Courtesy Desmond Seto
July 20, 2023
Haskayne School of Business expands its Propel Business Project and celebrates meaningful work-integrated learning through Propel Awards
In an increasingly competitive workforce, one of the best ways students can stand out in the marketplace is to gain work-integrated learning experience.
The Propel Business Project (Propel), offered through the Master of Management (MMgmt) and MBA programs at the Haskayne School of Business, and designed for students with diverse backgrounds, offers incredible real-life experience and networking opportunities.
Launched in 2021 and supported by RBC, Propel gives students the opportunity to participate in a paid externship (extracurricular, small-scale project) with non-profit and startup organizations. Propel projects are typically focused on areas such as equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI), sustainability and innovation — allowing students the chance to flex their skill set in new and unique ways and gain knowledge on new and emerging industries.
With growing student demand for work-integrated learning, this year Propel expanded to Haskayne’s MBA program, offering a new group of students hands-on learning opportunities. Since its inception, Haskayne students have participated in 150 projects and have forged strong relationships with their community partners — in fact, some students have even secured full-time employment opportunities afterward.
To celebrate the success of the program and recognize the incredible contributions both students and community partners make to create a meaningful experience, this year Haskayne introduced the Propel Awards. Based on community partner nominations, the Propel Awards recognize two MBA students and two MMgmt students who went above and beyond in their externship. Additionally, Propel students nominated three community partners who helped cultivate a positive work experience and foster purposeful mentorship.
Below are details on this year’s winners and their respective experiences.
Propel Student Award recipients
Stephanie Bauer, MMgmt’23
Bauer was paired with Fledge Health Inc., an education technology company that supports children’s mental health development in meaningful and interactive ways. Bauer’s Propel project was focused on conducting market research to support Fledge’s pricing strategy and sales options, and she was involved in creating and refining customer personas based on existing research and data. Bauer was nominated by Jenna Galloway, founder and CEO, Fledge.
“Stephanie exceeded our expected performance and became a key contributor to the development and organization of both our internal and external communications channels,” says Galloway. “Not only is Stephanie organized and professional, but she is also highly empathetic and anticipates the needs and potential challenges that we may encounter as a team.
“Since Stephanie displayed such outstanding initiative and organizational skills, we obtained funding through the Haskayne Mitacs Business Strategy Internship to continue working together to mentor and support her throughout her MMgmt internship program.”
Kristen Graham, MBA’24
For her Propel project, Graham partnered with Advocacy and Innovation in Child Prosthetics (AICP) Foundation, an organization that collaborates through a multi-disciplinary framework to design and develop 3D printed prosthetics specifically targeted toward improving impact and quality of life. Graham's project focused on market research and customer discovery — helping the organization gain a stronger understanding of the current industry landscape. Graham was nominated by Brandon Pentz, co-founder and executive director, AICP Foundation.
“Kristen demonstrated eagerness, passion and excellent time management and communication skills and helped contribute to a positive working environment that fostered self development and growth,” says Pentz.
“She offered unique ideas in how we can better develop our advocacy platform, which involved after-school programs for children. Her creativity, professionalism and positive mindset was very apparent throughout the program — and it will serve her well in her career.”
Shreyas Patkar, MBA’24
Patkar was paired with Carbon Cyclists, a cleantech startup developing solutions for biomass-based carbon sequestration. Patkar’s Propel project focused on contributing to a strategy on market positioning based on extensive market research on the carbon removal market in Canada. Patkar was nominated by Jagos Radovic, co-founder and CEO, Carbon Cyclists.
“Shreyas quickly understood the main elements of this complex industry, analyzed potential business development avenues and provided creative ideas and suggestions on how to position the Carbon Cyclists in the market,” says Radovic.
“Shreyas went above and beyond by exceeding the initial scope of the project discussed and by investing additional personal initiative, effort and time to deliver value to Carbon Cyclists team.”
Desmond Seto, MMgmt’23
Seto partnered with Joberfer, a company challenging the status quo of the traditional job board industry by creating a new way for people to earn money and get jobs by seamlessly connecting referrers, job seekers and employers on one platform. Seto's Propel project focused on revenue modelling, and he was responsible for creating financial models and a market research document on partnership leads. Seto was nominated by Simpie Gill, chief operating officer, Joberfer.
“Desmond came into the role with strong technical skills, which enabled him to immediately perform the project requirements,” says Gill. “He embraced our small startup culture, which requires change and adaptability at its core; he was able to adapt to our changing environment with ease. Desmond demonstrated commitment and passion for Joberfer — beyond the expectations of the Propel project.”
Propel Community Partner Award recipients
Preet Bhamra, project developer, Epoch Energy Development
Epoch Energy Development is an environmentally responsible energy development company established to unlock heat potential in Canada by leveraging clean technology to provide power, heat and food. The majority of the company’s projects relate to food growers, Indigenous communities and municipalities. Haskayne MMgmt alum Preet Bhamra has worked as a project developer for the company for nearly two years and served as a Haskayne Propel community partner.
Bhamra was nominated for a Propel Community Partner Award by MMgmt student Kevin Vibat, who worked on developing a market research and feasibility plan for new technology options that the company could leverage to deliver maximum impact.
“As my mentor during my Propel project, Preet Bhamra provided me with an outstanding learning experience. Her dedication to mentorship was evident in the way she integrated my interests into the project and allowed me to explore my creativity and knowledge in the environmental field. Under Preet’s mentorship, I strengthened my leadership capabilities and improved my communication and decision-making skills. Preet created a safe and inclusive working environment that allowed me to ask questions and share my ideas without fear of judgment.”
April Hicke, co-founder and chief growth officer, Toast, and Marissa McNeelands, co-founder and CEO, Toast
Courtesy Gillian Emerson
Toast is a membership-based women’s collective founded to flip the hiring dynamic in favour of women in tech. Launched in October, Toast has garnered strong demand from women looking to find quality tech roles for the pay they deserve — with the goal of creating gender equity in the industry. McNeelands and Hicke were nominated for a Propel Community Partner Award by MMgmt student Gillian Emerson, who worked with the duo on developing a membership model that helps to remove bias from the candidate-company matching process.
“Working with Toast gave me an unparalleled learning experience in entrepreneurship,” says Emerson. “When I began my project with Toast, the platform hadn’t even launched yet — as a business student, this experience was invaluable to me. Despite their crazy schedules and competing priorities, April and Marissa always had time for my questions and acted as incredible mentors who helped me navigate the next steps in my career.
“Through my experience with Toast, April and Marissa helped me build my confidence and leadership skills and establish myself as the professional I am now.”
Mehdi Mohammadi, president, CEO and co-founder, Fluidome Inc.
Fluidome Inc. provides easy-to-use and high-quality platforms for researchers and clinicians to conduct reliable metabolomics analyses quickly and easily. Mohammadi was nominated for a Propel Community Partner Award by MBA student Rubesh Nagendrakumar, who worked with the organization on refining their market and business strategies.
“Mr. Mehdi consistently demonstrated excellence in mentoring throughout my experience,” says Nagendrakumar. “As a transformational leader, he invested significant time in explaining concepts, methods and business ideas to me, enhancing my understanding of product intricacies. His guidance enabled me to collaborate effectively with stakeholders, broadening my industry knowledge.
“Mr. Mehdi played a crucial role in fostering my leadership capabilities, encouraging me to take ownership of my work and to collaborate with my peers.”
The Propel Business Project is generously supported by RBC.
For more information on how you can support Propel or get involved, email Gillian Robertson or James Tomasson, Haskayne graduate career and engagement consultants. Watch out for the application window opening in September 2023 here.