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?
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.