Commerce grad thrives on change

Peter B. Gustavson School of Business

- Meghan Casault

Denis Luchyshyn, a first-generation Canadian who moved to Vancouver from Belarus with his pregnant mother when he was seven, credits his adaptability for much of his success. “I attended six or seven different schools growing up,” he explains, “that has had a lot of impact on who I grew up to be. I had to take care of my sister a lot, too, before my dad moved out to Canada as well.”

Graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce from the Peter B. Gustavson School of Business this June, Luchyshyn has already received numerous accolades both at school and in the workplace. At work, he has been acknowledged for achieving high sales goals and having the “Most Positive Attitude.” And at UVic, Luchyshyn competed in Canada’s Next Top Ad Exec, along with classmate Kyle Kozma, and was also on a winning team that presented a mobile app to the United Way.

In 2012, Luchyshyn and Kozma teamed up to create a complete brand campaign for the Canada’s Next Top Ad Exec competition, created by McMaster University students and run in partnership with Chevrolet Canada—an experience he describes as “amazing.”

“The car they were marketing was a Chevrolet Spark,” explains Luchyshyn, “It’s very ‘green’, so it’s something I care about a lot. I want to be able to pass on the planet in better shape hopefully than how we came to have it.”  

Given the challenge of developing an innovative campaign with limited tools, Luchyshyn and Kozma consulted their UVic resources. Luchyshyn valued the guidance of service management professor Dr. Stephen Tax in particular. “We bounced a lot of ideas off him and sat down with him multiple times… He helped push us to the top 10,” he recalls. Luchyshyn and Kozma were then flown to Toronto to pitch their campaign in the Chevrolet boardroom. “We put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into that. Lots of long, long hours,” Luchyshyn says.  “I’m just incredibly thankful for all the support the school has given us.”

Luchyshyn linked social benefit to business once again while working on a project to increase the United Way donor base—attracting Millennials through social media. Information systems professor Dr. Rebecca Grant inspired Luchyshyn. “She’s very up to date with technology,” he says. “Most of us spend our time online on our smartphones. So we figured we could reach [millennials] through that medium.” 

Using the concept of in-app purchase mobile gaming, Luchyshyn and his teammates proposed “United Way City”—an app that educates users about the local programs and services United Way supports, while also accepting micropayment donations to advance in the game. United Way invited the team to present the idea to their board, and the name of the app has since been trademarked. “Having the opportunity to actually impact an organization,” Luchyshyn says, “especially a charitable one like United Way, was fantastic.”

For Luchyshyn, integrating community involvement and charity into an organization’s culture is how business can support social causes. Through his work at Neverblue Media, a local online marketing company, he will be participating in the Grape Escape MS Bike Tour this July, with proceeds benefiting the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Luchyshyn will then be leaving Neverblue to take on an entrepreneurial venture, driving across Canada documenting students who are transitioning from post-secondary education to the workforce.

“I think it is a very hot topic right now in media, with a lot of talk about unemployment [and] underemployment for recent graduates,” says Luchyshyn. “There are lots of resources: online, internships, unpaid internships and co-ops. But do they work?” Denis plans to interview employers, schools and students across Canada, culminating in either a video series for TV and online channels, or a full-length feature film documentary.

Luchyshyn admits he doesn’t have a distinct plan for the future, but rather sees each project as another door opened. “I’m open to learning. That’s my goal. I want to get as much knowledge as possible in different industries, different countries, different cities, and just get as much of an understanding of the world as possible. And I think this will help drive me to success wherever I end up going.”


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Keywords: commerce, alumni, technology, grad

People: Denis Luchyshyn, Kyle Kozma, Stephen Tax, Rebecca Grant

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