‘Brain sparks’ fuel innovation

Peter B. Gustavson School of Business

- Moira Dann

Connor Bildfell squeezed every drop of learning and doing and growing and fun from his BCom degree.

“What I cherish most about the Gustavson School of Business,” says Bildfell, “is the inspiring and supportive environment. I was able to challenge myself and consider new ideas that I could not have previously imagined.”

The 22-year-old, who was born in Charlottetown but grew up in Corvallis, Oregon, did a lot more than just show up for class. He served on the executive of the Commerce Students’ Society (CSS), co-chaired the annual Business Banquet, went on exchange to Beijing, learned to speak a new language (Mandarin) well enough to take part in a public speaking competition (he won), entered a TD Insurance essay-writing contest (and won), took part in the PitchIt! elevator speech competition (and won), and entered the PlanIt! business plan competition (and won).

The idea with which he won the PitchIt! and PlanIt! competitions was both modern and old-school: a magazine about eating disorders, full of information and resources for families who are dealing with conditions such as bulimia and anorexia.

As Bildfell once did.

He says he remembers sitting in waiting rooms at various clinics where he and his parents sought help, magazines the available reading material. Why not a magazine that would outline resources and help for sufferers and their families? The idea was a winner.

Bildfell says extracurricular activities are “the perfect way to synthesize and experiment.”

“Learning outside the classroom, through initiatives such as the TD Insurance essay competition and PitchIt! competition, served as ‘brain sparks’ and stepping stones to new ideas and new connections. These activities not only challenge the mind, but also synthesize the many concepts accumulated in the classroom.”

“It has a synergistic effect,” he says. “When a concept is developed in the abstract, I understood it in a certain way; when that same concept is applied to the real world, I understood the concept infinitely more fully. Moreover, the best ideas are often not new ideas themselves; they are instead combinations of ideas and ‘brain sparks’ that, together, create an innovation.”

Bildfell also won the Jamie Cassels Undergraduate Research Award with his proposed study of empathy-influenced “language strategy” development for multinationals when entering a new market. The resulting paper was published in the Journal for Global Business and Community.

He says his language strategy work “opened my eyes to the world of research. My conception of ‘research’—studious scientists draped in white lab coats hunched over a chemistry beaker—was radically changed, and I found a passion for research. I hope to incorporate this interest into my future career, whatever that career may be.”

After a stint at KPMG, Bildfell is now studying law at UBC. “My decision to attend law school came about after contemplating how I could best make a difference in the community while exploring complex and challenging issues,” he says.

“Throughout my BCom degree, I discovered my passion for studying issues involving jumpstarting businesses, preserving and restoring natural environments, and navigating languages. … My BCom education has fundamentally shaped my path in this respect.”

“The BCom education at UVic teaches students not just how to run a business or write a marketing plan; it helps students construct new lenses through which to view our world. The ability to consider diverse—and even contrasting—perspectives is indispensable in any profession, and I believe it will support my efforts in law and in life.”


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Keywords: commerce

People: Connor Bildfell

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