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How Nastassia Bukina juggles work and the Evening MBA

Nastassia Bukina is an accomplished professional living and working downtown Toronto. This year, she made the decision to apply for Rotman’s Evening MBA program in order to earn her degree part-time while continuing to work. During the application process, all of our applicants are automatically considered for entrance awards, and Natassia’s application was particularly outstanding. She is one of four winners of a Forte Fellowship Award, part of one million dollars in entrance awards available to Rotman Morning & Evening MBA students. We sat down to talk to her about the experience so far.

People decide to earn an MBA for a variety of reasons. With Nastassia’s background in engineering and business, she already had experience with problem solving and analytical challenges, but she needed something more. “I felt like I had a gap in strategic thinking and leadership. I thought I could either learn these skills organically on the job or I could fast-track and learn through an MBA program.”

Nastassia Bukina, Rotman Evening MBA student

Nastassia Bukina, Rotman Evening MBA student

Classes in the Morning & Evening MBAs take place two days a week, either before work from 7-8:59 am or after work in the evening from 6:30-8:30 pm in downtown Toronto. That format was very appealing to Nastassia. “One major benefit of this program is that you are able to continue working and study during your mornings or evenings. That way everything you learn in the classroom can be taken back to work the next day. Or vice versa!”

It’s not just the timing of the classes that appealed, though. Each MBA class is made up of talented, accomplished professionals from a wide range of industries. When asked about the most rewarding part of the program so far, she was quick to point to her exceptional classmates. “We have an amazing group. We’re very social and there is true camaraderie in our group. When things go well we all celebrate together. On the flip side, if we’re in the middle of exams everyone is very helpful –  a classmate actually hosted a tutorial session for the group once. Everyone is very supportive and that makes it a lot easier.”  Her new network of professionals from different backgrounds helps Nastassia get the most out of her degree, but they’re also helpful back at work, too. “If you’re having trouble at work you have tremendous resources at school that you can use to bounce ideas off of; people who might have more insights into an area you’re not familiar with.”

Earning an MBA while you work is relevant and rewarding, but it’s also a lot of hard work. “It is what you make of it,” Nastassia said. “I think to get the most benefit out of the program you have to be involved. Make connections with your classmates and participate in class. There are a lot of clubs and case competitions that are offered at Rotman.” Case competitions allow students to test their skills and knowledge in real-time. “I’m working on a few case competitions at the moment. It’s an interesting contrast to things we learn in class and is a great opportunity to work with your classmates to apply theoretical concepts to real life scenarios.”

If you’ve been considering applying for Rotman’s Morning MBA or Evening MBA programs, Nastassia has some parting wisdom. “What I found to be most helpful was coming to Rotman and seeing what it’s like for myself. Talk to admissions, go to coffee chats, attend an actual class, and talk to current students and alumni.”

You can learn more about Rotman’s Morning & Evening MBAs here.

Intensive Weeks, the MBA Experience, and Balance

One of the best way to learn what an MBA is like before you start class is to speak with current and past students in the program. Recently we sat down with two outstanding students in Rotman’s Evening MBA to ask them about their experiences. Both Casey Yang and Nastassia Bukina are recipients of Forte Fellowship, part of the one million dollars in entrance awards available to Rotman Morning & Evening MBA students.

Casey Yang, Rotman Evening MBA student

Casey Yang, Rotman Evening MBA student

Casey Yang is a finance professional currently working in capital markets. “I came to Rotman to meet different people with different backgrounds,” she explained. “All my classmates are at the top of their own fields and are all great students and professionals.”

“It’s been almost four years since I finished my undergraduate degree in Engineering,” said Nastassia Bukina, who works in project management tackling complex problems. “I felt like I had a gap in strategic thinking and leadership. We all come into the program with different objectives. I believe that if you have an open mind you can walk away with a lot more than what you bargained for.”

Classes for the Morning and Evening MBA programs take place over 32 months, twice a week. Morning students attend class from 7:00 – 8:59 am, and Evening students from 6:30 – 8:30 pm. This schedule helps busy professionals fit a degree in around their work and personal lives. “We all have a career, we all have to take time off to come here to study, and most of us also have a family. It sometimes becomes a little bit difficult to balance all of those things,” Casey pointed out. “But it is a very excellent experience because it brings you a lot of opportunities and experience that it’s not very possible to have outside of Rotman.”

When we spoke to Casey and Nastassia they were at the tail end of an intensive week where they complete 1-2 courses quickly.  “We just completed a course on Leading People in Organizations,” Nastassia said. “It’s all about leadership, teams, and motivation.  I’m currently helping to transform a department so a lot of the concepts we learned in class were extremely relevant!”

Nastassia Bukina, Rotman Evening MBA student

Nastassia Bukina, Rotman Evening MBA student

One of the benefits of the intensive week is that students can learn a great deal in a short period of time, but there are other benefits, too. Casey was quick to point out the relationships she could develop. “I would say the beauty of the intensive week is you spend more than eight hours a day with your classmates. You really get to know them, not just say hi every day and go back home. You talk to them about their background and exchange ideas.”

The diverse backgrounds of her classmates was key for Casey. “My classmates here majored in engineering, majoring in health science, in law. They can provide a lot of ideas I had never thought of, which is pretty amazing to me.”

