2016 MBAs To Watch: Kristina Koch, University of Toronto (Rotman)

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Kristina Koch

 
University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management

Age: 29

Hometown: Villach, Austria

Undergraduate School and Degree: Haaga-Helia University, Finland – Bachelor of Sports and Leisure Management

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? International Ice Hockey Federation, President’s Office, Zurich, Switzerland

Where did you intern during the summer of 2015? National Hockey League, Toronto

Where will you be working after graduation? Deloitte, Consultant Managerial Design

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: President, Rotman Sports Business Club; Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Award, University of Toronto

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am really proud of the events our Rotman Sports Business Club team put together this year, making a real impact for all Rotman students interested in a career in the sports industry. We formed new strategic partnerships that resulted in new internship opportunities and a recognized platform for students to break into the industry.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am proud of following through on my plan to go back to school to pursue my MBA. I really loved my previous job and it was difficult to leave after seven years. But going through business school has really proved to be a fantastic catalyst for both professional and personal growth and enabled me to secure a position in a field that I am excited about and with a company that has really impressed me.

Who is your favorite professor? This is a tough question to answer since many professors at Rotman have impressed me. If I had to pick one, it’d be Tiziana Casciaro, associate professor of Organizational Behavior and HR Management. Not only is she extremely competent in her field, but she also has a fantastic sense of humour which made her classes insightful, engaging, and fun.

Favorite MBA Courses? I really loved Rotman’s Getting it Done intensive — a course that focuses on organizational effectiveness. It was well-taught, very hands-on, and helped us understand how to lead and work better in teams. It is a topic that I especially appreciated since I used to play competitive sport, where ultimate success always came down to a group’s ability to perform as a team.

Why did you choose this business school? It was a combination of factors. For one, I felt welcome at Rotman from the very first time I visited and I just clicked with the people I met there. Second, it is Canada’s top business school and has a world-class faculty. Third, Toronto is a diverse city with great life quality and I felt it offered a lot of professional opportunities for me post-MBA.

What did you enjoy most about business school? The people you meet. Be it amazing classmates from all around the world that become friends for life, impressive professors, or renowned business leaders that came to campus to speak with students.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from business school? Be it a high workload or a difficult subject — if you work hard and do your best, you will find a way to figure it out.

What was the most surprising thing about business school? How much additional learning came from extracurricular activities like taking on a leadership opportunity with a club or joining Rotman’s Self Development Lab. I feel like I learned as much outside of the classroom as I did during the actual course work.

What was the hardest part of business school? The intensity. The work load during the first year sometimes seemed overwhelming.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school? Don’t be shy to be different — just be yourself. Authenticity trumps everything.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when… I knew that it was time to take the next step in my career and push myself out of my comfort zone.”

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be… missing out on an exciting and fulfilling life in Toronto.”

Which executive or entrepreneur do you most admire? Former NFL coach Vince Lombardi is inspiring. It is remarkable how quickly he transformed the losing Green Bay Packers into a winning team by a relentless commitment to hard work and rebuilding team spirit. I believe his philosophy transfers just as well to the business world.

What are your long-term professional goals? Long-term, I hope to find myself in a job that excites me, allows me to continue to develop, and push myself and, most importantly, work with other people.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I think it would be sport. Having played hockey competitively gave me a really strong work ethic, taught me how to set goals, and made me appreciate the ability to work well as a team.

Fun fact about yourself: Worst baking skills in the history of mankind. I have witnesses (aka victims).

Favorite book: I like biographies. Chris Hadfield’s autobiography was a great read.

Favorite movie: BASE-jumping documentary 20 seconds of Joy

Favorite musical performer: Rotman Music Club!

Favorite television show: There is no specific show that I like, but I have a serious documentary addiction. Louis Theroux is my favourite documentary filmmaker.

Favorite vacation spot: Europe — to visit family and friends.

Hobbies? I spend unhealthy amounts of time watching documentaries. I also love learning languages and exploring Toronto’s great ethnic restaurants.

What made Kristina such an invaluable addition to the class of 2016?

“Kristina is a tour de force. As a professional athlete, career switcher, and newcomer to Canada, she greatly enhanced the student experience for her fellow classmates. As the president of the Rotman Sports Business Club, Kristina negotiated several key partnerships that helped students interested in sports careers connect with industry. In the past few months alone, she spearheaded a partnership and case competition with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that allowed her fellow classmates to demonstrate their skills in front of seasoned sports leaders. She possesses that rare gift of an effective leader who knows when to be present and when to fall back and allow others to shine. While on exchange in Russia, for example, she managed to have the Stanley Cup appear at Rotman for the day so that students and faculty could enjoy it — and never mentioned this to others. She continuously helps others with no need for recognition and improves the people around her. Kristina is a leader in every sense of the word; we really wish we could keep her on campus longer.”

Neel Joshi
Director, Student Life & International Experience
Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

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