Meet The Toronto Rotman MBA Class of 2017

Phil McDonald

Phil McDonald      

Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

Hometown: Ottawa, Ontario

Undergraduate School and Major:

University of Ottawa, Major Health Sciences, Minor in Business Administration

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) – Business Analyst, Reporting and Analytics – Enterprise Project Management Office (EPMO) — 2013 -2015

The Ottawa Hospital – Analyst, Operations – 2011-2013

Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? If you know you would like to pursue an MBA in the future, I recommend studying and writing the GMAT during your senior year of undergraduate studies. You will have the advantage of both time and sharp study habits that most working professional’s lack. However, for most of us who may not have that kind of foresight, I recommend simulating test-like environments when you study. I spent a month identifying and studying my weaknesses before practicing full test sections under tight time constraints in unfamiliar locations for the remainder of my studies. Set a test date early in your studies to keep you motivated and tell a friend or family member about your plans to keep you accountable.

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? I believe picking a school is a deeply personal journey. I think most of us like to think we select a school based solely on facts and reason, but I do believe it to be partly driven by emotion. I began the process by asking myself a series of questions. What do I want get out of my experience? What would I like to do following my MBA?  What companies interest me? Where do most graduates end up? Where would I like to live? I spoke to alumni, visited the schools, and did some research online to get answers to my questions. Only then was I able to narrow down the schools and ultimately decide that Rotman was the best fit.

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? My one piece of advice is to get started today. It’s easy to keep pushing everything off; I was guilty of that myself. By giving your recommenders plenty of time, it shows that you are respectful and considerate of their time, which will likely translate to a better crafted letter. Similarly, getting an early start on the essays is also a way to be considerate of your own time. Applying for an MBA is time-consuming, but it can be managed with proper planning to not interfere with important things in life such as spending time with friends and family. Finally, treat interviews as you would any other job interview. Come prepared to talk about your experiences, failures, and successes. Above all else, be confident! It’s an opportunity for the school and you to get to know each other.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? I felt there was no better place to study business in Canada than Toronto. The city is home to many of the largest global organizations, which translates to unmatched exposure and access for Rotman students. As someone who is interested in being at the intersection of business and healthcare, the school continues to position itself as thought-leaders as evidenced by the Centre for Health Care Strategy, which brings together the best minds in academia, industry, and government. Further to that, the University of Toronto and (more recently) the Rotman School of Business is recognized for its academic excellence and is highly regarded across Canada and abroad.

What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? I want to be prepared to handle the unexpected. Let me explain: Industries move fast and technology even faster. Before I graduate, I hope to have refined the way I solve problems and developed the tools to approach ambiguity that will not only help me in my first job out of business school but also 10 to 20 years down the road.

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