Both women recommended talking to current or past students to get a feel for the program. “I think if someone is interested, I would encourage them to take a more hands-on approach,” Nastassia said. “Talk to admissions, go to coffee chats, attend an actual class, and talk to current students and alumni.”

Casey’s advice for people thinking about applying was to think about the future. “This program is very rewarding once you get started.”

Speak to a member of our admissions team one-on-one to receive personalized help with your application, or attend an upcoming admissions event.

Test Out Your Skills With Case Competitions

A combination of academic excellence and a global reputation makes the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto Canada’s top business school. There are so many ways for MBA students to customize their experience at Rotman. One excellent way is through case competitions where students can test their skills and knowledge in real time. Chris Daniel, Morning MBA Class of 2019 competed in the MLSE Case Competition in October. In this blog post, he shares his enthusiasm about the value of case competitions and how they enhance the learning experience beyond the classroom.

Apply Your Knowledge

In the MLSE Case Competition hosted by the Rotman Marketing Association and the Rotman Sports Business Association, teams of five students pitched new partnership opportunities for the sporting franchise giant. Teams had one week to analyze and prepare recommendations to MLSE executives. Out of the 15 teams that competed, one team was comprised of entirely Part-Time MBA students.

The Part Time MBA Team finishes in the top 5! (From left to right, Suraj Bhardwaj, Morning MBA 19, Fraser Scott Evening MBA 19, Mihae Ahn, Evening MBA 19, Aditya Ramesh, Morning MBA 19, Chris Daniel, Morning MBA 19)

Although he had just begun the program a month prior, the skills and concepts from the core courses were immediately applied throughout this case. During his first intensive week, Chris took RSM 2607: Managerial Negotiations. He described it as “extremely relevant in my role.” The case involved understanding different organizations that MLSE would be in contact with and developing the right approach to the negotiation strategy for each of these parties.

The knowledge from this course and others is also extremely valuable to his day-to-day professional life. For example, Chris is “constantly negotiating for internal and external resources depending on the project that I am working on. After taking Negotiations, I learned how to approach these conversations more effectively.” Another example of utilizing knowledge that was gained was with RSM 1360: Leading People in Organizations. “The one thing that stood out for me from leading people in organizations was the decision making process. Having a framework of best practices has “helped make my meetings more efficient by using concepts learned to ensure that the right decision makers are in the room at the right time.”

Different Perspectives

During the MBA core curriculum, students are placed in groups based on their education and work experience which brings diversity and multiple perspectives to tackling any problem. The Morning & Evening MBA Class of 2019 students has working professionals with established roots in the industry noted by an average work experience of 6 years prior to starting the program. Chris explains that this is so beneficial “since the Class of 2019 has a great mix of experiences, personalities, and backgrounds, we all work extremely well together.” This was highlighted by the composition of the Part-Time MBA team in the case competition which comprised of two marketing managers, an insurance underwriter, an engineer and a consultant.

There are many reasons why the Rotman Morning MBA attracts diversity. Palak Sharma, Morning MBA Class of 2019 comes from an engineering background which lends to a strong foundation in critical reasoning and logic building. She believes that “a Rotman MBA will help me adapt these skills to a broader range of subjects in order to become a well-rounded business leader.” The cohort structure for the first half of the program allows friendships developed to transform into a powerful lifelong network.

Showcase Your Skills

Following the case competition was an exclusive opportunity for participants to network with MLSE representatives. A career in the sports marketing industry is something that Chris is considering upon graduation and “this is what makes case competitions unique. Instead of just having a coffee chat, I’m able to showcase my thought process when faced with a specific challenge and pitch ideas to sports executives.” Competitions such as these provide a way for students to make an impression as well as allowing Rotman to showcase the high caliber of its students to potential employers.

Teams presenting in the final round of the MLSE Competition

Chris’s biggest piece of advice is that “”you get out of the program what you put into it, and more specifically to take advantage of the unique opportunities that a Rotman MBA provides you with.”

To learn more about the Morning & Evening MBA program, visit our website.

 

Happy Holidays From The Rotman Team

With snow covered streets and festive lights everywhere, it can only mean one thing: the holidays are around the corner! As another year comes to a close at the Rotman School, we can celebrate this year’s achievements and look forward to milestones in the new year.  We’re excited to be celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Master of Finance program in 2017. As well, we’ve admitted our first students to the Morning & Evening MBA for the class of 2020.

After the holidays, we have a list of three things to consider as part of your new year’s resolution:

  1. Learn More About Our Programs For Working Professionals: At Rotman, we have four diverse degree programs that can help you advance in your career. Attend one of our admissions events in the new year for the Morning & Evening MBA, Executive MBA, Global Executive MBA or Master of Finance
  2. Read about our students’ experiences at Rotman: Our Working Professionals Blog gives you an exclusive insight into how our students are leveraging their Rotman degrees in their daily lives.
  3. Apply!: Are you ready to take the next step in your career? Apply to Rotman today!

Our offices are closed from December 21, 2016 to January 2, 2017. We look forward to seeing you in 2017.

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From all of us at Rotman’s Specialized Programs Recruitment and Admissions team, we wish you all happy holidays!