Author Archives: Fiona

Part-Time Master of Finance Studies, Full Work-Life Balance

Stephanie Chow, MFin '16, CPA, CA

Stephanie Chow, MFin ’16, CPA, CA

Stephanie Chow is a working professional in this year’s new Rotman Master of Finance class. Entering the MFin program, she received an entrance award* based on her exceptional merit. She is also an Investor Relations Financial Analyst with Tricon Capital Group Inc. With the admissions process still fresh on her mind, we asked her about her decision to choose our part-time program.

How did you get started in finance?

I’ve always loved corporate finance (I was a TA for the Introduction to Corporate Finance course in my undergrad) and I actually started my professional working life as an auditor at Ernst and Young. I was part of the Asset Management group where I specialized in Funds and Broker Dealers. I learned a lot about the private equity space during my three years at the firm. Eventually, I found my way to Tricon Capital Group and was part of their back office for about a year. The company has been very supportive of my career growth and management saw the potential in me to be part of the face of Tricon. I’m currently the Investor Relations contact for the company and I work closely with the CFO on all corporate finance transactions.

What is the lifestyle for you as a woman in finance?

Busy! I’m lucky in the sense that I’m not at the stage in life where I have other bigger responsibilities (such as children) so I have the luxury of flexibility. On the other hand, that flexibility made me feel as though I had no excuse to take a break. I used to work all the time and eventually I realized that jamming through the hours was not a healthy lifestyle. However, in a highly competitive industry such as finance, no one will ever stop you from working hard! I had to learn to make time for other things in life. So now, I’m still busy, but time is used more productively and I get to see my loved ones, spend some time on my hobbies, work towards a degree, and of course, sleep.

When you researched the program what events did you attend, what did you find useful in your search?

When I was researching about B-schools, I attended two conferences which were extremely helpful:

1) Forté Foundation MBA conference: I met Elizabeth Duffy-MacLean, Rotman MFin Managing Director, at this event. She was very helpful and I learned a lot about the MFin program and Rotman’s great support system for women in finance through her.

2) QS World MBA Tour: Remember to register for this event ahead of time if you plan on doing one on one interviews with representatives of different schools. I found the interviews to be very valuable as they gave me insight into the programs from around the world. I had several schools on my list and I reached out to each of their recruiting offices ahead of time. Some of them were able to arrange for an alumni to meet with me and I received great advice from these meetings.

In addition, I attended the Rotman Open House** for the MFin program. I met other professionals who were interested in the program and I was able to get a sense of the caliber of people who may become my future classmates. Needless to say, I was very impressed! Remember to get the contact info of the members in the recruiting team!

Finally, recent alumni of the program would be your best source of information. They can educate you on topics that you cannot find in a pamphlet, such as what the students are like, information on the curriculum and workload, overall culture of the school, etc.

What was it that attracted you to a part-time MFin program versus a full-time option?

The part-time option was more attractive to me because I believe experience and academics are both equally important. The part-time option allows me to build experience while I work towards a degree. Additionally, I want to be part of a strong network of professionals who live and breathe finance and learn from their experiences in the working world.

Best piece of advice for a woman working in finance?

Speak up!

We all want to be super woman; I pride myself in being able to multi task and juggle ten things at a time. However, we are not super heroes. Learn to speak up and ask for help! There is no shame in reaching out to your loved ones for a bit of support. When you are well- rested and less stressed, it makes them happier as well!

This is extremely important in any industry. As women, we’re naturally great listeners. What most of us need to work on is to speak up and share your opinion with others. Unfortunately, in the finance industry, we’re usually outnumbered by men. This definitely makes it harder for us because the environment is sometimes intimidating. That doesn’t mean you should question yourself and sit in silence! Your opinion is just as valuable as that man next to you. As for the men, help us out! Next time, ask the lady next to you what her opinion is and offer her the chance to speak up.

I highly recommend the book “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” by Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook.

* New Master of Finance Women’s Excellence Awards recently announced! Details here.
** The annual Rotman Open House is happening this year on October 18, 2014 from 10 AM – 3 PM. Register now.

Why the Rotman MFin? Conversations with a Rotman MFin alumna [Part II of IV]

Have a peek at what one alumna’s journey to the Rotman Master of Finance was like. We sat down with Wen Lei, CFA, Manager, Asset and Liability Management at Manulife Financial and recent Rotman MFin alumna for a wide-ranging conversation on her career, influences and the Rotman MFin program. This post is the second in a four-part series. Check out her first post and stay tuned for the following posts!

Wen Lei, Rotman MFin

Wen Lei, MFin, CFA

How did you find about the Rotman MFin? You finished your undergrad in 2006 and started the MFin in 2012. What did you do in the 6 years in between?

The first time that I heard about the MFin was in 2007 while I was working at CIBC in risk management. It’s actually also the year that the MFin program launched. I had 2 co-workers at CIBC in my department at the time who took the MFin, one of them in the inaugural year and the other the year after.

At the time, I had just graduated from university, and was still in a junior role. I was taking my CFA, so I was hoping to finish that before pursuing a Master’s degree.

I had already kind of planned out my career path; what I want to accomplish by what age. My goal was that by age 30, I have to finish all my formal schooling.

