Thomas Spraggs says Trinity Western's MBA program helped him 'to think more clearly about business principles and analysis, similar to how I think about legal analysis'
Education program helped fine tune what's needed for an ethically operated business that will thrive
A former competitive swimmer, Thomas Spraggs first dove into law on the Gold Coast of Australia. It was there, at Bond University, where the Port Moody native completed his degree. Being Down Under allowed him to stay active in his sport year-round while pursuing the field his father, Tom, introduced him to.
Spraggs’s father specialized in personal injury and founded Coquitlam’s first law firm, Spraggs & Co., in 1971. In 2003, after practising law in Alberta and the Yukon, Spraggs was admitted to the Law Society of B.C. He joined his father’s firm, helping people involved in motor-vehicle crashes seek justice.
It’s work he deeply cares about to this day.
“We help people who are dealing with pain and discomfort because of an accident and those who have very serious injuries, whose lives or whose family’s lives are irrevocably changed,” Spraggs says. “There’s a regrettable amount of fatality work. We help people who have lost a loved one in an accident. It’s work that is very emotionally demanding but that needs to be done.
“I love helping people,” he adds. “There’s a tremendous sense of purpose.”
Spraggs’s work within the family firm took on greater urgency in 2004, when his father was seriously injured in a car crash. “I was in a position to help him and was grateful he wasn’t dead," Spraggs says. “I was feeling more gratitude than despair. My plan wasn’t to do anything except be a good helper. I jumped into running his practice, pouring myself into working as hard as I could.”
His practice took off. He spent a majority of his time over the next several years in court, helping individuals and families reach successful outcomes amid heart-wrenching circumstances.
Holding firm to his guiding principles of humility and enthusiasm and his belief in being a “servant leader” — helping others reach their greatest potential and treating others the way you want to be treated yourself — Spraggs was also trying to help the firm grow.
He devoured business books, doing as much independent learning as he could. Later, he hired consultants to help bridge the gap between his general understanding of business processes to practical applications to improve efficiency, manage risk, and enhance prosperity.
“I realized that self-directed learning can only take you so far in a new area,” Spraggs says. “When you graduate from law school, they don’t tell you how to run a practice. They don’t tell you how to make money or how to run an ethically based business.”
Langley’s Trinity Western University (TWU) was recommended to Spraggs by one of his siblings who'd studied there. Spraggs didn’t need any convincing once he discovered that TWU offers a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) program. He started the two-year course in 2011 that has benefitted him — as well as his business.
“What was really amazing was that literally the moment I started taking courses, I was able to apply knowledge to my business,” Spraggs says. “I’m able to think more clearly about business principles and analysis, similar to how I think about legal analysis. I’m able to apply a strategic business lens to the practice of law, while thinking about how to serve the client first.”
He completed his MBA in 2013, the same year, sadly, in which his father passed away. Spraggs & Co. now has expanded from the five or so employees it had when the firm launched to about 40 today; it is outgrowing its office space.
For Spraggs, being an MBA student at TWU provided more than concrete business skills and insight that have helped the firm thrive.
“It also gave me a place where you could talk about life purpose,” he says. “They didn’t give you any answers or tell you what to think but rather it was a safe place to explore ethical business and business through a values approach, which was really therapeutic for me at the time. Before that, I hadn’t reconciled that business and ethics and values and law are all connected. It gave me a very healthy picture of how to prosper and share that prosperity and help improve the lives of those around you.”
For more information about TWU’s MBA visit www.twu.ca/mba.