Meet Toronto Rotman’s MBA Class of 2019

Some of the MBA students in the Class of 2019 at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management

Business schools often take on the character of their cities. That’s one of the distinctive features of the Rotman School of Management, which mirrors the forward-thinking ethos of Toronto. Famously described as “New York if it was run by the Swiss” by actor Peter Ustinov, Toronto carries a certain vibe that can described as multicultural, neighborly, open-minded, and modest. It is a place where you can start anew – or simply embrace who you really are

Like New York, Toronto is a city of distinctive neighborhoods, one with low crime, affordable housing, and vibrant culture – not to mention free healthcare. Diverse, imaginative and wired to the hilt, Toronto boasts more than just a high quality of life. It is also one of the world’s great commercial hubs. According to CBRE, the city added 22,500 tech jobs over the past year, more than San Francisco and New York combined! In a 2016 PwC study, Toronto finished third overall in a global cities study – scoring among the top five in benchmarks like sustainability, intellectual capital, and entrepreneurship. Such innovation starts with infrastructure – and Toronto is a global leader in both traditional (aerospace and banking) and emerging (biotech, communications and healthcare) sectors. This wealth of resources has not only created synergies, but a virtuous cycle where large and small firms foster each other’s growth.


In an eclectic powerhouse like Toronto, MBA students can’t help but feel inspired. This spirit filters down to the Rotman curriculum. Look no further than the school’s tagline: “A new way to think.” Translation: Rotman is a school that demands new ideas and has little patience for the half-hearted or self-satisfied. Notably, the program is built around integrative problem-solving, a rigorous and inclusive discipline that pulls the best from a range of options – even conflicting ones – to forge the best possible outcome. This framework is only amplified at Rotman, a program where nearly three quarters of the full-time MBAs were born outside Canada. Such diverse backgrounds expand the possibilities inherent to Integrative thinking and gives the program a trademark cosmopolitan feel.

“I was amazed that there were almost no two people with the same background,” says Ronald Replan, a Philippines native and product manager who is among the 350 students who compose Rotman’s Class of 2019.

For Cadence Peckham, a Californian who studied music as an undergrad, coming to Toronto (and Rotman in particular) has been like a homecoming. “Having lived in Switzerland as a child, a large part of my identity comes from the experiences I had and the friendships I forged during those four years. Visiting Toronto, I was struck by the diversity of the city and further excited to see that that diversity extended into Rotman’s student body. Diversity was a cornerstone of my international childhood; I had friends from almost every continent. Stepping onto campus at the University of Toronto and at Rotman, I was reminded of my time in Europe.”

Toronto, Canada


On the surface, you could tag Rotman as the best-kept secret among international MBA programs. However, the program’s trajectory shows otherwise. Since 2012, the school has seen its applications volume double. Indeed, the incoming class will enjoy a wealth of resources beyond just Rotman. One of the world’s top research schools, the University of Toronto consists of 60,000 students and 14,000 faculty. In other words, it is expansive enough to expose MBAs to nearly any discipline and build a network with any population. Even more, the campus is just a five minute ride to downtown Toronto – and the wealth of employment, entertainment, and shopping venues that come with it.

Long story short, Rotman is Canada’s top business school, one that’s located in the heart of a definitive city. Beyond location, Rotman is defined by a genuine prestige, incomparable momentum, innovative framework, distinct vision, and vast resources. You’ll find the Class of 2019 – a class of advocates, entrepreneurs, artists, and humanitarians – matches the school with their curiosity, creativity, and open-minded approach.

Look no further than René Chen, who went from graphic design to instructional design to entrepreneurship – even tapping into his “nerdy side” to teach himself how to program. He wasn’t alone in showcasing an impressive level of commitment. Take Vanessa Matos Tudela, a Venezuelan immigrant who is “invested in improving our planet through the private sector.” How invested? “I am part of a group of activists called the Climate Reality Corps and I am a Climate Reality Leader,” she says. “I was trained by Al Gore himself on climate science and storytelling in order to work towards solutions to the climate crisis.” If you’re an investor, consider Replan a sure bet. “I founded three education ventures, all of them still active,” he notes.


