Breaking into the technology industry with an MBA

After speaking with previous managers and mentors, Mark MacKew decided that an MBA could help him break into his dream industry: software and technology. He shared with MBAGRADSCHOOLS how the program at the UBC Sauder School of Business gave him the skills, knowledge, and network he needed to transform his career.

In short

Finding an industry that excites you

Having worked at insurance company Manulife for six years, Mark MacKew had reached a crossroads in his career. He enjoyed the job, which challenged him and kept him on his toes. He liked his colleagues, too. But, there was something missing – and he set out to determine what it was.

“I found that [what I was doing on a daily basis in the insurance industry] wasn’t really my passion,” he tells MBAGRADSCHOOLS. “As much as it was really interesting and everything changed from day-to-day, it wasn’t really what was getting me up in the morning and exciting me.” (00:51)

Mark knew he needed to make a change. Fortunately, he had the perfect person in his network that could help him. His manager at Manulife gave him a handful of fintech files to work on, which encouraged Mark to dive deeper into the technology space. This was the catalyst for change that Mark had been seeking.

“The more I got involved with fintech, the more I realized that this is something I could see myself doing. This is the type of stuff that excites me and makes me want to get out of bed every morning,” he enthuses. (01:14)

The one thing that connected Mark’s best bosses

Although Mark had started working in an area that fulfilled him, he still had a desire to pursue more education. He wanted to develop his professional skills, but wasn’t sure which direction to go. To figure out his next steps, Mark reflected on some of his favorite people leaders he had encountered throughout his career. What was their common denominator?

“When I think back to the best managers I’ve had, what connected them was that they had MBAs. I reached out to some of them and [asked about] their MBA experience and why they had taken an MBA,” he says. (01:36)

“I found that it was very much the same story as myself. They had found they were passionate about a certain industry, or knew they wanted to do something different, and the MBA offered that opportunity,” he adds. (01:49)

How the UBC MBA gave Mark the tools he needed to change his career

Once Mark decided to pursue an MBA, he turned his focus to finding a quality business education. He wanted to find a program that would give him the practical skills he needed to thrive in his target industry. The MBA at the UBC Sauder School of Business fit the bill.

“I found that the UBC MBA was helpful for making a career switch into technology and software because of the focus that they put on the courses and the professors. It wasn’t easy [for me] to make a career switch, but it really did help facilitate it,” he explains. (03:20)

Mark also says that the networking opportunities afforded to him by the UBC MBA helped open new doors in his career. It was the program’s core modules, however, that gave him the business foundation he needed to thrive in a new industry.

“The MBA courses that I did take in the MBA were all really helpful with making the career switch,” he says. “I didn’t have a background at all in things like business development, accounting, or finance, and I found that the courses there brought me up to speed to a point where I’m still using the frameworks and tools that I learned in those courses.” (04:15)

Working in a new industry is “a dream come true” for Mark

Mark now works as Director of Business Development at TTT Studios, a growth-stage company that builds custom software for the B2B industry. For him, the most satisfying thing is not that he has successfully pivoted into a new industry. Rather, it’s the opportunity to apply the skills he learned in his MBA on a daily basis.

“Digging back to even my first day here, you would think that companies like this must have figured out their sales process, accounting process, or how they finance things,” Mark says. “Then you come into a company like this and you realize: that’s your role. That’s your opportunity [to create these processes].” (07:28)

“The UBC MBA really provides you with the tools you need to start creating your own processes, because what you’ve done is you’ve learned not only what works best [in theory], but what works best in real life. Now you get to apply that. It’s a dream come true for me,” he adds. (08:09)

The UBC MBA has given Mark more than a broader network, applicable business skills, and access to other alumni. Above all, it has given him opportunity. Opportunity to apply his newly-acquired skills in the workplace. Opportunity to move into a new industry. Opportunity to finally do something that truly excites him. The value of that is immeasurable.

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