• Editorial

The Different Faces of Leadership at the Alberta School of Business

Written by: Fatima Mohamed

As seen in the April 2018 Lazy Faire issue

For this issue’s student spotlight, instead of featuring one student, I decided to reach out to all the presidents of the 20+ student clubs that make up the Alberta School of Business. I was able to sit down with the presidents of 9 clubs to get their insight on what it means to be leading a student club, who inspires them, and what advice they have for anyone who’s looking to get involved in student leadership. Being the President/Editor-in-Chief of Lazy Faire Magazine myself, it was really interesting to talk with the leaders who are behind some of the many clubs that have enriched our Alberta School of Business experience, and have made the past three years very exciting. Let’s dig in.

Kaylin Linett - President of Club de Commerce Bilingue

Bilingual Program - OM Major

How would describe yourself as a leader?

My leadership style is more of letting people do their own thing, and giving them guidance when they need it. I’m pretty laid back so I like to keep things open and free, but being supportive is important for me too. I’m also very passionate which has made me driven and eager for change. With the CCB, I believe there’s a lot of room for growth, which is why a large portion of what I’ve been doing has been advocacy and working on how to improve the bilingual program.

Do you have any advice for students who are interested in any form of student leadership?

My advice would be to just do it. You’re in university for a couple of years and you don’t want to look back and regret anything, because that will stay with you for a long time. I initially applied to be the VP Academic of the CCB, and I got offered the president position. This happened before I even got my admission to the business program, and I was afraid but that didn’t stop me because no challenge is too big. If your heart is set on something, you should go for it: whether it is being a president of a club or just getting involved.

Zubin Sandhu - Co-President of the Business Leadership Association

Finance Major

Do you think leaders are born or made?

I personally think leaders are born, but they have to be made and sculpted over time to become successful leaders. I believe leadership is a natural aspect of many people, and there are people who aren’t made to be leaders, and that’s just a more realist view rather than a pessimistic one.

You and your twin brother, Sartaj, are the co-presidents of the BLA. Can you tell me about what that experience was like? What was it like working with your twin brother?

Overall, it was challenging to get the club off the ground, and to get people to understand what the club was about. However, we got the chance to put on great events, and we were able to meet some really cool people on and off campus. We were also a victim of circumstance because three of our members, including my brother and myself, were CO-OP students, so we lost a little touch with the community since we weren’t on campus very often.

Fortunately, as presidents, we were able to rely on our awesome team to keep us updated on everything, working hard to put on amazing events.

As for working with my brother, it was cool working with him. A lot of people said there was a bit of a conflict of interest because we were co-presidents who happened to be related, but we tried our best to keep our personal life out of the BLA. It’s really helpful having your own brother as your co-president because we’re both on the same wavelength 24/7. We know exactly what the other is thinking and that way we don’t have any miscommunications or misunderstandings. We’re also more productive, especially when we get into arguments. We know to move on right away so we don’t get hung up. On the other hand, sometimes we assume things because we think we’re “always” on the same wavelength, and that leads to a lack of clarity. That got in the way of things sometimes, but we’re fortunate enough to be able to talk through things together which is really helpful in problem solving.

Elena Istomina - President of Entrepreneurship Club

Entrepreneurship and Family Business Major, Accounting Minor

What does being president of your club mean to you?

The first thing would be responsibility, such is the case with leadership roles. It means that I am more than just a figurehead: I have a lot of responsibility and there are things that I have to do. Second thing would be having the opportunity to lead a super amazing group of executives and learning so much from them. Being the president of eClub has also meant to strive to be better everyday while challenging myself to keep moving forward.

Do you have any advice for students who are interested in any form of student leadership?

I think if you want to be a great leader, you also have to learn how to be a follower. So, I’d say find something you're passionate about and go ahead and do it even if it means starting out at the director level for example. Don’t go for a position because of the position itself, but go for the club because that’s what you’re passionate about. As long as you show great work ethic, you’ll keep going up and you might even end up as president. It shouldn’t be about being putting something in your resume, but about pursuing things you love.

Co-chairs of Rocky Mountain Business Seminar - RMBS

Aaron Hagen - OM Major, MIS Minor

Eden Lane - Marketing Major, Retailing Services Minor

How would you both describe your leadership styles?

Eden: I would say I’m more of a doer. I like to get things done, make to-do lists, and check in with the team to make sure they’re doing the same and that we’re on track. I also like to be supportive of the team and ensure that I’m always available to help them.

Aaron: I think one of the main features of my leadership style is that I like to build a team with a strong team dynamic, especially with a team like RMBS that’s got many members. It’s important for me that we feel more like a family and not just a student group. We knew we’ll be spending a lot of time together, so it was important for me that, while we were working hard, we were also having fun together.

Eden: Absolutely! We wanted our team to rely on each other by not just doing our own work in our portfolios, but also helping each other out at the same time.

Speaking of dynamic, can you tell me about some of the pros and cons of being co-chairs?

Aaron: When Eden and I were applying for the position last year, one of the things we really thought was amazing about having a two-person team was that you really get to lean on each other. While there are somethings that I’m strong at, there are other things that I’m not so strong at which is great because those things are in Eden’s forte. You get a little give-and-take, and your weaknesses are not really weaknesses anymore because there’s someone else that’s capable of balancing things out.

Eden: I agree! As for some of the struggles we face, sometimes we both want to do the same thing in two different ways, which is why it’s important to find the balance between both of our ideas especially when they’re polar opposites. I would say that it ended up being a good thing that Aaron and I sometimes do things in different ways, because we got the chance to learn from each other. For example, I learned how to become calm from Aaron, and he learned how to rush with things from me.

Kamille Lim - President of University of Alberta Human Resources Management Association

Human Resources Management Major, MIS Minor

Who would you describe as a good leader?

