Alumni Profile: Shannon Bridson
“The world is a university and everyone in it is a teacher. Make sure when you wake up in the morning, you go to school.” – T.D. James
Inspired by this insight and armed with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology degree from UBC, Shannon Bridson was set to move into the research management stream for full-time work. Little did she know that her career path would eventually land her back in school in a few short years, and in a completely different field.
In her management position at the UBC Centre for Infant Cognition, Shannon quickly realized that there was a gap in her skill set. “The work that I was doing consisted of data collection and project management amongst other things. It was hard to know what was best practice and generally accepted in my traditional tasks. I lacked business perspective and knowledge, so that's what made me decide to look into furthering my education,” Shannon recalled. This led her to the Beedie MBA program, where she delved straight into taking advantage of several learning opportunities.
Determined to maximize her learning as an MBA student, Shannon dove headfirst into the opportunities available to her outside of academia. She joined the Segal Case Club, took part in the Management Consulting Career Preparation (MCCP) program, and upheld positions as a research assistant and teaching assistant. Her case competition successes include 1st place at the SFU Net Impact Sustainability Challenge, 2nd at the BC MBA Games Entrepreneurship Case, and finalist in both the Vancouver + Acumen Catalyst Case Challenge and the Leeds School of Business Net Impact Case Competition.
These extracurriculars would soon prove to be extremely valuable as they enabled her to gain a variety of transferrable skills. Notably, Shannon learned how to assess and examine various business problems, a skill that proved invaluable later in her career journey.
How did she manage to fit everything on her plate without burning out? Shannon reflected, “Busy times came in ebbs and flows - there were times when I had to prepare for other case competitions two weeks before leaving for one happening in Colorado. Another time, we wrote our accounting final and got on a ferry right after to go to the MBA games! It's all about balance and communication to prevent stress.”
Shannon shared her advice for current students and recent graduates looking to maximize their opportunities in the same way:
“For current students, take advantage of the time you've dedicated to be in the MBA program. Try and do extracurriculars that interest you! I highly recommend participating in the MBA games and case competitions. Get to know your classmates and do informational interviews as well.
To recent grads, take time to reflect on everything you learned in the program. Think about where you were when you started and compare it to where you are now, and where you want to be moving forward from that.”
Never Stop Learning
Nearing graduation, Shannon realized that she had several different career paths to consider for her future. She sought advice from Career Advisors Doug and Jen, who in turn supported her in conducting informational interviews and optimizing her resume. Shannon eventually chose to take on her current position as a Business Analyst at WorkSafe BC, a company she had also interned for in 2017. “I was in a period of wanting to learn and grow my skill set. After going through the interview process, it felt like a really good fit for building my skills,” she recalled.
She has no regrets regarding her decision. “It was hard to enter a new career path and have to learn new skills while dealing with different day to day responsibilities… my colleagues definitely inspire me. My peers are very supportive and engaged, and they're always available to help if needed.” Shannon also credited her daily inspiration not only to her working relationships with clients, but also the impact she has on them through her work.
Did she get to develop the skills she was hoping to? The answer is a resounding yes! Shannon's role entails responsibilities such as current state analysis, gap analysis, identifying business requirements, facilitating meetings, and project management. This position is “the perfect spot for [her] as [she] was hoping to fill gaps in these areas”.
Shannon expressed that the culture at WorkSafe BC is ideal for graduates seeking a supportive and driven team culture. “People are always looking to learn and grow,” she shared. “You get to be involved in a variety of projects because the organization is so large. You get to play an active role in projects and participate in evaluations, identify current opportunities - you're an active part of the process. It's a great exposure to business analysis as it is a very wide role. Overall, there are lots of opportunities for grad students.”
When asked what her key takeaway was from all her experiences, Shannon paused to reflect on her journey. “When I started the MBA program, we heard a lot about 'transferable skills'. I felt limited in that because of my background. But the more I learned about something, the more I realized I could work to have the skillset to do it.”
“It's important to be open to learning! You have to be okay with presenting an idea and the possibility that it would be wrong and receiving input about that. We're all in a continuous learning cycle, so not being too closed off and staying willing to learn is what I value.”
Thank you to Shannon for reflecting on her MBA and career journey with us! We're inspired to never stop striving to learn and we are sure the students will be too. We wish her the best in all her future endeavors!