Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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MBA = Most Bad Ass

Last Wednesday, I attended my fourth – and final – university convocation as a graduate1, receiving my hard earned MBA2. It’s hard to believe that just 28 months ago3, me and 50 other brave souls embarked on the intense and life changing journey that is the part-time MBA program at UBC. Taking an program like this – super intense in both the amount and type of work – while also holding down full-time jobs4 takes a special5 kind of person. I knew I was going to learn a lot in this program, as I had no background in business whatsoever, but when I look back on it, I’m still stunned by how much I learned. Entire fields that I knew nothing about – accounting, finance, economics, marketing, just to name a few – are now not only comprehensible to me, but also fascinating. This program has provided not just content, but also new skills that I apply every day in my work and personal life and it has expanded my worldview.

And I feel very privileged to have traveled these past 28 months with the most fantastic group of people. I met people from all sorts of different sectors and backgrounds and learned as much from them as I did from my professors and textbooks. We worked hard together through countless classes and group meetings and Skype meetings and lunch meetings, through study groups and running simulated businesses and writing business plans and doing Friday case nights and the seemingly endless hours of capstone weekend. There were papers and exams and presentations and celebrations. There was a lot of laughter and some tears and some rants and all the things that life-long friendships are made of.

The day of graduation, though they were calling for rain, actually turned out to be sunny and beautiful! One of the graduates from the full-time MBA cohort with whom I had a class6 and next to whom I sat at grad (due to us having surnames that are alphabetically similar) noted that this was because he’d worked his skills from the MBA – Master of the Black Arts. The convocation ceremony was nice, full of all the pomp and circumstance that a university convocation entails – the speeches were great and since I knew all of the part-time MBAs and a bunch of the full-timers (as I’d taken a couple of classes from the full-time program and some of them took some of our part-time classes) the seemingly endless parade of graduates crossing the stage was more interesting to me than my previous graduations, where I’d known far fewer of the people graduating.

This is the sea of graduates as seen from the balcony of the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at UBC, where convocation is held:

MBA Graduation 2014 - A Sea of Graduates

You can spot me in the fifth row by the fact that I’m in a pink robe instead of the black MBA robe – one of the perks of having the PhD7.

In other news, I totally underestimated how long I’d be on stage when I said 7.4 seconds – it actually turns out that I was on stage for nearly 20 whole seconds! Here’s the video to prove it:

Here is 4/5ths of D2NA, my group from school. One of our big project in the Core part of our program was to write a business plan and our company was D2NA, and our product was the Double Device (you may recall our mascot, Marty The Moose.)). From left to right we have Bronwyn, me, the guy who holds the ceremonial university mace8 (not part of our group), Emily, and Tyler. Missing from the photo is Edmond, who wasn’t at the ceremony.

D2NA at MBA Grad!

And here’s a photo of me with Fran, the most helpful person EVER! When I first started my MBA, UBC had some difficulty in figuring out how to process my scholarship, as it’s a rare type of scholarship9 and they didn’t appear to have ever had a student with one of these before, so no one in the finance area could figure out how to deal with it. But Fran came to my rescue and after about a billion emails with Finance, she was able to get it sorted out for me so that I could get my scholarship money and thus be able to pay my tuition fees. She came up to me after the ceremony and introduced herself because, despite the aforementioned billion emails, we’d never actually met in person. Needless to say, I gave her the biggest hug!

MBA Graduation 2014

Because I’m spoiled, my mom and my Aunt Eileen came out from Toronto for my big day:

My mom, me and Aunt Eileen

They were here for the whole week and we had many adventures, which will have to be the subject of another blog posting as this one is already getting way long!

Speaking of spoiled, I was spoiled by my mom and aunt, who not only came all this way for my grad, but also showered me with gifts, including the beautiful shoes I wore to grad10 and the beautiful flowers that you see me holding11

And as if I weren’t spoiled enough, my Aunty Gwen sent me this MBA grad present – a gorgeous blanket that she crocheted herself, made specifically to go with my beloved purple chair:

Handmade afghan - an MBA grad present from my Aunty GwenThe picture does not do it justice – it’s an exquisite stitch that she used an the colours in it as so beautiful and it totally completes the chair!

All in all, it was a lovely day and I am very pleased that I can now officially put the “MBA” behind my name. For the record, I am now legally entitled to write my name thusly:

Beth Snow, BSc(Hons), MSc, PhD, MBA, CE

So that’s 18 letters after my name – and only 8 letters in my name! Even if you were to use my full legal name “Mary Elizabeth Snow” instead of just “Beth”, that’s only 17 letters in my name – still one fewer than all the ones I’ve earned the right to be put after my name!

Image Credit: Specially thanks to my Aunt Eileen and my friend and classmate, Emily Graham, for the photos and video!


  1. If I get any more university degrees, they will have to be of the Honorary Doctorate variety, as I have no plans to actually do work for another degree. Though apparently you have to do something honourable in order to be granted an Hon Doc, so I guess I’ll have to figure out something honourable to do now. []
  2. A.k.a., graduating from grade 25 []
  3. And three years ago I don’t think I’d even started studying for the GMAT yet! []
  4. Not to mention having families, social lives, etc. By my count there were 11 babies born or conceived during the 28 months of our program, along with 6 weddings. []
  5. Translation: Crazy. []
  6. Healthcare Management. []
  7. You can spot the other PhD from my class – Keith – in the bottom left of that photo. []
  8. I have no idea why the university has a ceremonial mace. []
  9. Mostly because you can only get it if you hold a health sciences-based PhD and are doing an MBA, and there aren’t many people who have done a PhD that want to go back to school! []
  10. See photo above. []
  11. The flowers, sadly, have had to live on my balcony as the cats seem to think they look most delicious and I have no idea if these particular flowers are poisonous to cats, so to be on the safe side, I’m keeping them outside. []


Journal of Universal Rejection

While scrolling through my old emails to write my blog posting about letters the other day, I came across an email where a friend of mine brought this site to my attention:


It’s an academic journal that is absolutely guaranteed to reject your submission, no matter what. In fact, they’ve never had an issue with any articles because they reject all articles.

