Meet The Toronto Rotman MBA Class of 2017

Ryan Connelly

Ryan Connelly

Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

Hometown: Aurora, Ontario

Undergraduate School and Major: Ryerson University, Bachelor of Commerce: Business Management – Finance

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: Consultant, Capco (Apr 2014 – Jul 2015); Associate, Capco (Sept 2012 – Mar 2014)

Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? Spend the majority of your time doing practice tests (full tests – not just practice questions) under the same time pressure you will face during the actual test. One of the most valuable things you can learn from this type of practice is the ability to “half-answer” a question. The GMAT is an adaptive test. No matter how smart you are and how many questions you’ve practiced, you are going to encounter questions that you are just not equipped to solve in a minute or less. So then you need a strategy of the best way you can spend that minute, even if you can’t fully solve the question. My preferred approach is to use that time to reduce or simplify the problem in some way that might allow you to eliminate some of the multiple choice options. You may not be able to fully answer the question, but by coming up with a “half-answer,” you can drastically shorten your odds on a question that you were outmatched on. This strategy worked well for me, but you may come up with a different strategy that works better for you. Whatever you do, the point is that you need to come in to the test with a strategy for how you’re going to deal with difficult questions in a time-sensitive environment.

Based on your own selection process, what advice do you have for applicants who are trying to draw up a list of target schools to which to apply? Develop a clear vision of what success looks like to you and what that journey looks like. Once you know where you want to go and how you’re going to get there, then you should be able to come up with a long list of schools that fit into that plan. In order to shorten that list, I think it’s important to be really honest with yourself about the types of things that are likely to propel you to success and the types of things that might inhibit your success. I interviewed at a school that I knew, even in the application stage, that the location of the campus wasn’t right for me. I told myself that it was the school that mattered, not the location, so I applied anyway. Traveling to the campus for the interview only confirmed what I already knew: The campus was in a town where I wasn’t going to be happy living. Any off-campus recruiting would require fairly onerous amounts of travel and the logistics of traveling to and from Toronto were a nightmare so visiting my girlfriend would have been difficult. I could have saved myself a lot of time, effort, and money if I had been honest with myself from the beginning that location was a decisive factor for me.

What advice do you have for applicants in actually applying to a school, writing essays, doing admission interviews, and getting recommenders to write letters on your behalf? If you’re starting early enough and you have time on your side, I would suggest trying to complete all of your applications before you submit any of them. The application and essay questions vary from school-to-school, so you will have to think about your story and your experiences in a slightly different way for each application. At the same time, the questions are still similar enough that as you gain new insights into how to present your story, you should be able to go back and apply these insights to applications you’ve already completed. I submitted applications in both of the first two rounds and I felt like my Round 2 applications were much stronger based on the combined experiences of completing applications in Rounds 1 and 2. I found myself looking back at my Round 1 applications and wishing I could tweak my essays or answer some questions slightly differently.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? I applied to a range of different schools and travelled a fair bit to do on-campus interviews when possible, but Rotman always loomed large in my application process. Rotman was the only Canadian school I applied to. I’ve lived and worked in or around Toronto my whole life and I know and worked with many people who graduated from Rotman. In the end, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to go to the best business school in Canada while living in a city I love, staying near friends and family, and studying on a campus that is next-door to the firms that I am interested in working for after I graduate.

What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? Before I graduate, I’d like to make a positive impact on the Rotman community. I intend to achieve this by sharing my knowledge and experience within student clubs, challenging my peers in group assignments and case competitions, and hopefully encountering a few surprises along the way. Additionally, I’d like to graduate with a head full of knowledge, a bunch of new friends, and a job offer for a career that I’m even more excited about than I am about starting at Rotman right now.

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