Hometown: Bogota, Colombia
Concentration: Accounting and Finance
The reputation of Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business brought Juan Leal all the way from Bogota, Colombia to Vancouver. And since making the journey north, his Beedie experience ensured he has never regretted his decision.
Juan has crammed a lot into his student life. As an accounting and finance major, his interest in financial markets compelled him to take part in the Beedie Endowment Asset Management fund (BEAM), the largest undergraduate-run investment fund in Canada, with $5 million invested in Canadian equities, fixed income and cash.
BEAM students are responsible for managing the fund, and receive hands-on experience in investment research, analysis, and trading in bonds and equities markets. Juan’s role as an equity analyst in the diversified sector provided him with real-world exposure to the financial and equity markets.
“BEAM allows you to develop skills that can hardly be learned in a class setting. Each investment can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars – there’s no class that can teach you how to deal with that, and there’s definitely no substitute for this experience as an undergraduate student.”
Not content to let the opportunities readily available to him at Beedie come to him, Juan decided to create his own, and together with some like-minded students, co-founded Simon Fraser Consulting, a business club which prepares students for the consulting industry recruitment process.
One year later, Simon Fraser Consulting has over 800 members, from faculties across SFU and provides networking opportunities to some of the largest consulting firms across Canada. Its signature event, Consulting with the Stars, last year brought over sixty consultants from across the nation to network and offer advice to club members.
Juan also took his Beedie experience into the real world, participating in two co-op terms, first as an accounting manager at Dendy Orchards, one of the largest growers and exporters of cherries in British Columbia, and then as a staff accountant for global professional services giant KPMG.
“My two co-op terms were very different, but had one thing in common: they both allowed me define the career path that inspired me the most. The co-op terms enhanced the whole Beedie experience. How else would a student get the chance to deal with real clients in solving real-world situations?”
Juan’s affiliation with KPMG carried on past the co-op term though. He was part of the Beedie School of Business team that competed in the KPMG Ace the Case Competition in 2012, and after winning both the regional and national competitions, the team travelled to Hong Kong for the final international competition.
“The KPMG Ace the Case was an amazing opportunity to connect with the people of the firm, work in teams, and develop our communication and leadership skills,” he says. “The international competition in Hong Kong was very intense, but was an experience I will never forget.”
His success did not go unnoticed in the KPMG offices – Juan has been offered a permanent position with them upon graduation.
Click here to view other BBA profiles.