Tag Archives: Women

How Priscilla Sam Found the Missing Pieces

Priscilla Sam works in a company which is all about putting the pieces together: LEGO Canada Inc. And in 2015, she realized that there was an important piece missing in her professional life.

A smiling woman

Priscilla Sam got more than she bargained for when she enrolled in Rotman’s Morning MBA.

Passionate about continuous development, Priscilla saw that in order to advance in her career, she would need to invest in her leadership skills and deepen her knowledge in management frameworks. Business Design was an easy choice, but she would have to fit this learning journey into her already busy life.

Rotman’s Morning MBA was the solution. “I could go to class between 7 and 9 am, put in a full work day, and then after work, I could still work out, do readings or extra-curricular activities, or hear a speaker. What I’d need to give up was just sleep!”

Priscilla also chose Rotman for its focus on business design: the integration of customer empathy, experience design and business strategy. “I could learn from a couple of the pioneers of business design. Not a lot of other schools in Canada offer that so it was also a big value-add.”

Once Priscilla started her MBA, she got more than she bargained for, thanks in part to the strong networking component of Rotman’s program.

“Before I came into the MBA I would describe myself as very reserved, [although] I was ambitious to grow beyond that … I didn’t imagine in the beginning that I would end up being so involved. In the first year I joined the Women in Management Association as a representative for the part-time class, and then the year after I was elected to be on the executive team.”

“I built relationships with the other female students and my perspective has grown a thousand times because I’ve never been in an environment where so many people are encouraging, and advocating for the best for you and everyone is working towards elevating together. The awesome thing is…all the men [have] been supportive as well.”

Priscilla recently moved into a new role at LEGO Canada, integrating her employer’s sales and marketing objectives with those of the retailers, allowing the partners to build business together. She credits her MBA with broadening her perspective.

“What I’ve noticed is the ability to focus more broadly, looking at all the stakeholders, which is particularly important in my role because it’s so much about partnership development. Also, I’ve learned so many different tools, for example mapping tools, which I’ve used often in my workplace. I’m more aware of myself as a leader, and I’ve also been inspired to give back to the community.”

Priscilla works in Trade and Retail Marketing at LEGO Canada Inc. She earned her degree in Rotman’s Morning MBA program in 2018.

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.

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.

Dr. Sailaja Bhaskar – One Month in an Executive MBA

Dr. Sailaja Bhaskar is the Executive Director, Research & Development with Purdue Pharma Canada, and most recently a new student in Rotman’s One-Year Executive MBA. Sailaja has 29 years of work experience, 22 of which have been progressive roles in leading drug development for various therapeutic areas in the pharmaceutical industry. We spoke with her to find out why she chose to earn an Executive MBA and how the experience one month into the program compared to her expectations.

 

R: What were your main reasons for applying to the Executive MBA? Why did you choose Rotman?

S: I’m a scientist and I have been in drug development for the past 22 years, and my work has always been primarily in research and development. I knew I could add more value to the science if I understood the business aspects better. So I was learning about the business aspects on my own but soon realized that I would maximize my learning in a structured environment such as an EMBA.

I chose Rotman because it is very highly ranked in the world, and a highly ranked, competitive school would attract some of the best teachers and some of the best students.

The other reason is my son is studying for his undergrad at the University of Toronto!

Photo of Dr. Sailaja Bhaskar

Dr. Sailaja Bhaskar

R: How has your life, your family, and/or work changed since you joined the program?

S:  My life is a lot busier now and being back in school after so many years is tough and at times overwhelming and intimidating. It has also forced me to re-think the boundaries of my comfort zone and re-assess my daily routine. The program is challenging and requires a lot of commitment and juggling work, school and family priorities. But I am not alone in this journey; my family, my friends, my team at work are all extremely supportive and their support makes everything a little easier.

R: Has anything changed as a result of your studies? Are you able to apply what you’ve learned in class back at work?

S: Plenty! It’s only been one month of classes and already I feel like there are so many things that I can explain better, or I understand better from a business perspective. I’m just amazed at how much I have learned in just the last month.

R: What is the best part of the program so far?

S: The best part of the program are my classmates, the teachers, and the support we get from the program directors. They’re just fantastic! And the teachers are outstanding.

R: What didn’t you expect? What was different once you were actually taking classes compared to your expectations when you applied?
S:
Everyone told me it would get busy, but I could not have anticipated how busy it could get. Some days need a bit more juggling of priorities than others, and managing such a busy schedule requires a lot of planning and discipline. I am being challenged every day because the program and the course materials encourage a completely new way of thinking which is invaluable.

R: What are you looking forward to the most?
S:
 The leadership training sounds very interesting, but you know what really caught my attention? I am really curious about behavioural economics and organizational behaviour. I find it is something I would like to explore further.

Research and development is very demanding and requires team work. It goes without saying that sound science in drug development is salient but equally important is understanding customer behaviour. It’ll be good to learn more about organizational behaviour and behavioural economics and bring the learning back to work.

 

Rotman’s One-Year Executive MBA empowers managers, executives, and entrepreneurs to become better leaders. In 13 months, students gain robust business training and transformational leadership skills they need to take their careers to the next level.

Learn more about how the One-Year Executive MBA can broaden your impact at one of our upcoming webinars or other events.

Business Design: A Human Centered Approach to Problem Solving

Stephanie Grimbly is a current Rotman Morning MBA student. In this 2-part blog series, she shares her experiences in the Business Design Accelerator Series at Rotman.

Stephanie Grimbly, Rotman MBA '19

Stephanie Grimbly, MBA ’19, Channel Account Manager, Avaya

After many months contemplating exactly what it was that I was looking for in an MBA program I had an “ah-ha” moment when I discovered Rotman’s Business Design major. The concept of Business Design checked a lot of boxes for me in terms of the kind of work I wanted to get involved in – creative problem solving of complex issues – and therefore the kind of knowledge and skills I wanted to bone-up on via an MBA. I already knew I enjoyed the process of brainstorming and “ideation”.

Now two semesters into the program, I’m very pleased to report that my expectations of what the Rotman Morning MBA program would offer have been exceeded. My favorite aspect of the program is The Business Design Accelerator Series offered by Rotman’s DesignWorks.

Rotman DesignWorks


Designed for, and offered to MBA candidates who work full-time, the Business Design Accelerator Series is exactly the kind of extra-curricular opportunity an MBA student hopes to take advantage of while in school.


This six-part series is a step-by-step introduction to Business Design principles and tools (quite literally the building blocks of the problem-solving framework I was looking for!) The idea behind the series is that participants walk away with a better understanding of what Business Design is, and the value it can offer any professional looking to get creative and innovate at work. The absolute best part of this series is that, as working professionals, participants can immediately apply some of these principles and tools to the work they do today.


One of the primary reasons I decided to do a part-time MBA instead of full-time was I valued the opportunity to immediately apply what I was learning at school in my full-time job.


And this is exactly my intention for the strategies, exercises and protocols introduced during the Accelerator Series – to apply them in my current job!

Regardless of role, responsibilities or industry, Business Design Theory is inherently valuable to the individuals and teams who leverage it because it is a multi-dimensional problem solving methodology. When the problem is too complex, unprecedented or is actually the amalgamation of many smaller, intertwined issues, the most prudent approach to tackling that problem is not with broad strokes in management style, organizational structure, financial finessing or economic intervention – at least not right away. Instead, it begins with a thorough investigation into the factors that make up the problem, a systematic breakdown of primary factors into the human needs and emotions that perpetuate them followed by rapid iteration of many possible resolutions and, finally, a critical evaluation of each prototype to assess its viability.

The bottom line is that complex, unprecedented problems demand intricate investigation, creative consideration and deliberate solutions.


Stay tuned for part two of Stephanie’s blog posts on the Rotman DesignWorks Business Design Accelerator Series. Interested in exploring the Morning MBA at Rotman? Contact us to learn more!

MFin 360 – Leadership begins with teamwork

Interview with Celina Li, Hedge Fund Accountant

The Master of Finance (MFin) at the Rotman School of Management develops leaders who are also key team players at work. Elizabeth Ren, CPA, CA, MFin ’17 is a great example. Recently, we interviewed Celina Li, Hedge Fund Accountant at SS & C Technologies and Elizabeth’s colleague, who emphasized the benefits of working alongside an MFin student.

Elizabeth Ren, MFin '17, Fund Accountant, SS&C Technologies

Elizabeth Ren, MFin ’17, Fund Accountant, SS&C Technologies

Hello Celina! Thank you for chatting with us. We are excited to hear your thoughts on what it’s like to work with a Master of Finance student. Could you tell us a little bit about your work with Elizabeth?

Thank you for reaching out, I am happy to tell you about my work with Elizabeth.

We currently work under the same director, but for different funds. Essentially, we have the same position, but we work with different clients. However, we work in a team environment, so we have opportunities to collaborate with each other on such things as financial reporting. We also engage in discussions during our monthly team meetings.

Do you find that your discussions at work are different with Elizabeth?

The technical knowledge she shares with us during meetings and when working on team projects helps solve issues that benefit the whole team, not just her clients. For example, she is currently in charge of setting up a new fund and, as a colleague, I get to learn from her experience and the creative solutions she brings to develop this fund. Ultimately, it is a learning opportunity for the whole team.

What would you say are important skills that she’s been able to learn and integrate in her work since she became an MFin student?

She’s been able to learn how to prioritize and manage her time to reach a high performance level at work as well as in school. In fact, she always comes to work early to avoid missing any deadlines while she is completing coursework.

Do you find that teamwork is different since Elizabeth joined the program?

Elizabeth is a very effective and collaborative team player. I think this comes from having to work on group projects during her MFin program. Recently she was tasked with training two new colleagues; she’s doing a stellar job at mentoring them and explaining the ins and outs of our work.