My mum is someone I look up to and would consider a good leader. She seems to know the right things to say and do, which has helped me in many ways. UAHRMA is something that has been a part of my university career for a long time and I care about it, much like how my mum cares about me and the different things I do. I channel my mother in that way because I’m passionate about the club, and that motivates me to be a better leader.

Do you have any advice for students who are interested in any form of student leadership?

I would say don’t be afraid. Just challenge yourself and be open to opportunities. Don’t be intimidated by the title or the responsibilities that come with it. Just take the challenge as it is, and learn and grow with the position and the team you’re going to have.

Ben Eckert - President of University of Alberta Real Estate Committee

Finance Major

What have you learned from being the president of your club?

During my time of being president for the past 8 months, what I’ve learned is that your team can be skilled and experienced. But in order to really get things done, you need good leadership. You need to keep track of what is being done, and you need to get your team involved. People can be really skilled, but if their hearts are not in it, you’re not going to achieve what you’ve set out in the beginning. I found out that in the initial phases you can be a bit more optimistic and shoot a bit higher, and given that my club is event-based, a lot of things can go wrong when the event is actually taking place. In my experience, problem-solving is an important aspect of our team, and using my experience of being part of last year’s events team, I was able to use a lot of things I’ve learned to help guide the team this year. As a president, my main role was making sure people’s hearts were in it, made sure they know where they’re going, and keeping them in touch with each other as well.

It seems like good leadership is really important to you. Who would you describe as a good leader? And why?

I think that last year’s president, Oshin Gupta, is a really good leader. She showed me the light on what real leadership is supposed to look like. When I first applied to be president, I was really doubtful of myself because I saw how she was doing last year. Her heart was really in it, and she was trying really hard to get us all involved and get us on her level. I think that was the driving force behind our success as a club last year. I’ve learned this year that a good leader not only points you in the right direction, but they follow up with you and ask if you need help. Oshin has been a leader to me this year. I’ve reached out to her multiple times with questions, and she’s never hesitated to help. Even after her term was over, she wanted to make sure the cause she was such a big part of last year is still going strong. I respect that she’s so passionate about the club and that she continues to help us out.

Rose Wu - President of Cooperative Education Students Association

Accounting Major, Psychology Minor

Do you think leaders are born or made? And why?

I think leaders are made. When you’re born, you don’t have a lot of experience in the world, but as you grow up you get to interact with different people and experience different things. You’re able to understand the people around you better, and that’s how you grow, overcome your weaknesses, and become a leader. It’s only when you start from being a “follower” and you learn how to improve the problems around you that you grow into a leader.

What have you learned from being the president of your club?

Being in CESA this year, I noticed that it was a bit different from other clubs, because my team was already chosen for me. I started out not knowing everyone’s strengths and weaknesses. So over the school year and through various events, there were some problems and team conflicts, but I would definitely say this was a very rewarding experience. I learned a lot by just working with different people who have different ideas but who are working toward a common goal. This club is a bit small from what other people see, but we did improve a lot from last year. We got more funding and created more events, and I’m really happy with our results this year.

Rasheed Abouhassan - President of Business Students Association

Finance Major, Real Estate Minor

So the BSA is the only club in our faculty, as of this moment, that requires you to get elected to become president. What does that mean to you? And what does representing the largest student club in our faculty mean to you?

In terms of having an election process, I think it’s been really important for the BSA, especially when it comes to accountability and transparency. Obviously you want to ensure the person you’re electing aligns with the values you think the BSA should have. As for being part of the largest student group in business, it’s been an absolute honour over the past year. It’s also been an incredible experience to not only meet people, but to also have a tangible effect on the student population in a way my executive team and I could not have had on our own. I’ve also had the opportunity to work alongside countless other amazing presidents to streamline this faculty, and I hope the fruits of everyone’s labour are reaped in the next couple of years.

Do you think leaders are born or made?

There are some people who have an innate sense of leadership, but I definitely think it’s forged though the experiences you have in other positions. I’ve seen people grow into leadership roles not just throughout our faculty but in the university in general. I’ve also seen people grow from people who never would’ve been involved in their first year, to running some of the bigger clubs in the School of Business. That’s been really special for me to see because it tells that, through making tough decisions, and through the processes of becoming a director/VP and finally becoming a president, that there are lessons that can be learned, and that anyone can do it if they put their mind to it.

Corey Battiston - President of University of Alberta Accounting Club

Accounting Major, Marketing Minor

Who would you describe as a good leader? And why?

Personally, I think Chris Benchetler is a good leader. He’s more of an outdoor enthusiast, but he really inspires me. When I see him doing something, it’s always something different: he’s either skiing, or he’s climbing a rock wall the next day, or he’s mountain biking. I just think that variety in someone’s life, and the fact that he’s an expert in many fields, is really inspiring and it motivates me to become an expert in a lot of things that interest me. It won’t be in the same facets as him, but it’s inspiring nonetheless.

How do you translate the things you like about him as a leader to the way you lead your own club?

Well I think when he does things, he’s all-in and he’s doing them nonstop, which relates to what a president does. As a president, you really need to be keeping the club in mind all the time. Yes, you’re a full-time student, but I think being on that club is a huge commitment, especially as the president. You represent the club, and you have to inspire the people that are on the club, so I think being all-in is important.

What have you learned from being the president of your club?

A really good thing I’ve learned was time management and handling multiple things at once. When I first came to university, I was doing school and couldn’t do other things like workout, play sports, etc. But after being the president of the club, I realized that you have to do all these things at once. I pushed myself to manage my time better and put multiple things in my day, especially when you have to hold all these club events, and study for your test, and have a personal life as well. Now I have the extra time to do extra things on top of school.


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