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Alumni Spotlight


Jason Sjare, MBA'13

Jason Sjare didn't plan to have a career in insurance. What started as a summer position in database programming and analytics, lead to full-time positions in underwriting, pricing and management for major insurance firms. But Jason wanted more. Inspired by a desire to meet new people and build connections, he enrolled in the Haskayne EMBA program in 2011.

Surrounded by like-minded professionals on a shared journey, Jason found himself engaged with his education in a way he had never been before. The EMBA program allowed him to harness his discipline, and build his quantitative and entrepreneurial skills. "The things I had passion for were always the things I was weakest at", Jason says, referring to his interest in science and math, which preceded his graduate-level Data Analytics class.

After completing his EMBA he made the transition from the corporate world to entrepreneurship. His company, SimbiO Analytics, fills a gap in the insurance industry for SMEs. His competitive advantage – Simblify, an application that automates back-end advanced analytics and client presentation materials to allow small insurance firms to optimize productivity while reducing costs, time and potential errors. Jason sees his business as improving the time others can spend building their business, while enhancing the symbotic relationship between insurance carriers, advisors and customers. As someone who likes to read about history gone wrong, it's no surprise that Jason is a problem solver. "If I end up in quicksand, I always enjoy getting out" he says with a smile.

Kai Hochhausen, BA’05, MBA’14

As someone who recognizes the value of having a large personal network, Kai has dedicated a great deal of time and energy to following the sage advice he received to “say yes to opportunity”. After completing an International Relations undergraduate degree and travelling extensively, Kai worked his way into a management position before deciding to pursue his MBA.

His experience as a Haskayne MBA student sparked a passion for connecting people and helped to not only grow his network, but his MBA classmates as well. Kai served as the president of the Haskayne MBA Society, and following graduation helped to launch the MBA Alumni Alliance, for which he was the inaugural chair and still serves on the executive.

Kai leveraged his connections, and his MBA specialization in marketing, to create Hoch-Eye Solutions, a sales and marketing consultancy offering lead generation to new businesses. With Hoch-Eye, he collaborates with a men’s leadership organization based out of Los Angeles. This organization was started by a friend he met while working at a ski shop in London – a stopover during his world travels several years ago.

Currently, Kai is the Sales Manager at Calgary Marriott Downtown. It’s a homecoming of sorts, as Kai bartended at the hotel between trips, and has always connected with the company’s values of integrity, excellence and putting people first. Along with this full-time position, Kai is still consulting with start-ups, and recently launched a soon-to-be-named micro-brewery with some friends, which he hopes will feature his signature mango pale ale!

Vanessa Salopek, BComm’10

Inspired by a deep respect for others and the environment, Vanessa Salopek is putting her values on display and bringing her roots to life through her career. At the age of 29, Vanessa was the only Albertan to receive the 2015 BDC Top 10 Canadian Young Entrepreneur award. Her restaurant, MARKET, is even more decorated. She jumped into the restaurant world immediately after graduating from Haskayne and hasn’t looked back. After getting her new-grad feet wet with marketing roles at well-established restaurants, Vanessa took the plunge and executed on the restaurant concept that she’d always dreamed of. MARKET was born from the inspiration and respect for farmers that developed during the summers she spent on her grandpa’s Ontario cattle farm as a child.

Through MARKET, Vanessa has created a space to display her respect for farmers, community and customers, and has elevated the farm-to-table concept in the process. Her restaurant, founded on the principles of community, relationships and ethics, start with staff. Many of her employees have been with her since MARKET was launched four years ago, something Vanessa attributes to hiring people with shared values and empowering them to take ownership in their roles. Their main goal: to create a welcoming community for guests to experience the fresh, local food – much of it made in-house or sourced from “as local as you can get” suppliers. For Vanessa, investing in community, building mutually beneficial relationships, and reputation are key, especially in this economy. Living those values is a strategy that is clearly paying off for this young entrepreneur.

Josh Methot, BComm’09

Josh Methot has always had high aspirations and has achieved his goals by following a path less travelled by most undergrads. As a student at Haskayne, he supported himself initially by working full-time as a server at fine dining restaurants. Although he had the opportunity to serve successful Calgarians and celebrities – including the likes of Brad Pitt – he set his sights higher. In his fourth year of his BComm studies, Josh became a certified Sommelier and began managing the wine cellar at Teatro Restaurant, in downtown Calgary.

Looking for more adventure post-graduation, he took a job as a fine wine importer, and began to travel to most of the world’s notable wine regions. This role led to 12 years in the wine industry, and allowed Josh to hone keen people skills through his focus on his clients’ needs and providing them with excellent customer service – skills that would serve him well in his next career transition.

In 2014, at a time when many were hesitant to touch the real estate market, Josh jumped in with both feet. Undeterred by the volatile market, he started to learn about the industry by meeting with real estate professionals whose careers he hoped to embody. These meetings brought him two job offers before he had even completed his real estate license. Today, Josh co-owns his business Leslie. Methot. Real Estate, which he and his partner launched in 2015. Despite being new to real estate, Leslie. Methot. Real Estate sold over 100 homes in 2016. Not surprisingly, Josh has even higher goals for 2017 and is aiming to personally help 80 families move into new homes.

Caitlin The, MBA’15, BN’11

Born and raised in Calgary, Caitlin The, BN’11, MBA’15, is a proud Calgarian and UCalgary alumna. After graduating with her Bachelor of Nursing degree, she practised as a registered nurse on the labour and delivery unit at the Peter Lougheed Centre for five years. The’s work at the hospital allowed her to see some of the challenges in our healthcare system and inspired her to want to make a difference. Recognizing the opportunities and challenges with the business side of healthcare, she decided to further her education and enrolled in the Haskayne MBA program. 

Combining her diverse educational background and passions, The joined Advanced Primary Care (APC) as Clinic Office Manager in January 2016. APC is a hybrid funded family practice in Calgary that offers patients an innovative approach to healthcare through the Patient Centered Medical Home Model; a model that focuses on comprehensive care, evidenced-based medicine and patient advocacy. In her role, The leads the creation, implementation and evaluation of innovative solutions for clinical processes, policies and practices, and supports a team of physicians, nurses, medical office assistants and other allied health professionals.

The says that she would not have been prepared for her role at APC had she not enrolled into the Haskayne MBA program. She now comfortably networks with other centres of medical excellence to initiate pilot projects, such as APC’s collaboration with Total Cardiology. Without a doubt, The has begun pursuing her dream career.