Tag Archives: Entrepreneurship

How a GEMBA student went from digital marketing to big picture strategy

Jean George hadn’t thought she would earn an MBA. She became more exposed to the idea when her brother was working on his own MBA applications. She was happy for him but at that point she was not entirely sure why he thought it was necessary – he was already an engineer with a busy consulting schedule. “Watching my brother embrace change forced me to analyze my own professional life.  I had become very routine and I was a bit too comfortable. Looking back, I was definitely bored,” she said.

Jean George is currently earning her Global Executive MBA at Rotman

Jean George is currently earning her Global Executive MBA at Rotman

Three months later she learned about the global MBA from her now fellow classmate John Thomas, changed her mind about pursuing an MBA and entered Rotman’s Global Executive MBA program. “I had no idea that an MBA could be served in this format,” she said.  The ability to work and take classes in different countries around the world were key factors that convinced her to go back to school.  Jean, who had worked as a digital marketing consultant, had picked up a client in Dubai. “I wanted to do more of that type of work,” she explained. “I actually asked my client how I could get more engagements like that one either within Dubai or other markets and they flat-out said an MBA would be helpful because it translates across all countries. Everyone understands what an MBA is.”

Going back to school years after her undergrad was daunting, but Jean quickly discovered that this was the best possible time for a change. “I definitely appreciate it more. The last time I was in school I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. Now I know where I’m going to use stats, I understand how valuable economics is. I can respect finance and accounting because I’ve actually used them.” Between working full time for Rotman’s Creative Destruction Lab and attending classes across five continents, her schedule is packed full. “Life doesn’t give you a break, that’s not how it works. I prefer working and being in school because I’ve actually taken things directly from class and then applied them right away. It really reinforces the learning. It forces you to change your perspective.”

Getting too comfortable is something Jean wants to avoid. “I got to a point with digital marketing where I felt I couldn’t learn anything else. I wasn’t challenged and I stopped growing. Now I’ve been very humbled by the fact that there’s a lot I don’t know.”

In fact, that’s part of why Jean decided to apply for the Global Executive MBA rather than any of the other programs offered at the School. “I had travelled a lot personally, but that doesn’t mean you know an area from a business standpoint. I’ve been to some of the module destinations previously on vacation, but going there for school was a totally different experience. I got to see things and learn things I probably wouldn’t have looked for otherwise.”

One of the most valuable aspects of the Global Executive MBA are the people you meet in your class.  “I have been able learn just as much, if not more from my peers as some of the classes.  Doing an MBA you are able to connect with individuals you may have never come across on your own.  One of the courses, capstone, emphasized this action of connecting with individuals outside your direct network.” The capstone project involves applying what you’ve learned in your MBA to a real work problem. Jean’s class was asked to interview individuals based on the topic they were assigned.

“The topic my group had was AI, and I had interviewed 3 individuals. From those conversations I realized the importance of AI and definitely wanted to work in the space,” Jean said. “I didn’t know a lot about artificial intelligence, but I realized it was going to impact our society and the job market. And I thought how am I going to ride this change in terms of the skillset that I can provide? I’m not an engineer or a coder.”

Daniel Mulet, the Associate Director from the Creative Destruction Lab, worked in the field and was one of the individuals she interviewed.  After their conversation he suggested she meet their team, and not long after she became their Marketing Manager. “I’m happy to see that I do have a place in the tech sector. Being an entrepreneur, I like the start up space. It’s a little bit messy, the borders are not very well-defined, but I enjoy it.  I’m happy to know that there’s a space for someone like me who isn’t an engineer. I’ve been able make a change in my line of work before graduating. That’s a good feeling.” This all came about by having a thirty minute conversation with someone outside of my network.

Jean with her GEMBA class during their India module - an MBA is more than just accounting and finance

Jean with her GEMBA class during their India module – an MBA is more than just accounting and finance

We asked Jean if she had any advice for people considering applying to the Global Executive MBA. “You will really get to know yourself.  Throughout the program you are continually put in ambiguous situations. Imagine you’re balancing work, school, travel and group assignments. You’re going to learn a lot about yourself and what you’re good at. I really know what my strengths are now and I know my confidence has gone up because of this program. I have been able to meet people I wouldn’t have otherwise met,  traveled places I’ve never been before, and I got to learn about topics I don’t know if I would have ever naturally come across. If you’re looking for a change, it’s a great way to go about it.”

