The necessity of a degree in the business world

Entering the business field can be challenging. It raises the question of whether a degree or business degree is required.

Experience and skills

Frédéric Bigras is FBIC Ingénérie’s owner and electric engineer and Quicker.Cloud’s owner. He is Le Centre de congrès de Thetford et La cache du Domaine’s co-owner. He has a Collège Montmorency diploma in electrical engineering and an École de technologie supérieure bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. 

He worked five years at Hewitt before launching FBIC.

Bigras said everything he learned in school was useful, using his knowledge of electronic equipment daily and having gained “work ethic.”

Brian Goldenberg is Angelwalk Theatre’s artistic and executive director. He’s York University’s Vanier College Productions’ artistic director, producer, music director and arranger. He’s also a composer and gives private music lessons.

Goldenberg has a York bachelor’s of fine arts in music. He also has a master’s in business administration from Schulich with a specialization in arts and media management. 

“I started producing to create work for myself as a music director,” he said. “I fell in love with the producing side of the business.”

He started developing business management skills in high school and continued to do so throughout university. 

“I was running my own business, doing all these cocktail panel corporate functions where often I would have to hire other musicians to play with me,” Goldenberg said. 

Goldenberg has played piano for corporate functions and weddings and attributed his success to skill in client services.

He pursued an MBA to get formal business training. He used independent study projects to interview people in the industry and get involved in art organizations’ sponsorship deals.

He said the program gave him “the confidence to pursue producing” professionally and taught him to prioritize.

Goldenberg’s business courses were useful, even if he barely uses technical accounting.

“Your relationships and the knowledge that allows you to connect with your customers, to your colleagues, to your stakeholders are crucial,” Goldenberg said. 

While theory is helpful, he added, “You can’t learn to produce theatre from a textbook. You have to be in the room.”

Looking back at his MBA, Goldenberg would suggest “leaning more into the connections of the networking” and “work experiences.”

Reflections and resources

Bigras might consider studying business, he is presently watching videos and reading books to develop business skills. 

However, he said, “When you start your business, it would be interesting to pursue business training,” otherwise, simply studying business may be more theoretical.

He’s also considering psychology courses as businesses rely on human relations. 

He started working in real estate early in his career, which also helped him, as did his accounting courses.

However, he’s struggled to meet entrepreneurs like him and said, as an entrepreneur, “you’re a bit alone in the world.”

Goldenberg said the MBA gave him the knowledge he needed to work, though he’s still learning and pursuing training when possible.

“New York actually has this one called the Broadway Teaching Group, and they run a conference every summer. So, I’ve gone to that a few times,” he said. “I’ve gone to a lot of performing arts conferences throughout Ontario. And then, just a lot of the industry specific workshops and master classes and training.”

As the arts and business industries are always changing, Goldenberg adapts his skills to stay competitive.

He also leans on his wide network for guidance.

Advice for youth 

Out of school, Bigras recommended working in different workplaces to build knowledge and network.

He added the importance of aiming long term, as successful businesses develop over the years. 

“At a certain point, it’s great to want to [launch] it one day, but you have to take the leap,” Bigras said.

Goldenberg encouraged youth to seek mentors, namely “informational interviews” with people in your field, which is how he was able to land one of his previous jobs.

He also said to take advantage of being a student and ask for advice while still in school. After graduating, you’re considered competition. 

A degree is not needed for all business jobs. However, it gives you extended knowledge on a particular field, which may be helpful in the workforce.

Regardless, work experience in your field is a crucial stepping stone when starting out your career. 

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