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Tommy Goana

Marketing, MIS, Certificate in Business Analytics & Decision Making, and Charles Chang Certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Business Honours Candidate

“You will never know unless you try. There are always going to be opportunities to add value – it's just a matter of how you view it. Whether it is signing up for a case competition, or events and information sessions, or reaching out to senior students to ask them about their experiences, make the most of it and get involved.”

What inspired you to study business?

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in the future, and honestly, I still don’t. My brother studies business, my dad is a businessman and I decided that business seemed like a nice, flexible option. From the moment I first studied business classes in high school, I really enjoyed it; it just felt like the right place for me and the way how I like to approach things, where it's very high level strategic rather than into the nitty-gritty details.

My Experience at SFU Beedie

I’m a business honours candidate studying Marketing and Management Information Systems (MIS). I'm also pursuing two certificates. The first is business analysis and decision making, so pretty much data analytics. The second is the certificate in entrepreneurship and innovation.

My specialty bridges the gap between two different areas. On the one hand, I study marketing and consumer psychology, which is very theoretical and looks at how consumers think and how businesses can persuade them. On the other hand, MIS is very technology-driven with data analytics. I try to bring the two of these together. For example, a consumer may say and think of themselves as acting sustainably, and say they’re motivated by sustainability, but then when we look at the data, we can see their purchasing habits are not the most sustainable. They say one thing, but they do the other. That's really interesting to me – and that's what I'm focusing on.

My Journey

I came to Vancouver from Singapore to study when I was a bit older, having completed two years in the armed forces, so I was already out of the party phase. I felt I needed to get on top of things and to learn how to study again, so at that time I decided not to get involved in co-curricular activities and to focus on my studies, and maybe get a part-time job.

The following year, I started getting more involved with clubs, and I realized how useful clubs and being involved around the university were. It turned out great from a social standpoint; making new friends, getting to know more people, even older students - people in their third and fourth year - who have done the classes that I'm about to take, and they share some insights as well.

It was very helpful, in the sense that I discovered which concentrations I wanted to take.

Were you a part of any clubs, competitions or other organizations as a student?

One of the first clubs that I joined was Axis Consulting, which is what I want to do for a career. They offer pro bono consulting services for nonprofit organizations. My experience there inspired me to do case competitions. I've now done 11 case competitions now with the university and have seven podium finishes, and they helped me boost my grades even more because I started seeing things through a different lens; I started retaining information because I was now applying rather than just memorizing. Now I have random bits of information in the back of my mind that helped me to familiarize myself with a variety of industries. I think that's extremely helpful and it really helped me with where I am today with my internship.

Advice to future students

The biggest piece of advice would be, shoot your shot. What I mean by this is there are always going to be opportunities to add value – it's just a matter of how you view it. I used to go to random information sessions with no intention of applying, just because I want to see how the company works. That really helped me understand different ways of thinking, different ways of approaching life, and different philosophies of businesses.

Before I started to go to case competitions, I spoke to multiple students who have done these competitions to ask, ‘How did you get to where you are? How do you get into these competitions and how do you even manage your time?’, because that was such a strange concept to me. But that really helped me out – just not being fearful of asking questions.

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