Anyway, I worked at CIBC for a couple of years before I switched over to TD where I continued with my CFA. In terms of work, I did pretty well at TD. I was promoted directly to manager from analyst, so I didn’t have to go through the additional step of senior analyst.

The opportunity at Manulife came along when as my former boss reached out to me. I thought it was a good move. So I took it. At the same time, I also became a CFA charter holder. That was when I looked seriously at doing either an MFin or an MBA.

Right away?

Yes, right away. I had that goal to finish everything before 30! My advice is for people to really know what they want and to take the steps to work towards it.

What made you decide on the MFin vs an MBA?

I was already a people manager – I had managed a staff of eight. I knew I wanted to be in finance. Like a lot of my peers in class, I wanted to learn something deeper specific to finance. The MFin was definitely the way to go for me.

Also, I compared the three programs in the city. There are only 3 schools that offered the MFin in Toronto. One is geared towards people who wanted to finish their CFA program, another is a full-time program. And I looked at U of T. It does charge the most, but you got these fantastic, stellar professors.

The Rotman MFin is part-time, has amazing professors, and the location is right where I needed to be. Classes are small, which is what I wanted. I had fun. I got to know a lot of smart people in class, which proved that I made the right choice.

If you’re interested to learn more about the Rotman Master of Finance program, visit our website at

Apply to start your MFin this September. This time next year you’ll be half way towards achieving your degree. Merit based entrance awards are available.  Contact us with any questions.

What’s it like as a woman in finance? Conversations with a Rotman MFin alumna [Part I of IV]

Wen Lei, Rotman MFin

Wen Lei, MFin, CFA

What is it like as a woman in finance? We caught up with Wen Lei, CFA, Manager, Asset and Liability Management at Manulife Financial and recent Rotman Master of Finance alumna for a wide-ranging conversation on her career, influences and the Rotman MFin program. This post is the first in a four part series. Stay tuned!

How did you choose finance for your career?

In my undergraduate studies, I had an excellent instructor, Karen Chiykowski. She was very influential in my finance career choice.

Were you interested in finance before?

No. I had no idea what I wanted to do exactly. Truthfully, I just thought that I wanted a business degree because of the job options. You had a few fields to choose from. More than half of the students went into accounting. I had no interest in accounting at all. I did quite terribly actually. I think it was my only C+. I hated it! I liked finance the best. Karen was really good. She motivated me and definitely kicked off my interest in the area. It’s not 100% just numbers; you have the quantitative and qualitative aspects at the same time.

There are relatively few women in the finance industry. Thoughts?

I don’t feel disadvantaged at all, especially in Toronto. My boss is a woman. I had a couple of women mentors. In school we had female professors, a lot of whom had also been practitioners in the industry.

I think a lot of women go into other fields by choice. Traditionally, we might look at ourselves as better in literature, psychology, not necessarily in math nor science.

What character do you need to succeed in finance?

You have to be able to compete in finance. You have to be hard-working. You have to be driven. You have to be motivated all the time. Particularly in Toronto, we have more CFA charter holders than New York! Everyone works hard to get in to get a good job. You just have to be very assertive about yourself. Very self-motivated.

Would you have any advice for women thinking about going to finance?

Find yourself a mentor. Join some sort of organization. For example, Women in Capital Markets is very good. Having a good mentor is important. I mentor some people too. Right now, I’m in a formal mentorship through WCM as an “apprentice”. Actually, my mentor is also a Rotman MFin alumna who graduated in 2012.

What value do you find in a mentor?

I find women very supportive. Most mentors have more experience than you. For example, my mentor has been in the industry for more than 15 years. She has a pretty good career path. She did the Rotman MFin. You’ll find commonalities with your mentor. You’ll also learn about their career path, their experience, how they get to where they are right now. You learn from that. And, if you have issues or problems or questions, maybe they can help. Maybe they have had the same experience or puzzle before. They’ll help give you some kind of solution or insight that could be useful.

If you’re interested to learn more about the Rotman Master of Finance program, visit our website at

Apply to start your MFin this September. This time next year you’ll be half way towards achieving your degree. Contact us with any questions.

Tuesday tips: Getting ready for your MBA or MFin application

Fiona Duley, Assistant Director, Rotman Master of Finance, Admissions

Fiona Duley, Assistant Director, Rotman Master of Finance, Admissions

Hello, my name is Fiona. I can’t believe I have been recruiting for 7 years now. At Rotman, I started working with the Morning & Evening MBA programs and am now deep into building a dynamic Master of Finance class for the coming September.

This is the first of our “Tuesday Tips” series. Here, you’ll get tips and advice that will help you put forth your best application.

The most common concern I encounter is that people don’t even know where to begin with the application. What does it entail? Here are a few basic tips to help move you forward. 

  1. Research. Talk to current students and alumni. Check out other programs to find out what’s the right fit for you.
  2. References. They are professional and should be able to offer excellent insights into your work experience and ethic.
  3. Essays. They’re not that daunting! Read the questions carefully, plan out answers, and have a friend help edit.
  4. Interview. Prepare for the interview by thinking about why you want to join the program and what you bring that will enrich the class.
  5. Attend events. They’re the perfect venue to meet current students, alumni and to network. Seize the opportunity and ask questions.
  6. Questions? Ask us! We want to share our knowledge with you. Contact us directly. We would be happy to hear from you.