Rae Shungur—Bringing a holistic approach to the recruitment industry
Rae Shungur: Master of Business Administration, 2013
Based in: Calgary, Alta.
From the time Rae Shungur graduated with his bachelor of arts from the University of Calgary in 2000, he knew he wanted to one day pursue an MBA. “I always felt like there was going to be a sequel to what I’d just finished,” he said.
He spent much of the next decade travelling through Asia, working in the gem trade, before returning to Alberta and landing a job as an account manager at a recruitment firm. He had a knack for the work right away, but he always felt he was missing the business background that he required to properly serve his clients. He was working with massive oil and gas companies, and he needed to understand how they worked.
“The people I was speaking to were talking over my head,” he said. “These multinational organizations have many departments that all interface with each other internally. I needed to be a more holistic provider and more engaged listener.”
“I have a general understanding of how businesses operate and make decisions, and what they spend their dollars on. I have a better insight on that today than I ever did before.”– Rae Shungur, MBA '13
One day in 2010, Shungur was chatting with a friend of his, a professor in northern British Columbia, who asked, “So, what are you going to do with that cute little degree of yours?” He told Shungur about the MBA program at Athabasca University (AU), and took the liberty of signing his friend up for the program that night. Within weeks, Shungur was starting his courses.
Many AU MBA students enter the program hoping to develop expertise in a particular area, but Shungur’s goal was to understand how businesses worked as a whole. That meant deep dives into operations, human resources, accounting, finance, managerial economics, IT, and security. One of his favourite courses focused on supply chain management, since supply chain managers are the ones buying parts and raw materials for an entire company.
“They want to achieve a level of stasis in buying. Their big 4 motivators are reliability, consistency, quality, and cost,” he explained.
“You’re interacting at a heightened level. You have to comment on what other people write, contribute to discussions. It’s all in the spirit of ‘let’s do this better.’ And the mentors are so involved in fostering conversation.”– Rae Shungur
Another course he enjoyed was on IT, which focuses on making sure communications are fluid, information is secure, data is available, and operations are managed efficiently.
“They sit down every day and the only way those goals are achieved is if everybody knows they exist,” Shungur said.
He describes a business as a body, where IT might be the nerves and veins, operations is the brains, and so on.
“They all have to interact to create a system of behaviour, and I was excited to see how these bits became parts of the whole,” Shungur said.
He had expected that one of the drawbacks of distance education would be a lack of network development—that he wouldn’t be able to get to know his classmates, to go for a coffee or beer with them after class. But he was pleasantly surprised to discover the extra measures AU takes to make sure its students develop relationships.
“You’re interacting at a heightened level,” he said. “You have to comment on what other people write, contribute to discussions. It’s all in the spirit of ‘let’s do this better.’ And the mentors are so involved in fostering conversation.”
He was impressed by the range of perspectives he found in the virtual classroom: his cohort included oil and gas executives from Alberta, doctors, medical salespeople, a man in the German auto industry, and another who spent his days surfing in Bali.
When Shungur graduated from the program in 2012, he found himself equipped with a new vocabulary, and a new high-level understanding of the mechanics of business that he could bring to his work at Design Group Staffing, the recruiting company.
“The clients felt that I got them, that I understood their challenges,” he said. “I went from being a salesperson to being a consultant.”
He quickly found better strategies for interacting with behemoth oil and gas producers like Encana and ConocoPhillips more strategically—he could speak their language, and convince them he was worth their time and spend. In the 7 years since he finished the program, he has risen precipitously through the ranks, getting promoted first into a practice lead, then later into his current role as the business development manager for Western Canada.
“I have a general understanding of how businesses operate and make decisions, and what they spend their dollars on,” he said. “I have a better insight on that today than I ever did before.”
Learn more about AU’s MBA program.