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Alumni Corner

Meet Christine: recruiter, researcher, and MBA alum!

When Christine Yu completed her undergraduate degree in Language and Translation, her first job was a foray into the world of recruitment as a researcher looking through resumes for the most promising one. Fast forward several years, and Christine is now an alum of the SFU MBA program, and is currently a Talent Acquisition Specialist at Vantage Airport Group.

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Christine has had a wide range of recruitment experience in several different industries, including retail luxury, FMCG, and supply chain. In her previous role as a HR supervisor for Capdase, a mobile accessories brand, she had the opportunity to help Capdase set up their first mobile accessories store in Indonesia.

“This was the first time that Capdase had employees overseas. I realized that I like helping people embrace company culture, and helping them develop their careers,” Christine shared. “Working there helped me develop my own passion, and I realized that I wanted to learn more about how to be a strategic business partner.” Facing the prospect of reaching her 30s, Christine decided to take a leap and pursue a MBA degree at SFU.

Making the most of new opportunities, half the world away…

Moving to Vancouver was a big step for Christine, who had never lived away from her family before. “The biggest challenge I faced as a student here was cultural differences. If you’re coming here alone, you have to remove boundaries between you and your local classmates. I had to embrace the culture here before I could build relationships with them. Where do people hang out, what coffee do they like to drink?” Friendly Vancouverites were instrumental in helping her feel more welcome, with passer-bys she did not know smiling and greeting her as they passed. Her key takeaway? “It’s okay if you don’t know something – just ask! I learned that no one will look down on you, because most people understand your background. Appreciate this, and you will be more comfortable.”

The people Christine met through her time in the MBA program helped her a lot as well. “I also had a great group I would always work with. If I wanted to take on a leadership role, I know that my group would have backed me up.” But it was Christine’s involvement in the Mentors in Business (MiB) program which impacted her the most. “I got a great mentor who worked at Vancouver Coastal Health as a HR business partner. Whenever I struggled in my career, she was there to provide me with direction and advice,” Christine reflected. Her mentor also advised her to obtain her CPHR designation, which became her goal. She passed her CPHR examination on the first go.

While you cannot fully avoid cognitive biases, it is better to be aware of them so you can catch yourself making them! It is possible to improve your critical thinking skills and reduce errors in your thought processes, especially those that you have not caught yet, by starting to be more aware of their existence. With practice, avoiding cognitive biases will become second nature.

… but there were more experiences to be found through extracurricular activities!

When asked what she would have done differently, Christine replied wistfully, “I would have done more case competitions! I wish I had pushed myself to the limits more and improved my leadership skills. There were times when I let others take leadership positions because I felt that as Canadians, they would know more than I would. And while I did some volunteer work, I wish I had done more to expand my network in the community. If you want to stay in Canada, you should definitely get more involved in your community.”

Her advice for current graduate students is two-fold:

Join the MiB program, and plan ahead to make the most of the program. “In MiB, you will have a buddy who can guide you throughout the year, and advise you on what is most important, and what you should be focusing on. They also have industry experience and know what skills you need, and what trends you should be aware of in the market.” Outside of MiB, Christine recommends knowing yourself well enough so that you know which skills you want to develop. “Map out the skills you need for specific roles or industries – what specifically will help you get to where you want to be? Reflect upon yourself, map out your strengths and weaknesses, and ask how you can enhance them both.”

And her advice as a recruiter? “Be open to learn and grow within your role, and prepare yourself to be a strategic business partner who can help move the company forward. Also, leverage technology to make your work more efficient and strategic!”

Overall, the MBA program provided Christine with great exposure in a new and different business environment. 

“The MBA allowed me to see how leaders should work in different business markets, and gain leadership experience. It can help you in enhancing your skills, and become a key business partner. It also encourages you to think about what you want to do, and keeps pushing you to learn and set goals even after the program is over.”