Has her experience in the MFin program impacted your own work in any way?

Definitely. As she creates the new fund for her client, I get to learn the strategies she implements to arrive at a solution. It is also inspiring to see her become a leader as she trains and mentors new colleagues.


Are you an aspiring leader at work? Join us at one of our admissions events or contact us to learn more about the Master of Finance at the Rotman School of Management.

MFin 360 – Building strong leaders with the Master of Finance

Interview with Patricia Castanheiro, Vice President & Senior FX Trader, The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ

As a part-time program for working professionals, the Master of Finance (MFin) at the Rotman School of Management is designed to help students reach their full potential while at work. This means that we want our students not only to prepare for their future careers, but also to gain the confidence and practical skills to support their current teams as finance leaders. Putting our program to the test, we’ve interviewed Patricia Castanheiro, Vice President & Senior FX Trader at the The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi to tell us a little bit about what it’s like to work with Sabrina Wu, MFin’17, who works as a trader in Patricia’s team.

Sabrina Wu, MFin '17, FRM, Money Market Trader, Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ

Sabrina Wu, MFin ’17, FRM, Money Market Trader, Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ

Thank you for taking the time to share your insights. Could you tell us a little bit about Sabrina’s current role and relationship to you at work?

Sabrina has been working with me at the Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ since 2013. She is currently a Money Market Trader and works on the trading floor reporting to me and another colleague. We have a mentor-mentee relationship and I’ve seen her grow tremendously since she started working with me.

What did you think when Sabrina informed you that she would be completing the MFin program while working fulltime in your company?

As part of our strategy to keep our talent motivated, we try to get our young professionals on the trading floor to work on each desk and expand their knowledge that way. We have a total of 8 traders and, as I mentioned before, Sabrina is currently on the Money Market side. Knowing that I am a big promoter of professional development, when deciding whether it was a good idea to start the MFin program, Sabrina came to me for advice and to find out if it would be possible to get funding from our organization. Right away, I told her she had my full support and lobbied to get our company on board as well.

Have you noticed any immediate impacts the program has had on Sabrina’s work? What would you say has been the added value so far?

I’ve definitely seen her analytical and research skills improve since she started the MFin. For example, we get our traders to write a weekly report providing their opinion on what’s happening in the market and Sabrina has been in charge of putting together the Money Market Weekly Report for quite some time now. I’ll be honest, when she first started it was not amazing; but 6 months down the line she got 100 times better! I’m certain it’s because of the program.

She’s certainly gained greater depth in her way of analyzing changes and variables in the market. Now, you can really tell that she observes and evaluates all the information she gathers through a critical lens in her classes at Rotman.

Would you say Sabrina’s experience as an MFin student has impacted the team when working collaboratively?

Sabrina has always been very collaborative; in fact, I would say that she’s extremely team oriented. Thanks to her participation in the MFin program, she expanded her network outside of the bank itself. We often share our thoughts on this matter, as she’ll bring her questions to me in order to decide strategically how to best expand her network.

When comparing the MFin program to other programs such as the MBA, do you think that the specialized content of the MFin program has been noticeable in Sabrina’s work? 

Considering the industry we’re in, the MFin is much more relevant to our work than other graduate programs in business. I have hired other young professionals that have completed an MBA or the CFA, and Sabrina’s MFin advantage is clear because she is able to apply what she learns directly into her job every day. For example, when she is working on a case study at Rotman, she is learning to respond to events that are happening in the market right now; so, it’s much more useful for us.

Have you noticed any knowledge or skill become a differentiating factor or competitive advantage for Sabrina since she started the MFin program?

Even though she was already well-spoken before joining the program, I still believe her communication skills have improved substantially. She also gained leadership skills and greater confidence from participating in group discussions and projects at school, which is incredibly valuable for her current job and future career.

The best thing is that this is not only evident at work, it also shows in her activities outside of the office. In fact, recently, she was selected to become one of the youngest board members of the YWCA! She is certainly becoming a well-rounded leader, which I can see having a great impact on her career.

How do you think this program will impact her career going forward?

She has a world of opportunities and, where she goes next, is up to her! At our bank, we have internal programs where you can move for a year to another country if there is an opening. Someone like Sabrina can take advantage of this opportunity and work in offices in places like NYC or Hong Kong. For now, she is working on finishing up her program at Rotman, but it’s safe to say that the MFin has opened many doors for her. I’m excited to see what the future has in store for her!


Looking for a graduate program that will charge your impact on your finance career? Visit our website or sign up to one of our admissions events and learn more about the Master of Finance  program.

International Study Tour to Japan: Rotman Master of Finance

Sabrina Wu, MFin '17, FRM, Money Market Trader, Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ

Sabrina Wu, MFin ’17, FRM, Money Market Trader, Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ

Opportunities to expand your experience and network internationally beyond the classroom abound at Rotman. Sabrina Wu, an MFin ’17, in our Master of Finance program for working professionals embarked on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Study Tour to Japan. Here is her account of her time on this once-in-a-lifetime experience:


I was chosen as one of two Rotman students to join a delegation of Canadian graduate students on the Trans-Pacific-Partnership Study Tour to Japan. It was a unique opportunity presented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan aimed to foster better understanding of Japanese society, history, politics and economy. The trip focused on issues related to the Trans-Pacific-Partnership and provided exposure to several industries in Japan including Biotechnology, Agriculture, Automotive and Textile.

Rotman - Japan International Study Tour

The eight-day trip was packed with activities that included company visits, courtesy calls to local governments, lectures, site-seeing and dining. During my stay there, I visited three Japanese cities – Tokyo, Nagoya, and Kyoto. I had the privilege of experiencing Japan’s world class bullet train ¬ the shinkansen – travelling at speeds of 240 to 320 kilometers per hour. The well-developed and well-maintained infrastructure in Japan was very impressive. Its extensive and modern road network consists of 1,152,207 kilometers of highways and 6,114 kilometers of expressways.

The visit to Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, and in particular, the tour of Toyota’s manufacturing plant was the most interesting to me. As business students, we are familiar with “the Toyota Way” – kaizen (continuous improvement), jidoka (intelligent automation) and just-in-time system. Being able to see these management concepts in action was absolutely amazing!

Our learning of Japanese auto industry did not stop there. Contrary to the assumption that industrial cities such as Toyota City must have the highest carbon footprint in the country, the city in fact led the country in low-carbon infrastructure. A visit to Ecoful Town allowed us to take a peek at what a future green society can look like. In 2009, Toyota City was selected by the Japanese government to be a model city for the environment. It set high standards for carbon reduction through building smart grids, smart homes, and hydrogen fueling stations. Each smart home is equipped with a Home Energy Management System (HEMS) to monitor and allocate energy use efficiently.

Rotman - Japan International Study TourAll serious business aside, touring around the beautiful Imperial Palace, Meiji Shrine, Asakusa, Osu Kannon, and Kiyomizu Temple was a very unique experience. Kyoto, the cultural centre of Japan, has 1600 temples. Dining and sleeping on tatami, enjoying Yebisu beer at a Super Mario-themed pub, and sampling 10 different kinds of Sake were some of the best memories of Japan.

Rotman - Japan Study Tour

Thank you to Rotman for providing the opportunity. I am so grateful for it and I look forward to sharing this amazing experience with many others!


Interested in learning more about the Master of Finance program at Rotman? Visit our website or contact us for more information.

Rising Up with Rotman’s Morning MBA

Congratulations to the Rotman Morning & Evening MBA Class of 2016 on convocation day! After 32 months of hard and rewarding work, our Rotman MBA class of 2016 is graduating today and ready to expand their impact globally. It’s the perfect day to reflect on the overall MBA experience. We spoke to Ciara Wakita, about her time in the Morning MBA for working professionals.

Ciara Wakita, Rotman Morning MBA ' 17

Ciara Wakita, MBA ‘ 16

Congratulations on your graduation, Ciara! You must be thrilled to have arrived to the finish line. Looking back do you remember why you chose to complete the Morning MBA at Rotman?

Thank you. It has definitely been a fulfilling time of my life!

When I decided to enrol in an MBA program, I knew that I would do it part-time. Taking time away from my career was simply not an option for me. I ended up choosing Rotman because of its reputation in the financial services sector and because U of T is an internationally renowned school.

Once I chose Rotman, I had to decide between the morning or evening program. Because I wanted to keep an active social life and play sports in the evenings, waking up earlier two mornings a week made my days hyper-productive. After my 7 to 9 am class, I would still be able to get to work in time and put in a full day.

What would you say is your favourite aspect of the program?

I’d say it’s the camaraderie of the entire Rotman community. While you make a natural bond with people in your cohort in the first half of the program, I also made friends when I went into my electives in the second half of the program. I met amazing people from other cohorts. I didn’t the camaraderie, but there is just a very common understanding amongst everyone.

Ciara open house

Ciara Wakita (Morning MBA 2016) at our 2015 Rotman Open House

Did you develop a strong network with your friends and faculty during the program? How was this beneficial?

Yes. I feel that when you are in the program, you become part of a league of professionals who all have a common understanding about what you know. You are surrounded by super smart and overachieving people and it’s cool to talk about ideas. I have three close friends in the program who are what I call my ‘board of directors’. When I need to make a professional (or personal) decision, I go to them for guidance.

How has attending the Rotman school and completing the Morning MBA impacted your career so far?

Almost everyone in my cohort switched either jobs or roles while in the program. Even I switched roles within the same company. Just by being part of the program you become a hotter commodity in the labour market.

What piece of advice could you give new incoming students and prospects for the Morning MBA at Rotman?

