August 14, 2019 by Areeb Athar
As a student coming into Western, the opportunities are endless. With so much going on at once, it can be tough to figure out what to do, where to go, or how to go about it.
Luckily, PBSN serves as your community to lead your transition into the world of business. Our strength is our breadth; with a huge platform of events and initiatives catering to several different industries, there is truly something for everyone.
What better way to learn about the community, than to meet the people at the heart of it! We took this opportunity to introduce some of the general members deeply involved with PBSN last year, talking about why it was so important to them. They explain just some of the initiatives we have to offer – be sure to find some that interest you, and look out for them throughout the year.
The PBSN stock pitch was easily the most challenging and rewarding experience I had in first-year. In the competition, teams of two to three students present a buy pitch for a stock of their choosing. If you compete, you will first be guided through how to value a company and how to pitch a stock; you’ll then be given feedback on a draft of your presentation. Finally, you’ll have the opportunity to sell the judges on your idea. The stock pitch competition is a very challenging event with a long preparation process, but PBSN thankfully provides everything you need.
What elements of the stock pitch competition helped make it a marquee experience in your first year?
I’d say two aspects of the competition made the stock pitch stand out. First, during your 2-week preparation, you’re given constant opportunities to ask experienced upper-year students for help. You can glean valuable knowledge from people who have analyzed investments in the real world, and you’ll meet great mentors along the way. Second, it’s a fast and competitive way to learn. During my 2-week preparation, I learned about basic financial models, Excel tricks, PowerPoint shortcuts, and many important finance/business concepts. Without the support of PBSN’s community, or intensity of the competition, I would have never learned nearly as much, or as quickly, as I did.
The PBSN Interview Competition was my first business-oriented competition of first-year. It opened up a lot of doors for me, and was a great introduction to business competitions. It consists of a day of group and individual behavioral interviews, where you’re interviewed by HBA students and Scotiabank recruiters. It’s a low-pressure environment where you can practice your interview skills, get personalized advice, and interact with some great students and recruiters!
What was your biggest takeaway from being a part of PBSN, and the Interview Competition in particular?
My biggest takeaway from the event was the friends I walked away with. I was shocked at how openly welcoming and incredibly supportive all of the students (competitors, HBA judges, and PBSN executives included) were! The competition gave me a more clear picture on what recruiters wanted to see and hear in interviews, and the feedback I received helped me tremendously in interviewing for actual jobs. An added benefit to the event is that the winners are given the opportunity to interview at Scotia Wealth Management for a summer internship. I was able to leverage that interview to land a great first-year finance position through this competition. I highly recommend this event to anyone who is looking for a fun, minimal-preparation competition where you can meet some great people and put your skills to the test!
What was the biggest advantage of being a part of the PBSN Case Competition, especially so early on in the year?
For those unaware, as I was before this competition, a case competition is a forum for different groups to develop and present a strategy they believe a company should implement to solve a given problem. In our case, we had to improve PepsiCo’s share in the Canadian market.
With this event coming so early in the year, it was an excellent opportunity to meet and learn from other first-year students interested in business. Many other competitors had elements in their presentations that were far better than ours; as such, I found it helpful to observe these in order to learn more about creating slide decks and business strategies — especially considering I had no experience with this in high school.
The case competition also helped me work better in teams. Everybody has different viewpoints and, especially given the time-crunch, it is imperative to compromise and get everybody on board with the plan before the slide deck is due. It could be stressful at times, but in the end I found my ability to communicate my reasoning and recognize my own faults improved greatly throughout the day.
Lastly, I found it extremely interesting meeting with the PepsiCo representatives following the competition. They were extremely friendly people and this experience proved to me that corporate jobs can still be fulfilling and enjoyable — a point that was clear to me after speaking to them about work and many other aspects of life.
The Connect Conference was an extremely well-planned and educational event that I had the pleasure to attend this past March. It shed light into the world of consulting through interactions with industry professionals as well as numerous workshops simulating a day in the life of a consultant.
How did the Connect Conference contribute to your development in the professional world?
