Haskayne through the generations

Alumnus Austin Frank follows in his grandfather’s footsteps

Author

Ashley Tymko

Competitive by nature, Austin Frank, BComm’17, knew that he would need a unique learning environment as he embarked on his university career.

“Being a hockey player, I grew up a very competitive person. I knew I would need to get an education and learn in a competitive environment because that is how I personally grow and develop,” says Frank.

Frank, who initially intended on applying to Queen’s University, was swayed by his grandfather, Grant Wallace, MBA’06, to consider UCalgary’s Haskayne School of Business.

Wallace returned to school in his 70s and received his MBA from Haskayne. Frank explains, “My grandfather Grant never went to university, but it remained one of the top things on his bucket list to do before he died.”

“I was a good student,” says Wallace. “I graduated from high school with good grades at a time when scholarships were very scarce. Our family of six did not have the resources to send any of us away from home to get a degree. My mother was a teacher and was disappointed that none of her four children would have the opportunity to attend university. I promised her then, ‘one day I will go back and get my degree’.”

Wallace holds the record as the oldest person to receive an MBA in Haskayne’s history, graduating at 72 years old. A dealer at Canadian Tire, Wallace said that business took off after his time at Haskayne and hoped that Frank would get the same experience he did.

“I got a lot out of the MBA program. My sales nearly doubled in the eight years after my time at Haskayne when I accepted a new market opportunity in Brandon, Manitoba. I took a new approach to a different market, re-merchandised the store, changed the inventory systems and improved HR systems – this clearly gave us a strong connection with the Brandon community,” says Wallace.

While studying at Haskayne, Wallace developed a strong relationship with Bob Schulz (a.k.a. Dr. Bob), a Haskayne strategic management professor for over 40 years. Schulz had a chance to play golf with Wallace and his grandson during a Chamber of Commerce golf tournament and learned that Frank was considering other  business schools. He took that opportunity to tip the scales and convinced Frank of Haskayne’s benefits.

“Dr. Bob started talking about the programs Haskayne had to offer, but it was the chance to compete in the Inter-Collegiate Business Competition (ICBC) that really caught my attention.”

Things aligned and Frank pursued a finance degree at Haskayne. He competed for three years at ICBC and, in his last year, won a gold medal in business policy.

Haskayne not only gave Frank the tools to excel in the classroom and at business case competitions, but it gave him something else that he was not expecting.

“The one thing that surprised me about Haskayne was the sense of community from both the faculty and students.

“The faculty itself gave me more support than I could have ever hoped for, which a lot of students don’t expect from a large university. The faculty have a genuine interest to see the students excel and it has made a huge difference, not only for myself, but for other students,” says Frank.

The sky is the limit for this new grad who will be starting a full-time position as a strategy analyst in the fall.

If not for his grandfather and Dr. Bob, it almost didn’t happen. As Frank says: “That golf game changed my life.”

Austin Frank, BComm’17

Austin Frank, BComm’17