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[IBMBA] Navigating Career Paths: Insights from Paul Squires, IBMBA Alumnus of NSYSU

In the journey of career exploration and decision-making, insights from experienced professionals can serve as guiding lights, illuminating the paths ahead. For graduates of the IBMBA program at the College of Management of NSYSU, the experience and wisdom of alumni like Paul Squires can provide invaluable perspectives as they prepare to embark on their professional journeys.

Paul Squires, the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) of the Tahltan Band Council - the First Nation government organization administration in Northern British Columbia, Canada, graciously shared his insights and experiences in a recent interview, shedding light on various aspects of his career trajectory and offering valuable advice for aspiring professionals. From his role as a key figure in a First Nation government organization administration in Northern British Columbia, Canada to his journey of self-discovery and career progression, Squires' story resonates with lessons that transcend borders and industries.

The Tahltan Nation is one of the most remote areas in northern Canada, which represents 11% of the province of British Colombia and spans an area roughly equivalent to the size of South Korea at 95,933 km². The territory is situated in the golden triangle and host to big mining players, including Newmont, the world’s largest gold mining company by market capitalization.

In his Administration, Paul supervises 13 departments, over 150 intergovernmental agreements while managing governance, strategy and multi-million-dollar capital infrastructure projects off the side of his desk. Paul's responsibilities also include financial planning and budget management for the organization, advising the Chief and Council, and developing new strategies and policies, including the development of an elections code, procurement policy and finance administration law.

Consequently, Mr. Squires’ work environment is very fluid, dynamic, and challenging. He and his colleagues must skillfully maintain harmonious relationships between the government and the mining industry while balancing intergovernmental relationships with the federal, regional, and provincial governments.

Paul returned to Canada after completing his master's program at NSYSU in 2018. He worked at Amazon for a year while pursuing a Project Management Professional (PMP) to enhance his competencies as a project manager. However, feeling unsatisfied with the monotony of a corporate milieu, Paul decided to challenge himself with a new position in a First Nation community located in the Yukon, where he worked as the Capital Director managing infrastructure projects. He was subsequently promoted to Finance Director and then landed the top position as CEO of Kátł'odeeche First Nation before ending up where he is now. Paul describes it as a series of career leaps, believing that if you work hard in one position, you become referred to another.

Paul emphasizes the importance of work ethic, results, and references in building his career. His ability to advance quickly in his career and attain his current position is attributed to the positive references he has built along the way. Generating genuinely positive feedback has required him to leave his organizations in better form than he inherited. Paul notes that the journey is paved by making oneself a positive agent of change.

Regarding his unique selling proposition, Paul believes his advantage lies in his diverse set of skills, accomplishments, and the international business program he pursued at NSYSU. With a background in political science, he understands how the government works and its structure, as well as laws and policies, making him a perfect fit for his current position. Moreover, his ability to withstand high pressure in stressful environments has been crucial. He must navigate political pressures while steadfastly upholding the organization's governance structure and integrity. Ensuring unwavering ethics is crucial, particularly in environments where political interests frequently clash, while his experience traveling and living in other cultures has made him adaptable to cultural differences. Lastly, his competencies in leveraging his previous organizations and sharing project successes has made him stand out among other candidates.

Paul reflects on the obstacles he faced during his finance course at NSYSU. With a background in political science, the subject was unfamiliar to him and often challenging.  However, he transformed this challenge into an opportunity, using the acquired knowledge to tackle real-world scenarios and strengthen his ability to guide his organizations towards sustainable fiscal growth. Additionally, Paul recalls his political economics course with Dr. Chen Rou-lan as a rigorous test of his knowledge and endurance as a student at NSYSU, a test that holds practical value in the professional realm.

Finally, Paul shares his perspective on the current job market in Canada. He believes Canada is facing a housing shortage, which forebodes challenges for relocation but opportunities in the fields of infrastructure and housing. Due to Canada's multicultural population and high immigration rates, knowing a second language (such as Chinese or Vietnamese) can help secure a job in niche markets catering to specific language communities. Paul believes there will be more job opportunities in northern and western Canada due to expansive development and greater potential for growth. While one can challenge themselves in major cities like Toronto or Vancouver, career development may be dependent on adherence to the rigors of corporate culture at the entry level.

Paul advises graduating students to focus on niche markets and to leverage every personal connection to secure a job. Furthermore, they should be prepared to accept a less-than-ideal position initially, where they can excel by building an impressive track record and securing good references along the way. Spending a year or two building a solid personal track record is worthwhile. As Paul experienced during his time at Amazon, corporate culture was soulless and bereft of passion. However, the achievements he attained there helped him advance to secure his current position.

In conclusion, Paul Squires' journey from the halls of NSYSU to the helm of a First Nation government organization serves as a beacon of inspiration for aspiring professionals. His story encapsulates the transformative power of education, adaptability, and perseverance in shaping meaningful and fulfilling careers. As graduates prepare to chart their paths, may they draw strength from Squires' experiences and embark on their journeys with courage, curiosity, and determination.


IBMBA Program

College of Management - NSYSU

Vice President of the 112-2 International Student Association

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