Tag Archives: Tuesday Tips

Design Your Future with the Rotman Executive MBA

As we close in on the end of another academic year, our graduating classes had a chance to reflect on their time at Rotman. Rodney Cheung, Executive MBA Class of 2017 is just one of many who are excited to leverage the knowledge and skills he’s gained to make a real world impact. Prior to joining Rotman, Rodney obtained his Bachelor of Applied Science (BASc) in Systems Design Engineering with the Management Sciences option at the University of Waterloo. We had an opportunity to talk with him about his experiences in the Rotman EMBA program.

Rodney Cheung, EMBA 2017

Where are you currently working? Currently, I am the Chief Information Officer (CIO) at MediSolutions.  At MediSolutions, we are working to create a brand-new business model. We are taking a startup mentality within a 34-year-old company and our executive team is creating a brand-new business model based on technical Machine Learning innovation to integrate pharmaceutical companies and advertisers to enhance patient care worldwide.

What is a fun fact about yourself: I’m an arts lover in particular with foreign films and live music performances!

Why did you choose the Executive MBA program at Rotman?  Rotman has all of the characteristics of a leading EMBA program including world class faculty, reputation for excellence and alumni network.  One unique aspect is Rotman’s Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) which focuses on developing massively scalable startup ventures.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? Throughout the program, the most enjoyable aspect was how the class grew together during the year to form strong bonds and help each other. It’s like we became an extended family.  I was not expecting this aspect and am thankful for the great experiences shared with all my new friends from diverse backgrounds whom I can continue to learn from in the years ahead.

What were some of the extracurricular activities you were involved with at Rotman?: I’m a member of Rotman’s Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) which is focused on value creation and capture through building massively scalable technology startups with focus on Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). I’ve been a recipient of the John Harris Award for outstanding performance in the CDL program in 2016/17 for students who have demonstrated entrepreneurial ability through curiosity and by transforming ambition into action.

What was your favorite MBA course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it?  Coming from an engineering background with concentration on technology, I had thought that the quantitative courses would be the most enjoyable for me.  Instead, the many qualitative courses on leadership were my favorites with one of the many highlights being John Oesch’s Business Problem Solving (BPS).  From understanding the role of one’s hidden biases to understanding the role of congruence amongst all aspects within an organization, I gained many insights.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school?  That it is not worth it once you’re at a senior level.  It is reasonable to believe once you have reached a certain level of success within your career that you have the answers and know how best to proceed. The reality is that it is just the opposite.  Although you have reached an advanced level in your career with a great skillset, let your confidence open you up to new avenues of learning.  An Executive MBA program opens your mind to new capabilities and new options which will provide even more opportunities to advance you career, help others grow, and help organizations succeed.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant hoping to get into the Rotman Executive MBA program? As senior management, you’re likely living inside an extremely busy schedule already so you’re probably thinking about how can I cope with all of this additional work. One aspect that worked for me early on was the changing of your mindset from “I have to do this” to “I get to do this” which puts things in an entirely different light.  Instead of coping and thinking of ways to get by, you believe that you have this exceptional opportunity to learn and to have fun. This reshaping of your mindset can be the root for new development.

Interested in our EMBA program? Contact us directly at emba@rotman.utoronto.ca. The deadline to apply for this year’s incoming class is June 1.

To learn more about the Executive MBA program visit our website.

Empowering Women in Business

March 8 was International Women’s Day, a day dedicated to celebrating the achievements of all women as well as the progression towards gender equality. The Rotman School of Management is committed to providing women opportunities for advancement in their respective fields, for example we offer financial support throughour Women in Finance awards. We’ve seen an increasing number of female student enrol in our masters programs and are fortunate to also have dedicated faculty, staff and students who are taking the initiative to advocate for gender equality.

61st UN Commission on the Status of Women

Sabrina Wu, MFin 2017, is just one of our many students who are passionate about this cause. She was selected to attend the 61st Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the United Nations in New York. Sabrina currently is a member on the Board of Directors for YWCA, a not-for-profit (NFP) which promotes equality and economic security for all women. This year’s UN CSW priority theme is women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work. During the two week commission, emerging female leaders and NFPs gather together to hold discussions as well as to hear from each other about empowering women. We asked Sabrina what she was hoping for prior to her departure to the UN headquarters. “I am really looking forward to meeting women leaders around the world on a cause that is dear to my heart.”

Sabrina Wu, MFin 2017 at the UN Headquarters in New York

The commission exceeded Sabrina’s expectations.

