Tag Archives: Theory in Practice

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.

Dr. Amir Sheik-Yousouf: Leadership and Business Education for Healthcare

The Canadian health sector is an intersection of economic and political priorities. This industry is on the verge of significant change due to pressure for a more sustainable, cost-effective, and integrated system across all provinces and territories. As the industry changes and adapts, our health leaders need to change and adapt as well.

Physicians like Dr. Amir Sheik-Yousouf, who specializes in internal medicine, are already ahead of the curve. Amir is on the verge of completing Rotman’s One-Year Executive MBA while maintaining his practice.

Thinking across silos

Photo of Dr. Amir Sheik-Yousouf

Dr. Amir Sheik-Yousouf

“If I look at my training as a physician, there are a lot of aspects of teamwork, personal and organizational leadership that I would have wanted to gain,” says Amir. “The Executive MBA has taught me to think outside of the box. Where perhaps I might have always used the lens of a physician or the way that I understood healthcare I can now appreciate it in a deeper manner, looking at the financial aspect of it, to even how we manage the people within the system.”

One of the major challenges of our current healthcare system is a lack of communication and collaboration across organizations, regions, and other boundaries. Each province has its own approach to care, often duplicating the work put into other provincial systems. By learning how to step back and look at the full value chain, physicians like Amir can position themselves as innovative leaders, ready to ensure our system evolves to become more effective and cohesive.

But it’s not just key business knowledge or new ways of thinking that Amir is getting out of his MBA. “One aspect of the program that I found very useful was the 360̊. It comprises of selecting peers — our managers, subordinates, and anyone else we think would be relevant — to give us an appropriate evaluation. That feedback was very useful in how I could perhaps change the way I work.”

An MBA that fits

Each professional MBA program offered at Rotman is designed to fit around the busy schedules of our students, and finding the right one often requires a combination of planning and research. The schedule of Amir’s One-Year Executive MBA was one of many key factors in his decision to attend Rotman. “Being a physician, doing an MBA program that would fit within my timetable was essential,” he says. “I had to make sure that I had applied a year in advance so that I could arrange my schedule to cater for it.”

The Rotman School focuses on helping leaders and future leaders succeed. Participants receive a personal leadership plan, one-on-one coaching, and experiential learning about a variety of topics, including personal leadership. “At the end of the day, when I compared programs across other universities, there wasn’t one that gave the reputation of U of T and Rotman, and neither was there one that I found that catered for my needs as a potential health care leader. The leadership component was what really drew me to the program.”

Amir said he applies what he has learned about management in his practice, especially the personal skills and leadership skills. “Now that people know I’m doing an MBA, they actually approach me to help them with projects. Most recently it was a staffing project within our Intensive Care Unit, which I helped the nurse manager with. So my skills certainly help, but there’s also the recognition that Amir is potentially someone who can help or a potential leader.”

At the end of his MBA, Amir will have developed the robust business and transformational leadership skills he needs to take his career, and our health systems, to the next level. “Taking your vision of yourself and the world to a different level I think is very useful.”
Rotman’s Global Executive MBA for Healthcare & the Life Sciences is designed to accelerate your career in a world of unprecedented health sector business and leadership opportunities. Applications are currently open for the inaugural 2018 class.

Inside the Morning MBA Classroom

You can find Canada’s only Morning MBA program at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. Here, ambitious working professionals learn from a world class MBA from 7-8:59AM twice a week before work.

We recently had the opportunity to speak with Ain Ansari, Morning MBA Class of 2018 who gave us an inside look into the classroom of a Morning MBA student. He shares his insight into courses, work life balance and the integrated thinking method at Rotman.

Intensive weeks

As part of the program schedule, students partake in 3 different intensive weeks. This is where students take part in a course that is condensed into a one week timeframe. During an intensive week, students take the entire week off work and are fully dedicated to school and immersed in their studies. The schedule is packed, typically running from 9AM- 4PM. As Ain describes, “Intensive courses are case-based, it’s not as much lecture and textbook readings, but instead based on case and in class discussions.” Students are taught concepts through lecture based-learning and then apply them in a case-based scenario. The week is fast paced and requires students to be on top of all readings and to be prepared to actively participate in class.

Morning MBA Students celebrate after the Winter 2018 Intensive Week is Over!

Ain took RSM2607: Managerial Negotiations with Professor Glen Whyte for his first intensive week. He described it as “an extremely practical course. We had a different case every day that we would discuss and act out in role-play.” For example, one situation had students divided into 6 different parties where they had to negotiate the best deal. Strategies that were taught included union, B2B, employer and government – business negotiations.