A member of the Rotman team is always available to personally review your resume and provide one-on-one advice about making your application as strong as possible. Make 2018 the year you earn your MBA.

The Rotman Global Executive MBA: Experiencing the East Asia Module in Shanghai and Hong Kong, China

The Rotman Global Executive MBA at the University of Toronto offers exciting opportunities to study in key business hubs of the world. On this 18-month leadership journey, students learn from successful companies, faculty and business leaders around the globe. Recently, a group of senior managers and entrepreneurs embarked on a two-week East Asia module in the modern business hubs of Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Meeting a Network of Alumni Globally

Alumni and staff in China with the Rotman Global Executive MBA

Alumni and staff in China with the Rotman Global Executive MBA

Vicky Yang, an alumna from the Global Executive MBA program based in Hong Kong invited Rotman Staff and other alumni. Learning about Vicky’s experience during the program and the impact that it had on her career as an entrepreneur was fascinating. She attributed her decision to start her own company to the confidence, learning and experiences she gained during her Global Executive MBA. She keeps a very active and dynamic network that includes U of T alumni, not only from Rotman but from a wide variety of other areas.

Strategic Classes in a Local Context

The first course of the module was Strategic Change and Implementation taught by Brian Golden, Vice-Dean, Professional Programs at Rotman, which focused on a case study of GE’s change and growth under Jim Welsh’s leadership. The class also participated in the Capstone course, Applied Innovation, taught by Grayson Bass. After arriving in Hong Kong, the class attended Operations & Corporate Governance taught by Prof. Joe Milner and David Beatty. The content of the courses was further enhanced by five guest speakers who brought to the class a deep understanding of various industries in Asia. Guest speakers included, Craig Smith, President and Managing Director of Marriot for Asia Pacific and an Global Executive MBA alum.

Professor David Beatty, teaching""

Exciting Site Visits

A group photo at URWORKTo drive home global ways of doing business locally, the program intertwines local visits to dynamic businesses with the course curriculum. The first site visit of the module was hosted by URWORK, a co-working space in China. URWORK is an innovation hub that hosts start-ups and offers services in a wide variety of areas including HR, legal and finance. The class experienced the new and proliferating business of shared work space in China.

The class also visited MRD Dingshi Group in Shanghai, which is an integrated professional design company specializing in architectural design. The class had the opportunity to hear from and ask questions to Mr. Wu, Chairman of MRD Dingshi Group, who also shared his deep understanding of the development of commercial real estate in China.

Group photo at the Hong Kong Stock ExchangeAfter arriving in Hong Kong, the group visited ScotiaBank to learn about its 30 years’ of experience in China. The visit featured executives from the bank who talked about their respective units and the opportunities and challenges in the region.

The final visit for the module was to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, one of the largest financial market operators in the world. Students had the opportunity to further their knowledge of trading in Hong Kong through this visit.

Speaker Series & Networking

Every module hosts a Speaker Series & Networking event, this time Egidio Zarrella, Clients and Innovation Partner at KPMG China addressed the audience with an interactive talk about the economy in China and Hong Kong, the challenges that Hong Kong faces with the rapid digitalization of the financial market and the growth China continues to experience. The focus on innovation and the interactive nature of the talk allowed for lively participation by students and guests alike. After the talk, the networking portion of the event allowed students to grow their network by making new connections.

A collage of photos from the Speaker Series

The Global Executive MBA program at the University of Toronto is an expansive leadership journey that will transform the way you think about your career on the global stage. In addition to learning from East Asia, the program will take you to key business hubs in the Americas, Europe, South Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Want to learn more? Connect with us or visit our website to learn more.

 

Build Something Massive at the Creative Destruction Lab

In today’s rapidly changing world, new innovations and technology are at the forefront of economic growth. Having recognized this early on, the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto has become a leader in developing the next generation of entrepreneurs with the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Major as well as the Creative Destruction Lab. Since its launch in 2012, startup ventures from the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) program have generated over $1 Billion in equity value. We spoke with Yen On, Morning MBA 2016 who currently is the Course Manager at the Creative Destruction Lab. She shares more about what the CDL program is and how MBA students can get involved with the Lab.