Throughout the week she attended many events, each giving her a new perspective and opening her eyes to the realities of the world. “I was surprised at the differences and the important issues that surround different countries. The UN CSW was the biggest international event that I have ever been to. I had this amazing opportunity to meet representatives from 193 member states of the UN and I learned so much about the different issues that are important to different regions of the world.” At the Government of Canada reception, she had the opportunity to meet elected government officials including the Minister of the Status of Women, Maryam Monsef, and participate in roundtable discussions on important issues facing young women and girls. Minister Monsef emphasized the need to empower women and girls, saying, “When we leave out 50% of the population, our economy will not grow.”

Sabrina with Maryam Monsef, Minister of Status of Women

One of Sabrina’s most memorable moments was attending a townhall with the UN Secretary General, António Guterres. In 2015, 193 member states of the UN unanimously adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes an ambitious set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There are 17 SDGs with number 5 being to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.” Packed with hundreds of women and men from NGOs and government officials around the world, the Secretary General emphasized the importance of civil and political society working together to achieving the 2030 Agenda. This was another takeaway for Sabrina: “It meant a lot to me to hear world leaders committing to working towards gender equality.”

UN Secretary General speaking at townhall

Guiding Others

“Looking at my own experience at work and at the YWCA, I was extremely fortunate to have great mentors who care about empowering women. We need more great role models, more women on corporate boards and in senior management.” Professionally, Sabrina is a Money Market Trader for a large international bank. She benefited from having a very supportive manager who had taken an interest in guiding her. Since her first day at work, Patricia Castanheiro, Senior FX Trader and VP at The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ had been supportive and encouraged Sabrina to pursue higher education and get engaged in leadership opportunities outside the bank.

“Patriciais an incredible manager, mentor and friend to me. She will always push me to aim higher, learn more and develop my skills. It’s great to have someone like her on my side. It means a lot to me.”

Make a Difference

Sabrina’s main advice to others and prospective students is to get involved. “Though we have come a long way, we still haven’t achieved gender equality. We need to get more women to come forward and take leadership roles. Volunteering for causes brings together like-minded people. I am inspired by all the women trailblazers who came before us and made a difference in this world. Let’s join forces with them and together we can achieve our ambitious goal of 50/50 by 2030”.

Rotman has many programs dedicated to advancing the career of women across many industries through our Initiative for Women in Business.

For more information about the Master of Finance program, visit our website.


MBA or MFin? Choosing the program that is right for you

MBA or MFin? Counting on our record of excellence from our cutting-edge Master’s programs, the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto is a key destination for ambitious working professionals looking to advance in their careers. Given the choice of top Master’s programs, the question often then comes down to: which program should I choose?

If you work in finance, you may be wondering whether the Rotman Morning & Evening MBA or the Master of Finance (MFin) program is right for you. We spoke to Emily Mancuso, our Assistant Director of Recruitment for the respective programs, to put together key tips and considerations that will help you choose the program that is most appropriate for your career goals.

Consider your background. Have you worked in finance for some time? Or, did you major in finance in your undergrad? The Rotman MFin program requires a strong foundation in finance.  In fact, over 60% of students have already passed the CFA I, II or III examinations by the time they are admitted into the program.

On the other hand, if you are interested in working in finance but your educational background does not have a strong foundation in this field or you need to gain more work experience in the sector, an MBA may be a better option. In fact, completing the Morning & Evening MBA and majoring in Finance would be a great choice for someone looking to transition into finance from a different functional area.

Emily Mancuso, Assistant Director, Recruitment and Admissions, Master of Finance

Emily Mancuso, Assistant Director, Recruitment and Admissions, Master of Finance

What kind of leader do you want to be? If you’re considering both programs, then, it’s likely you already have a strong finance background. In this case, you’ll need to ask yourself whether the skills that you need to do your job better include gaining in-depth finance expertise or whether it may be skills associated with general management.

The MFin focuses on further developing the technical know-how and strategic thinking that is needed to become a leading finance practitioner; even people with a CFA will feel challenged in this program.

On the other hand, the Morning & Evening MBA is about broadening your perspective. It has classes in Innovation & entrepreneurship, business design, consulting & strategic management. Our  grad Ciara Wakita makes reference to this in her interview with us. People whose immediate or mid-career goals include attaining a senior leadership role within their organization, therefore, might find this program a better fit.

Consider whether you are looking for breadth or depth. While in the Morning & Evening MBA you can choose from various majors and have the chance to pick from over 115 elective courses, the MFin program is designed to provide you with in-depth finance knowledge. Most courses in the MFin are finance specific. This means that you, your peers and your professors can expect a certain level of foundational knowledge and skills from the class and can move faster through the course. This also means you’ll be learning from a richer depth of material.

