How do you achieve greater diversity in Canada’s business landscape? For professional recruiter Joel Peterson, it begins with giving IBPOC youth access to higher education. Peterson, in partnership with the UBC Sauder School of Business, recently launched a financial award supporting IBPOC Bachelor of Commerce students.
Named after Peterson’s mother, the Mary Louise Peterson Award grants two $5,000 awards to UBC Sauder undergraduate students who are Indigenous, Black or Persons of Colour and in good academic standing.
“I credit the success in my career to my parents because they were able to support me financially through school,” says Peterson who studied professional sales and marketing before launching Arbutus Search Group a decade ago. “I was reflecting on what got me to where I am today and realized that my education was one of the biggest factors.”
Peterson was excited to meet and congratulate two student leaders as inaugural award winners.
A student athlete with entrepreneurial dreams
For Kenny Ho, winning this award is recognition of the intense effort he’s put into school and extracurriculars.
“I am very appreciative of this award because it has helped me finance my fifth year so I can continue to do what I love,” says Ho, who will graduate in 2022 with a major in Marketing plus a minor in International Relations and specialization in Business Law.
“As a child of immigrant parents, I wasn’t able to participate in a lot of extracurricular activities, but I always had an entrepreneurial mindset. I knew that when I got to university I wanted to do as much as possible,” says Ho.
And that’s exactly what he’s done. On top of his studies, Ho has been an active volunteer, serving as a UBC Residence Life Advisor and as Associate Vice-President, Marketing for the Commerce Undergraduate Society (CUS). But his biggest commitment outside the classroom has been on the track. Ho is a member of the UBC Men’s Varsity Track and Field team and also serves as Head Coach, Vancouver East for the UBC Thunderbirds Track and Field Club where he leads a group of over 40 youth athletes.
Through the process of developing his coaching, mentoring and leadership skills, he has come to appreciate diversity in all its forms.
“In all of my experiences at UBC, I’ve met people from diverse walks of life, and I hope that I can increase diversity in my areas of interest as well. For example, it would be great to see more Asian representation in sports and in the business of sports,” says Ho. “I want to give a very big shoutout to Joel Peterson for this opportunity. I see him as a mentor that I can reach out in the future for career advice.”
Passionate about building leadership skills
Isabel Yang is equally thrilled to have been selected as one of the award’s first recipients.
Since beginning her business education in 2019, she has immersed herself in university life, serving as a UBC Collegia Advisor and Orientation and Transition Leader. In addition, she mentored first-year commuter students and helped them connect with their peers during the pandemic to feel a sense of community.
She also stepped up as Chairperson for Business Week and Commerce Day, two large-scale events that gave her the chance to develop new leadership skills, as well as insights into the benefits of working with diverse teams.
“Being a student at UBC Sauder has allowed me to challenge myself and explore so many different opportunities. I’ve learned that it’s never too early to take on leadership opportunities and strengthen my personal development,” she says. “I want to give back to the community by ensuring that all students have programs and initiatives that help them with their personal, professional, and academic success.”
The intent of the Mary Louise Peterson Award is to support IBPOC business students in successfully launching their careers upon graduation. In this regard, Yang is already well on her way. The Accounting major, who volunteers her time as Associate Vice President, Finance for the CUS, is gaining more professional experience this summer as a student intern at KPMG Canada.
Supporting the transition from student to business professional
Joel Peterson, founder and managing partner of Arbutus Search Group, partnered with UBC Sauder to offer the Mary Louise Peterson Award in Business for IBPOC Students.
Peterson, who is both a business owner and a talent acquisition expert, places diversity and inclusion at the forefront of his company’s vision, strategy and recruitment practices. By creating an award for exceptional IBPOC business students, he is building a pipeline of talent – young professionals who represent not just diversity but also great leadership potential in the workplace and in the wider community.
“I’ve been connecting with students at UBC for a decade to help them prepare for the job market through coaching and interview preparation amongst other things,” he explains. “This award helps IBPOC students that may not have access to the funding they need to complete their educations. I am honoured to be able to provide this opportunity to deserving students.”