BY: Marla Baker
The University of Waterloo Alternative Fuels Team (UWAFT), through participation in Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTCs), has once again facilitated students from both the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University to become more prepared for their endeavors after graduation. The competition provides students with the opportunity to gain valuable skills in a business environment that they use in their future careers.
Former UWAFT members, Eric Goll and Viraj Patel have recognized UWAFT for providing them the opportunity to develop invaluable skills while working with the team and competing in Eco CAR 2. Eric and Viraj successfully completed their MBA from Wilfrid Laurier University while holding Business and Communications Manager positions respectively on UWAFT.
Eric’s entrepreneurial spirit has led him to start two companies, BalanceDo and Plasticity Labs. After working as the Business Manager at UWAFT, he has moved on to work as Director for Plasticity.
“I have always wanted to run my own business and UWAFT gave me the opportunity to take on a role as the business manager! What a challenging and amazing experience to build a young, skilled, and engaged team.”
In this position, Eric had the experience of building the business and communications team as well as managing the formation of the mission statement, vision statement, and organizational strategy. He was also responsible for the management of financial budgets and sponsorships from government and industry partners.
He notes, “The biggest learning experience that I had was to use the power of the team.”
Eric coached and led his team by providing them with autonomy to run their sub-teams. He assisted product managers in setting up key performance metrics and helped deliverable leads to set up their own goals.
Viraj feels his time with UWAFT was an instrumental part of completing his MBA. He comments on the significance of UWAFT to his future development:
“UWAFT has been around for over 20 years and has helped many students get the experience necessary to find the job of their dreams. I saw great value in not only the experiences I would gain from joining the team, but also in the connections I would make with other students and sponsor organizations.”
Virai was the Communications Manager for UWAFT where he managed the promotion and awareness strategy and execution of social media, events, and media relations.
He notes, “One of the most valuable skills I learnt while on the UWAFT team was management skills, I was able to develop a strategy on a high level and manage a team of students to achieve our goals and execute our tactics.”