Is it strange that I find this idea hilariously enticing? I think it’s the notion of the complete certainty of the situation – which is perverse, because the certainty is that you will get the result that you absolutely don’t want. Yet it seems less scary than the uncertainty of, say, submitting to a journal that *might* accept your work for publication.

Even more perverse: I want to submit something to this journal, but I can’t decide *what* to submit!


You Can Take the Academic Out of The Academy….

As I mentioned a little while ago, last week and this week at work are jammed packed.  I have so many meetings that my meetings have meetings! Happily, though, I’m in the home stretch –  only two more workdays in 2011! The lion’s share of the webinars/meetings/workshops are done too – I have one meeting tomorrow (plus a Christmas lunch with my boss and a few colleagues) and a teleconference on Friday, but other than that, I have scheduled myself some time to finish up a bunch of tasks I need to get accomplished before I’m away from work for two weeks. And hopefully clean off my desk. I love coming back from holidays – and especially starting a new year – to a tidy workspace.

I’m also noting that I appear to slipping back into my academic ways. I noticed it when I realized that my two meetings today were to work on research grant applications. Yes, I said “research grant applications.” In addition to the research grant I received this year, I’m currently working on two more research grant applications (one due January 13, the other due February 15)1 and one manuscript for submission to an academic journal2. Also, I’ve applied to get a practicum student to work on my research project over the summer and am talking with my R.A. about applying for another grant for an event we’ll need to be hosting for another project. Oh yeah, and then there’s the whole going back to school thing.

In my defence, however, there is an upcoming conference that I’ve been very tempted to apply to present at, but am resisting the urge as I know that my workload is already too much. I had pretty much convinced myself that it would be crazy to apply and then got re-tempted when (a) they extended the deadline for abstract submission from mid-December to January 15 and (b) they posted an application for students to get awards to attend the conference And I realized – hey, I’ll be able to take advantage of such student-based incentives, what with being a student at all! It would be a fabulous conference to go to *and* it’s being held in one of the two provinces I have not yet been to, which would give me an excuse to knock that province off my list of provinces I need to go to. But so far I’m managing to hold strong on not adding one more piece of academic-like work to my crazy workload!

For now, I’m just going to concentrate on… two more days! two more days!

  1. Happily, I am not the main writer for either one and have a great team of colleagues on both projects! []
  2. With an idea for another journal article to write as soon as I’m done this first one! []


Because Grade 23 Was Not Enough

Alternative titles for this blog posting include, “I am a glutton for punishment” and “Are you $%^&ing insane?”

Why am I glutton for punishment, you ask? Maybe this photo will provide a clue:

GMAT Study Guide

That, my friends, is a study guide for the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). A test that, as the name suggests, is required for admission to graduate programs in management – specifically, the Masters of Business Administration (MBA). A test that I am currently studying for and which I am scheduled to take at the end of August. And why would I do such a thing, you ask? (You sure ask a lot of questions for someone who is supposed to be just reading!)

Well, I’ve been sitting on a secret for a few weeks now. A secret that I wasn’t allowed to talk about until such time as I was told I could talk about it. And now I’ve been told I can talk about it!

I mentioned over on my other blog that I’d applied for funding from a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) program called the Science to Business (S2B) Program, which funds people with health sciences PhDs to do MBAs. Would you believe that I was successful in getting that funding?

Crazy, right? Well, don’t get too excited just yet. I still have to apply to – and get into – the MBA Program1. Minor details. Applying requires, among a bunch of other things, that I write the GMAT. Hence the studying.

In the spirit of the GMAT, here is a multiple choice reading comprehension question for you:

Read the following passage and then answer the multiple choice question below.

Despite already having three university degrees (a B.Sc.(Hons.), an M.Sc., and a Ph.D.), Beth has decided to pursue an M.B.A. The program she is applying to is part-time, lasts 28 months, and is designed for people who work full-time.

Why is Beth doing this?

  1. She feels that having 13 letters after her name is bad luck and thus needs to add three more.
  2. She feels that there are an insufficient number of vowels in the letters after her name and wants to be able to spell something with those letters.
  3. She wants to be able to say she was in school until grade 25.
  4. She feels that her current amount of sleeping (~5 hrs per night) is far too much and she could fill that time with studying instead.
  5. pi
  1. I was actually a bit hesitant to post about getting this funding, because I haven’t yet applied to the program, nor written the GMAT. I mean, what if I do terribly on the GMAT and don’t get into the program? That would be embarrassing! But I’m too excited not to share this! I’m nervous and excited and if it turns out that I tank the GMAT and don’t get into the program, please don’t laugh at me, k? []


Journal Article Humour At Its Finest

Sign from the Restoring Sanity rally:

Props to Dr. Dan, who brought this to my attention after seeing it here, who posted it after they saw it here.


Congratulations, Dr. Dan!

Guelph, ON – Not To Be Trusted With Knives’ Official Statistician & Tattoo Consultant, Daniel J. Gillis achieved his most significant accomplishment since the publication of his groundbreaking work on The Count today.  Eye witnesses report that Daniel, formerly known as Soon-To-Be Dr. Dan, wowed the masses who attended his PhD defence at the University of Guelph today with his mathematical genius and dashing good looks.  The Flying Spaghetti Monster is reportedly pleased with the work of the young academic and intends to reward his with copious amounts of beer and curry.

Henceforth, Dan shall be known as Dr. Dan.