Yen On, Morning MBA 2016

The Creative Destruction Lab is made up of three parties who work tightly together over the course of 9 months. First there are the G7/ML7 Fellows who are phenomenal and successful entrepreneurs that advise companies who go through the CDL program. Examples of advisors are Ted Livingston, founder of Kik and Tony Lacavera, founder of Wind Mobile.  Second are early stage technology companies looking to scale their idea into a high growth company. Finally, there are a group of talented MBA students who join through the CDL course where they work with one of these startups during the year.

The MBA Impact

When Yen was a student at Rotman, she was accepted into the CDL course in her third year. She initially wanted to pursue her MBA because she wanted to move up in her company.  “I discovered early on that  there were so many opportunities outside of my industry. I wanted to expand out of the corporate space and make the jump from media to technology,” she explained. The CDL course further propelled Yen to keep an open mind. “Once I was in the CDL course, I realized that my mindset was so similar to the other people in the Lab. Their roll-up-your-sleeves attitude really resonated with me. The work culture was appealing and there is a huge amount of potential in this industry.”

MBA students undertake a variety of tasks including building financial models and developing strategies to ultimately create value for the startups they are working with. With tight 8 week deadlines between objectives, these committed students are instrumental in helping startups achieve those objectives. “Having been through the program, I know how impactful MBA students can be in the Creative Destruction Lab.”

Explore Innovative Opportunities

At Rotman, students learn top management practices from a world renowned faculty but also gain an opportunity to apply their knowledge to real world business problems. The Creative Destruction Lab is a risk free way to experience working in a startup. “People who want to create their own company but don’t know how to can have a trial run and get an inside look at the effort it takes to propel a startup.” It also provides a way for students to explore areas outside of their comfort zone and gain exposure to leaders who have revolutionized their respective industries. “Rotman is truly amazing. I love the fact that we can always be inspired by other people at the school.”

For more information about the Part Time MBA program, visit our website.

Rotman Morning MBA Alumni Field Tests Talking Stickers with Children and Parents in India

On-the-ground update: Team Attollo has landed in Hyderabad, India and is in the midst of actively field testing their Talking Stickers concept that involves a small hand-held device.

Piloting Talking Stickers concept in Hyderabad, India.

Piloting Talking Stickers concept in Hyderabad, India.

The ultimate goal of Attollo Social Enterprise is to improve the vocabulary and communication skills for children in underdeveloped areas around the world. They won the Hult Prize regional finals in Dubai in March with their Talking Stickers idea, and the U of T quarter finals previous to that. Today, they are field testing their concept and preparing for the finals in September that would result in US $1 million to the winning team. The Hult Prize is a competition designed to help launch the ‘most compelling social business ideas’ and to ‘solve the world’s toughest challenges’.

Lak Chinta, one of the four co-founders of Attollo dropped us a few lines yesterday to share their progress so far.

“We are into day five of our field tests. We are finally getting to see progress of parents from urban slums learning with the device, and are engaging children curious to scan and playback sounds. It’s very encouraging.

Parents engaging in field tests for Talking Stickers in Hyderabad, India.

Parents engaging in field tests for Talking Stickers in Hyderabad, India.

Children interacting with Talking Stickers during field tests in Hyderabad, India.

Children interacting with Talking Stickers during field tests in Hyderabad, India.

“We will be meeting last year’s Hult Prize winner NanoHealth this afternoon to understand their slum operations and to observe the community in the same city.

“In the coming week, we will be meeting the local press and government officials as well to discuss and to spread word of our work.”

Welcome to India, Attollo!

Welcome to India, Attollo!

Chinta, his colleagues Jamie Austin, Aisha Bukhari and Peter Cinat met as students while studying in the Rotman Morning MBA program for working professionals. We’re so proud of their social innovation and dedication to improving the lives of children in impoverished communities. We’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for their updates, and cheering them on as they continue their field tests in Hyderabad and in Mombasa, Kenya later this summer.

