Access Program – The Never Ending Journey of Self-Development and Relationship Building

by Mthabisi Mhlanga


Self-development has been an important process in my life in which I consciously seek out opportunities that will put me in a better position to positively impact society. The Burnaby Board of Trade’s (BBOT) Access Program did just that. It allowed us to expand our networks with business professionals and acquire more knowledge that will be beneficial as we journey through the walk of life.

At the start of the program I was paired with two connectors, who I view as mentors in my life now. They both hold a wealth of knowledge from their years of work experience. Prior to meeting with my connectors, I was quite nervous because I was going to be completely out of my comfort zone. I soon realized that real growth occurs when we step outside of what feels comfortable. I was going to really commit to this program as it was only the first step of many experiences like this. In our meetings, both my connectors displayed a similar characteristic in that they were both genuinely interested in finding out my career aspirations and how they can best support me in achieving them. Throughout the program, they were always available to provide this support, whether it was through connecting me to someone else or providing me with industry information. This component of the program has made me see the importance of having mentors because we really cannot succeed on our own.

Another valuable component of the program was the opportunity to attend events with various industry professionals. We attended the 15th Annual Burnaby Business Excellence Awards, which allowed us to interact with some of the business professionals that positively impact the Burnaby business community on a regular basis. The professionals have demonstrated commitment to corporate social responsibility in their work. It was truly a rare opportunity that gave students insight to the different types of businesses that are flourishing in the community and what role we could play in future in the community.

I am truly grateful to have had the opportunity to be apart of the Access Program and to interact with many driven and engaged students throughout the course of the program. Programs like this really allow you to take control of your future and ultimately design your destiny.

Mthabisi MhlangaMthabisi is a fourth year student at the Beedie School of Business concentrating in Accounting. He is currently on a Co-op term at Teekay Shipping as a Risk Audit and Compliance. Earlier this year, he took part in KPMG’s Ace the Case Competition and won the local and national competitions. His team was selected to represent KPMG Canada in Dubai at an International Case Competition. Mthabisi also recently graduated from the Beedie School of Business’ CPA Leadership Development Program among 16 students. He loves case competitions and will be representing the JDC West accounting team in his final year and is looking forward to winning it for Beedie.