Mentorship, volunteering key to young president’s success

Christian Braid (B.Comm '06) didn't know exactly what career path he wanted when he was a student, but thanks in part to his experience at the U of S, he's built himself a very successful career.

Upon graduating from the U of S in 2006, Braid thought the last thing he wanted to do was become involved in the family business. Instead, he tried his hand at buying and fixing up property—first in Prince Albert, and then around Saskatoon. He did this for a couple years to "test his entrepreneurial spirit" before he began to see Braid Flooring as a business opportunity.

"My experience on my own helped to change my perspective. I felt like I needed the time on my own to develop my own entrepreneurial skills and prove to myself I could do it," Braid said. "After a couple years, I started to see the family business as a great opportunity."

Now the vice-president of Braid Flooring and Window Fashion, he also credits his mentors for helping him to see this perspective. He sees mentorship—both as a student and in the field—as a crucial educational opportunity. In fact, when asked what advice he would give to current students or other young alumni, Braid promptly recommended mentorship.

"Look for opportunities to apply the knowledge you're learning in school. Volunteering, mentorship—all these are crucial to success," he explained.

"Finding a mentor can really be as simple as picking up the phone and calling someone who is successful in your field. Ask if you can pick their brain over a coffee. Saskatchewan people are very generous with their time and willing to help out students."
He also is passionate about the importance of volunteering while in school. For himself, he chose to get involved in the Saskatoon business community to connect his learning to the real world. "For me, I really needed to pair up what I learned in the classroom with volunteering—I needed that practical application to make it stick."

Volunteering is how Braid, now the president of the Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce, first got involved with the organization. "I've always believed that volunteering in the community was important," said Braid. "I first got involved on a committee about four years ago with the intention to really just give it a whirl."

Fast forward to 2012, and he is the youngest president the chamber has ever seen. He credits his time at the U of S for providing the broad base of education he needed, along with the opportunity to work with a variety of people while he was a student.
"All that group work paid off!" he said with a chuckle, adding that working in the community means working with a variety of different personalities, something his education and volunteer work prepared him to do.

So with all this success at a young age, what are his plans for the future? Braid says he intends to focus strongly on the chamber this year, while continuing to build up the family company. He plans on staying in Saskatchewan as he believes it is a great place for multiple business ventures and opportunities.

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