All photos courtesy of Attollo Social Enterprise. Follow their progress on Twitter.

 

Impact and Intiative at Rotman

This post is an excerpt of an original post from the Rotman Admissions Blog (Full-Time MBA).

On Monday February 2nd  the Women in Management Association (WIMA) student club at Rotman launched the annual WIMA Top 10 gathered to celebrate the achievements of Rotman alumnae.

In the following categories we recognized 10 women who have made outstanding contributions in their field:

  • Business Industry
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Professional Services
  • Public Services
  • Social Impact
WIMA Top 10 Award Winners with Dean Tiff Macklem

WIMA Top 10 Award Winners with Dean Tiff Macklem

How did this all come about? Fourteen years ago, two women saw a gap in women in leadership at the school and decided to do something about it and founded WIMA. Fast forward to today, the WIMA executive saw a gap in recognizing and celebrating the many achievements of our female alumni and WIMA Top10 was born.

This type of leadership is natural for Rotman students; see a ‘problem’, take initiative, and solve it. When we review future applicants to the program we look for the same things. Where in your life have you seen a gap, an issue, or a problem and done something about it? A work example, an extracurricular example, even a personal one all count. The theory goes, if you’re wired this way to have an impact in one area in your life, the likelihood is that you will do it again and again.

Impact is an emerging theme at Rotman. Our Dean Tiff Macklem recently wrote that his vision for the next 5 years is focusing on this very thing. We’ve spent the last number of years with a phenomenal growth story, now we’re turning that into a growth and impact story. Our impact story is the impact of Rotman graduates around the world measured by their success in leading companies, starting companies, the value and jobs they create, the businesses they reinvent and the leadership they provide in society. Additionally, we mean the impact of Rotman thinking and scholarship at management and board tables around the world.

Start thinking about your impact story. Your resume, references, essays are all great ways to signal ways you’ve taken initiative and had an impact.


Our Winter Morning & Evening MBA application deadline closes on February 15, 2015 and we would love to see in your application your impact thus far in your life.

The earlier you apply, the greater your chance of an entrance award. For more tips on submitting a powerful application, review our post on “Inside Scoop on the Professional MBA Application“.

Congratulations to winners of the Hult Prize at U of T

It is with great pride that we congratulate our Hult Prize at U of T quarterfinal winners. Team Attollo is made up of current Rotman Morning MBA students and an alumnus: Lak Chinta, Aisha Bukhari and Peter Cinat.

Hult Prize at U of T winners 2014

Left to right: Rotman Morning MBA alumnus Peter Cinat, Rotman Morning MBA candidates Aisha Bukhari and Lak Chinta

“In the Hult Prize competition, teams of students from around the world develop ideas for social enterprises to solve global challenges. The 2015 challenge, co-sponsored by Hult International Business School and the Clinton Global Initiative, is to develop a business plan to deliver early childhood education for marginalized children.”[1]

The three students will now go on to represent U of T at the Regional Finals in March 2015. The winners of the regional will compete for US$1 million in funding to start-up their social enterprise.

It’s not the first time this team has worked and won a competition together. In 2013, they won the $100,000 to prize in the Manulife Entry to Asia Challenge. Their personal accomplishments are impressive and each member brings his or her own passion and experience for a winning combination. Lak has a PhD in Neuroscience with over 12 years’ experience in research, engineering, healthcare, entrepreneurship and direct experience from living and working with urban slums communities in India. Peter comes from a computer engineering background with over 11 years of experience working on strategic problems in the technology space with global clients. Aisha has her Masters in Engineering, expertise developing innovative solutions in the energy sector and brings her public-sector experience to the team. For more details about their win and an interview with Peter, visit this U of T news article.

Good luck to an outstanding team. We’re very proud of your accomplishments.


[1] Meet the winners of Hult Prize at U of T; next stop, regional rounds ǀ last accessed 17/12/2014
Image: Facebook

An MBA post-mortem from a real estate guy

Brandon Donnelly is a real estate developer, internet entrepreneur, blogger and Rotman MBA alumnus.

As a recent graduate of Rotman’s Morning MBA program (and presumably because somebody over there reads my blog), I was asked to write a guest post for their MBA blog. More specifically, I was asked to share my thoughts on the real estate industry and on my time at Rotman. And since I haven’t really done a post like this before, I thought it would be worthwhile to do.