Customizing your degree

During a school semester, students take two courses, one on Tuesday and one on Thursday, both from 7AM – 8:59AM. During the first half of the program, students take the core courses required in the curriculum. Throughout the remainder of the program, students can pick from over 90 elective courses from 16 different majors to fully customize their MBA experience based on their interest and career goals.

Our MBA students are focusing intently during a lecture

One of Ain’s favorite course thus far in his MBA journey is RSM 1310: Economic Environment of Business taught by Professor Walid Hejazi. The course focuses on the economic drivers that go into making a decision as well as how current global issues are impacting Canadian business. While the course covered many tangible topics, it was “[Professor Hejazi] who made the experience so good. He was engaging, enthusiastic and had many real world experiences and examples to support the class.”

Strategy in a global context

During another intensive week, Ain took RSM1301: Fundamentals of Strategic Management with Professor Will Mitchell. He discovered that when developing a strategy, there is a lot of quantitative reasoning involved. There were a lot of examples in Canada as well as emerging markets that highlighted relevant cases. The course forces students to think critically and ask questions that a normal investor would not ask.

Designed for working professionals

As a working professional in the Morning MBA program, Ain notes that “It’s definitely challenging to dedicate both time to school and work and to succeed in the program; time management is key. Work life balance can be done but you have to manage your time well.”

His best tip for prospective students is to “Do your research. The quality of education, reputation and location of the school and the quality of professors is very important. Rotman is at the top in all these categories. The Rotman brand carries a lot of weight.”


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

Theory in Practice Series: Master of Finance Part Three

What is the Rotman Master of Finance curriculum like? How do our working professional students and alumni take the theory they learn in the classroom and apply them to real situations in the workplace? In this final blog post of our 3-part series on the Rotman MFin curriculum, current student Jose Rivas gives his view of the program so far.


Jose Rivas, MFin '17, CPA, CGA, Senior Manager, Financial Planning & Analysis Business, Operations, National Diabetes Trust

Jose Rivas, MFin ’17, CPA, CGA, Senior Manager, Financial Planning & Analysis, Business Operations, National Diabetes Trust

Jose Rivas, MFin ’17, CPA, CGA
Current role: Senior Manager, Financial Planning & Analysis, National Diabetes Trust
Role entering the program: Senior Finance Manager, National Diabetes Trust

The Theory:

In the Forecasting Risks and Opportunities class taught by Professor Tom McCurdy, we covered advanced methods to forecast and to assess risks in our financial models. In the Advanced Accounting class taught by Associate Professor Ramy Elitzur, we covered the use of statistical regressions to derive meaningful forecasting relationships.

The Application:

Although I didn’t use the exact forecasting models taught in the forecasting risk course (a mean reversion model), the methodology to develop a forecast and to assess model risk was meaningful as I was able to use the same techniques to create a production forecasting model. I then used the advanced accounting course material to assess the adequacy of the model (autocorrelation tests as well as the evaluation of the model’s parameters).

The end result was the creation of a forecasting model with robust documentation. After presenting my findings to my CFO and senior operations management group, I got buy-in to roll out, and to use it to forecast production, which was a deficient process in the past. Through this, we have drastically improved guidance and product planning nationally.

Breadth of Finance Knowledge

In terms of general capital markets knowledge, most people with my background and level of seniority have a soft understanding of capital markets. The Analysis of Fixed Income Markets class taught by Associate Professor Fotini Tolias gave me a much better understanding of debt products and their origination.

Certainly, the context of this course is more relevant to those who work for large firms. However, in gaining this type of knowledge, I have been able to open up conversations with senior management surrounding access to mid-markets, and to understand what financial institutions seek out of these deals.

Finance Career Bridge

All in all, my take on the Rotman MFin program is that it is not only about specific knowledge – it is also about our ability to expand what we’ve learned in creative applications beyond the classroom. The Rotman MFin program is excellent for those with a background similar to mine who want to change up their finance career path as the program truly advances your finance knowledge and bridges your knowledge or skill set gaps.


Interested to see how the Rotman Master of Finance program for working professionals can help you master your finance career in just 20-months? Learn more about the Rotman MFin program on our website, or contact us to see if the program is right for you.

Theory in Practice Series: Master of Finance Part Two

Di Shan, MFin '17, CPA, CMA, Senior Financial Analyst, Canadian Tire Corporation

Di Shan, MFin ’17, CPA, CMA, Senior Financial Analyst, Canadian Tire

Make an immediate impact at work and on your finance career. According to our working professional students, the ability to practically apply the latest finance theories learned in the classroom is one of Rotman’s Master of Finance program’s key benefits.

