Tag Archives: Finance Career

A Day in the Life: Rotman Master of Finance

Finance working professional Christina Alexander, MFin '17, Vice-President, Derivatives and Structured Products, Citibank Canada

Christina Alexander, MFin ’17, Vice-President, Derivatives and Structured Products, Citibank Canada

Christina Alexander is Vice-President, Derivatives and Structured Products at Citibank Canada and a student in our Rotman Master of Finance program for finance working professionals. Demanding schedules are the norm for her and her peers in the finance industry.

We asked her to walk us through her regular work day and share about her experience as a working professional studying for her MFin.


6:00 am – 8:00 am. Typically, I’m awake between 6:00 am and 6:30 am. I head to work with the goal of being in my seat anywhere from 7:00 am to 8:00 am. “Breakfast” (aka coffee) takes place at my desk while I catch up on overnight news, and plan my day before the market opens.

8:00 am – 5:30 pm. The work day is unpredictable; it is usually a mixed bag of conference calls, meetings, watching the market, pricing and executing transactions, or working on new ideas and presentation materials for client meetings. I generally eat lunch at my desk unless I am taking out a client or have other commitments.

It’s hard not to think about the Master of Finance during the work day as it naturally fits in with my daily conversations with colleagues and clients. For example, I recently pitched a complicated hedging strategy to the Treasurer of a company. While she liked the idea, she needed to run it by her accounting team to understand how it may impact the company’s cash flow and leverage ratios. I wasn’t able to give her the perfect answer, but I was able to give her some preliminary thoughts, and more importantly, I had a good appreciation for her concerns.

5:30 pm. My team at work knows that I have class every Wednesday evening, and I try to start wrapping things up at 5:30 pm to make sure I’m on time for class at 6:15pm. Otherwise, unexpected things could come up and I could be stuck in the office forever!

Usually I receive a comment or two on the way out such as, “Wow, I forget Wednesdays are extra-long for you.”  Or, my co-workers want to ask me about what the night’s class topic will be – so I have to budget extra time for this. Additionally, we often have visits from our senior management in New York, as well as client entertainment in the evenings. Sometimes getting to class for 6:15 pm is not always so smooth; I have now perfected the art of popping into a social event, saying hello to everyone for a short period of time before politely excusing myself, and then finding a cab to dash to the Rotman campus.

6:15 pm – 9:30 pm. Class time! We also have a break for dinner where our entire class eats together; this is a great time to catch up with my classmates.

On an average day, I will leave campus right at 9:30 pm, with a couple exceptions: 1. As the program has a fair bit of group work, sometimes my group will meet briefly after class to make sure we are on track for our projects, and 2. If we’ve just written a final exam, our class may pop over to the pub for a celebratory drink!

9:45 pm – 11:00 pm. This is when I decompress and prepare for the next day. Hopefully I don’t have to pack and be up extra early for a flight to Calgary or Vancouver. Other times, if I have upcoming client meetings, I may spend some time preparing for those presentations. In any case, I try to get to sleep by 11:00 pm.


Thank you for sharing, Christina!

Christina exemplifies our Rotman Master of Finance students who have challenging, full-time finance careers, and who also attend classes part-time. Designed with busy finance working professionals in mind, the MFin program at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto has classes only every Wednesday evening and full days every other Saturday.

Curious to see if the Rotman MFin might be the next step in your finance career? Drop us a line and visit our website for more information. We’d love to hear from you.

Meet Your Professor: Fotini Tolias

Today, we’d like to introduce Fotini Tolias, our new Academic Director for the Master of Finance program. You will no doubt be interacting with her during the course of your time at Rotman.Fotini Tolias

Congratulations and welcome! We’re so excited to have you as our new Master of Finance Academic Director. Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I spent the majority of my career in the capital markets, bond origination, which means that I used to create fixed-income securities in the primary market. Working for banks such as RBC and CIBC, my client coverage included Media & Telecom, Financial Institutions and special situations. My clients were large, publicly traded companies.

Can you tell us a little bit about your time at Rotman?

I’ve been at Rotman since 2009. I teach across all programs, from undergraduate to graduate programs. My area of expertise is in fixed income and I approach my teaching of it from a former practitioner’s point of view. Within the Master of Finance program, I teach the Fixed Income course. The course provides students with an understanding of the capital markets—specifically the bond markets—and how these markets function in practice.

What would you say is your approach to teaching?

Every class, I begin by reviewing new bond issues done in the market. I pick transactions that I think are interesting – that may tie into the lecture of the day – and then discuss them in class. Most people think that quants are boring, but they are absolutely not! That’s what I want to show my students in class. I try to make the market come alive for everyone.

By looking at actual transactions, students can make more sense of the finance theory. The classes I teach on fixed income are very hands-on.

Any advice to anyone interested in the Master of Finance program?

I think it’s a fantastic program. I wish it’d existed when I was thinking of going back to complete a graduate degree.

What I love about the program is that the students are very knowledgeable. To various degrees, every student has industry experience or an established career path. This brings a good mix to the classroom. It’s definitely one of the more challenging groups to teach because they have so much experience already. I have definitely been challenged in the classroom by students who work in the fixed income area. This keeps me on my toes and keeps me engaged and often leads me to consider fixed income from their perspective.

I am pleased to expand my involvement with the Rotman Master of Finance program and I’m looking forward to meeting everyone.


Subscribe to our blog for more thoughts on the finance industry, career paths and the Rotman MFin program. If you want to learn more about starting the Master of Finance program this September, check out our website or fill out our Master of Finance contact form for more information.

Tip: There are 3 ways to receive a GMAT exemption on your Rotman MFin application, including passing the CFA III exam. This is just one way we acknowledge the experience of our working professional applicants.