Having a holistic learning approach
Rigel Raju (BBA ’21) has seen his fair share of ups and downs. His considerable list of accomplishments has always been motivated by the failures he has endured, embraced and learned from.
“People don’t really see that side of things … all the failures, all the stumbles,” he shares. “I feel that people have to keep that in mind. Whatever the struggles you’re going through, whatever failures you feel you’ve experienced, it’s just a step in your road; it’s not the endpoint. Just keeping pushing through.”
Raju’s journey has taken him across the world from Thailand to England to Canada, where he came to SAIT to get a second chance. His determination to turn failure into success motivated him to become actively involved with student clubs at SAIT. His work with a wide variety of clubs and groups saw him awarded SAIT’s 2021 President’s Medal just in time for his graduation and transition to full-time work on the Venture Capital team at Strategic Group.
When he reflects on his time at SAIT, Raju says the work he did outside the classroom helped prepare him most for his career.
“All the extracurricular activities, keeping myself as busy as possible … helped prepare me for whatever workload that I may need to handle,” he says. “Working under pressure, public speaking, networking, all the things we learned outside the classroom. Those things I wouldn’t have got involved with without the guidance and encouragement of faculty.”
Networking eventually landed him a part-time position as Junior Analyst at Strategic Group while he completed his studies. Fast-forward two years, and Raju has moved to an Associate position on the Venture Capital team. Now on the other side of the networking relationship, he is paying it back and providing the guidance and encouragement he once received.
Raju still actively participates as a Director for the Student Investment Management Trust (SIMT), which he co-founded while at SAIT. In his role, he provides oversight and guidance on questions students should be asking as they become involved in finance, as well as advice or knowledge he can impart from his own experiences.
On the job learnings
As an Associate on the Venture Capital team, Raju’s day-to-day varies significantly. Part of his current portfolio involves venture capital investments into technology startups, something that excites him very much.
“Searching for opportunities and listening to startup pitches, you meet founders of really exciting companies,” he says. “These are people I really enjoy learning from … and you’re hearing about all these great things that are going on.”
One of the biggest challenges Raju faces in his position is the assumption that someone so young and early in their career lacks the experience and credentials to make informed decisions, something that he actively works to overcome through his performance.
“That's a bit of a barrier to overcome, but it's not something that holds me back. I see it as a challenge, and, if you feel like I haven't earned my stripes, I'm going to bring something forward that adds a ton of value and show you that it doesn't really matter that I don't have the years of experience, I can do whatever it takes despite that.”
But of all the successes and achievements Raju has accomplished since graduating, he says getting married this past June stands out by far.
“No matter what I achieve academically or professionally, my main priority and my greatest source of fulfilment will come from my family,” he says. “So, my greatest achievement in the year since graduating is getting married to my wonderful wife.”
A concept that guides Raju’s career journey is peripheral learning, an idea that sometimes what teaches you the most isn’t necessarily directly related to what you are working on. Whether through signing up for an Applied Product Management Bootcamp with SAIT’s School for Advanced Digital Technology, thoughts around degrees in computer sciences and psychology, or just his day-to-day job, Raju always wants to learn something new.
“I know I want to keep learning. The thing I fear most is stagnation,” he says about his future. “I don’t ever want to feel like I’m stuck. I might not know what the next step forward is, or even if it’s the ‘right’ one, I just want to keep moving and growing.”