Do things your way. There are so many events and clubs at Rotman, it can be overwhelming at first! Don’t feel like you need to do everything. Join clubs and events that matter to you; be selective. Personally, I didn’t get involved in student life as much as others. I don’t feel that I missed out on anything. I did what worked for me.

Congratulations again and thank you for your reflections, Ciara!


If you’re interested to learn more about the Morning MBA, contact us, visit our website or sign up for an admissions event. We’d love to hear from you. 

 

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.

Rotman Evening MBA’s Impact on a Healthcare Professional

Healthcare professionals find the depth and breadth of management knowledge, and the flexibility of Rotman’s Morning & Evening MBA programs particularly attractive. In today’s guest blog post, current Evening MBA student and healthcare professional Jia Inacio shares her experience so far in the program, and why the Rotman MBA works for her.

Jia Inaco, MBA '17

Jia Inacio, MBA ’17, MRT(R)

“I completed my Bachelor’s education specialised in Radiation Sciences at the University of Toronto. Currently I am working in Princess Margaret as a Breast Cancer Imaging Expert. My work is involves imaging guided breast cancer detection and diagnosis. I take pride in helping women, addressing their personal concerns, as well as providing timely treatment.

“My days are often from 8 am to 4 pm with slight variations. Unlike many other clinicians who may have to work in shifts, mine are fairly fixed. On my own time, I enjoy learning and self-improvement, which led me to pursue several professional development courses and the UHN emerging leaders program. At the same time, I seriously looked into master’s programs that would be a right fit for my career goals.

Princess Margaret Cancer Centre

Princess Margaret Cancer Centre

“I knew I wanted to keep working as I pursued further education because keeping my professional skill and experience fresh was important to me. Also, I love the tangible impact I am making battling breast cancer.

Reputation, convenient location, doable schedule and powerful network

Welcome to the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.

Welcome to the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.

“Rotman’s part-time MBA degree is an attractive option due to its reputation, convenient location, and outstanding alumni network. Having met a couple of Rotman alumni, and encouraged by my husband, I decided to apply to the part-time MBA program. The evening MBA program appeals to me, because it fits around my work schedule. I can work, go to school, and still have my weekends. Every Tuesday and Thursday, I’d finish at Princess Margaret, get home quickly to my little puppy, and then walk over to Rotman for class by 6:30pm. Most times, I’d be home around 9 or 9:30pm, and be able to have a late dinner before heading to bed.

“My classmates are one of the best parts of my Rotman experience. I have classmates who work in finance, IT, telecom, aerospace and so on. I get to discuss ideas with fresh new perspective all the time. In the beginning, I had doubt in my ability to compete in this elite group. However, I found that we are all aiming for the same goal: to get better together and to seek knowledge, which makes this education experience great. Learning aside, I have made great friends along the way.

Beyond the classroom

“Outside of the regular school schedule, I am also a member in two student societies. Last year, I was able to participate in a case competition. My goal for the next year is to take on more projects as well as to join more case competitions.

“The benefit of choosing to do my MBA at Rotman is already shining through. I find that I can often apply what I have learned in the classroom into work and my personal life. I’ve led a hospital wide open house event, made several work environment improvements, started my personal blog in helping women to seek breast health knowledge, and am now applying for a research fellowship for allied health professionals. Post Rotman, I hope to stay in the healthcare sector. My clinician experience together with my business management knowledge would help me to identify needs and bring tangible benefits to patients. I am a dedicated healthcare professional and am proud to be a part of the Rotman community.”


Students and alumni in Rotman’s Morning & Evening MBA programs for working professionals come from all industries, including healthcare. At Rotman, they’re able to bring together their industry experience with new management knowledge to make big impacts in the global community. Read about some of our Rotman MBA students and graduates – where they’ve been and where they are now.

If you’re interested in learning more about our MBA programs and how they might fit your career, please fill out our contact form. We’d love to hear from you. We also have opportunities for you to experience what it’s like to be a Rotman MBA student with events like our upcoming strategy sample class on May 31, 2016.

StrategyatRotman-160531

The topic will be Aligning the Stars: Using Systems Thinking to (Re)Design Canadian Healthcare. We invite you to attend and look forward to meeting 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.

Meet Anne Deng, P.Eng, M.Eng, recipient of the Women in Business Excellence Entrance Award

 

Women in Business

Anne Deng, P.Eng, M.Eng, MBA ’19 is one of this year’s recipients of the Women in Business Excellence Entrance Award

Every year, applicants to our programs are considered for various entrance awards. The Women in Business Excellence Entrance Award is given to an outstanding female candidate in support of her career aspirations. We spoke to Anne Deng, one of this year’s award winners, to learn more about her career path and decision to do an MBA.

Congratulations on receiving the Women in Business Excellence Entrance Award!

Tell us a bit about your professional journey. What is your professional area of work?

I started working at Hydro One immediately after graduating from Engineering Science at the University of Toronto. Currently, I work at Hydro One as a senior engineer; I provide technical solutions to special projects, and offer technical support on new technology or new designs to be rolled out to the field.

While some may think that the utilities industry is stagnant and lacks excitement, I find it to be the opposite; there are diverse areas of interest in my line of work! Today in North America, new technologies are emerging waiting to be incorporated into the relatively dated power grid system. In this environment, there are numerous opportunities to use my knowledge to create something meaningful. Over the years, I’ve been quite lucky to be involved in a few large scale and impactful projects at Hydro One.

I see that you already have a Master of Engineering. Where do you see your MBA taking you in the future?

To be honest, when I obtained my Master of Engineering, I never thought I would be working towards an MBA one day. At the time I just thought “there are two routes – technical expertise or management, you either take one or the other”. Back then, I had my head set on the technical path, and was convinced that technical competency was the only thing I needed in my career.

I’ve become good at solving problems –problems handed to me by other people. As I see and experience more, I realize that having a mind that can pose questions and create solutions is a must for innovation and career advancement. While the Master of Engineering helped me to become a great problem solver, I certainly believe that the Rotman MBA will give me the insights to become a good “problem poser”; that is, to know the right questions to ask in order to facilitate impactful change.

Why do you think there’s a need for an MBA in your profession?

The Rotman MBA will help me to become a good strategic thinker, and THAT I believe is a very valuable skill-set in any profession.

What convinced you that Rotman is for you?

I debated between US business schools and Canadian ones. In the end, I decide to stay in Canada, and more specifically in Toronto, because I realized that the start-up community in Toronto is growing strong. The creative talent in this city cultivates a huge up-and-coming pool of entrepreneurs.

Once I picked the city, Rotman became the automatic choice. The downtown Toronto location is amazing, it’s the number one business school in Canada, and it has one of the greatest professional and alumni network in the country. I have to say though, as a proud U of T alumna, picking Rotman may have been a slightly biased choice! At the end of the day, Rotman is the obvious and right choice for me.


For this and other stories keep checking our blog! If you would like to learn more about our program, check out our website or contact us. The next application deadline is April 10!

Career growth in finance: reflections from a first class Rotman Master of Finance alumna

It’s incredibly inspiring to follow the career growth of our Rotman alumni. Recently, we got a chance to follow up with Krati Chhajer, MFin, CFA. She is an alumna from the inaugural Rotman Master of Finance class of 2009 and is currently a Director in Corporate Banking at CIBC.

Finance Career Growth: Krati Chhajer, MFin, CFA, Director, Corporate Banking, CIBC

Krati Chhajer, MFin, CFA, Director, Corporate Banking, CIBC

Thank you for taking the time to share your finance career story with us today! What made you first consider the Rotman Master of Finance program?

When I started to contemplate a graduate program, my options were endless. My credentials at the time were a Bachelor of Commerce degree with specialization in Finance and the CFA designation, with four years of work experience in capital markets.  I wasn’t looking for a career change but wanted to enhance my knowledge from the basic and intermediate foundation that were set.  First year MBA classes would have been repetitive with only second year offering the specialization that I was looking for.  I wanted to focus my immediate learning on quantitative skills with a deep dive on corporate structure and derivatives. The Rotman Master of Finance program offered these topics from day 1. Also, Rotman’s downtown location and vicinity to my workplace in the financial district was definitely attractive.

Has the Rotman MFin impacted your career in finance?

Definitely! I’d say that the critical thinking skills I learned had the biggest impact. The Master of Finance gave me the analytical skills to assess and understand how markets work, and to comprehend the theories and assumptions behind pricing and tail risk. The combination of critical thinking skills and learned knowledge affected how deep I could dig into my work.

All this being said, you have to evaluate for yourself what your finance background is and what the MFin program offers. At the end of the day, your MFin credentials will be compared to that of other masters’ programs. What will help is the incredibly deep finance knowledge you have gained from the program.

Tell us a bit about your professional journey.

Getting into the rotational program at Scotiabank with my MFin was a huge step, as I had rotations in corporate lending, market risk and economic capital – giving me the opportunity to see many aspects of the business. After completing the rotations, I took on a Senior Manager position in Global Risk Management with Scotiabank, where I adjudicated on trading lines to hedge fund counterparties. From there, I moved to Corporate Banking as a Director at CIBC, with a focus on non-bank financial institutions. I know the industry well, and have developed the technical skills with experience and with education – which helped me move effortlessly between these roles.

Krati, we know you’re a mom as well – any advice on balancing your career and home life?

I have two great kids who are three and five. I can’t say that I have all the answers on maintaining a good work/life balance all the time. You definitely have to stay on top of things. I have never held myself back because I am a mom but have acknowledged that having children does delay your career progression to some degree in the first few years. You do catch up, just don’t expect too much in the first five years with kids.

What I found really encouraging was listening to and meeting up one-on-one with other successful women with children. Hearing them talk about their experiences also helped to put the career and home balance into perspective.


