Charles F. Dolan School of Business student Aaron Thaddeus Chan ’12 recently represented Fairfield University at a variety of special business conferences. Through interacting with prominent CEOs, CFOs, and other business students, the Thornhill, Ontario, Canada native gained a new understanding of what it means to participate in the business environment. His various engagements at the 3 conferences included speeches, seminars, and simulated business exercises. All 3 aspects of the conferences were regarded positively by Chan.
Chan was selected along with 150 students out of a pool of over 1,000 applicants for acceptance to the 2010 Business Today International Conference, which took place during November 2010. Fortune 500 keynote speakers included Steve Forbes and Bill McDermott, the CEO of SAP. Chan also participated in a case study competition along with team members from Argentina, India, and New Zealand.
His acceptance to this conference was no surprise to the faculty and staff at the DSB. Assistant Dean of the Dolan School of Business, Heather Petraglia, said of the finance and accounting double major, “Aaron has consistently demonstrated outstanding scholastic and leadership skills while at Fairfield University and possesses a commitment to academic success and professional development that is unyielding.”
At the conference, Chan noted, “There were 3 different case studies and we got the YouTube-Google case study… we were challenged to come up with a solution to merge YouTube and Google together and then eventually pitch it to the Board of Directors for Google, hypothetically.” It may have been a challenge, but the team proposed an excellent platform and won the exercise, despite facing students from Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and other Ivy League schools.
Chan took 2 great lessons from the Business Today International Conference. The first, which stemmed from CEO Bill McDermott’s speech, was that it is important to do what you love so that you aren’t simply working your entire life. “In the end,” Chan explained, “you have to find what you have a passion for, whether it be working with people, working with numbers, or working with sports, because that’s what’s going to drive you forward.” In addition, he also noted how as a result of the conference, “I realized how important it was to network and to pay attention to what’s going on in the rest of the world, because often you’ll hear that college campuses are kind of isolated in their own silos, but that couldn’t be further from reality.”
In February 2011, Chan also attended a Business Today Regional Conference held in Houston, Texas. Other than exposing college students to C-level executives, the conference “was really about having an intelligent discussion about the reality of the resources of the world, and not only fiscal resources, but also human resources.” Leadership, the importance of company culture, and the state of natural resources were some of the main topics discussed.
At the Regional Conference, Senior Vice President of Procurement for Southwest Airlines Co., Daryl Krause, was present as a keynote speaker. “Southwest is known for their exceptional business practices in terms of how they treat their clients and he talked to us about leadership, what he does, and how he’d gotten to where he was, and that was a great experience,” Chan reflected. But his favorite experience was when he attended an executive seminar and got to meet Joe Mills, the Chairman and CEO of Eagle Rock Energy (a publicly traded company in the NASDAQ stock exchange).
Most recently, in February, Chan attended the 2011 Rotman International Trading Competition (RITC). The RITC is an annual event held at the University of Toronto which challenges teams to compete against each other while working on simulated cases. At this conference, Chan was able to participate in a number of interesting business exercises, some of which mimicked challenging aspects of what might be seen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. “It really gives you an insight into how the markets work,” Chan noted.
After attending the conferences, Chan, who plans to pursue an MBA and will look into a career in investment banking following graduation in 2012, noted how much they contributed to his business education. “It’s something I hope more people get to experience, because it really gives you a different perspective on the financial markets.” Interacting with Steve Forbes and other great business leaders were experiences that he won’t forget soon. The Business Today International Conference case study win was just one of the many ways that Chan, Secretary of the Treasury for the Fairfield University Student Association, helped to embody university values and education. He expressed his hope that future Fairfield University students will participate in more such events.
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