Student Spotlight - Aaron Hagen
Written by: Rachita Chugh
Photographed by: Alex Ho
As seen in the April 2019 issue of Lazy Faire Magazine
This month, LF had the opportunity to sit down with Aaron Hagen, a highly accomplished and charismatic figure at Alberta School of Business. Read further to hear Aaron’s views on where business’ future lies and what it means for new ASoB grads.
Thank you for sitting down with us. Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
I’m Aaron, and I’m in my fourth year of undergrad and third year of business. I work at ATB Financial on their Procurement team; I’ve worked at ATB for nearly two years now, and I really enjoy it as it allows me to balance being in class and working at the same time. Very often – especially being an OM Major and working in Operations – I get to take things I’ve learnt in class and apply them at work.
I’m also a part of Alberta JDC West. This is my third consecutive year with the team. Last year, I was the VP Academic, so I was handling all case-related tasks. I joined JDC because it’s a great combination of doing something valuable and fun together. I started on the JDC Social team and later joined the Case team.
I wanted to get more involved in extracurriculars after I realized that I was going to class and then going home. I have a lot of respect for people who get their degree and get out, but I’m not wired that way. I need to have a good balance of a variety of different things, so I prefer to have extra-curriculars mixed with school and work.
As you know, this issue is centered around the “Future of Business.” When I say that, what comes to mind? Where do you think the future of business is headed?
I think the future of business really boils down to the next influx of grads and where they take things. I see new grads as being the front-runners leading the change in business. Students at UoA can take a class on anything they want. From my experience, people who succeed are the ones who have a wide variety of skill sets that can be applied in the workforce.
Do you think that the theoretical knowledge that you’ve acquired has been relevant to what’s demanded of you in the workforce?
I’m an OM major and an MIS minor, so my work and academic courses are more technical in nature. I do think that my education has been a great base line and has prepared me for the workforce. Things are quickly evolving and new demands are arising all the time; therefore, I think having that base is beneficial when trying to adapt to the environment.
What do you think this means for new business grads?
One thing I’ve learned from my time at ATB is that employers need people that are willing to learn. They don’t necessarily need someone who already possesses all necessary hard skills; They would rather hire somebody with a good attitude and someone who’s willing to put a lot of work in and learn. Personally, a lot of my current work deals with contracts and contract knowledge. I knew nothing about contracts when I started. But I was willing to sit down and learn the basics – I took a few Grammar courses because all the writing was highly specific and I wanted to understand it. I asked a ton of questions and had the ability to learn on the fly.
How do you think this will impact ASoB in the future? Will ASoB have to change the way it teaches students?
I think ASoB will definitely have to adapt their courses. One of the OM classes offered at ASoB focuses on VBA (the code that works hand in hand with excel). At work, I learned that VBA isn’t very beneficial at all, and there’s four other coding languages that’re more applicable in the workforce.
This is why I’d say the courses need to evolve and adapt to the demands of the industry. And when it comes to students, the school should ensure that they have the opportunity to take a wide variety of courses to have a breadth of knowledge in different areas.
Now, on a more personal note, what does your future look like?
I’m not one of those people that has their steps laid out from start to finish, but I do have a guideline. I worked on a Business Operations team at ATB for 1.5 years, and about a month ago I decided I want to explore more opportunities within ATB to broaden my horizon and skills.
I just want to be exposed to as much as possible; I don’t want to get complacent with what I’m doing and where I’m at; I’m interested in constantly growing and learning.