by Natalie Bruckner
Fear, an uninvited guest that lingers in the corridors of our careers. It’s the invisible shackle that can trap people in unfulfilling jobs during their prime years. Not for Greg Booth, MBA ’23. Completing his MBA marked the latest turning point, launching him into a self-proclaimed fourth career phase—fearless and fulfilled, he left a career with the Government and started his own business, proving it’s never too late to shake things up.
“Too many colleagues and friends hit their mid-50s thinking it’s too late to change careers, resigning themselves to slide their way out the door. That was never my ambition,” says Booth, a sixth-generation British Columbian.
A passionate swimmer both in the pool and in the challenging waters of his career, Booth rejects the antiquated idea of retiring at 65. In his mid-50s, he’s on a mission—embracing change, cultivating new skills and embarking on a transformative journey into sustainable innovation and consultancy.
Booth’s journey to an MBA was driven by a quest for what he terms the ‘fourth turning’ in his career: a conscious decision to redefine rather than follow a conventional retirement path. Having spent seven years as the director of Indigenous Economic Opportunity for the Province of British Columbia, Booth felt a compelling need for change. His decision was motivated by a dynamic backdrop of shifts within the government, coupled with an interest in a different kind of involvement. “I was working in the depths of bureaucracy, which, while inspiring work, showed me I wanted delve deeper into the realm of business as a whole—a more direct and hands-on involvement in the business landscape.”
Interactions with Gustavson professor Brent Mainprize, past students and administrative managers at Gustavson played a pivotal role in cementing his choice of UVic’s Weekend MBA. This marked the start of a profound shift from a government-rooted career to one centred on sustainable innovation and entrepreneurial leadership.
“The decision enabled me to merge 30 years of global experience in poverty reduction, wealth creation and economic development in British Columbia, southeast Europe, Asia and Africa with entrepreneurial skills, placing me at the cutting edge of the business world,” says Booth.
His approach is a refreshing dive into the UVic Weekend MBA in Sustainable Innovation—a program tailored for working professionals like him, looking to engage with organizations in a new manner, on new opportunities and projects in a way that is fulfilling.
Contrary to the notion of a laid-back weekend program, Booth humorously dispels the myth, emphasizing the intensity of the MBA. “It’s a lie when they say it’s a weekend program,” he laughs, highlighting the commitment and dedication required. Booth paints a vivid picture of late-night study sessions and weekend commitments, offering insight into the program’s rigorous academic demands.
For Booth, the MBA wasn’t just about learning the hard skills like finance and accounting; it was about understanding contemporary issues like blockchain and applying new skills like design thinking to real-world problems. “The MBA has equipped me to provide valuable insights to clients, leveraging technologies like artificial intelligence for better decision-making,” he explains.
What sets Booth’s MBA experience apart, he says, is the diverse cohort of middle- and late-career professionals. “The program fosters such a rich environment where individuals from various fields collaborate, offering a unique blend of perspectives. The focus on regional, provincial and Canadian issues creates a dynamic melting pot of ideas,” he says.
This transition from government to entrepreneurship via an MBA wasn’t merely an academic pursuit. Rather, it provided Booth with practical tools to actively mould his post-government career, challenging prevailing market perceptions. With this self-proclaimed newfound confidence, he created Circular Industries of Canada Ltd., a company that advises mostly First Nations on diverse projects, from eco-tourism initiatives to commercial-space planning.
Booth’s career journey, from socio-economic projects in Vietnam to consulting with First Nations in British Columbia, mirrors a shift from traditional economic development to a more sustainability-focused mindset. His adaptability, finely honed through a rich tapestry of experiences, is evident in his ability to tackle emerging challenges that often lack established frameworks. The MBA acted as a bridge to a new career, one that Booth may never have taken on had he not completed the MBA and gained newfound confidence in his skills.
The shift to entrepreneurship felt like a natural progression for Booth, allowing him to leverage years of valuable experience across various domains. Now, as a business owner, he immerses himself in a diverse range of projects, with one of the most exciting ventures involving hydrogen.
Booth’s story is not just a testament to his personal growth and success; it’s an ode to the idea that it’s never too late for a career shift. Plus, it gives him more time to spend with his 14-year-old daughter, or as he jokingly says, be her ‘chauffeur’—a win-win situation.