Meet the MBA Class of 2021: Sam Sim, Ivey Business School

Sam Sim

Ivey Business School at Western University

“A curious person that always needs to be building something new.”

Hometown: Toronto, Canada

Fun Fact About Yourself: I started my career in business journalism at the CBC (Canada’s national broadcaster).

Undergraduate School and Major: Ryerson University, Bachelor of Journalism

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Sales & Partnerships, Twitter

What quality best describes your MBA classmates and why? Resilience. My class has nicknamed itself the “comeback cohort”. We decided on the name because we’re committed to ensuring we have the best experience despite having moved online after one week of in-person classes. I’m continually impressed by how my classmates support each other and build genuine connections in spite of the circumstances. I have no doubt we will be able to live up to our nickname.

How has the case method enriched your learning? The case method was a relatively new experience for me. I didn’t have much exposure to it during my undergrad and it was one of the aspects of Ivey that intimidated me prior to entering the program. Now that I’ve experienced a few months of case style learning, I’m hooked! I enjoy how it challenges me to take the concepts I’m learning and immediately apply them to a real-world business problem. It has helped me develop a bias for action, which I believe will help me greatly post-graduation. Another thing I love about the case method is that it’s allowed me to see how business strategies are applied in industries I’ve had no exposure to professionally. This has opened my eyes to pursuing roles post-MBA that I likely wouldn’t have considered prior to joining the program.

Aside from classmates and cases, what part of the school’s MBA programming led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? While evaluating whether Ivey was the right program for me, I had the opportunity to sit in on some MBA classes and those experiences played a part in me choosing Ivey. I observed how the professors knew their students with such detail and they would call on individuals they knew had particular professional backgrounds to enrich the case experience. The fact that the professors studied the backgrounds of their students indicated the level of care and passion they put into their teaching, which was a great thing for me to see. All of this was important because I was looking for an MBA program that could give me a more personable, intimate class experience like Ivey does.

You moved online quickly after arriving on campus due to COVID-19. What has the transition been? How has an online platform impacted your relationships with your peers? Although the transition online isn’t what my classmates and I had expected when we initially pursued our MBA, I’ve been pleased with how we’ve made the best of this experience. In fact, the transition online has allowed us to access new learning opportunities that previous cohorts weren’t able to. For example, our class has regular ‘teachable moments’ sessions with leaders of Canadian organizations (including the Bank of Canada Governor and CEO of Maple Leaf Foods) where we’re learning in real-time about how these firms are pivoting their strategies during the pandemic.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Joining a seed-stage startup as their first marketing hire and building out that team’s strategy from the ground up. This was a huge accomplishment for me because it was the first time I’ve had to develop growth, brand, and product marketing strategies as a team of one (including a marketing launch into a new country). That experience was both the most challenging and rewarding time of my career thus far. It taught me how important it is for me to be in a ‘builder role’ (i.e. being part of an organization or team that is creating something new).

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I’m at a point in my career where I have a more concrete understanding of what I want to work towards in the medium-to-long term. I recognized that in order to set myself up properly on that path, I need to further develop my executive presence and level up on certain core business competencies that I didn’t have exposure to during my undergraduate studies. I thought an MBA was the perfect way for me to reset and ensure I align myself with my desired trajectory.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I considered other one-year full-time MBA programs, but I ultimately chose Ivey because of the people. Throughout my career, I’ve had the pleasure of working with many amazing Ivey MBA alumni and I’m consistently impressed by how they conduct themselves as leaders. In fact, one of those alumni was the individual who instilled in me that, “Leadership is not what you get, but what you give” (a belief that has been a guiding principle for how I conduct myself as a leader). One of the key reasons I wanted to pursue my MBA was to develop my executive presence, and Ivey was the place where I felt I would be able to grow into the leader I strive to be.

What did you do during the application process that enabled you to get accepted into Ivey? I like to think I was chosen because of my authenticity. One of the stages during the admissions process is an interview with a member of Ivey’s Career Management team. I approached that conversation with candid answers about what I believed my strengths and weaknesses are, as well as why I wanted to pursue my MBA now. I remember a particular moment during the interview where I was asked to describe a time where I had failed. I was very open about a moment during my undergrad that I had learned immensely from and the interviewer stopped the conversation and thanked me for being so open about my experience.

What is the biggest epiphany you’ve gained about yourself or the world since you started at Ivey? One of the things I enjoy about Ivey is the program’s commitment to incorporating sustainability into our core courses. For example, we’ll study how traditional operations fundamentals and strategies are being adapted for more sustainable business models. This has helped me to understand how important sustainable organizations are for the planet and the local communities to which they provide economic opportunities. It’s also inspired me to start doing digital marketing and eCommerce consulting work with a focus on B Corp businesses. My hope is to help SMB B Corps expand their online business while telling their mission-driven stories to the world.


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