Growing up listening to shop talk around the dinner table made a strong impression on Capilano U business student Richard Harvey, whose family owns Harvey’s Stores—a Vancouver furniture and appliance business that’s been around since 1927.

Being part of a business lineage meant that work “came home” in Richard’s family. Hearing about the happenings at the store was a daily routine that was crucial in Richard’s own journey towards choosing a business career.

“At first I didn’t understand much of the dinner table conversations about the business, but as I grew more mature I would probe and develop opinions,” Richard says. “It’s like having a dad who’s a construction worker—you want to be one too. My dad was his own boss—he operated a business, so I wanted to have that in my life too.”

Though it is one of the few historical retail shops left in Vancouver, Harvey’s Stores are currently closing down after 88 years in operation. Richard’s family all worked at the store over the years, so often vacations would have to be sacrificed. But Richard says witnessing the close relationships his father forged made up for that.

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“That human element was one of the things that really attracted me to being in business,” Richard says. “I had the chance to meet so many cool people in all sorts of industries, from entertainment to sports.” He says he got to enjoy the “perks” of attending business dinners and hockey games with family clients. “A lot of those people became more than just business partners—they became family friends,” Richard says.

It was that relationship-building that drew him to Cap U’s Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) program. But it is Richard’s involvement in the Capilano University Marketing Association (CAPUMA) that he says has strengthened his sales skills.

“I chose Cap because it was hands-on and I really valued the personal relationships I developed with my instructors,” Richard says. “But CAPUMA really allowed me to develop friendships and exposed me to some great opportunities, like getting involved in planning events for the school, meeting business professionals and competing against other schools in competitions.”

Reaching the top five

It was a desire to try something new that drew Richard to participate in the American Marketing Association’s (AMA) Teksystems Outbound Sales Competition, where he placed in the top five, beating out 250 other applicants from various universities and colleges across North America including some big names—such as University of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania State University, and Rochester Institute of Technology.

“I was really excited to have the opportunity to do something I’ve never done before. Regardless whether I placed fifth or last, I was sure I was going to learn something and take away some knowledge from that experience,” he says.

Capilano is one of only two Canadian universities that has its own chapter with the AMA Collegiate. With 350 collegiate chapters across North America, the group’s Canadian competitor in most AMA competitions is BCIT. Case competitions are one of the many hands-on opportunities that Cap U BBA students experience that help to sharpen their sales and marketing skills. Last year, students from the School of Business won the Western Canada Business Competition.

The Teksystems competition is unique in that it is conducted over the phone to test candidates’ telephone communication skills. Candidates call in for three rounds: pitching, needs-assessment and selling their strengths as a potential job candidate.

Aside from the honour of placing fifth out of 250 applicants, Richard will attend the AMA International Collegiate Conference in New Orleans and is readying up for another competition there, too.

Richard encourages prospective business students to get out of their comfort zone by trying their hand at these kinds of competitions.

Though he had no experience with the kind of sales environment tested in the Teksystems competition, Richard says placing in the top five shows that the skills he’s developed are “very transferable.” “[It opens] the door for opportunities I may have not considered or thought too high of a learning curve.”

“Just try stuff, even if you’re unsure,” he says. “Don’t just go in and out of school like a robot, challenge yourself and become better for the future, whatever it looks like.”

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Learn more about Capilano University’s business offerings at the School of Business Info Night on January 25.

Submitted by Communications & Marketing, written by Rumnique Nannar

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