Meet Toronto Rotman’s MBA Class of 2019

René Chen 

University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management 

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Creative entrepreneur who reflects on the past and looks into the future

Hometown: Tongren, China

Fun Fact About Yourself: After seven years of art and creativity related work, I realized a nerdy side of me and taught myself programming.

Undergraduate School and Major:

Communication University of China


Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

Co-founder, LeadMaster EdTech (Shanghai, China)

Instructional Designer, Apple Inc. (Shanghai, China, and Cupertino, USA)

Customer Trainer, Apple Inc. (Beijing, China)

Sales, Apple Inc. (Beijing, China)

Animator and Graphic Designer, Beijing Oriental Story Cultural Communication Co. Ltd. (Beijing, China)

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: When people were still watching the stock price of Apple jump up, I reflected on myself and my goals during the MBA application process and eventually decided to leave my comfort zone and found my own company to leverage education with technology and the internet. Even though the decision was scary, I can see how much I have grown, when applying what I have learned from Apple and the MBA application process to design my products and services, lead my team, and communicate with various resources.

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants?  Start as early as possible. Identify a preparation strategy and a schedule that suits yourself and helps you get the most out of the preparation, because the process of the application itself is valuable. You will need to talk with people who you trust and reflect on yourself and your goals so that you can discover aspects of yourself that might be hidden from your eyes but seen by others. This self-awareness not only helps when you write your essays and prepare your interviews, but also positively impacts the significant decisions that you will have to make in the future.

What was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you?  The learning environment.

As a kid from a small town in the mountains in China, I was determined to extend my reach to the world. So making connections with people from all over the world is the first filter that I used to figure out which program I want to be part of and Rotman’s location in Toronto, Canada and the diversity of the class were a perfect fit.

Rotman also has a strong reputation of a healthy learning environment. As an education professional, I understand deeply how valuable that is for internalizing knowledge. Of course, practice makes perfect, but practice without understanding first will undoubtedly lead to detours. I believe that with a clear understanding of myself and my goal to become a better entrepreneur, some skills, such as finance, analysis, and strategical thinking, are necessary for me. The connections and resources in Rotman happen to align well with those skills, and, thus, complete my skill set to help me become a better startup leader.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school? I want to expand and apply my knowledge about customer experience in startups; learn from people in other fields that I have not experienced, such as investment, finance, strategy and operation, about the skills that are crucial to entrepreneurs; and build friendships with people from all over the world while working with them on various projects that have positive social and economic impact.