50 Remarkable Alumni: Stu Chahal forges leadership career in IT

UFV2024 0026 50thAlumni Stu Chahal

Stu Chahal’s time at UFV allowed him to gain expertise and experience in both business and computing—something that has served him well.

Launching his career with Cisco Systems, an IT industry giant focused mostly on networking infrastructure such as routers and switches, in 2019 he transferred his talents to Splunk, a software company focused on providing data solutions that protect the security and resiliency of enterprise digital systems.

And in a twist, his corporate worlds collided when Splunk was acquired by Cisco earlier this year for $28 billion, the third largest software acquisition in history.


A fast career start

Stu hit the ground running after graduating with a Bachelor of Computer Systems degree with a minor in business administration in 2005.  His early career success and commitment to volunteerism earned him UFV’s 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award.

“The co-op education program at UFV was a foundational element to my initial success in the corporate world.”

Stu firmly believes he was already career-ready when he graduated because of the co-op education work terms he completed while still a student.

“The co-op education program at UFV was a foundational element to my initial success in the corporate world. Cisco valued this experience, and it helped me stand out during the hiring process. Further, since UFV was a Cisco academy, it allowed me to understand and learn how to work with Cisco technology while still a student. Many of the places I was employed at for my co-op terms resulted in part-time work afterward, and it was great to be paid a higher wage than jobs that were not in my field of interest.”

Stu quickly climbed the corporate ladder, moving to Raleigh, NC for Cisco’s new hire program in 2005, then returned to Vancouver in ’06 and rose through the ranks at an impressive pace before assuming the role of director of partner operations in 2014. He then became director of partner sales and operations, then director, country sales strategy and business development for Canada, and finally director, commercial sales acceleration.

At Splunk, he went from regional sales director to senior sales director for the Americas to area vice president for the Americas.

“I joined Splunk because I wanted to better understand the software side of IT and work for a fast-growing organization with market-leading technology,” he notes. He will now bring that valuable experience to the newly united companies.


Education the foundation for professional growth

As his career was taking off, Stu also took time to earn a dual MBA offered by Queen’s and Cornell universities.

“That was an intense two-year experience with lots of early mornings and visits to Queen’s and Cornell campuses. I wanted to build on and validate my skill set,” he says.

And he credits UFV with preparing him well for both his career and his further studies.

“My UFV experience was a big factor in my success — it helped me obtain the right skills and a strong foundation that I needed in the early stages of my career.”

“My combination of computer systems and business studies allowed me to better synthesize how organizations could benefit or optimize value from technology, and how to translate that into business outcomes for a company.

“During my MBA, the foundation I brought from my UFV studies allowed me to quickly understand some of the topics we covered, especially in business strategy and marketing.”

“Taking courses with small class sizes gives you more access to professors. Use it! You also get closer working relationships with your fellow students,” he says. “Take any opportunity for any sort of co-op option or practicum offered within your degree. Getting real-life experience in your early 20s will differentiate you as you embark on your professional career journey.”

Today, Stu eagerly advises students to leverage the advantages that UFV offers. And he’s grateful to UFV’s Paul Franklin, who was the head of the Computer Information Systems degree program.

“He encouraged me to transfer to UFV from Langara so that I could finish my degree and supported me in applying for the Cisco job opening.”

UFV provided Stu with the educational foundation he needed.

“My UFV experience was a big factor in my success — it helped me obtain the right skills and a strong foundation that I needed in the early stages of my career.”

Volunteerism has also been important for Stu. In 2012, Cisco awarded Stu the Americas (North & South America wide) Volunteer of the Year Award for his contributions.

And while he’s achieved all these milestones in his professional life, his personal life reflects that safe level of success. He married his wife, Deep, in 2008, and they are now the proud parents of a son and a daughter.

“When you’re equally passionate about multiple areas, it never feels like you are balancing them. I’m extremely passionate about my family, work, and volunteering.”


More than 50,000 people have graduated from UFV since 1974. Over the next year, we’ll be introducing you to 50 remarkable alumni.