It is also an adventurous class that’ll fit into Toronto’s biting winters and balmy summers. Heather Beatty, a Dartmouth art history major who became an internal auditor, is a competitive downhill ski racer who has been clocked at 75 miles per hour on the slopes. Camryn DeLooff competes in skiing, wakeboarding, and kneeboarding…and she’ll even stand atop a three-tier show ski pyramid. And Kunal Khosla, who has already launched two startups of his own, claims he has participated in almost every sport possible.

Looking over the class’ accomplishments, it is clear that they seek out solutions that serve the greater good. As a senior analyst at Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines, Replan factored CO2 emissions into his machinery choices, which resulted in “significantly cutting down the company’s costs and greenhouse emissions.” Marcelo Garza García cut back on wasted food at Sigma Alimentos by developing packaging that maintained freshness over multiple uses – an innovation that also boosted sales by 57%. At the same time, Stephanie Alavedra Falvy helped launch a social responsibility program in Scotiabank’s wholesale division, which spearheaded blood drives and children’s education campaigns.

The 2019 class also wasn’t afraid to clear new paths, regardless of risk. In Brazil, Rodrigo Paolucci launched a venture that distributed and monetized online videos – a venture that yielded millions of dollars in sales and investment. Matos Tudela sold the first commercial scale solar PV system in the Bahamas. And how would you like to be Steffi Rebello? After earning her aerospace engineering degree, her first job was to manage a team of 50 people – who spoke a different language. Wise beyond her 22 years, Rebello thrived in her first assignment at General Electric.

“I was one of the few female managers in a male dominated, highly unionized environment,” she recalls. “However, I focused on my targets and did not give up. Within six months, I was able to deliver and change the perspective my team and manager had of me. Additionally, I set up the Women’s Network to help women (and men) to network and take on leadership positions.”


Rotman graduates at convocation.

Traditionally, Rotman neither discloses the number of applications it receives nor the number of candidates it accepts. However, the school revealed in a fall news release that applications had increased by 30%, ranking it among the most appealing business schools during the 2016-2017 cycle. Despite this, the student population held steady at 350 students – meaning the school became even more selective than ever.

Overall, 52% of the class hails from overseas – one of the largest international cohorts in North America. The class includes 35 nationalities who speak 28 languages, a testament to just how diverse the full-time MBA program really is. In addition, all Rotman graduates are eligible for a three-year work permit; this creates a safety net for students that mitigates risk for employers as well. While the percentage of international students remained the same, the class grew more diverse through an influx of women. Overall, the Class of 2019 attracted a 40% share of women. Up six points over the 2018 class, this mark is Rotman’s best-ever – and places the school in the same company as the University of Chicago and the University of California-Berkeley.

Academically, the class’ average GMAT score rose three points to 665, though its median score remained fixed at 660. The same is true of average GPA, which came in at 3.4. Business majors comprise nearly a third of the class at 32%. Quants take up another 38%, headed by engineering and applied sciences (22%), life sciences and physical sciences (12%), and math and computer sciences (4%). The rest is comprised of soft side, including economics (13%), social sciences (10%), humanities and fine arts (5%), and law (2%). In fact, 18 members of the class – 5% – are pursuing joint JD-MBA degrees.

Like past years, financial services and consulting are heavily represented. 32% of the class have experience with the former. The latter, however, enjoyed a big jump to 22% – double its percentage over the previous year. The same is true of technology, which went from 10% to 22%. On the other side, Rotman remains a big supplier of finance and consulting talent. 44% of 2017 graduates entered finance-related institutions, with another 21% swooped up by consulting firms. Contrary to public perception, Rotman is hardly a finance school though.

Go to page 2 to see in-depth profiles of incoming Rotman MBA students.