The recipient of this year’s USSU Engaged Young Alumni Award, Chris Hengen-Braun (BComm’11) is a staunch ambassador for the U of S and an engaged mentor, coach and community volunteer.
Chris earned his degree from the Edwards School of Business. He began his career as a financial security advisor and is currently the director of business development for Freedom 55 Financial. He is a certified health insurance specialist and membership chair for Advocis North Central Saskatchewan Chapter.
Chris’s journey as a business student was not without trials. In his first year, he applied for the Edwards Business Students’ Society, but was not accepted.
Disappointed but undeterred, Chris remained resolved to be an active member of the business student community. The following year, he got involved with JDC West, a western Canadian student business case competition.
“JDC West was the saviour that kept me in commerce,” said Chris. “School became a lot of fun.” He also credits his experience with JDC West for learning more about public speaking and time management. “It’s one of the best things that gets you suited for the work world.”
The JDC West experience was so valuable for Chris that he returned to the competition as a coach after graduating, leading the entrepreneurship team and the non-profit team. “I love it,” he said. “I try to give the students the lay of the land; it’s going to be one of the most difficult things you’ve done, but you’ll feel so exhilarated when you finish your final presentation.”
One criterion for a student to be considered for the USSU Engaged Young Alumni Award is that they must be actively involved in their community; Chris has embodied this condition in exemplary fashion. Like many volunteers, Chris is inspired to give back to causes and organizations about which he is passionate.
The Edwards School of Business remains close to his heart. In addition to serving as a coach for JDC West, Chris coached the Edwards team for the Royal Roads Case Competition, conducts “lunch-n-learns”, and participates in Resumania and the annual Edwards networking event. Through Freedom 55, Chris also supports the annual Edwards School Business Formal.
Football has also long been a passion for Chris. He played for five years with the Saskatoon Hilltops, and now coaches high school football, as well as the Saskatoon Valkyries Western Women’s Canadian Football League. “Coach H-B” led the Canadian national team at the 2013 Women’s World Cup in Finland. Chris also works as a commentator for the Hilltops games on CJWW radio and supports with their annual golf tournament.
Outside of business and football, Chris also volunteers with the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan, supporting its radiothon.
In the spirit of his coaching background, Chris hopes that others will follow his example and give back to what’s important to them. “Giving back is going to help you out in your career, teach you life lessons, and give you a different perspective,” he said. “It makes you a more well-rounded person.”