My city pt 2 by JR F

But before I begin, I think it’s important to explain a bit about my background and my motivations for doing an MBA in the first place. Before going to Rotman, my first master’s degree was in architecture and real estate from the University of Pennsylvania. Basically it was a Master of Architecture combined with their MBA real estate concentration. So it included everything from real estate finance to real estate development.

Having already done this 3-year program, there were a couple of things I wanted out of an MBA program. First of all, I wasn’t prepared to go full-time. Five years out of the workforce was simply too high of an opportunity cost for me and so part-time was all I considered. I also only applied to Rotman because I didn’t want to waste anytime traveling outside of the city (or to other parts of the city). I also saw Rotman as a rising star and one of, if not the, best option in Canada.

At the same time, I didn’t give much thought to the real estate curriculum being offered even though I fully planned to stay working in the real estate industry. I felt like I already had that sort of formal training and so, unlike some of my classmates who were looking to switch into real estate, I was after something else. I ended up majoring in Innovation & Entrepreneurship.

What I was trying to do was really round out my skillset and fill in some of the missing holes: accounting, marketing, and so on. But even more importantly, I had drunk the kool-aid around Rotman’s focus on integrative thinking (renamed “business problem solving”) and “design thinking”. And since there will always be a part of me that thinks of itself as a designer, it seemed like the perfect program for me.

Because at the end of the day, it’s not that hard to learn how to create a real estate development pro forma or calculate your expected exit cap rate on some piece of real estate. That stuff is all fairly mechanical. It might seem quite mythical when you don’t know how to do it, but once you do, you quickly realize that a financial model is only as good as the assumptions you put in. As we’re told in school, garbage in = garbage out.

The real value gets created in the assumptions. It’s created in the way you think about the market, your product, and your customers. And a lot of the time, the most value is created when you know or believe something that nobody else believes to be true. If you’re a lemming, you’re going to get lemming like returns and outcomes. So in a lot of ways, I went to Rotman to help me think better and think differently.

In some industries, resting on your laurels can kill you in a relatively short period of time. See Blackberry. Real estate, on the other hand, is generally a bit slower moving. But that doesn’t mean that change doesn’t happen and that there isn’t room for loads of innovation.

Just look at the Toronto of today versus the Toronto of 10-15 years ago. We’ve transformed ourselves into a city of high-rises where more and more people now want to live in the core of the city. This has brought commercial landlords back to the city center so that employers have downtown office space to attract the best human capital (see South Core) and it’s brought suburban retailers into the core to sell to these same urbanites. We’re seeing a complete reversal of the trends experienced with the last generation.

Amidst all of this, I’ve been noticing a growing awareness and passion around cities. My blog Architect This City started as a forum for architects, planners, and developers, but it has grown into a community of thousands of people who simply love cities. They’re passionate about everything from architecture to grade-separated bike lanes (as geeky as that probably sounds).

So I think that it’s not only the real estate market that’s changing, but also the professions involved with it. I’ve written a lot about the future of the architecture profession because I think we’re starting to see the emergence of new business models. Architects are becoming developers and developers are starting to become much more heavily involved in the shaping of the communities in which they build. Which is why in many ways, I think of my self as a city builder more than anything else.

Finally, to make matters even more complicated, technology is starting to have a huge impact on the business. Zillow.com just bought Trulia.com for $3.5 billion to form a portal that will now serve around 1/4 of the online US residential market. And Opendoor.com is getting ready to launch a product that seems entirely poised to disrupt the way homes are bought and sold in America.

So what I’m getting at is that there’s absolutely no guarantee that the way we used to do something, is the way we’re going to continue doing it. In fact, I operate under the assumption that everything can and will be changed by somebody at some point. And if this is the way you approach things, then it should become abundantly clear to you that being able think critically is going to be one of your most important assets.

When I was just starting at Rotman, I met for lunch with an upper year classmate who told me that one of the best things he’s taken away from the program is the ability to think about the way he thinks. That may sound silly to some, but in our uncertain world, it’s actually a great skill to have.

Image: Flickr