Student Spotlight - Connor Palindat
Written by: Francesca Dela Cruz
Photography by: Richard Chen
As seen in the December 2017 issue
An avid traveller, video game enthusiast, dessert lover, budding entrepreneur and business leader — Connor Palindat is a 5th year SMO Major at the Alberta School of Business and is also enrolled in the cooperative education program. Currently, he is the president of Enactus University of Alberta and is serving as the business councillor for the Students' Union and sits on several committees. He is also a member of the General Faculties Council and the Council of Student Affairs. He has previously worked for companies such as PwC in taxation. Connor hopes to pursue a career in consulting and entrepreneurship upon graduation.
What attracted you to become a SMO Major?
I started off at MacEwan University and transferred to the UofA in my second year into the Honours Comp-Sci program. I wanted to pursue a career in the video game industry. After taking a few programming classes, it was not as enjoyable for me anymore. I decided to switch faculties and get into business. Initially, I wanted to follow the majority and do finance or accounting, because I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do. I was hired into a Co-op job for 8 months at one of the “Big 4” firms. I then realized that being an accounting major was not the career path for me. Thanks to some SMO classes, I slowly found my knack for entrepreneurship and consulting. I really believe in being unafraid to try different things and figure out what you like or not. There are a lot of opportunities out there for us!
Tell us about your involvement with Enactus. I got involved in Enactus at the end of my third year of university and my first year in business. I started as the VP External and I was not aware of how big Enactus was worldwide. After a few months, the president position opened up and I decided to run for it. Fortunately, I was chosen. I changed a lot with the system. I created specific jobs for each division and made it more structured. We also grew into a team of 70+ members from 12. One of the biggest successes we had this year was getting accepted into a project accelerator from Enactus Canada, which comes with a grant and an advisor from 3M.
If I were only allowed to join one business club, how would you encourage me to pick and join Enactus?
Enactus provides students with a great opportunity to apply their skills. It provides opportunities to put real world business skills on your resume. All the people in Enactus are given the chance to work in a startup environment and say to future employers “I am the reason this club made $X last year and I helped the company do X, Y, or Z.” Fun and exciting events include: case competitions, gala dinners, and the perks of travelling and representing the team regionally, nationally, and internationally.
What are the best experiences you have had in the organization?
Last year, the team went to Vancouver to compete at the National Competition. It is one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. We got to witness first hand the incredible amount of change that students are making across the country and the insane amount of lives that they impact on a daily basis. That really put things in perspective and inspired me to get everything together, inspire the team, and start making real change within Enactus at the UofA and in my own initiatives outside of Enactus.
Do you have any role models?
To be honest, I don’t have any close mentors or role models. None of my family members are involved in business so I’m the first to be involved in business. That being said, I have two people from two very different spectrums that I look up to as role models: Elon Musk and Don Iveson. Elon, I respect and admire because he has very strong opinions and great ideas of how to fix a lot of societal issues and he isn’t afraid to do what needs to be done to achieve his goals. He sets his eyes on some distant target and does whatever needs to be done to get there. He also shows that business can be a force for good, even if he’s not directly involved in social enterprise. I look up to Don Iveson for a much different reason. He is a great example of someone who wants to make a positive social impact through governmental change, and that government can actually have a great and positive effect on society. He demonstrates a forward thinking mindset that sacrifices today for a greater tomorrow.
What are your future plans? I'm honestly not sure right now, and that is okay. I definitely see myself becoming an entrepreneur and starting my own firm: preferably in the tech industry. I also want to get my feet wet with consulting — whether at a boutique firm or a larger firm. Getting involved in politics is my long-term goal. I strive to make meaningful impacts for the betterment of society, whether be it in business or politics. It does not have to change the world, but small incremental changes really does make a difference.
Is “Following Your Passion” cliche? My one piece of advice would be to find something to be passionate about that is not your hobby. You need to be able to find a way to work hard on what you care about, but also have that hobby where you can go to unwind and relax once in awhile. If you make your hobby your work life, your hobby won't be as enjoyable anymore. There’s a truth to never mixing business with pleasure.
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