Interview with Oliver Scholfield, UBC Forestry’s Olympic Field Hockey Star

Oliver Scholfield wearing Canada's Tokyo Olympics jersey
Oliver Scholfield, Olympic Field Hockey Star and UBC Natural Resource Conservation alumnus

UBC Forestry’s Oliver Scholfield brought national pride home after representing Canada in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. While balancing a full-time hockey schedule, he has also been applying his knowledge and experience from Forestry to work in companies that create more sustainable and impactful development processes.

Just recently, Oliver caught up with us to reflect on his journey studying Natural Resource Conservation with Global Perspectives at the Faculty of Forestry. He delved into how he applied his degree to the business world, what his experiences in UBC were like and shared some advice for current Forestry students.

Q: What did you study at UBC, and when did you graduate?

“I studied Natural Resource Conservation with the Global Perspectives major and I graduated in 2015. I then went on to complete the Master of Management program at Sauder in 2017.”

Q: What were some of your favourite parts of the Natural Resource Conservation program?

“I really enjoyed the diversity of subject matters and the breadth of topics covered in the program, as well as the mix of both theoretical courses and practical studies. Tied in with all of that were some fantastic professors who were so passionate about what they were teaching.”

Q: How did you manage to balance your commitment to the UBC Thunderbirds Field Hockey Team, as well as your academic studies?

“I was able to lean on teammates, classmates and friends to help get everything done. It was a lot of hard work but in the end, it was very rewarding and enjoyable.”

Q: In what ways were the UBC Forestry faculty and staff able to support you during this time, and what tips would you give to current forestry students who are also managing multiple commitments and responsibilities? 

“I’m grateful for the help that Chiara and the rest of the Student Services team gave me to help organize my schedule with my training and games and how understanding my professors were in working around my travel schedule. Without these types of support systems in place, it would have been a lot more difficult to manage everything. For anyone going through the same situation, I would recommend working with the Student Services team to set out a plan for how to manage everything and also speak to your professors candidly about other commitments and how you plan on managing everything. In my experience, everyone was very understanding and willing to work with me to come up with a solution.”

Q: The UBC Forestry community is a small, close-knit faculty – what are some of your favourite memories from your undergraduate studies, and how has being a part of this community impacted you?

“Honestly just spending so much time in the Forestry building with my friends and classmates was a blast. It’s such a nice building and there is always so much going on in there that it was an easy place to hang out and study. I’ve also been lucky enough to stay connected with people from my program over the years which is really nice.”

Q: What inspired you to pursue a Master’s degree in Business Management, and where are you working now?

“I wanted to be able to take the technical and specific subject-matter knowledge I learnt in Forestry and apply it to the business world. I believe in the need for impact-focused business operations and a big step back from the idea that financial profits are all that matter. Since graduating, I have worked as a consultant on various projects with small community lumber mills and am now working at a boutique development company that’s looking to shift the traditional development process to be more impactful.”

Q: How did all of your UBC experience, from undergraduate to graduate studies, prepare you for your career?

“My undergrad gave me a technical knowledge of conservation efforts as well as a greater understanding of larger social issues, whereas my Master’s degree provided more specific business skills and an understanding of organizational behaviours. I think being able to combine all of these, along with skills learnt in the sporting environment has prepared me for my career and life in general.”

Q: What was your field hockey career like after graduation, and what was the journey like to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics? 

“After graduating, I have been fortunate enough to balance a full-time field hockey schedule with part-time or contract-based work. I’ve also had the opportunity to play semi-professionally in both Spain and Germany during that time, which were both incredible experiences. Overall, the journey to the Tokyo Olympics was a long one but very rewarding in the end for me. While we were disappointed with our performance and results, the overall experience of the Games was something I’ll never forget.”

Q: What is a word of advice you would like to share with current and incoming UBC Forestry students? 

“Try to embrace everything that the faculty and the university have to offer. There is so much going on so try to take advantage of whatever you can because the experiences you’ll have and the knowledge you’ll gain will be hard to match.”

Q: Now that the 2021 Tokyo Olympic games are over, what does your next adventure look like?

“I’m going to continue to play field hockey for Team Canada and hopefully make it to the Paris Olympics in 2024. Since the next Olympics are only 3 years away now, everything’s coming up much sooner than usual. Our qualifiers for the World Cup are actually this coming January and our Olympic qualifiers will be the following year!”

Oliver Scholfield participating in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Interested in playing an active and impactful role in protecting our natural environments? Learn more about Oliver’s Natural Resource Conservation program below!

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