lubricants), Imperial Oil Ltd.

BCom '12

Innovative and creative thinking marks Paul King’s career. In his co-op job application for MusicFest Vancouver in 2009, King mailed a pair of socks adding the caption: “I am going to knock your socks off, so here’s a pair when you lose yours!” For his second interview for a co-op work term at L’Oréal in Montreal, King flew out on his own dime to meet with the recruiters in person. He later discovered they had the offer on the table during the interview!

King signed on with Imperial Oil following his last work term at the company. Since then, he continues to use creativity and ingenuity, winning several multi-million dollar contracts in his current role and winning the global Mobil Excellence Award in 2014 with ExxonMobil. Asked to share his winning advice, he notes: “Socks only work once or twice, at least in a B2B setting. Buyers, interviewers, teammates, and whomever else you need to ‘win’ over to your side are informed individuals. Be relevant with insights and fresh ideas that address their explicit needs. What can you provide that will make them more successful? How are you affecting their (triple) bottom line? Make yourself indispensable and you’ll win every time.” -SS

 

Jennifer

Jennifer Mackenzie

Jennifer MacKenzie

Chief Operating Officer, Richmond Health Care

MBA '00

As COO for the Richmond Community of Care (part of Vancouver Coastal Health), Jennifer MacKenzie intends to build on the gains she’s made in her career to improve the sustainability of the publicly funded health-care system. “The strategies we’ve developed include streamlining care and services, and shifting the focus from hospital to homebased care,” she says. Enacting these strategies takes time, and MacKenzie acknowledges that it will be a challenge. “But at least we have a clear picture of where we want to be a decade from now.” MacKenzie is well-suited to the task: she entered the health care profession as an occupational therapist in the US, and obtaining her MBA from UVic facilitated her shift into management. As COO, she leads a 1,600-strong staff, overseeing health care services to 207,000 people in Richmond—one of the fastest growing cities in BC. -RB

Wyle

Wyle Baoween

Wyle Baoween

Project Manager, Business Solutions and Technology, Seaspan ULC

MBA '13

Wyle Baoween’s life is characterized by change. He grew up in Yemen and then travelled to Jordan where he earned an engineering degree. After working in construction in Europe and Asia for a few years, he became intrigued by the business side of the industry and was determined to broaden his education. Completing an MBA at UVic was his next big achievement. “I love the Canadian values and work environment so I was pleased to get an internship with Seaspan where I worked with people at all levels of the company,” says Baoween. “When that was through, they offered me a full-time job in Vancouver as a project manager.” His position requires he work with international vendors so he truly knows what it means to lead with a global mindset. “At Seaspan we have a diverse, international team and to achieve results I get a chance to do business around the world, right from home.” -LJ

Shelby

Shelby Hejjas

Shelby Hejjas

Manager of Business Development and Partnerships, CLIO

BCom '10, MGB '12

Shelby Hejjas, 26, is living her dream job with Clio—a rapidly expanding international company focused on cloud-based legal practice management. Her global travel during her studies set the stage for an exciting career. “My undergrad in international business required that I travel to Bangkok, Thailand for one semester,” she says. “It was a huge culture shock but I fell in love with the country and was hooked on the international aspect of business and commerce.” Hejjas decided to take the MGB program and did one semester in Taiwan and another in Austria. To complete her degree, she did a six-month internship in Germany. “I work on special projects at Clio that are often uncharted territory for our company,” she says. “Having international experience helps me to thrive with the unknown and to be flexible and agile in rapidly changing environments.” -RJ

Goldie

Goldie Luong

Goldie Luong

Director of Special Projects, Vancouver Coastal Health

MBA '05

Goldie Luong is a shining example of someone visualizing what they want in life and achieving it. After years of success at Vancouver Island Health Authority, she is now the director of special projects with Vancouver Coastal Health. “My team and I won the Top Innovation Health Employees Association of BC (HEABC) award in 2014 for a project in infection reduction at Vancouver General Hospital,” says Luong. “We have reduced the cases of C-difficile by over 30 per cent, saving approximately 816 hospital days. I believe that team collaboration is the core to the program’s success.” Luong travelled to Sweden in 2013, representing the Emerging Health Leader of the Canadian College of Health Leaders. “One of the key things I learned and am now incorporating into the work environment is optimizing efficiency while maintaining work/ life balance. It is great for staff morale.” Trips to London and Singapore to observe health-care systems have added depth to her international mindset. -LJ

Daniel

Daniel McCombe

Daniel McCombe

Global Subsidiaries Controller, Airbus Group

BCom '10, MGB '11

Daniel McCombe’s inspiring career as an executiveat international aeronautics giant Airbus Group began two years ago, at age 24. After playing an integral role in establishing the company’s presence in India, McCombe is now the Global Subsidiaries Controller of Airbus Defence and Space Division, based in Munich. He “provides financial expertise to support global industrialization strategies and better manage subsidiary companies, and executes market-based transactions such as mergers, acquisitions and divestments.” Shortly after moving to India, McCombe launched the award-winning enLIGHT corporate citizenship project with Airbus volunteers that empowered 400 to 500 slum residents by providing access to decentralized solar energy and an education centre—all in the backyard of the Airbus offices in Bangalore.

Daniela

Daniela Vcislo

Daniela Vcislo

Team Assistant, Safeguards at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

MBA '09

The truly cosmopolitan Daniela Vcislo boldly goes where few women have gone. Currently based in Vienna, Austria, Vcislo is team assistant of Safeguards at IAEA. This UN agency works globally with inspectors to ensure nuclear materials are used for peaceful purposes. There, Vcislo “writes numerous international, diplomatic, technical documents of a sensitive nature daily.”She previously worked at theCanadian embassy in Beijing, within International Business Development and received a leadership award from Prime Minister Stephen Harper (see below) as a result of a charitable campaign she co-chaired there.

Vcislo’s career tips

• Her UVic MBA, international study experience, and previous work abroad all prepared her for a global career.

• To achieve objectives she often has to reframe situations through different lenses. “I consider the perspectives of the international inspectors, member state officials, and multicultural workplaces, all with different personal styles, cultures and languages.”

• Cultural knowledge is key, she advises. “Learn about every culture you’re exposed to: ask how to say hello in their language and always greet them with that.” -CC 

Jane

Jane Zhu

Jane Zhu

Owner, Dragon Pass

MBA '06



Soon after Jane Zhu graduated with an MBA specializing in entrepreneurship, she returned to her birthplace of China and launched DragonPass—and the rest is history. DragonPass is the first travel service of its type in China. With seven million members enjoying access to VIP lounges, offices, spas and restaurants in airports across China and in Europe, it’s also well on its way to becoming the world’s favourite airport services provider. Guangzhou-based Zhu intends to grow membership to 10 million within two years; all this because she realized when attending Gustavson that she “didn’t want to be just a manager, I wanted to be an entrepreneur. In addition to business skills, I learned how to make smart decisions and honed my communication skills with students from different countries.” Zhu serves on the Gustavson School of Business International Advisory Board to help raise her alma mater’s international profile. She says, “I got so much from the school that there’s no question I want to give back.” -RB