If you’re interested to learn more about the Rotman Master of Finance program, visit our website at www.rotman.utoronto.ca/MFin or contact us. Our next MFin application deadline is in April and we look forward to reviewing your application.

Tip: the earlier you apply, the greater your chance of an entrance award.

Congratulations! Rotman Master of Finance Women’s Excellence Entrance Scholarship Recipient

Kitty Rong, MFin '18, Rotman Master of Finance Women's Excellence Entrance Scholarship winner

Kitty Rong, CFA, FRM, MFin ’18 is one of our Rotman Master of Finance Women’s Excellence Entrance Award winners

Congratulations to Kitty Rong, CFA, FRM, one of our Master of Finance Women’s Excellence Entrance Scholarship winners entering the program this September.

Would you be able to tell us about your professional background?

I’ve been at Scotiabank for nine years, and have been in the securitization area as a Manager for about five years. I’m happy to be working in a field that I’m truly interested in.

How did you find out about the Master of Finance?

I’ve always known that I wanted a Master’s degree. I first heard about the Master of Finance program through researching the Master of Financial Risk Management program which is also offered at Rotman. Due to my extensive work experience in the finance field, I was referred to the working professional MFin program instead.

What convinced you that the Rotman Master of Finance program is right for you?

I wanted a degree that offers very in-depth — and at the same time — broad finance-specific knowledge, which is why I ultimately chose the MFin instead of an MBA.

Two current MFin students chatted with me and gave me great insights into the MFin program. I also did a class visit and sampled a class in investments that is taught by Professor Peter Christoffersen. The teaching style and the remarkable material helped to cement my decision to apply.

How do you think the Rotman Master of Finance will help you in the next steps in your career?

With the knowledge that I’ll gain from the MFin program, I know that I will also gain confidence in my abilities to enhance my career. Today, everyone working in finance has a CFA, so a Master’s degree, particularly a specialized one, is a step that I need to take to move ahead faster.

Do you have any advice for other women in finance who may be in your shoes?

Women can be very accomplished in the workplace. We need to gain confidence in ourselves and education is a tool that we can use to build this confidence.

What do you hope to accomplish during your time at Rotman?

I look forward to the connections and friendships that I’ll make with my peers, alumni and faculty. I also look forward to building strong presentation skills and critical thinking skills from case study learning.

Congratulations again, Kitty – we look forward to having you here at Rotman this September!


If you’re interested to learn more about the Rotman Master of Finance program and our other entrance awards, visit our website at www.rotman.utoronto.ca/MFin. MFin entrance awards range from $5,000 to $20,000 each. Our next MFin application deadline is February 1. Tip: the earlier you apply, the greater your chance of an entrance award.

Contact us for more information or to start your MFin September 2016. You may also contact Breanna Brooks, Assistant Director of Admissions directly. We would be pleased to meet with you!

6 Master’s programs to check out at Rotman’s Annual Open House

Rotman's Annual Open House. Join us October 17, 2015.

Rotman’s Annual Open House. Join us October 17, 2015.

Rotman’s Annual Open House is fast approaching! Come explore what Rotman has to offer by attending an information session, sampling a class, trying out our BMO Financial Group Finance and Trading Lab, and meeting current students and alumni.

This year, 6 Rotman Master’s programs will be showcased:

Make the most of it by planning your day in advance using the online schedule.

Michael Hyatt on the set of Next Gen Den.

Michael Hyatt on the set of Next Gen Den.

Latest news! Our keynote speaker is Michael Hyatt. He became a self-made millionaire at just 25, when he built two highly successful tech firms valued in the hundreds of millions. Today, he ranks as one of Canada’s top entrepreneurs, is a celebrated “Dragon” on CBC’s new online sensation Next Gen Den, and is a weekly Business Commentator on CBC News Network. Michael is also a Founding Partner at the Rotman School of Management Creative Destruction Lab, and on the CEO Board of Advisors at Georgian Partners. He is a finalist in Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award, a recipient of the Top 40 Under 40™ Award and chairs his family’s charitable foundation.

Our Master’s admissions teams will be in attendance and available to answer any questions about our programs, the School, and application processes.

Register now and we’ll see you on October 17 at Rotman’s Annual Open House.

Launching the New Part-Time Master of Finance Application Cycle for Fall 2016!

Welcome to the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.

Welcome to the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.

The beginning of September marks the start of the school year with our new Master of Finance students arriving on campus! We are thrilled to have them with us, especially after many months of reviewing great applications and conducting admissions interviews. In addition to welcoming our new students, September also marks the launch of our new admission cycle to recruit the best students for our part-time MFin program starting in September 2016.

We have 4 deadlines throughout the recruiting year to allow you to work towards a timeline that works best for your schedule, however, we do suggest that you apply as early as possible as this gives you the best shot of admission and entrance awards.

The Rotman MFin program grants Entrance Awards that range from $5,000 – $20,000 to a select group of students from the incoming class who demonstrate exceptional merit. Again this year, we will have four Women in Business Excellence Awards valued at $20,000 each.

Master of Finance Application Deadlines for 2015-16
December 1, 2015
February 1, 2016
April 3, 2016
June 15, 2016

International Applicant Deadline
January 20, 2016

What’s New This Year
New this year, we will be requiring applicants to record their answers to two video questions. The video interview component is designed to give all candidates guaranteed “face time” with the Admissions Committee. What we want to achieve with this video interview is to make your application come to life, and to find out more about you which will help us to evaluate whether this is the right program for you.

Prior to submitting your application, be sure to come out to some of our admission events as we hold a great variety of information sessions, coffee chats, panel discussions and sample classes throughout the year. These events will give you the opportunity to explore what Rotman has to offer and to figure out whether our MFin is the right program for you. To view our upcoming events and to register, visit Master of Finance Events

Rotman Open House, October 17, 2015. Join us at this free event.

Rotman Open House, October 17, 2015. Join us at this free event.

You might also want to consider coming to our annual Rotman Open House on October 17th. It’s an excellent way to get a feel for all things Rotman and to meet faculty, alumni and students as well as the entire Working Professionals’ team!

As always, feel free to connect with us. You may fill out this Contact Us form with your details and questions, or, contact me, Breanna Brooks, Assistant Director of Admissions & Recruitment for the Master of Finance program. We look forward to hearing from you!

Back to School with the Rotman Morning & Evening MBA

Rotman Morning & Evening MBA Class of 2018 Orientation

Rotman Morning & Evening MBA Class of 2018 Orientation

It’s back to school! Getting a jump-start on the academic year, our new class of 2018 Rotman Morning & Evening MBA students officially commenced the program with an intensive week of classes last week. Students also got the chance to get to know each other and Rotman staff at an overnight Orientation event held mid-August.  As working professionals, our part-time MBA students know the value of maximizing time to balance their personal lives and to accelerate their career. Regular classes that take place twice a week in the morning from 7:00 – 8:59AM before work or after 6:30PM in the evening, depending on the MBA program of choice, will begin after Labour Day.

Our Rotman Morning & Evening MBA class of 2018 is incredibly strong and diverse. A few highlights:

  • The Morning MBA class of 2018 is our largest cohort for this program, ever.
  • 37% of this Morning & Evening MBA cohort are women; in the Morning MBA program, women represent 44% of the class. With an industry average of 30% women in MBA programs, this is certainly very exciting and encouraging news!
  • 12% of candidates in our part-time MBA programs are employed in the healthcare field. This indicates a growing recognition of need in the healthcare industry for strong leaders who also intimately understand its unique challenges.
Rotman Morning & Evening MBA class of 2018 profile.

Rotman Morning & Evening MBA class of 2018 profile.

We’re privileged to be able to walk with these ambitious working professionals on their MBA journey. Good luck!

Meeting everyone for the first time during the Rotman Morning & Evening MBA Orientation

Meeting everyone for the first time during the Rotman Morning & Evening MBA Orientation

Academic Director Professor Doug Hyatt welcomes Rotman Morning & Evening MBA class of 2018.

Academic Director Professor Doug Hyatt welcomes Rotman Morning & Evening MBA class of 2018.

Team building during Orientation - Rotman Morning & Evening MBA

Team building during Orientation

Having lunch together during the first day of classes. Rotman Morning & Evening MBA

Having lunch together during the first day of classes.

Alexa Gilbert, MBA ‘16: Bridging the Gap Between Science and Business

Alexa Gilbert, Rotman MBA '16, Senior Manager, Clinical Development, Assurex Health

Alexa Gilbert, Rotman MBA ’16, Senior Manager, Clinical Development, Assurex Health

During the day, Alexa Gilbert is the Senior Manager, Clinical Development at Assurex Health and, in the evening, she is a student at our part-time MBA program. Alexa chatted with us about the benefits of having an MBA in the healthcare field and what led her to choose the Rotman MBA program.

Tell us a bit about your professional background and what led you to apply to Rotman?

I grew up in Montreal where I obtained my MSc in Experimental Medicine at McGill University.  About 3 years ago, I was looking to advance in my career – at the time I was working for a contract research organization (CRO), which is an entity that pharmaceutical companies typically hire to manage their clinical trials. I moved to the greater Toronto area when I landed a job in Burlington that was still in the CRO sector, but had greater responsibilities than my previous position. I had already been thinking about doing my MBA for a few years. Knowing that Rotman’s MBA program is the best program in Canada, I decided to apply. The opportunity to tap into a network that has such a great reputation; it’s priceless!

What do you think about the need for MBAs in healthcare? What is your advice to someone in healthcare who is thinking about MBA?

I don’t know if the MBA is appropriate for everyone, but it is a good way to open your eyes beyond your particular field, in my case that of life sciences. From my experience in graduate school, you are often focused on your own one research topic and you can easily forget that there is a bigger world out there. The MBA gives you a broader perspective and can help you transition into a managerial role by helping you develop management skills that can be used in the healthcare industry.