Think of the network you’d like to build. Given that the MFin is planned as one cohort of 35 to 50 students all the way through the program, you’ll be able to tap into a strong tight-knit network of finance professionals. The expertise that comes with such a group will certainly impact class discussions as it will be centered around finance and will be guided by the perspective of finance practitioners.

In the Morning & Evening MBA program, your peers might come with a different background, influencing a multi-faceted perspective and network. Think of it like this: if your career goals include staying in finance but moving companies, the MFin could help you meet the right people to connect you with these kinds of opportunities; instead, if you were hoping to explore positions in other functions, you might want to consider the MBA, where you’ll meet people from all backgrounds and function areas.

Ultimately you’ll have to ask yourself, what are your career goals for the next 5-10 years? We recommend that you do your research to understand positions you’d like to aspire to and what people in these roles have done to get there. Consider, speaking to your HR department to learn about the future of your industry and what qualifications may become necessary or give you an advantage in the job market.

Still not sure which one is right for you? Visit our website or contact us and we’ll help you choose the program that is right for you.

Top 3 Application Tips For Working Professional Master’s Programs

Given the unique criteria that differentiates Rotman’s part-time programs from full-time programs, applicants often wonder about the factors that are most important in their application. While we take a holistic approach to the admissions process and consider all aspects to be important, this is still a good question. There are certainly ways to ensure that you have a competitive advantage, and here we offer our latest top 3 application tips.

Rotman Morning MBA Team Attollo, Hult Prize 2015 finalists, use their areas of professional and academic expertise to develop a system to delivery early childhood education for marginalized children. Image from @AttolloSE.

Rotman Morning MBA Team Attollo, Hult Prize 2015 finalists, use their areas of professional and academic expertise to develop a system to delivery early childhood education for marginalized children. Here with UT – Mississauga Principal, Prof. Deep Saini. Image from @AttolloSE.

  1. Exhibit your soft skills. Although a graduate program in business requires students to have strong technical skills, we cannot forget the importance of communication. Your ability to succeed in your career will also depend on such soft skills. Therefore, when reviewing your application, we will be assessing your ability to communicate effectively. You’ll first get a chance to showcase your writing skills in three essays. Remember that aside from grammar and spelling, we will be looking for a clear writing style that can tell us why you think an MBA or Master of Finance (MFin) is right for you.  If you are called to the interview stage, this will be another chance to show us your ability to communicate your story persuasively.
  2. Demonstrate the value of your work experience. As programs for working professionals, the Morning & Evening MBA and MFin require applicants to refer back to their work experience. On average, our students have worked for 6 years. For your application, it is important to emphasize the relevance of this work experience to your studies and future career goals. So, when preparing your CV and statement, remember to refer to your achievements and progression during these years. Your resume should focus on results rather than job tasks.
  3. Have great professional references. When asking for references, don’t focus on titles. Instead, a good professional reference is one that can speak of your track record and your potential for professional growth. Your two professional references will be assessing your ability to think, to work in a team, and your ability to work with integrity to positively impact your organization. Therefore, before including them in your application, make sure you are asking individuals who can effectively strengthen your application and that they can refer back to specific examples of your achievements.

Overall, remember that these programs are significant investments, so you want to make sure the program you choose is a good fit for you. While you prepare your application be sure to research the program, attend one of our Morning & Evening MBA or Master of Finance info sessions , or sign up for a coffee chat. Last, but not least, remember to start your application early! Bonus tip: the earlier you apply, the greater your chance of receiving an entrance award.

Inside Scoop on the Professional MBA Application

Elizabeth Duffy MacLean, Managing Director, MBA and MFin, Masters Part-Time Programs, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

Elizabeth Duffy MacLean, Former Managing Director, MBA and MFin, Masters Part-Time Programs

We often get asked, “What are the most important factors in assessing an application for a part-time MBA program? What matters most?” While, at Rotman, we really do look at each one on a case-by-case basis and assess the 7 criteria, together holistically, there are still fundamentals that can help you get a competitive edge in the application process.

