“I can confidently say that I come away from every course learning something new but there was one course in particular that changed everything for me. It not only changed how I perceived the world of business, but also changed how I perceived the world around me. It helped me see things differently, clearly, perhaps for the first time”.
Andrew Ourique, MBA(FS), Class of 2023
The MBA Financial Services Specialization speaks to ‘its ability to advance a student’s critical analysis and decision-making skills, and deepen their understanding and ability to have positive impacts in managerial and client service roles’ (Dal.ca). This statement is especially true for Andrew Ourique who shares his journey of ups and downs leading him to a path of entrepreneurship.
Andrew’s decision to share his expertise in business, his deeper understanding of risk and even himself provided a positive life changing perspective with his new venture.
When I began my MBA journey, my goal, like many, was to move up in my career. While I had always envisioned myself returning to entrepreneurship, the stability and financial security of a corporate job made the idea of chasing this dream feel somewhat selfish. I had commitments, I need to provide for my family and I thought, what better way to do that then to provide a steady and reliable stream of income.
The program at Dalhousie has taught me a lot. I can confidently say that I come away from every course learning something new but there was one course in particular that changed everything for me. It not only changed how I perceived the world of business, but also changed how I perceived the world around me. It helped me see things differently, clearly, perhaps for the first time.
In the Enterprise Risk Management course, taught by Dr. Rick Nason, he taught us that risk is not, as I incorrectly assumed, the possibility that bad things may happen. It is the possibility that bad or good things may happen.
At the time I was taking this course I was experiencing a number of ups and downs in my life. I had been finally coming to terms with past trauma I had experienced and a diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). For those unaware, GAD refers to, among other things, persistent worry or anxiety about a number of areas that are out of proportion to the realities of the situation. In other words, an excessive and ongoing fear that bad things may happen.
Throughout the course, Professor Nason spoke about the two-sides of risk in every situation. I recall him referring to the concept of utility theory, which states that we tend to regret a loss more than we favor an equivalent gain. In other words, the pain we feel from losing a dollar is more than the joy we feel from gaining a dollar. He used this to explain why we are programmed to focus more on downside risk than on upside risk and, therefore, why so many people have a restrictive definition of risk which focuses exclusively on the downside.
I couldn’t help but see the similarities amongst the traps we, in the business world, fall victim to in terms of ignoring the upside risk potential of business situations, and the trap I was personally falling into as I continually focused on negative outcomes in my life.
Through therapy I learned a host of strategies to help me cope with my diagnosis and after several months of treatment, I am in a much better place both mentally and personally. But I never forgot the learnings from this course and when it came time to complete my term project, which required us to integrate all of the ideas we learned in the course to manage a situation that involves uncertainty. I decided to do my paper on pursuing my dream of becoming an independent consultant. For the longest time, I had seen this pursuit in terms of downside risk only. I wonder, if I took the time to investigate the upside risks as well. Would I have a different view on whether this path is worth pursuing?
After months of consideration and due diligence, I am happy to share that I made the decision to go out on my own and share my approach and expertise to help organizations of all sizes manage large-scale, transformational change and I have Dr. Rick Nason to thank for opening up my mind to the realm of possibilities that exist when you focus on both the positive and negative outcomes that exist in life. As Professor Nason said himself, “paradigm shifts for the good come out of the most desperate of times.”