My Journey Through Science and Business

Tuesday, March 1, 2022
by Keyuan Wang

As a first-year student, I viewed Science and Business (SCBUS) workshops as nothing more than a series of program-specific courses that I had to take every year. Why not? Accounting and Financial Management (AFM) students take AFM courses, Applied Mathematics (AMATH) students experience AMATH courses, biology students spend 3-6 hour in labs every week, and SCBUS students get their SCBUS workshops.
About three quarters of the way into my final workshop of the program, I realized the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. 

Collectively, these workshops helped me develop skills necessary to run a business. Professor Memon introduced us to the program in SCBUS 123 and 223. In those two early courses, he vigorously drilled into us the ways of doing environmental scanning properly. He then passed us on to Professor Richardson, who taught us to examine organizational behaviours critically and trained our product-development skills. Professor Igboeli then finished the program by connecting everything that we learned in a strategy course. 
I learned to think of running a business like sailing a ship and we are the captains. The ship must have a destination, which Kashif taught us to set when he introduced concepts such as vision and mission in our first day of classes. As the captain, we’d observe our environments and surroundings constantly to identify threats that would slow down our ship or opportunities that would help our ships sail faster. Are we in a blue ocean or a red ocean? What type of ships do we have? Do we have an aircraft carrier or a sailboat? Sound a little bit like the SWOT and Porter’s Five Forces environmental analysis frameworks yet? You bet. 

Yet it’s not enough to just observe our surroundings, we also must manage the crew and everything that goes on inside the ship because we can’t sail the ship by ourselves. How do we motivate the crew? What about the grape vine? What are the techniques that enforce trust? This is then about understanding management and organizational behaviour, which we learned in SCBUS 122 and 225. We must understand how to use the resources at hand to achieve our goals. It is often not a good idea to go all out on just a concept, so we would have to prototype, pilot, and come up with a minimal viable product before full-scale operation. All these processes require funding, so pitching to investors, managing the books, and avoiding the red line become incredibly important. SCBUS 323 covered these topics.  

Lastly, all these factors must align with each other in order for the ship to sail. Having sailors who want to go east while we sail west is just not going to work! As captains, we must come up with a strategy that aligns with our surrounding environments, resources, the capabilities of our crew, and the preferences of our crew. This then becomes a discussion of strategy, which we explored in SCBUS 423. 

SCBUS has also taught me many important lessons throughout the last five years.

SCBUS has taught me to actively trust my team members. When I was in Israel with Okey and taking SCI 230, my team and many other teams worked until 1AM or 2AM in the morning of the day that we had to hand in our final project. I still remember the five of us sitting in one hotel room and just frantically typing away on our laptops. Around 11PM, I asked one of my teammates to double check the definition of supply chain and she came back with something that I disagreed with. I was overtaken by fatigue, so I showed my frustration until she said, “it was from the internet.” Immediately, I knew that I could have handled the situation better. It is the night before the final project is due, my teammate has gone through everything in the course just like I had, I should have simply said “thank you, I trust you” and nothing else.
This is much easier said than done. To trust someone means you are willing to accept the consequences of their actions, and no one wants to get a bad mark for another person’s mistake. Yet, the project must be completed, and you can never do everything yourself. To complete a project as a team and avoid the unfortunate situation where one person does everything, you must trust each other and be willing to accept the consequences. 

There is that famous proverb that says “give a person a fish and you feed them for a day, teach them how to fish and you feed them for their lifetime.” I feel that SCBUS has taught me skills that will help me succeed in the workplace. I can apply the organizational behaviour concepts at work, use the Diamond-E framework in my personal life, set SMART goals for myself to complete, and instill a sense of urgency to avoid procrastination.
I am genuinely thankful for everything that the program taught me. I am thankful for the mentorship, the friendship, the camaraderie, and countless shared stories and experiences. When I look back, I can confidently say that I am glad I chose SCBUS.