  1. Your work experience is key.  Work experience is often what separates a full-time MBA applicant from an applicant for a part-time program.  Our Morning & Evening MBA applicants have an average of 6 years of experience, and want to keep working while they complete an MBA.  What we want to see in those years of experience is 1) progression, 2) a CV that focuses on results, and 3) references that support a track record (more on references in a minute).  The Admissions Committee will be looking at your work experience in the context of what it will bring to the classroom and the value of the program to you.
  2. Good communication skills are essential. You have an opportunity to showcase your communication skills in several ways.  Book a pre-qualifying meeting with our recruiting staff, so that we can get an initial sense of your ability to articulate, to listen and to clearly and concisely form your views.  A good conversation will be remembered when your file hits the recruiter’s desk.  Second, there are 3 essays that offer the opportunity to express yourself in writing.  Grammar, spelling and clear writing style is what we look for, along with a solid understanding of why an MBA makes sense for you and a level of self-awareness.  Finally, if you get to the interview stage, think about what questions you expect will be asked and how you will tell your story clearly and concisely.
  3. References matter. Your two references should be professional ones.  At least one should be a current or former boss. The references need to be able to speak to numerous attributes, many of which are work-place related.  They will be assessing your analytical skills, teamwork skills, personal integrity and the impact you’ve had within the organization, among others.  Take the time to ensure you ask your references in advance if they will be willing to be one, and tell them that specific examples are particularly valuable.

In all cases, be genuine. It will make a real difference to how you come across. And, finally, do your research before you attend a session or a pre-qualifying meeting.  An MBA is a significant investment and you want the right program in the right school.  Plus, your research will reflect a level of seriousness and maturity that is always looked upon positively.  The fundamentals discussed here also apply to other professional part-time programs like the Rotman Master of Finance.

There’s never a better time than the present to start the process!

Showing Communication Skills: The Proof is in the Details

Marnie Consky

Marnie Consky, Lead, Career Services for Working Professionals

Originally posted in Vault.

Marnie Consky is Lead, Career Services for Working Professionals, Morning & Evening MBA and Master of Finance Programs.

All MBA-level jobs require you to have strong communication skills. Aside from singing your praises in your resume and cover letter, it’s even more important to demonstrate those communication skills in instances where recruiters and hiring managers are paying attention. Outside of the obvious networking sessions and interviews, here are some situations where small details count:

  • Voice mail: ensure that your voice mail message sounds professional. Imagine the recruiter is calling to tell you that you’ve been selected for an interview – your voice mail shouldn’t do anything to potentially have them question their decision. Record your outgoing message without background noise or distractions, and script it first. If you are in the process of setting up informational meetings and applying for jobs, remember to be at your “professional best” whenever answering the phone. Answer the phone “Hi, (your first name) speaking” or “Hi, this is (first name)”
  • Out of office email message: set up an out of office message if you’re going to be away on vacation or unreachable for a period of time. Thank the sender for their message and indicate when they can expect to hear back from you. No need to state your first day away, just when you’ll be back.
  • Email signature: Your email signature should include your first and last name, the year your degree will be conferred (e.g. MBA Candidate 2014), name of your school, phone number and email address. Also consider including your LinkedIn URL and ensure that your profile is consistent with your resume and cover letter.
  • Thank you note: whether you’re sending a handwritten note to thank someone for an informational meeting, emailing company representatives that you met at an information session or emailing your interviewer(s), be mindful of what you say and how you say it. Keep it short; reiterate your appreciation of their time and your interest in the company/role as appropriate.

It goes without saying that how you communicate on social media platforms (LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook) is also of equal importance. Be aware that what you post online is public and searchable, even in cases where you’ve gone some lengths to protect your privacy. Be mindful of what you’re posting and of who might be reading it.

Bottom line: your motto for communication should be “show them – don’t just tell them.”

Tuesday Tips: Thoughts on GMAT prep

Katie Gardon, Rotman MBA '15, Director of Finance & Administration, Real Food for Real Kids

Katie Gardon is Director of Finance & Administration at Real Food for Real Kids, and a Rotman MBA 2015 candidiate.

Even deep into the MBA program, the memory of the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) still lingers. After taking it twice, I realized a significant part of the challenge is the psychological stress, not the content of the GMAT itself.

My experience with the GMAT

Once you start to consider applying to business schools, you’re bound to be overwhelmed with the myriad of GMAT study “advice” on the Internet. You haven’t even seen a practice question and the stress has begun!

The fear of failure got the best of me the first time I prepared for the GMAT and I strung out the studying far too long – about 4 months. Too much procrastination and psyching myself out = burn-out. When I got to the test centre, their elaborate check in process, including hand scanning, stressed me out even more before I was thrown into a room where my time management skills were put to the ultimate test. I don’t remember much other than the rapid beating of my heart.