You mentioned a lot of research stays in academia, while the point of this research is to benefit humanity as a whole.

Yes, this is why I always say: I am doing my MBA to help bridge the gap between science and business. There is a great demand for people with skills in both areas. Once you’ve done the research, then you have to get the commercialization part right – to make it viable so that people can benefit from the discoveries. I think it can be beneficial even for people who already have their PhD or MD. The MBA is an additional tool.

You said that there is a demand for the MBA in the healthcare setting. Is this demand more than before and why do you think that is?

The demand is definitely growing. It is not often you will see people in healthcare with an MBA. Having a science degree means you have the ability to research, evaluate, and critically interpret and analyze data while an MBA provides you with the business acumen you need for knowledge translation and commercialization of those innovations.  The innovations, through commercialization, will eventually improve public health and provide more effective health services to strengthen the healthcare system. 

Final question – Where do you see your career going? How do you envision the MBA helping you with your career?

I would not have secured my current position at Assurex Health without the MBA experience and support from the amazing career services. Even if I am not using everything I’m learning in the MBA program, I am conscious that the concepts exist and I perform in a way that is most beneficial for the entire company and shareholders rather than just for myself or my projects.  That means I am thinking more strategically about which projects I take on as well as about how these tie in with the company’s priorities and resources.  As I continue to learn and get exposed to different facets of the biotech industry, I am hoping to become a resource for innovators that are trying to bring their novel technologies to market.


If you want to discuss whether the Rotman part-time MBA is a right fit for you, fill out this contact form with your details. Our admissions team would happy to hear from you.

Healthcare and the Rotman MBA Spotlight: Vanessa Perry, Morning MBA ‘18

Healthcare is a large and growing industry in Canada and internationally, and offers opportunities for MBA graduates to make a real difference in people’s lives.

Vanessa Perry,  MBA '18, Public Health Practice Advisor, Standards and Performance at the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

Vanessa Perry, MBA ’18, Public Health Practice Advisor, Standards and Performance at the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

One of our most recent Rotman Morning MBA candidates accepted into the program to start this August is Vanessa Perry, Public Health Practice Advisor, Standards and Performance at the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Her impressive experience to date has earned her one of our new Women in Business Excellence Entrance Awards. She chatted with us over coffee about her experiences, and her decision to enter the Rotman MBA program.

Congratulations on your admission to Rotman and on your award! Tell us about your professional background.

I work for the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care in health policy planning. Currently, my emphasis is on performance management and organization management in public health.

My background is in research. I have a Masters degree in Epidemiology which is the study of population health. It is the basis of health research and involves a lot of bio statistics. Before working with the Ministry, I specialized in Aboriginal health, and worked in the North managing research sites for an international research project looking at youth resilience.

Vanessa in Labrador, Newfoundland, Canada

Vanessa in Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada

Recently, I took a leave of absence from the Ministry and spent a year working at an NGO running the monitoring and evaluation of a UN funded sanitation project as a professional volunteer. I was in Tanzania for the first year of the five year project, helping them set up a nationwide monitoring and evaluation system. I have a background studying international development and had never gotten to apply it. So it was a great opportunity to use some of those skills.

Vanessa shopping in Zanzibar, Tanzania

Vanessa shopping in Zanzibar, Tanzania

How do your earlier experiences tie back to what you’re doing at the Ministry of Health?

After completing my Masters degree and working in Labrador, I came back to Toronto and started working with the Ministry, I moved away from straight science and research into policy, planning and system management.

At the Ministry, I do a lot of performance management: how do you look at health systems, how do you evaluate them, how do you manage them to make them better?

So how does the MBA fit into your experiences?

I want to be a leader in the healthcare sector and to have influence in shaping its direction. I view business management skills as essential for me to move up and to be in a position to help create the strongest and most sustainable healthcare system that we can.

Why Rotman?

I’m happy with my career trajectory, and I didn’t want to stop working. Part-time was a natural place to go. Plus, Rotman at U of T is a top school in my backyard, with the great option of the Morning MBA program.

The Morning MBA program immediately made a lot of sense to me. In high school and university I rowed competitively, so I used to get up very early so I know I’m capable of doing that. It’s a great set up: it’s only two mornings a week and Rotman also has a health management specialization.

In my area of healthcare, there is some debate if a Masters of Health Administration or an MBA makes more sense. For me, the MBA provides a broader perspective. The ability to be in a class with people from so many different professional backgrounds – to be able to learn from them – had a lot of appeal. So even though I’m interested in the healthcare specialization, I don’t want to have my blinders on. I want to be in a class with people from different backgrounds, learn what they’re thinking and how they approach things.

What advice do you have for women thinking about the MBA?

I’m a second generation female Rotman student – my mother did the Rotman MBA, also on a part-time basis, when there were very few women taking that step. So for me, it has never been an emphasis of whether you’re a man or a woman, but on pursuing what you want and need professionally. That said, I believe that women can bring something special to the table as strong, collaborative leaders and communicators and, considering the low representation of women in MBA programs, should be proactively encouraged to pursue them. It’s really amazing to me what we can accomplish.

Thanks for your time, Vanessa. Final question – is there anything else that you’re particularly looking forward to during your time at Rotman?

One of the things that I most look forward to is the networking – to take advantage of the community that Rotman provides. During the application process, I got to sit in on a healthcare-related workshop. To have access to those conversations and events beyond the classroom, I find that really energizing!


To learn more about the Rotman Morning & Evening MBA, attend one of our admissions events, or contact us to chat one-on-one. We would be happy to speak with you!

In the spotlight: Thaksa Sethukavalan, CPA, CA, Auditor & Rotman MFin Candidate

Thaksa Sethukavalan, CPA, CA, Auditor, Office of the Auditor General of Ontario. Rotman MFin candidate and Master of Finance Women’s Excellence Entrance Award Recipient.

Thaksa Sethukavalan, CPA, CA, Auditor, Office of the Auditor General of Ontario. Rotman MFin candidate and Master of Finance Women’s Excellence Entrance Award Recipient.

We’re now deep into building our Master of Finance 2017 class. The calibre of applicants are impressive professionally and are remarkable in the clarity of their drive to succeed.

In this blog post, we’re highlighting another recipient of the Master of Finance Women’s Excellence Entrance Award. Congratulations to Thaksa Sethukavalan, CPA, CA who will start the program this September.

How did you hear about the Rotman MFin?

Before applying to the MFin program, I had spent several months researching graduate business programs in Toronto. I had been feeling the itch to go back to school for some time by that point, but I wasn’t initially sure which graduate degree was right for me. Originally, I was leaning towards an MBA, but through my research I came across the MFin program. It appealed to me a lot more as I read more and more about the program.

Can you tell us a bit more about your professional background as you certainly are a unique candidate for the MFin program.

My professional background is actually in accounting and audit. After university, I spent three years working at Deloitte LLP in its audit practice and earned my Chartered Accountant designation with the firm. My focus was on financial statement audits. I can honestly say that I learned a lot while I was there, and was able to work on a number of interesting and complex audit engagements. At present I work for the Auditor General of Ontario, where my focus is on value-for-money audits of the provincial government and its ministries. It is very interesting work!

What is your favourite thing about finance?

My favourite thing about finance is the fact that finance itself is such a broad and wide-ranging topic. There are so many different specializations or focus areas that an individual could choose to get into or pursue, based on their own personal interests. I love the fact that you can never really be done learning about finance – there is always something new that an individual can choose to understand.

What made you decide to apply to the MFin?

As a Chartered Accountant, I’m always looking for ways to differentiate myself from my peers. With the recent merger of all the Canadian accounting designations into the CPA designation, I really felt like I needed a graduate degree to help set myself apart from other CPAs and to move into more upper management type roles. I’ve also always had an interest in finance in particular, and having already come from an accounting and audit background, it made more sense for me to complete a Master of Finance degree over an MBA. I also enjoy challenges and truly love to learn – I really felt as though the Master of Finance degree would help me become a better, stronger and more well-rounded business professional than any other type of graduate degree.

Did you attend any MFin events that helped you to make your decision?

I was fortunate to attend quite a few MFin events that helped me make my decision. The Rotman information session was able to provide me with some background information on the program, the curriculum and the workload involved with the MFin degree. There were some past and current students that attended the event and I was able to speak to them about their experiences with the program. I was also able to attend some Rotman networking events (the MFin market simulation sample class as well as the TD & Rotman Women @ Work Symposium) which really gave me a good feel for the culture and network at Rotman. I was also fortunate enough to be able to sit in on a Wednesday evening class and speak to some current students who spoke highly of the program, which also helped me make my decision to pursue an MFin degree.

Additionally, Alexandra MacKay, the Academic Director of the Master of Finance program, was kind enough to put me in contact with several Chartered Accountants who had already completed the program or were in the process of completing it. All of them had very good things to say about the program, the material and courses, as well as the quality of professors that taught in the program. They all told me it was a very challenging program, but well worth their time and effort, which is something that really resonated with me.

What made you decide to accept your offer of admission?

For me, there were several factors that helped guide me to accept my Rotman MFin offer. First and foremost, having sat in an MFin class and having spoken to several past and current students, I was really impressed by the material being taught and what past and current students had to say about the program. No matter who I spoke to, everyone spoke highly about the program, the curriculum and the professors, which really impressed me. I was also impressed by the close-knit network at Rotman and the high calibre of graduates from the program. Everyone I spoke to was really eager to help answer my questions about the program, which was very appealing to me. I decided that I want to a part of this community. Also, being awarded with the Master of Finance Women’s Excellence Scholarship was a very pleasant surprise and helped seal the deal.

