2022 MBA To Watch: Scott Brereton, McGill University (Desautels)

Scott Brereton

McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management

“A curious, passionate, and creative individual who strives to be an empathetic character-driven leader.”

Hometown: Montreal, Quebec

Fun fact about yourself: During my MBA, I started and completed the Aubrey-Maturin book series, got my motorcycle license, and learned how to snowboard.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

  • John Abbott College – DEC (Liberal Arts)
  • McGill University – Bachelor of Arts (Economics)
  • McGill University School of Continuing Studies – Graduate Diploma (Entrepreneurship)

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I was a Product Specialist at Silent Partner Software.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? I interned at ClearEstate, in Montreal.

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be working for myself. I own a small business that I am expanding into the US and will be using its positive cashflow to fund other business initiatives.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Vice President of Business Technology Club
  • Meal Preparation Volunteer at Welcome Hall Mission
  • Team Captain at Club Montreal Sport and Social – Softball 2021

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? The B+ that I received in Modern Corporate Finance. I have no financial background and I was concerned about taking the class. However, I knew it was my opportunity to learn more about corporate finance and I like doing things that scare me.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? At a time when many of my friends were starting to buy houses and have children, I chose to upend my life by returning to school. I felt that I needed more education in order to build the career that I wanted. With my degree now complete, I am confident that I will look back on this decision as one of my greatest professional decisions and achievements.

Why did you choose this business school? I had the opportunity to attend Professor Karl Moore’s CEO Insights class as a sample prior to choosing Desautels. I knew that small class sizes were important to me in choosing a business school and this desire was further reinforced by my sample class experience. Two influential and nationally recognized CEOs joined the class for an intimate discussion with Professor Moore, the students, and amongst themselves. After the class was finished, I knew that Desautels was my school of choice.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Many of the usual MBA events and traditions at Desautels were disrupted by pandemic restrictions. That said, I would like to single out a tradition that I think my cohort built during our time at Desautels. We always had our cameras on during remote lectures and events. Although this didn’t seem like much at the time, I found out later that, at many other schools, students keeping cameras on during lectures was not the norm.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I would care less about grades – they don’t matter. I’m thankful that I had this realization after my first semester because it enabled me to choose courses that I knew would be difficult and to push myself to try novel approaches in class assignments and presentations.

What is the biggest myth about your school? One of the biggest myths about Desautels is that it is an “English” business school. Yes, the language of instruction is English, but the majority of the students coming to Desautels are committed to learning French with the hope of finding a job opportunity in Montreal. Many of my peers were in school full-time, while also taking French night courses – a serious course load.

If you represent a Quebec-based business that is looking for French-speaking talent, don’t assume that Desautels students are only interested in working in English. Most Desautels students already speak at least two languages and many are already functional in French and will develop even faster in a French-speaking work environment.

What surprised you the most about business school? There is a certain stereotype that business students are all Gordon Gekko type individuals. In reality, I was surprised to find that most of my peers were interested in business because they saw it as a means to improve the world around them. A few classmate examples would include the cynical, hyper-rational economist who I believe is most likely to make a serious impact in building a sustainable world; the dancer pursuing a joint MBA/Law degree with a vision of bringing together the legal and business experience necessary to ensure the future prosperity of the arts; or the brilliant engineer driven by a desire to expand her knowledge of business to help build products that improve lives.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I started working on my personal statements early and often. Not only do I think my hard work helped separate me from other talented applicants, it also helped to prepare me for my interviews as I was forced to fully confront why a business school was the right choice for me.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The classmate who I most admire is Yehya Siddiqui because of his resilience and his proclivity towards bringing people together.

Yehya struggled to make it to Canada during the onset of the pandemic. Complicated border restrictions and the loss of his own passport meant he faced the very real prospect of being unable to enter the country. Yehya personifies the resilience demonstrated by many of my cohort in the face of the sometimes incomprehensible bureaucratic maw of pandemic border restrictions.

Finally, I admire him because of his ability to bring people together – even during a pandemic. Yehya played a foundational role in the social component of my MBA experience. Yehya brought together individuals from all of the different Master’s programs at Desautels and helped many to build new friendships even during a socially isolating time.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? Upon completing high school, I had no interest in pursuing a career in business. Most of my family was involved in business in one way or another and I felt compelled to chart my own path. I began studying the sciences before transferring to a liberal arts program. This program exposed me to a wide variety of subject matter that I will always be thankful for.

I ultimately began studying business because of the influence of my uncle Dave Brereton. Dave has started multiple successful businesses, led national and international nonprofits, and has always been a dedicated family man. I had the opportunity to work with him and I was convinced that I wanted to follow in his footsteps. This led to a graduate diploma in entrepreneurship and the MBA followed soon after.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I would like to build a career that enables me to support my family while being continually present with them. Later on, I would enjoy the opportunity to serve my country or province in parliament or the national assembly.

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? At heart, I am a people person and the pandemic has helped remind me that I find the most joy when I am around others. I am not someone who thrives in a disconnected or remote working arrangement. In considering my career, I am now much more life-oriented as opposed to career-oriented.


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