While I fared well on the first go, I wanted better results, so I retook the test. The first time around, I steered clear of prep courses and avoided booking the test until I was ready. The second time around I found great on-demand study resources and booked my test in advance. This gave me about 6 weeks to study and the opportunity to create a study schedule. Preparing properly made it clear that the test wasn’t really that bad – the hard part was having to answer all the questions under stress and strict time constraints.

So what does this mean for you?

  • Don’t get caught up in the legend that is the GMAT! If you are considering an MBA you likely already have the organizational and time-management skills to hunker down and map out time to study.
  • If you are applying to the Rotman Morning or Evening MBA, or any part-time working professional Master’s program, studying after work and on the weekends will be your reality, so no harm in getting used to it now.
  • The worst thing you can do is procrastinate and worry about how hard it will be.
  • If you need the extra structure and guidance – signing up for a course can definitely help you keep to your schedule.
  • Once you are comfortable with the GMAT material, the best thing to do is to practice the test under actual time constraints. If you can master the pace outside of the exam room, you’ll be in a much better position to obtain your ideal score.

The GMAT is absolutely doable. Just remember to take some deep breaths in between questions.

Rotman offers free GMAT mock exams every few months. Check our Rotman working professional programs admissions event calendars to register for the next one.

Tuesday Tips: Ace your behavioural interview

Annette Filler

Annette Filler, Lead, Career Services for Working Professionals

Interviews can be nerve wrecking, and acing that particular interview could be the stepping stone to the career path of your dreams. Annette Filler is a Lead and Career Coach with Career Services for Working Professionals here at Rotman. Yesterday, the career services monthly workshop offered some valuable advice for our Morning & Evening MBA and Master of Finance students on acing your behavioural interview.

Interview Preparation:

  • Do your background research on industry, company, role
  • Understand the requirements of the position
  • Know who will be conducting the interview
  • Prepare 2 – 3 points in advance that clearly communicates why you are an excellent fit for the position
  • Remember to dress and groom for success!

Behavioural Interview Questions: What are they?

  • They are common questions based on the premise that past behavior is the best indicator of future behavior
  • Provides proof of your potential demonstrated through description of past situations
  • Instead of being situational e.g. “If you are faced with multiple deadlines, what will you do?” a behavioural question is more like, “Give an example of a situation here you were faced with multiple deadlines and what did you do?”
  • This type of question is open ended and allows the interviewer to probe and zero in on specific behaviours and skills to find out more about the candidate

Interviewers use behavioural interview questions to assess leadership, problem-solving, analytical thinking, time management, communication and interpersonal skills. Candidates need to prepare examples and stories that demonstrates the themes mentioned above. In addition, as a candidate, you should prepare examples and stories for additional key competencies that are outlined on the job description.

Practice, practice, practice!

Your confidence in your presentation, and belief that you’re the best candidate for the role is paramount. It’s important to practice responses out loud. Practice with classmates. Practice with family. Practice with friends and Career Services. Practice so you’ll have a flow and can articulate your examples clearly and concisely. The flip side is of course, don’t memorize examples verbatim as you might sound too rehearsed an unnatural.

And, once you’re in the Rotman Morning & Evening MBA or Master of Finance programs, you’ll have access to Interview Stream. It’s an online video interview practice tool that allows you to simulate a job interview by responding to pre-recorded interview questions.

Tuesday tips: Getting ready for your MBA or MFin application

Fiona Duley, Assistant Director, Rotman Master of Finance, Admissions

Fiona Duley, Assistant Director, Rotman Master of Finance, Admissions

Hello, my name is Fiona. I can’t believe I have been recruiting for 7 years now. At Rotman, I started working with the Morning & Evening MBA programs and am now deep into building a dynamic Master of Finance class for the coming September.

This is the first of our “Tuesday Tips” series. Here, you’ll get tips and advice that will help you put forth your best application.

The most common concern I encounter is that people don’t even know where to begin with the application. What does it entail? Here are a few basic tips to help move you forward. 

  1. Research. Talk to current students and alumni. Check out other programs to find out what’s the right fit for you.
  2. References. They are professional and should be able to offer excellent insights into your work experience and ethic.
  3. Essays. They’re not that daunting! Read the questions carefully, plan out answers, and have a friend help edit.
  4. Interview. Prepare for the interview by thinking about why you want to join the program and what you bring that will enrich the class.
  5. Attend events. They’re the perfect venue to meet current students, alumni and to network. Seize the opportunity and ask questions.
  6. Questions? Ask us! We want to share our knowledge with you. Contact us directly. We would be happy to hear from you.