Do you have any advice for students thinking of applying to the MFin program?

The only piece of advice I would have to give is to do your research. The MFin is an incredible program, but it’s really important to make an assessment as to whether the program is the right fit for you at your stage in your career. I recommend attending information sessions and Rotman networking sessions to see if you could benefit from the program. I also recommend getting in touch with MFin alumni and current students and talking to them about how they found the program. Doing this will help ensure you make an informed decision about pursuing an MFin degree.

Final question: what are you most looking forward to in the program?

Other than bettering my understanding of finance, I am really looking forward to meeting and networking with my future classmates. I have heard great things about the calibre of students that are admitted into the program, so I look forward to learning and working with them.


Our next Rotman Master of Finance application deadline to start September 2015 is fast approaching on April 1, 2015. If you have any questions about the program or the application, please contact us. We would be pleased to help.

In the Spotlight: Rummy Gill

Meet Rummy Gill, Assistant Director, Recruitment & Admissions, Morning & Evening MBA, your first point of contact with our working professional MBA programs. Get to know her with a few fun facts!

Rummy Gill, Assistant Director, Recruitment & Admissions, Morning & Evening MBA, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

Interested in the Rotman Morning or Evening MBA? Submit your resume to Rummy for a review to see if the programs are right for your career goals. Or, contact her by email or phone (416.946.0521) with your questions.

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“.

Powerful Network, Friends for Life. Conversations with a Rotman MFin alumna [Part IV of IV]

Wen Lei, Rotman MFin

Wen Lei, MFin, CFA

In the fourth and final installment of our wide-ranging conversation with Rotman Master of Finance class of 2014 alumna, Wen Lei, CFA, Manager, Asset and Liability Management at Manulife Financial, shares her thoughts about the friendships she formed, the calibre of her classmates and her final thoughts on the MFin program. Remember to check out part I, II and III of our conversations.

Congratulations on graduating this June! Now that you’re no longer in the classroom together, do you still keep in touch with your fellow MFin alumni?

Definitely. We still hang out. Recently, one of us sent an invitation to everyone for a poker night. So everyone’s still in contact.

We went through the fire together so to speak, so there’s a kind of camaraderie there. The Rotman MFin classes are small as well so you’re able to talk to most of the people. It’s easier to make friends.

In my class, it’s funny, most of the people sat in the same spot through the whole program. So on my left was Andre. On my right was Jim. We had a pretty good dynamic.

I have to say that I learned a lot from both of them. Especially Andre. He really pushed me.

How did he push you?

He knew that I like to talk but that I’m not good at presentations or speaking in front of the class. We were in a career workshop with Heather-Anne Irwin. We had to do a one minute elevator speech, introduce yourself kind of thing. She asked for volunteers to come up and give a speech to the class. And Andre said, “Wen wants to go!” I didn’t want to go!

I did alright. Afterwards I thought, if it wasn’t because he pushed me so hard, I wouldn’t have done it.

That’s really great to hear. We always talk about how we have this powerful network. It’s great that it’s more than formal ‘networking for work’ – it’s also about gaining friendships. You really do help each other out.

Friendship - Rotman MFin Class of 2014

Friendship – Rotman MFin Class of 2014

Yes. Like Jim, he’s in a very senior position in a bank. Last year I set myself a goal to do something out of my comfort zone. So I booked informal meetings with some of the portfolio managers or senior VPs in Manulife. I would ask Jim for advice about what kind of questions I should ask, what I should talk about. He’s in that position. So I assumed he knew how I could make the most of my time with them. He helped me out, he talked to me about it. The outcome was pretty good.

I have another example of the class helping each other out. In our class, we had a lot of babies. That is, at least five of the guys became new dads during the MFin program! After they had children, we understood that they may not have as much time as before to do assignments, so the other group members will take more on. We actually did it without talking about it.

Clearly, the relationships you’ve built in the MFin program really means a lot to you. Is there anything else that stood out to you about the program? 

A Powerful Network - Rotman MFin Class of 2014

A Powerful Network – Rotman MFin Class of 2014

People do ask me about the MFin program, and I always tell them that there are three major benefits you can get from the MFin.

One, you get the best professors in finance in Canada. They’re not just the best, they’re approachable. If you have questions, they never delay replying to your emails. You can always reach them. A few of my teachers are women who are also in the industry. They really inspired me.

My classmates were also very inspiring. I truly appreciated the calibre of the class. My peers come from all areas in the finance field. In our class we had traders, sales, risk management and accounting. I‘m more like asset management and accounting. For people who are relatively new to the field and are reevaluating what to do with their career, you can get a lot of advice.  You can talk to a lot of people and see what each job is like. Plus, not only do you meet people, you make friends. And those are life time friends actually.

The third benefit that I tell people is that you definitely learn a lot from the program. It’s much deeper than the CFA. I actually applied a lot of the theories from the risk management and portfolio management courses in my work right away. For example, I was able to apply the maple bond concepts that we learned in our applied fixed income class immediately. At the time, I was working with Canadian portfolio management. We were considering issuing long term treasury because there was a lot of demand for it. I talked to Fotini (Tolias) about it and she actually helped me with the proposal I made. Now, sometimes my manager at work will come to me with questions.

One of two Rotman MFin finalist teams of the 2013 National Investment Banking Competition in Vancouver. (L-R) Raymond Lam, Wen Lei, Iffat Kashif, Jiten Mistry.

One of two Rotman MFin finalist teams of the 2013 National Investment Banking Competition in Vancouver. (L-R) Raymond Lam, Wen Lei, Iffat Kashif, Jiten Mistry.

The curriculum really is practical and so on point. Portfolio management was an awesome class. One of my class group mates is a trader at BMO and we talked about trading ideas. I started a trading account, and started managing my parents’ pension fund. I started last June; year-to-date, I have a return of 25%. My group’s balanced fund was the top performer and we received an award for that.

Thank you so much for all your insight into your time here at Rotman!

You’re very welcome.


If you’re interested to learn more about the Rotman Master of Finance program, visit our website at www.rotman.utoronto.ca/mfin.

Contact us for more information or to start your MFin September 2015. You may also contact Breanna Brooks, Assistant Director of Admissions directly. We would love to meet with you!

Rotman Morning MBA Student Profile: Katya Kudashkina

Katya Kudashkina MBA'15

Katya Kudashkina, MBA ‘ 15

Katya Kudashkina is a current Rotman Morning MBA (part-time) student and an award-winning competitive ballroom dancer. She is very involved in the Rotman community and takes advantage of the many global opportunities offered. She recently completed a China Study Tour with Rotman and is soon to go on exchange in Italy. Katya is an Associate with the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB).

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What are your goals for doing the MBA?

I grew up in Russia and worked there for a number of years before coming to Canada. When I arrived, I didn’t quite speak English and had to start learning from the beginning. I repeated my undergrad, and I changed my major from Engineering to Computer Science. Part of the reason for doing the MBA here is that I knew how business is done in Russia for example, but I had no background for doing business in North America. So I had no vocabulary even to speak to people about business. I wanted to learn how it is done here. First, I wanted to grow my career where I work right now. Eventually, I wanted to move out of the IT area towards the business side.

What’s your current role at CCPIB?

Seven months ago, I switched from IT to the HR department. I used to work with finance systems in IT and I wanted to try something different, to try something on the business side. Currently, I’m with the HR Operations and Analytics team. My role involves HR analysis, which involves figuring out how HR as a department can support the business goals of the organization.

So you’re in the Rotman Morning MBA part-time program, which means you’re working full-time and studying at the same time. How do you find the work-study-life balance?

I connected with some alumni before I started at Rotman. One in particular gave me some really wise advice. He said that managing your calendar is key. The first thing I did when I got accepted at Rotman: I made sure all my calendars are synchronized – personal, school, work. My key is that I have everything in one place. Even my tea with my mom goes in my calendar. Once the time is booked, it’s not moving anywhere. My time is already planned for this semester. I block out potential group project time. It might sound a bit extreme, but it works. You really have to be organized as a working professional. I take a couple of hours and plan it all ahead for a few months.

Katya is a competitive ballroom dancer.

Katya is a competitive ballroom dancer.

My other key is to find people who are really flexible with me. For example, my vocal teacher can meet me at 10 AM or 10 PM. Also, my family has been very supportive all along. I have some friends who I don’t see as often as I would like to but I’m not giving them up. They’re still my friends. I used to cook before the MBA. You have to give up something. You can define what that something is. I’m a competitive dancer and I don’t dance as often as before. But my ‘often’ was every day so you simply change your life to adjust. The MBA does change your life. You have to decide if you do want this change and you just go with it. If you don’t want any changes you might as well just sit where you are and not do anything.

Thanks for being so candid. You’re also very involved in Rotman! You’re not only here to study, you’re also involved in a lot of school and industry clubs. Why?

Two things. One, I believe that getting involved in all that Rotman has to offer is amazing for personal development. Two, I want to make an impact. I care what’s happening around. I care about people, my class, the Rotman community. Also, we are the ones that create our brand – being involved and making an impact will be with us in the future.

When you come to Rotman, you can just get the three letters next to your name and you’re done. Or, you can take every step and opportunity to develop yourself; to speak publicly, to interact with a large number of people, to work with bigger teams to create impact. The Graduate Business Council (GBC) gave me a great chance to impact a larger community. The Rotman community during the time that you’re here is about 900 students, and we got the opportunity to create a culture for 900 students. It’s a huge impact.

Do you have any personal accomplishments during your time at Rotman so far to share?

My recent trip to Kenya is one of my personal greatest accomplishments.* This August, I won a North American ballroom dance competition in the silver category. I was very happy because it was also the first time that I entered into the championship. This happened during my studies and in between my China Study Tour** and Kenya. In between China and Kenya trips I had to practice, practice, practice!

