Bogdan Shpyra is no ordinary marketing student. At 25, he has lived a pretty amazing life, having travelled the world on a luxury cruise ship as a fitness manager and visiting at least 40 countries in just two years. Before this, he hosted and directed over 200 events before finally gathering the courage to set up his agency at age 20 – all the while pursuing his bachelor’s degree in Enterprise Economics in his home country, Ukraine. He stayed on at university to complete his master’s degree in Entrepreneurship and Trade.
Bogdan’s interests are quite varied. “I always tended to be a creative person,” Bogdan reveals. “I played drums in a metal band during my youth, acted in the amateur theatre, and at the same time, was adept in martial arts.”
Bogdan started his professional career at 17 as an events manager while attending university. As a public speaker and events organiser, he was a natural. However, his big plans for his agency did not pan out because the business was affected by a socio-political crisis in Ukraine at the time which also stifled the economy and eventually sparked the 2014 Euromaidan Revolution.
From events organising, he tried to shift his focus into the fitness industry and developed specific courses for trainers and customers. He also entertained the idea of producing his line of female sports clothing but this also did not work out. This was when he decided to try his luck elsewhere and applied as a fitness manager in a luxury liner.
Two years, some savings and over a thousand clients later, his wanderlust took him to Canada. He reckoned that the best investment he could make was on himself. With just enough money for his schooling and living costs, Bogdan enrolled in a Bachelor of Business Administration program with a concentration in Marketing Management at Acsenda School of Management. He also applied for a part-time job at Arbutus College and got in as a customer service officer, working from 1:00 – 5:00 pm on weekdays.
“I mostly engage with students and agents. I guess the best description for my role is a go-between from the Marketing to the Admissions teams. I communicate with walk-in students, provide the requested information and assist them in transitioning from being prospective students to current students,” Bogdan says.
On learning life skills
Bogdan arrived in Canada almost a year ago on 30 December 2018. With his limited finances, he is very conscious of his spending. “I’m into money planning a lot lately. I wasn’t like this three or four years ago,” referring to a time when he was lapping it up with earnings and commissions from his cruise ship days. “When I got here, I only had the exact amount for tuition and living expenses. One misstep and I would be in debt. I feared that I might fail in class and have to retake some courses and spend money that I don’t have. I was so scared that I studied hard and ended up as a top student having one of the highest GPAs. Now I’m trying to maintain it,” he adds, “but it started as a financial shortage.”
He says that his role as Arbutus’ Customer Service Officer has also impacted his life such that he learned to listen more, talk less and be empathetic. This is a far cry from the person that he used to be. He was a public speaker, event host, fitness manager – and so out there!
“As a student all over again, I felt somewhat frustrated. I’m back in school at the age of 25 with over seven years of professional experience and two university degrees under my belt,” he points out. “However, I do believe that hard work pays off in the end.”
Bogdan admits that although he holds two degrees and has lots of professional experience, he still lacks the theoretical base and insight on the North American professional world.
Aside from being money savvy, more patient and empathetic, Bogdan has also learned to be resilient, determined and very focused on his goals. He says, “After graduation, I would love to gain some Canadian experience as a marketing manager or try my luck in advertising,” and cheekily adds, “perhaps even work with EduCo which, I believe, is possible due to the post-graduation work permit being granted to international students.”
How’s that for having the confidence, courage and belief in one’s self, eh?