Meet Toronto Rotman’s MBA Class of 2019

Rotman School of Management

AN AMBITIOUS PROGRAM THAT DOESN’T REST ON ITS LAURELS

“We also have a very strong management consulting track, as well as a variety of cutting edge programs focused on entrepreneurship, like the Creative Destruction Lab, robust business design and marketing practices, and an emerging group focused on Real Estate Management and Economics,” says Alex Walker Turner, a 2017 Best & Brightest grad who joined McKinsey. “Rotman offers a variety of degree specializations, concentrations, and majors. While finance is definitely one of our strengths, it is far from the end of the story!”

In fact, you can think of Rotman is a story without end, a program always on the move. This stems less from a restless spirit and more from closely monitoring the marketplace and using integrative thinking to broaden the options and anticipate needs down the road. Dean Tiff Macklem points to recent implementations, including adding a new Gender and the Economy (G+E) Centre and “scaling up” both the Behavioural Economics in Action at Rotman (BEAR) Centre. He also shares that the school is pouring massive resources into the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL), adding another 25 AI-based ventures and opening a stream for new quantum machine learning launches.

“These centres are at once both research labs — on gender in the workplace, the application of behavioural economics to public policy and business problems, and innovation and entrepreneurship – and working partnerships with business and governments,” he tells Poets&Quants in a statement. “They connect business, the entrepreneurial community and policy makers with the latest thinking, bring real time business and societal problems to the faculty and students, and provide unique experiential learning opportunities for students at the forefront of these areas working with leading companies and new ventures.”

EVEN GREATER COMMITMENT TO FINTECH AND FACULTY MENTORING

Dean Tiff Macklem

Macklem adds that the school has also invested in G+E Fellowships, which support, in his worlds, “co-designed project with the Institute and CDL Fellowships, with guaranteed summer internships at CDL ventures” for entrepreneurship-minded students.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Niki Da Silva, managing director of the full-time MBA program, touts the introduction of the flexible internship, which pairs each student with a faculty member to provide coaching and mentoring. In doing so, faculty can help student fulfill technical expectations while navigating interpersonal and political issues. “This shifts more choice for students about when and where they do their internship (either in summer, or, fall, or winter after completing first year) opening up hundreds of new roles and increasing the depth and breadth of opportunities available,” she tells P&Q.  “Beyond career flexibility this structure flips experiential learning on its head and wraps a course focused on maximizing the value of the internship, complete with the guidance of an experienced mentor.”

This inclination towards innovation also manifests itself in the school’s increasing attention to fintech. “This year we are launching a new fintech hub building on our leadership in both finance and entrepreneurship,” adds Brian Golden, vice dean for MBA programs. “We’re also launching a new Management Data Lab to enhance and facilitate learning and research with big data, using the latest in data analytics. These initiatives will provide new learning opportunities for students at the intersection of finance and new technology, and the application of data analytics and model-based decision making to business problems.”

A MORE OPEN AND HOLISTIC APPROACH TO PROBLEM-SOLVING

If you asked the Class of 2019 to boil down the Rotman experience to one phrase, you would likely hear “integrative thinking.” What does this really mean? The word itself gives it away. “Integrative” means to unite or balance what has been separate. For example, the theoretical, practical and creative are often treated as individual entities, much like finance, operations, and sales. In reality, they share many connections. This applies both in terms of shared needs and cause-and-effect, which can outweigh their differing means and natural tensions.

So how is this different than standard analysis? Rather than seeking solutions, integrative thinkers start by expanding possibilities by tapping into a larger pool of thought and welcoming divergence. Relying on openness and curiosity, they step outside themselves to remove the personal constraints, biases, and past experiences that can straightjacket them. Instead, they examine issues holistically, balancing analytical rigor with intuitive sensibility, to simplify conflicts to their essence and build back up with the best ideas from a variety of viewpoints. In other words, they understand how to best frame and structure issues, taking extremes and ego out of the equation. Thus, they are freed to play with processes and variables until they define a path that softens conflicts and fosters an encompassing path forward.

For Replan, the framework was the most “striking” feature of the program. “Instead of teaching only the traditional business courses through case studies,” he explains. “Rotman teaches self-development, integrative thinking and business design (more relevant in today’s world), and does so through “mental frameworks.” Based on experience, mental frameworks make seemingly complicated business concepts simple and straightforward and as a result, the concepts become more memorable and useful. Mental frameworks also make the concepts more universal so they can be applied to problems in other industries, or functions.”

