Professional Profiles

SFU business analysis program propels young entrepreneur to success

Aanchal Dhir. Photo by Greg Ehlers.

By Amy Robertson

SFU’s Applied Business Analysis Certificate gave a young entrepreneur the confidence she needed to leave her 9-to-5 job and focus on her own business.

At only 25, Aanchal Dhir spends the first part of her day investing in the stock market. After the market closes, she focuses on the other part of her business: Advising entrepreneurs like her.

Finance and entrepreneurship are her passions. She loves the flash of red-and-green lines on the trading board, the rush of a good investment, and the satisfaction of finding a company’s weak spot and helping them fix it.

Her interest in business analysis began during the fourth year of her undergraduate degree, when she was investing in stocks part-time. After graduation, she went right to work as an analyst for a local hedge fund. She would vet companies before presenting them as investment options to the portfolio managers.

“Not only was I the youngest in the office, I was also a minority young female in a male-dominated field, so persuading the portfolio managers was a challenge, but I loved every bit of it,” she says. “It taught me the importance of always answering the ‘why’ and getting to the core of a business—a lesson I still use today.”

After about a year, Dhir left her job to begin an affiliate marketing company. She recruited over 100 Fortune 500 retailers to sell in conjunction with her site, which helped charities and non-profits across Canada with fundraising.

Entrepreneur and analyst looks to SFU program to dig deeper

Before long, however, Dhir found she wanted to dig deeper into the analysis portion of her job. She wanted a part-time educational opportunity that would allow her to work with other people. A web search led her to SFU’s Applied Business Analysis Certificate, which she began in early 2012.

Dhir loved that what she was learning was so hands-on. During her time in the program, she sold her business and joined a venture capitalist company, and was able to take what she learned in the classroom directly to the office.

“I would come to Monday meetings [at work] and share my notes with everyone,” she says. Dhir introduced a scrum board, a tool she learned in the program, to her team. “It helped our system and organizational flow. It was the most efficient form of task management we could ever use.”

For Dhir, the highlight of the program was the challenge of the group business-case simulation. “It was fast-paced and you had to get things together and figure out solutions…It made you think outside the box, and I love that.”

Graduate devotes herself to investing and advising

Shortly after completing her certificate, Dhir felt she was ready for more. She resigned from her position at the venture capitalist company and devoted herself to her investing and advising business, Ambrot Capital Inc., full-time.

“Having the educational background of an applied analyst tied with my real-world experience really gave me the confidence to better analyze and critique the current market conditions,” she says. “Analysis is key to my business, and the program helped me deepen my knowledge and skills to increase my yearly performance.”

The program has also made her a stronger advisor. Dhir sits on the board of two technology start-ups and helps with valuations, financial planning, marketing and business strategy.

“This program really helped me there,” she says. “To be analytical and find the missing links and find solutions for companies.”

For her, the key was application.

“Business is an application. You can read as much as you want…You can learn theory if you want to. But until you apply it, you can’t succeed at business. That’s why I picked this program.”