Sean (Left): Growing up in an entrepreneurial family has had a significant, and positive, impact on Sean’s approach to business. Raised in Halifax, he earned a Bachelor of Management degree from Dalhousie University. Having worked for over two years with Manulife Financial, two years with his family’s business (Crimond Enterprises), and most recently at the Centre for Family Business and Regional Prosperity, Sean has a broad range of operational, marketing and strategic experience. His interests outside of business include travel, cooking and reading.
Max (Right): Born and raised in Germany, but having lived and worked in the UK, the US and now Canada, Maximilian has a unique blend of cultural experience that he brings to the table. He earned a Bachelor of Management degree from Dalhousie University. Max has always been involved with different elements of the Dalhousie community such as the Peer Partnership Program where he won Mentor of the Year, the Dalhousie Management Society and the Dalhousie Football Club where he serves as Vice President Finance.
You two started a company together before beginning the first year of the Corporate Residency MBA program. How were you both inspired to start a company, and get an MBA?
Sean: I think the Dalhousie MBA is built in such a way that entities like the student consultancies are very much supported, and are a natural addition to the experience. The precedent for MBA student-led consultancies has existed for 35 years at Dal, so our approach to it with Tempest was our unique progression on the concept. We were also fortunate to have support from several faculty and staff at Dalhousie who gave us advice on balancing the workload of MBA classes, as well as client prospecting and the start-up process.
Max: The MBA program teaches you how to think analytically and how to solve problems. Combine this with the environment at Dalhousie, which encourages and helps student startups, and starting our own firm to enrich our experience and résumés seemed like a logical step to take. I was always drawn to the analytical side of business through undergraduate coursework in the market research and data mining field and it played to my analytical mindset. Focusing the company on this field just made sense.
Tell us about the company you started, Tempest Analytics.
Sean: We began by working together (in an academic environment) for several years while we completed our undergrads. Over that time we were able to build a great rapport, which was strengthened by our mutual desire to pursue the Dal MBA. It also helped that we had skill sets that complemented each other. Max excels with quantitative problems—analysis, predictive model building, finance, you name it—while I bring strength to the qualitative side—marketing and communications, project management, research, and strategic thinking.
We allow our customers to leverage our strengths and bring scientific thinking to their business problems, and we use data analysis techniques (in tandem with more qualitative tools) to advise and serve them.
Max: I have always played with the idea of starting my own company. When we were close to graduating from our undergraduate program, Sean and I talked more and more about actually doing it and what we would focus on. Our value proposition is simple. Virtually every company, independent of its size, has masses of data about its customers. However, data are meaningless without context and we aim to provide this context. Every company stands to benefit from understanding its customers’ needs better and nothing is more valuable than being able to have a 1-on-1 relationship with its customers on a massive scale. Through various quantitative and qualitative analysis methods we can give scientifically-based advice on how to better market to customers.
Why did you choose Dalhousie?
Sean: My interest in pursuing an MBA started when I heard about an innovative program that was launching back when I was just starting my undergrad in Management in 2009—the Corporate Residency MBA. I remember being fascinated with how the program incorporated real-world experience and so much customization for each student’s interests. I did spend significant time researching other MBA programs, but I kept comparing my findings to what I knew existed at Dal, and was never convinced that they were better options for me. When it came time to apply, Dal was the only school I tried for—and I am excited to have been accepted and get started with the experience.
Max: I always knew I wanted to continue my education and am still planning on pursuing a PhD in market research and operations after my MBA. Dalhousie’s MBA program seemed like the best fit for me. The residency gives you the ability to get practical experience in the field; especially for my plans of pursuing a PhD, practical research experience is extremely valuable. I spent considerable time looking into other graduate programs (all business focused) but none of them would provide me with the skills, knowledge, connections and experience that the Dalhousie MBA offers.
What type of work experience are you hoping to gain during your residencies?
Sean: One of the big selling points for the Dal MBA is the eight-month corporate residency. I have been fortunate to have experience in a range of different roles and industries, but my long-term career interest lies in real estate—a field I have no direct experience with. My aim is to use the residency as a jumping off point to a new direction with my career. I am currently pursuing several leads to serve out my internship with one of the leading Halifax based land-developers. I hope to gain exposure to several areas within the industry, but I am particularly interested in property management, development and project management.
Max: I am looking to gain market research experience in my residency. Having eight months to do that is perfect, as it will actually give me a chance to contribute to a firm in a meaningful manner. Overall I want to further develop my market research and data mining skills and possibly look into crossovers of this type of thinking into other fields like operations or finance.
Any final thoughts?
Sean: For anyone looking to pursue their MBA I think giving the CRMBA a serious look is a must. Halifax is a lovely city with loads of opportunity and a totally different feel and approach to business that really encourages innovation and new thinking. Dalhousie, as a university in that city, acts like a hub with something for anyone and boundless opportunities. Then of course the CRMBA program itself is so thoughtfully structured, built to give you the skills needed to do well upon graduation.
Max: There is a debate between working first and pursuing an MBA later in one’s career and immediately continuing one’s education. While I have obviously just begun my MBA at Dalhousie, I think that, at least for me, it was the right choice and that it will help me to reach my career aspirations faster. I am very much looking forward to the next two years and of course the things that will come afterwards.