For many students at Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business, the chance to learn from experienced industry professionals is an invaluable opportunity. Such mentorship can often make a significant difference to a fledgling career.
One program that has made a positive impact on the careers of many SFU graduates is the Vancouver Board of Trade’s (VBOT) Leaders of Tomorrow (LOT) program, a mentorship program that connects top post-secondary students with leading industry professionals.
Since the LOT program’s inception some 16 years ago, SFU has forged a strong relationship with it. As a Gold Partner of the program, each year SFU’s Beedie School of Business sends a steady stream of students to benefit from the mentorship, networking, and volunteering opportunities the program offers.
“As the Engaged University, SFU’s partnership with the VBOT’s Leaders of Tomorrow program is a perfect example of our engagement with the business community,” says Casey Dorin, Executive Director of Undergraduate Programs at SFU’s Beedie School of Business.
Since the LOT program’s inception in 1999, some 2,000 students and nearly 1000 mentors have participated, contributing several thousand volunteer hours to the community annually. The program has been an unmitigated success, growing by some 50 percent in the last five years alone.
“The partnership with the Beedie School of Business is critical – about a quarter of the students come from SFU, the majority of which are Beedie students, and they are often very creative and entrepreneurial,” says Austin Nairn, Director of Member Programs at the VBOT. “The LOT program not only offers them great brand exposure, but also gives them the opportunity to connect with students from schools across the Lower Mainland.”
Beedie School of Business graduate Kyle Krystalowich is one of the hundreds of SFU students to have benefited directly from the LOT program since its launch. Now working in Advisory Practice at Ernst & Young, Kyle credits the LOT program with helping him launch his career.
“The professional development aspect that the LOT program provides is extremely helpful,” says Krystalowich. “When I was contacted by Ernst & Young for an interview I called my mentor, and he met me on short notice to help me prepare. The advice he gave me on potential interview questions was a big factor in my securing the job.”
SFU School of Communications graduate Hope Wang also credits the LOT program with boosting her career. Her experience in the program was so beneficial that she opted to continue her involvement after the program ended. She returned as a member of the LOT advisory committee, which ensures that participating students stay on track in the program.
Now working at the Vancouver Board of Trade, Hope is responsible for coordinating the LOT program itself. Her role puts her in the unique position of being able to comment on the program’s strengths as both a student participant and from the admin side.
“The Leaders of Tomorrow program brought me out of my shell, gave me the tools to connect with different individuals, and empowered me to take my career to the next level,” says Wang. “I’m still in touch with the mentor I was paired with in the program four years ago – that is a real testament to the quality of the programs’ mentors.”
“If you want to take control of your career, the Leaders of Tomorrow program will help you own it,” concludes Wang.
This year not only marks the 16th anniversary of SFU’s partnership with the LOT program, but also sees the university celebrate its 50th anniversary.
For more information on the SFU 50th anniversary, visit sfu.ca/50