The conference was an amazing experience for me. I was able to acquire a much deeper understanding of the consulting industry. I also had the opportunity to participate in the case competition which allowed me to tackle challenges in business through a consulting lens. Following our presentation, we were able to benefit from constructive and thorough feedback from a variety of consultants. My teammates and I were fortunate to win the competition and Bain Consulting kindly offered us the opportunity to tour their Toronto office for a day as a prize. This was a truly motivating experience as we were able to see the environment and culture of one of the most successful consulting companies in the world. We also each had one-on-one time with a Bain consultant truly allowing us to be candid and ask personal questions. In conclusion, The Connect Conference was a phenomenal event that has allowed me to make a more informed decision about my future career. I strongly recommend future participants to take advantage of everything this conference has to offer and enjoy the wonderful experience.
Members Network is a mentorship program that connects first-year students with second year and HBA2 mentors. At the beginning of the year, you have the opportunity to indicate your career field of interest, and PBSN will try its best to match you with experienced mentors. Throughout the year, Member groups meet up and take part in various activities focused on personal and professional development, such as resume building workshops and much more!
How did Members’ Network play an integral role in your support system as a first-year student?
Members’ Network played an integral role in helping me navigate my first year at university, as I had supportive mentors to go to whenever I had a question surrounding academics, extracurriculars or even career-related. All the upper-year mentors were super approachable and easy to talk to. Personally, I learned a lot from my mentors, from practical networking tips to invaluable internship and career advice. Our group often met up in person over food to catch up and it was definitely a great bonding experience and opportunity to get to know each other on a more personal level! Overall, first year was a blast and my mentors played a huge role in it for sure. Definitely would recommend all incoming first-years to take advantage of this opportunity to make new friends while meeting some of the best mentors Western has to offer!
What value did working with the Internship program provide to your overall first-year experience?
The internship program was honestly one of the most memorable experiences from my first year. Going into Western, I was extremely confused as to what section of business I wanted to go into. While I had an eye on the social finance stream, it wasn’t until I completed my internship with Verge Capital that I was convinced. Going into the position, I had no idea what it would demand; as a first-year, my expectations were that I’d mostly be doing behind-the-scenes grunt work. Turns out, on the third day of my internship, I’m already having to commute downtown to interview local businesses. The internship program is an amazing opportunity to get real-life, hands-on experience and see what the different business industries are really like. It would easily be something I recommend all PBSN members look into joining. Don’t be afraid – go out there and see what’s for you!
– Safrin, Verge Capital
How did it help influence your direction?
If you were to ask me last year where I saw myself this summer, the Navy would be one of the last answers you might have gotten. Working in the comptroller department of the Royal Canadian Navy exposed me to the functions of public sector finance and government procurement. I had the opportunity to work with and learn from senior officials and military officers with budget planning and forecasting. I rounded off my summer with my military officer qualification course, where I learned how to lead in combat scenarios and make quick decisions under stress. I really grew as a person through my experiences and I’m glad to have taken a non-traditional path for my first-year summer!
– Gary, Royal Canadian Navy
Additionally, here are just a few of the other initiatives PBSN has to offer!
The Career Panel Series provides PBSN members with an in-depth introduction to a few of the very exciting career paths that exist in business. Each of the 3 career panels, focusing on Finance, Consulting, and Technology respectively, is structured in an interactive Q&A format, where five experienced Ivey HBA 2’s (fourth-year students) are asked questions about their internship placements in the selected field, extra curricular experiences at Western, and overall approach to the recruitment process. They’re also asked candid questions about the work culture in their firms, and how they went about developing an interest and learning more about their selected field. The panels end off with a friendly coffee and conversation session with the HBA 2’s, where members can ask them any specific questions they may have regarding the field. All in all, participating in the Career Panel Series is a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the core areas in business and network with some really engaging HBA 2’s, who are more than happy to provide guidance to our members.
– Zuhayr, VP Careers
The Pro-Bono consulting program is an outstanding opportunity to gain an understanding of business strategy, and how consulting engagements work. Through this program, students will be consulting large-cap companies such as Bell Canada, Linkedin, and AirBnB. Now, what does consulting these companies actually look like for first and second-year students? Well, how the program works is students are grouped together and assigned an Ivey HBA2 mentor to work on preparing a pitch deck with a solution to one of the client’s toughest business problems. Through the month and a half, teams will work together on financial analysis, market analysis, data-backed problem resolution, and implementation plans to pitch to the clients. At the end of the program, students will pitch to the clients for a chance to be one of the winners of the program. Year after year this program is considered one of PBSN’s most valuable offerings.
– Glen, VP Projects