Getting elected as the Executive VP for GBC is also one of my personal accomplishments at Rotman. To get elected, you have to convince people why you’re best for the role. Election happens in February and as school starts in September, most people have only gotten a few months to know you. During my year on the council, I think we did a good job to set a culture of partnership and integrity. It’s a great team accomplishment.

The department move at work was also great, and I got a promotion this May, which I found out about during my China Study Tour.

I also helped my sister with art shows. The last one was a big art show, over 300 people came in.

You’re definitely very busy! What advice would you give to women who are thinking of the MBA?

If women are considering a part-time MBA, they’re looking for a change. My advice is to get confident and don’t be afraid to do it. It’ll open so many doors that you can’t even imagine. It won’t be easy, I’m not going to lie. You’ll need the support of your family – the benefits of the MBA are worth it.

Would you recommend the Morning MBA?

I personally loved the Morning MBA for a number of reasons. Dance is so important to me and there’s no way my dance teacher would do a 7AM class with me. I have to admit that I was not a morning person; but you get used to the schedule. Now, I get up early and I absolutely love it. The great benefit of doing your studies in the morning is that this leaves your evenings free to spend with your family, friends, or whatever activity you love to do.

How did you end up choosing Rotman as your MBA school?

I chose it specifically for the Morning MBA program. Without it, the school would not have been an option for me.

When I was researching MBA schools, I had criteria that had to be met. The school needed to be downtown. It had to have a program with a timetable that would fit into my schedule. Rotman’s strong brand and global reputation was also important. I came upon the Morning MBA as I was researching on Rotman’s website. I went to a recruitment event that was geared specifically to women and was able to chat with women who had already completed the program, and current students. I talked to a lot of people that day! It was definitely a turnaround point for me. It was so nice to hear from so many successful women who have done it, who have set an example and can say, “Yes you can do it. It’s all manageable.”

It’s really the people who pulled me in. I chose Rotman because of where it stood in the rankings, for the Morning MBA program, and the people who were there. From the recruiting assistant director to the managing director of the program, it was really nice that everyone was so supportive. Everyone was ready to help. As a part-time student, I appreciate that there is all this flexibility and support.


Any questions about the Rotman Morning & Evening MBA programs for working professionals? Contact us! We would love to hear from you.

* Stay tuned for a follow up blog post on Katya’s trip to Kenya
* … and for a follow up blog post on Katya’s China Study Tour

Part-Time Master of Finance Studies, Full Work-Life Balance

Stephanie Chow, MFin '16, CPA, CA

Stephanie Chow, MFin ’16, CPA, CA

Stephanie Chow is a working professional in this year’s new Rotman Master of Finance class. Entering the MFin program, she received an entrance award* based on her exceptional merit. She is also an Investor Relations Financial Analyst with Tricon Capital Group Inc. With the admissions process still fresh on her mind, we asked her about her decision to choose our part-time program.

How did you get started in finance?

I’ve always loved corporate finance (I was a TA for the Introduction to Corporate Finance course in my undergrad) and I actually started my professional working life as an auditor at Ernst and Young. I was part of the Asset Management group where I specialized in Funds and Broker Dealers. I learned a lot about the private equity space during my three years at the firm. Eventually, I found my way to Tricon Capital Group and was part of their back office for about a year. The company has been very supportive of my career growth and management saw the potential in me to be part of the face of Tricon. I’m currently the Investor Relations contact for the company and I work closely with the CFO on all corporate finance transactions.

What is the lifestyle for you as a woman in finance?

Busy! I’m lucky in the sense that I’m not at the stage in life where I have other bigger responsibilities (such as children) so I have the luxury of flexibility. On the other hand, that flexibility made me feel as though I had no excuse to take a break. I used to work all the time and eventually I realized that jamming through the hours was not a healthy lifestyle. However, in a highly competitive industry such as finance, no one will ever stop you from working hard! I had to learn to make time for other things in life. So now, I’m still busy, but time is used more productively and I get to see my loved ones, spend some time on my hobbies, work towards a degree, and of course, sleep.

When you researched the program what events did you attend, what did you find useful in your search?

When I was researching about B-schools, I attended two conferences which were extremely helpful:

1) Forté Foundation MBA conference: I met Elizabeth Duffy-MacLean, Rotman MFin Managing Director, at this event. She was very helpful and I learned a lot about the MFin program and Rotman’s great support system for women in finance through her.

2) QS World MBA Tour: Remember to register for this event ahead of time if you plan on doing one on one interviews with representatives of different schools. I found the interviews to be very valuable as they gave me insight into the programs from around the world. I had several schools on my list and I reached out to each of their recruiting offices ahead of time. Some of them were able to arrange for an alumni to meet with me and I received great advice from these meetings.

In addition, I attended the Rotman Open House** for the MFin program. I met other professionals who were interested in the program and I was able to get a sense of the caliber of people who may become my future classmates. Needless to say, I was very impressed! Remember to get the contact info of the members in the recruiting team!

Finally, recent alumni of the program would be your best source of information. They can educate you on topics that you cannot find in a pamphlet, such as what the students are like, information on the curriculum and workload, overall culture of the school, etc.

What was it that attracted you to a part-time MFin program versus a full-time option?

The part-time option was more attractive to me because I believe experience and academics are both equally important. The part-time option allows me to build experience while I work towards a degree. Additionally, I want to be part of a strong network of professionals who live and breathe finance and learn from their experiences in the working world.

Best piece of advice for a woman working in finance?

Speak up!

We all want to be super woman; I pride myself in being able to multi task and juggle ten things at a time. However, we are not super heroes. Learn to speak up and ask for help! There is no shame in reaching out to your loved ones for a bit of support. When you are well- rested and less stressed, it makes them happier as well!

This is extremely important in any industry. As women, we’re naturally great listeners. What most of us need to work on is to speak up and share your opinion with others. Unfortunately, in the finance industry, we’re usually outnumbered by men. This definitely makes it harder for us because the environment is sometimes intimidating. That doesn’t mean you should question yourself and sit in silence! Your opinion is just as valuable as that man next to you. As for the men, help us out! Next time, ask the lady next to you what her opinion is and offer her the chance to speak up.

I highly recommend the book “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” by Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook.

* New Master of Finance Women’s Excellence Awards recently announced! Details here.
** The annual Rotman Open House is happening this year on October 18, 2014 from 10 AM – 3 PM. Register now.

Announcing new entrance awards for working professionals!

Eva Hughes

Eva Hughes, Director, Recruitment & Admissions, Morning & Evening MBA and Master of Finance

We’re pleased to announce new entrance awards for our three working professional, part-time degree programs. These entrance awards will be awarded to candidates starting the 2015 academic year. They are granted based on merit to recognize outstanding candidates of our Morning & Evening MBA and Master of Finance programs.

Morning & Evening MBA

  • New! Two Morning MBA Excellence Awards of $25,000 each*
  • New! Five Women in Business Excellence Awards of $15,000 each

Master of Finance

  • New! Four Master of Finance Women’s Excellence Awards of $20,000 each

The Women in Business and Master of Finance Women’s Excellence Awards are specifically awarded to female candidates in support of their career aspirations. The Morning MBA Excellence Awards are considered for candidates who apply to rise with sun in the Morning MBA program.

These new entrance awards are in addition to existing entrance awards. As with all of our entrance awards for working professionals, no additional application is required as you will be considered automatically based on the quality of your experiences, and your Morning MBA, Evening MBA or Master of Finance application. Tip: the earlier you apply, the greater your changes of securing our new and existing entrance awards!

Visit the Morning & Evening MBA or Master of Finance websites to learn more about the programs or about entrance awards. You may also contact us directly. We would love to hear from you!

* Apply to the Morning MBA by February 2015 to be automatically considered.

A Woman in Finance on Balance, Discipline & Support: Conversations with a Rotman MFin Alumna [Part III of IV]

What is it like to study part-time while working full-time in the finance industry? In part 3 of 4 of our wide-ranging conversation with Rotman Master of Finance alumna, Wen Lei, CFA, Manager, Asset and Liability Management at Manulife Financial, she shares her personal experiences with getting it all done. Remember to check out part I and II of our conversations.

Wen Lei, Rotman MFin

Wen Lei, MFin, CFA

What’s the lifestyle for you as a woman in finance?

It’s busy, I like it. A lot it is about your personality and what you want to do career-wise and in your personal life. For me, I feel anxious if I’m not doing anything. For example, this year, work was pretty heavy. I worked with Manulife Hong Kong and Japan, so I was always on calls at eight in the morning, eight o’clock at night. Then school in the last semester was crazy. I also had a wedding in May. In February, I completed my group fitness certificate as a personal trainer. If it wasn’t for exercise, I wouldn’t have energy for all those things.

That’s a lot! Let’s talk about your strategy for juggling these different areas in your life. One of the big questions that people pose about part-time programs is how to balance, work, family and study at the same time.

The thing is, I don’t think I’m the best student in class. My approach is to separate work and school. During the week, I focused on work. Some people have time here and there to do assignments and stuff. But because of my work schedule, I’m constantly working overtime. The 8AM/8PM calls mean that I wouldn’t have time during the week to do assignments unless I really had to. I devote my time 100% to school on the weekends. I’m always kind of playing catch up. We have class on Wednesday nights, Saturdays, and sometimes Saturday and Sunday. I definitely devote those days mostly to assignment and readings. I make sure that I get whatever I need done, done.

I’m not a super woman either, so I can’t do everything at once. You have to give up something. So I had to see my friends less frequently. I didn’t really go out all that much during my studies. The only time I really go out is after class on Saturday. I’ll go out for a drink with friends or classmates. And I’ll make sure I don’t over indulge to the point where I have a hangover the next day because that would waste my whole day. You really have to be disciplined.

