Sept. 27, 2021Print | PDF
We all know that pursuing your Master of Business Administration (MBA) takes time and dedication. Whether you’re working towards your degree full-time or building your career by day and studying part-time on nights and weekends, the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University is here to support you.
It’s not just support for when you’re studying – it’s support for where you’re studying. The Lazaridis School offers part-time MBA programs in Waterloo and Toronto, Canada’s finance capital.
Choosing our Toronto part-time program was the natural choice for MBA ’16 graduate Rich Dang. During the day, Dang worked on the sales team at Freshbooks. After completing his MBA, he moved to sales at Uber and today leads the sales team at Notch (formerly ChefHero) as their VP of Sales.
Dang’s love of sales started early at a part-time job at a Rogers Video store while in high school. “My manager was watching me sell these coupon books. He was like Rich, you really got a skill and a gift for the gab,” said Dang. Growing up in Toronto, Dang was taught early about the importance of education and saving. He used his sales skills to pay his way through his undergraduate degree and entered the workforce with a set of skills that could apply to almost any business. “It pulled me in because you’re in control of how much money you make.”
His family inspired Dang’s decision to return to school for his MBA at the Lazaridis School. “Being a second-generation immigrant from Vietnam, education has always been one of those things that’s been pushed from my family,” said Dang. “I was the first of my family to get my undergrad and also the first of my extended family to get my MBA.”
While working in a sales team at the Mississauga office of Oracle, Dang started to look at what he could do to differentiate himself from the crowd. “I looked at my boss, my boss’s boss, and I looked at their LinkedIn and I just saw a commonality amongst all them – which is their MBA.”
After leaving Oracle, Dang joined Freshbooks, a Toronto-based developer of accounting software. The startup was getting off the ground when Dang joined, and he said he loved the potential he saw. After he decided to go back for his MBA, he wanted to pick a school that would allow him to build his career while working on his degree. “The Lazaridis MBA program in Toronto was perfect,” said Dang. “It was every two weeks, Friday night and Saturday. You know you’re giving up pretty much like 20-25 hours, but the program understands that and it’s very flexible. It was just perfect.”
Dang said the part-time program did more than benefit him. He was able to further his career and apply his learnings to help push Freshbooks ahead on their mission to help small business owners run their businesses. “The MBA really rounded up my skill sets in terms of understanding operations, finance, accounting, a lot of the things that I didn’t really think about as much,” Dang said.
Taking a holistic view of his role and career path meant thinking beyond sales. In addition to his MBA, Dang also worked on his CPA designation to help build out his understanding of the role of sales across an organization. “I did the CPA program and that really differentiated myself to be not just a sales leader, but also as a sales ops minded person that actually speaks with other departments like finance and operations,” said Dang. “I was able to take the accounting principles that I had learned and then build out a sales forecast that speaks to all those things that accounting needs, that has been a godsend.”
Today, Dang is putting his experience and education to help power the exponential growth of Notch, a marketplace that connects restaurants and suppliers on one single platform – an Amazon for restaurants. Dang’s path to Notch started during the COVID-19 pandemic after Uber shut down its marketing and sales operations in Canada. “It was actually a very tough time,” said Dang. After he was let go, Dang said word had spread throughout the community. It happened that the investors for Freshbooks were also the same for Notch. At the time, Dang was planning on taking some time off to refocus, but a phone call changed that quickly. The call was from Notch CEO Jordan Huck. “He said we want you to be our VP of Sales. I’m not stopping until you say yes.”
While sales can sometimes be taboo in an MBA program, we prefer to think of a skill that can help open doors across industries. Laurier is a participating school in the annual Great Canadian Sales Competition, where Dang has coached winning teams. The competition aims to remove the stigma and misconceptions about sales as a career. “It’s a great way for you to expose yourself to the idea of pitching a company,” added Dang.
Working with students interested in sales reminded Dang of his time at the Lazaridis School. “I really enjoyed my time there and the people,” said Dang. “I’d say if you’re in there, obviously build connections. You can come back later or a couple years from now, and realize, especially in sales, that not only can you help them, but they can help you as well.”
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