New Program Helps Vancouver Students Dream Big

VANCOUVER, BC - Vancouver high school students are getting a chance to turn their ideas into fully developed business plans with the help of national mentoring program Summit Leaders. This year, with support from graduate students enrolled in the University of British Columbia’s Master of Business and Master of Engineering programs, Summit Leaders has launched its fifth chapter in Vancouver, British Columbia. The program will help students at John Oliver Secondary School develop and pitch their business ideas to a panel of industry judges, fostering important leadership and teamwork skills in the process.

Summit Leaders is a not-for-profit organization that works to democratize access to business and entrepreneurship training, with the goal of supporting diversity and inclusion in Canadian business. Summit’s main activity is running start-up pitch competitions in Canadian high schools located in neighbourhoods facing external challenges. Students engaged in the program are paired with business mentors who provide educational support and act as a source of information about job and career opportunities. By the end of the 2018 season, over 200 high school students will have participated in Summit Leaders programs.

“Summit Leaders offers students the opportunity to flex their intellectual muscles, test-run business ideas, and engage with local graduate students focused on the areas the students aspire to excel in” says Raj Rajendran, a consultant at McKinsey & Company Canada and Program Lead for the Summit Leaders Vancouver Chapter.

Summit Leaders mentors will meet regularly with John Oliver mini-school students to help them work through the Summit Leaders program. Students will develop ideas for new business ventures and perfect their pitch for the term-end competition. The program provides an opportunity to practice teamwork, as students support their colleagues to reach their goals. Mentors will provide workshops, field trips, and business-skills coaching. Exposure to the components of launching a successful business is expected to spark new areas of interest that will lead students to discover future career paths.

The participation of local business leaders will make the project as realistic as possible. A field trip and lecture at University of British Columbia, in addition to industry speakers, will give students exposure to the Vancouver professional community. The final pitch competition will be held in May 2018, where a panel of judges from the community will probe for depth of analysis in the business plans and provide recommendations to bring the students’ ideas to life.

Jennifer Bates