CREATIVE DESTRUCTION LAB CAPTURES THE CLASS’ IMAGINATIONS

One example of this philosophy in action is Rotman’s Creative Destruction Lab, a seed stage program for entrepreneurs. Here, students break down their startup ideas to better target their prospects, sharpen their pitch, and maximize their market value and ultimate returns. The program demands that students thoroughly vet all of their assumptions and analysis. As a result, many take their ventures into entirely unexpected directions. At the same time, the lab introduces students to accomplished entrepreneurs and VCs who can add hard-won experience to their integrative frames.

Rotman Classroom

The program may be demanding, but Paolucci says that’s exactly what he needs to turn his ideas into sustainable ventures. “After meeting the CDL and its initiatives for incubating startups and generating new ventures, I was fascinated by how Rotman is pushing hard on innovation and disruptive technology,” he explains. “I could perfectly picture myself working in the lab with the entrepreneurs and also cooking up new ideas for my next venture. My rationale was that if I was able to launch and develop a business in unfavorable conditions, doing it in within this environment will accelerate my odds for success.”

Even more, adds Garza García, the CDL is a platform to spark creative solutions – not to mention a safe space to test and even fail. “Courses like the Creative Destruction Lab will teach me how to apply economic and analytical tools to evaluate industry appeal, market scope, competitive strategies, and financing opportunities, to make better professional decisions throughout my career. In Rotman, I will find an environment in which I learn to lead change and try out new ideas, risk-free, with my classmates.”

SELF-DEVELOPMENT LAB TEACHES SELF-AWARENESS

The same can be said for the school’s coaching culture. Call it a two-year exercise in self-awareness. Each student is assigned a coach, who’ll work with them on their interpersonal and leadership skills through individual sessions and workshops. Notably, the program offers a Self-Development Lab that covers everything from their communication style to their problem-solving abilities to prep students for the grueling interview process – and far beyond.

“I have yet to directly supervise a team of my own,” Falby admits. “I chose Rotman to improve my skills to lead and develop highly productive teams. I firmly believe that the Self-Development lab and the individual coaching sessions with the career center will be key to boost these abilities. I don’t just want to be a leader; I want to be a great and inspiring leader who helps the company achieve its goals and increase its value, who encourages the team to grow personally and professionally, and who has a positive and meaningful impact in the community.”

So what’s ahead for the Class of 2019? Paolucci, for one, hopes to become “a hands-on tech entrepreneur who wants to impact a billion people.” In the meantime, he intends to take advantage of everything that Toronto and Rotman have to offer. “After the first year I want to feel that school is contributing to my primary mid-term objective: get inserted in the local tech scene. I will use the opportunities in the school to meet new people, attend to conferences and size opportunities in the area.”

For Khosla, a successful first year would mean that he wasn’t distracted from what brought him to Rotman in the first place. “Keeping in line with my sustainability goals, I want to work in or create a business embedded with a double bottom line principle. If, by the end of my first year, I have recognized opportunities with this concept and how to adopt them efficiently, I will consider my program a success.”

At the same time, Rebello hopes that what she learns does more than just entertain or enlighten her.“After my first year of business school, I would like to look back on the new topics I learned through class, the wide variety of clubs, and my cohort and be able to say I used those topics to tackle real world problems.”

To read profiles of incoming Rotman MBA students — along with their advice on tackling the GMAT, applications, and interviews — click on the links below.

DON’T MISS: MEET TORONTO ROTMAN’S MBA CLASS OF 2018 OR THE PIONEERING MBAs OF THE CLASS OF 2019

 

Students Hometown Alma Mater Employer
 Heather Beatty  Toronto, Canada  Dartmouth College  Canadian Tire Corporation
 René Chen  Tongren, China  Communication University of China  LeadMaster EdTech
 Camryn DeLooff  Grand Rapids, MI  Oakland University  Parasol Medical
 Stephanie Alavedra Falvy  Lima, Peru  Universidad del Pacifico  Scotiabank Peru
 Marcelo Garza García  Monterrey, Mexico  Penn State University  Sigma Alimentos
 Kunal Khosla  New Delhi, India  Indiana University  gabilife.com
 Vanessa Matos Tudela  Caracas, Venezuela  American University  Inter-American Investment Corporation
 Rodrigo Paolucci  Barbacena, Brazil  Instituto Brasileiro de Mercado de Capitais  YContent
 Cadence Peckham  Walnut Creek, CA  Lawrence University  Novo Group
 Steffi Rebello  Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates  Embry Riddle Aeronautical University  GE Heathcare
 Ronald Replan  Nueva Ecija, Philippines  University of the Philippines  NutriAsia

DON’T MISS: OUR ENTIRE MEET THE CLASS OF 2019 SERIES