• Editorial

External Relations - Davis Riar

Written by: Elizabeth Jun


As seen in the September 2017 Issue


Davis Riar is a recent Alberta School of Business graduate who has found success with Portage Marketing, a company that was started this past summer with co-creators Luke Mellenberg, Daylan Romaniuk, and Graeme Arnison.


Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I just graduated university back in April. I did my prerequisites here at the U of A in Physical Education, went to MacEwan for a year, and then came back for my third, fourth, and fifth years here at the Alberta School of Business. I took a different route than most.


Can you talk a little about your involvement within the Alberta School of Business?

I was involved with UAMA as the Director of Communications, VP Communications, and later on as Co-President, and I was also a member of the JDC West MIS team. Going into my fourth year, I became a part of the Leadership Certificate cohort, and in my final year, I got involved with the BSA as the Vice-President of External Relations.

I continued to do a lot of case study competitions, coming back to JDC as part of marketing team and also doing the Chulalongkorn International Business Case Competition in Thailand at the end of the year. It was a good way to finish off my degree with some practical experience, and it has given me the opportunity to work on different business problems abroad.


How did you manage to balance everything?

I just found myself really productive at school. I realized that if I had a meeting that was late at night, I could just work here the entire day, and everything I needed was here at school. Whether it was a student group project or something along the lines of school work, spending a lot of my time at school was always a great part of my undergrad.


What have you been up to following your graduation this past April?

A couple of friends and I started up a company called Portage Marketing—e actually modelled it after the case competitions we were doing through our undergrads. We had this opportunity to solve complex business problems by diving deep into a business’s challenge in 24 hours and provide tangible recommendations that could improve the business. We realized that this could be a model for our business, where we actually provide insights on how to solve complex marketing challenges in 72 hours. So we decided to try this out for the summer to see what it would be like.


What does your market look like?

Our focus is across Canada. Some of the more notable clients that we’ve worked with are Farm Credit Canada in Regina, the Edmonton International Airport, and we’re heading back out to Regina to work with Agriculture More than Ever. So we’ve really tapped into the agriculture sector, the tourism sector, and the professional services sector.


What are some of the strongest assets that the ASOB has provided you with?

The ability to learn and solve complex problems, on the fly. So case competitions were extremely valuable for that. As well, the interpersonal skills; being able to pick up the phone and cold call clients, and actually turn that client into a sale is something that the ASoB has definitely taught and put me in situations where I’ve learned and understood that. The school has done a really good job of providing us with not only the soft and conceptual skills, but also the technical skills to really work well in the marketing consulting industry.


How did you balance school, extracurriculars, social life, etc..?

I found that a lot of the people I was associating with were the colleagues I was working with at the ASoB. So your friend group begins to redefine itself, and it’s really great to see how the people that you’re working with, and the ones who are so driven and have a motivating attitude, are the ones that you’re spending a lot of time with. The balance came quite naturally and there would often be a blurred line, seeing as how you’d be working on a group project or a student group project, and then going out and meeting the same friends for drinks afterwards, and I really preferred it that way.


What’s your advice to students at the ASOB?

Nothing is permanent, so taking a shot at something is the best thing that you can probably do for yourself. A lot of the things that were done here at the ASoB- whether it’s student groups or case competitions- while it’s great to be successful at them, they’re made for the primary experience of giving individual students the learning experience. I think those experiences really shaped who I was throughout my undergrad.


Random Bonus Question: What was your Favourite Study Spot?

Dewey’s or the business lounge…

But also, to future students; do not study at Dewey’s or the business lounge.

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