During the MFin program, I got a lot of support. My family, my husband. And also classmates. They’re your motivators.

[Laughs] For my wedding, I was able to push much of it to my husband. He did a lot.

So it sounds like you really have to be dedicated to achieving what you want – and studying while working full-time is possible.

Well, for the Rotman MFin program, it’s part-time, so the school understands you’re not going to be 100% at school. The curriculum is structured in a way so that all the work is very doable.

The thing is, you’re paying good money for your education and advancement. It all depends on what you want out of this program. I’m sure some people may just go through the motions or even miss classes. You paid for this. You should definitely get as much out it as possible.


If you’re interested to learn more about the Rotman Master of Finance program, visit our website at www.rotman.utoronto.ca/mfin.

Contact us for more information or to start your MFin this September. This time next year you’ll be half way towards achieving your degree.  You may also contact Fiona Duley, Assistant Director of Admissions directly. We would love to meet with you!

How is the Rotman Master of Finance (MFin) different from the CFA?

How is the Rotman Master of Finance (MFin) different from the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation? 

It’s a question that we are frequently asked by prospective students like yourself who are looking to accelerate your finance career with the Rotman Master of Finance.

To answer this, we turned to one of our MFin alumna to get her perspective in her own words.

Lindsay Sinclair, MFin, CFA

Lindsay Sinclair, MFin, CFA, Vice-President, Rates Sales, RBC Capital Markets

“The Rotman Master of Finance offers a deep focus on a broad set of finance topics, where the CFA is quite centered on money management. The learning style is very different as well. The MFin is classroom and team-work based which allows for interaction with professors, industry professionals and other classmates, who are often well-versed in their specific areas of finance. Plus, there are many other benefits of a Rotman graduate program – networking, career services for working professionals, being at the forefront of the latest industry research, industry events and conferences, case competitions, etc.”

Lindsay Sinclair, MFin, CFA
Vice-President, Rates Sales, RBC Capital Markets

What those seriously looking into the program should know is that the Rotman MFin curriculum supplements and extends beyond that of CFA and other professional finance designations. Typically 50% of our class has at minimum passed the CFA level I examination. The Rotman MFin is a program that’s designed to help you to become a future finance leader. The breadth and depth of finance knowledge that Ms. Sinclair mentions above translates into an ability to master the diverse languages of finance – from risk management, fixed income, investments to corporate finance. You’ll also have access to world-renowned faculty such as Professor John Hull, who is the world’s leading expert in derivatives, options and risk management.

Professor John Hull

Rotman Master of Finance: Professor John Hull

We recognize the dedication and foundational finance knowledge gained with a CFA designation, which is why the Rotman MFin program accepts your CFA level 3 exam passed in lieu of the Graduate Masters Admissions Test (GMAT). For those who have recently passed their CFA level 3 examination, congratulations again and we hope you’re ready for your next challenge with the Rotman MFin!

Bonus: Did you know that the Rotman MFin itself qualifies as a Continuing Education (CE) activity for CFA charter holders?

Talk to us if you have any questions about starting the Rotman Master of Finance. Our Master of Finance Assistant Director of Admissions, Emily Mancuso would love to hear from you! Simply fill out this contact form with your information.

Why the Rotman MFin? Conversations with a Rotman MFin alumna [Part II of IV]

Have a peek at what one alumna’s journey to the Rotman Master of Finance was like. We sat down with Wen Lei, CFA, Manager, Asset and Liability Management at Manulife Financial and recent Rotman MFin alumna for a wide-ranging conversation on her career, influences and the Rotman MFin program. This post is the second in a four-part series. Check out her first post and stay tuned for the following posts!

Wen Lei, Rotman MFin

Wen Lei, MFin, CFA

How did you find about the Rotman MFin? You finished your undergrad in 2006 and started the MFin in 2012. What did you do in the 6 years in between?

The first time that I heard about the MFin was in 2007 while I was working at CIBC in risk management. It’s actually also the year that the MFin program launched. I had 2 co-workers at CIBC in my department at the time who took the MFin, one of them in the inaugural year and the other the year after.

At the time, I had just graduated from university, and was still in a junior role. I was taking my CFA, so I was hoping to finish that before pursuing a Master’s degree.

I had already kind of planned out my career path; what I want to accomplish by what age. My goal was that by age 30, I have to finish all my formal schooling.

Anyway, I worked at CIBC for a couple of years before I switched over to TD where I continued with my CFA. In terms of work, I did pretty well at TD. I was promoted directly to manager from analyst, so I didn’t have to go through the additional step of senior analyst.

The opportunity at Manulife came along when as my former boss reached out to me. I thought it was a good move. So I took it. At the same time, I also became a CFA charter holder. That was when I looked seriously at doing either an MFin or an MBA.

Right away?

Yes, right away. I had that goal to finish everything before 30! My advice is for people to really know what they want and to take the steps to work towards it.

What made you decide on the MFin vs an MBA?

I was already a people manager – I had managed a staff of eight. I knew I wanted to be in finance. Like a lot of my peers in class, I wanted to learn something deeper specific to finance. The MFin was definitely the way to go for me.

Also, I compared the three programs in the city. There are only 3 schools that offered the MFin in Toronto. One is geared towards people who wanted to finish their CFA program, another is a full-time program. And I looked at U of T. It does charge the most, but you got these fantastic, stellar professors.

The Rotman MFin is part-time, has amazing professors, and the location is right where I needed to be. Classes are small, which is what I wanted. I had fun. I got to know a lot of smart people in class, which proved that I made the right choice.


If you’re interested to learn more about the Rotman Master of Finance program, visit our website at www.rotman.utoronto.ca/mfin.

Apply to start your MFin this September. This time next year you’ll be half way towards achieving your degree. Merit based entrance awards are available.  Contact us with any questions.

What’s it like as a woman in finance? Conversations with a Rotman MFin alumna [Part I of IV]

Wen Lei, Rotman MFin

Wen Lei, MFin, CFA

What is it like as a woman in finance? We caught up with Wen Lei, CFA, Manager, Asset and Liability Management at Manulife Financial and recent Rotman Master of Finance alumna for a wide-ranging conversation on her career, influences and the Rotman MFin program. This post is the first in a four part series. Stay tuned!

How did you choose finance for your career?

In my undergraduate studies, I had an excellent instructor, Karen Chiykowski. She was very influential in my finance career choice.

Were you interested in finance before?

No. I had no idea what I wanted to do exactly. Truthfully, I just thought that I wanted a business degree because of the job options. You had a few fields to choose from. More than half of the students went into accounting. I had no interest in accounting at all. I did quite terribly actually. I think it was my only C+. I hated it! I liked finance the best. Karen was really good. She motivated me and definitely kicked off my interest in the area. It’s not 100% just numbers; you have the quantitative and qualitative aspects at the same time.

There are relatively few women in the finance industry. Thoughts?

I don’t feel disadvantaged at all, especially in Toronto. My boss is a woman. I had a couple of women mentors. In school we had female professors, a lot of whom had also been practitioners in the industry.

I think a lot of women go into other fields by choice. Traditionally, we might look at ourselves as better in literature, psychology, not necessarily in math nor science.

What character do you need to succeed in finance?

You have to be able to compete in finance. You have to be hard-working. You have to be driven. You have to be motivated all the time. Particularly in Toronto, we have more CFA charter holders than New York! Everyone works hard to get in to get a good job. You just have to be very assertive about yourself. Very self-motivated.

Would you have any advice for women thinking about going to finance?

Find yourself a mentor. Join some sort of organization. For example, Women in Capital Markets is very good. Having a good mentor is important. I mentor some people too. Right now, I’m in a formal mentorship through WCM as an “apprentice”. Actually, my mentor is also a Rotman MFin alumna who graduated in 2012.

What value do you find in a mentor?

I find women very supportive. Most mentors have more experience than you. For example, my mentor has been in the industry for more than 15 years. She has a pretty good career path. She did the Rotman MFin. You’ll find commonalities with your mentor. You’ll also learn about their career path, their experience, how they get to where they are right now. You learn from that. And, if you have issues or problems or questions, maybe they can help. Maybe they have had the same experience or puzzle before. They’ll help give you some kind of solution or insight that could be useful.


If you’re interested to learn more about the Rotman Master of Finance program, visit our website at www.rotman.utoronto.ca/mfin.

Apply to start your MFin this September. This time next year you’ll be half way towards achieving your degree. Contact us with any questions.

Street credibility, competitive leverage: Rotman Master of Finance

From real estate finance to corporate credit and risk. Rotman Master of Finance alumna Miranda Fong shares how the MFin gave her the street credibility and competitive leverage to differentiate herself among a very competitive pool of candidates.

The Rotman MFin program takes place over 20-months. Apply by August 15, 2014 to start your MFin this September. This time next year you’ll be half way towards achieving your degree. Merit based entrance awards are available. Contact us with any questions.

5 strengths of the Rotman Master of Finance

Practical. Real-world. Solid finance faculty. Reputation. Location. Rotman MFin alumna Sandy Lam, MFin, CPA, CA, CFA, Associate, Sales & Trading and Investment Banking Rotational Program at National Bank Financial shares sound bites on why she chose the Rotman Master of Finance program.

 

7 AM: Wake Up to the Rotman Morning MBA

It’s 7 AM on a weekday, the tantalizing scent of coffee drifts past… and while most of the city is just getting up, you’re already in a classroom with a group of similarly dedicated early birds. It’s doable! Karina Ling, Morning MBA alumna explains why she loves waking up to the Rotman Morning MBA, and how it challenges and invigorates her, all before heading to work.