Half way into the 20-month Rotman MFin program, current MFin student Di Shan shares her experiences so far – the knowledge she has gained, and how she applies this to her work daily. This is the second blog post in a series of three posts about the Rotman MFin curriculum.


Di Shan, MFin ’17, CPA, CMA
Current role: Senior Financial Analyst, Canadian Tire Corporation
Role entering the program: Financial Analyst, Canadian Tire Corporation

At Canadian Tire, I work in the corporate finance area providing financial support and management consulting to the senior management of our business teams.

The six courses that we’ve taken so far in the first half of the Rotman MFin program covered a broad range of topics in finance. The Foundation of Finance and Macroeconomics courses provided a great foundation for the theories and models required to understand and analyze market movements. I was able to very quickly apply what we learned in class. I linked discoveries from our weekly news article assignments to my weekly meetings with business clients; I would provide relevant market updates such as interest rate and exchange rate movements, and engage in in-depth conversation with senior leaders.

The Forecasting Risks & Opportunities course provided many practical tools and models that I was able to use in my financial planning work where I enhanced my existing forecasting models with regressions and simulations. The Financial Analysis course provided new perspectives to analyzing and valuing a company; the experience gained from working on the final project of valuing and comparing two firms was highly valuable. Applying the same procedures, and focusing more on the quality of financial disclosure, I was able to link back to corporate strategies when performing analysis on competitors at work.


Are you a working professional in finance? Have a look at the Rotman Master of Finance curriculum and see if the program is right for you. Contact us if you have any questions or to meet us for a coffee chat.

Theory in Practice Series: Master of Finance

MFin Theory in Practice: Hank Liu, Rotman MFin '17, Senior Performance Analyst, Manulife Asset Management

Hank Liu, MFin ’17, CPA, CGA, CFA II Candidate, Client On-boarding Manager, Manulife Asset Management

The latest financial theories with direct practical applications – this is what students can expect with the Master of Finance program at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. Every day, our globally renowned faculty and practitioners translate their latest research and experience in the finance field into the classroom.

Over 20-months, the Rotman MFin curriculum covers in-depth topics such as Risk Management and Financial Institutions, Applications of Derivative Products, Investment Banking, Applied Portfolio Management and more. In this first of a series of three blog posts on the Rotman MFin curriculum, current MFin student Hank Liu shares his experiences in a few of the courses to date, and what this means in his everyday work, and for his career.


Hank Liu, MFin ’17, CPA, CGA, CFA II Candidate
Current role: Client On-boarding Manager, Manulife Asset Management
Role entering the program: Senior Analyst, Performance Measurement and Attribution, Manulife Asset Management

Professor Laurence Booth‘s Foundations of Finance course requires me to follow the market closely on a daily basis. Through this, I know more about what is happening around in the financial world, and this helps me better understand and predict our portfolio manager’s strategy. For instance, by closely following world news, I know when the U.S. treasury rate is expected to go up and would expect our U.S. fixed income PM to reduce our exposure to long duration securities.

Associate Professor Fotini Tolias‘ Analysis of Fixed Income Markets course is directly applicable to my work. I developed a much deeper understanding on all types of fixed income products. Part of my work is to analyze the performance, analytics, and attribution for our fixed income portfolios. By learning how to calculate average life, yield, duration, convexity, I developed an independent calculation tool/model for our team, and if there were any discrepancies on those characteristics, I have the confidence to validate them. Another example: there were some data issues with a “fix-to-floating” security held in our portfolio. As we covered it in class, I quickly figured out what caused the issues and suggested how to fix them.

Most importantly, these incredible courses offered by MFin program sharpened my expertise in financial world, and taught me how to speak the same language as professionals in other areas of finance. I now have a much better understanding of how other teams operate. For example, after taking the Forecasting Risks and Opportunities course taught by Professor Tom McCurdy, I am able discuss with the variable annuity team about their hedging strategies. The Corporate Finance and Valuation course taught by Adjunct Professor Heather-Anne Irwin was helpful for me to discuss the models developed by our finance project team.

I’m taking the MFin program at just “The Right Time”. As I am transitioning from accounting to investments, the MFin program is preparing me well for all the challenges that I will encounter in the future. Since I’m taking the MFin program as a working professional with a few years of work experience, rather than as a fresh undergraduate, I have a clear sense on “why I am taking the program”, “what I expect from the program”, and “what my plan is after the program”.


Interested in exploring the Rotman Master of Finance curriculum or want to see if the program is right for your finance career? Visit our Rotman MFin website or contact us for a chat.