Meet Toronto Rotman’s MBA Class Of 2020

Think New York City is the melting pot? Just wait until you get a load of Toronto!

Dubbed the ‘most multicultural city in North America,’ the Toronto area is home to over 10 million people – with half born outside Canada. It is a city of differences – in nationalities, languages, and religions – held together by a mutual commitment to embrace each other’s identities. It is a welcoming community, a smaller, safer, and cleaner version of New York as some say, a place to blend in and call home.


“The city had been built by people from innumerable elsewhere,” writes Canadian novelist André Alexis in describing Toronto. “It was a chaos of cultures ordered only by its long streets. It belonged to no one and never would, or maybe it was a million cities in one, unique to each of its inhabitants, belonging to whoever walked its streets.”

Beyond being a multicultural hub, Toronto is a thriving metropolis. Think of it as Canada’s epicenter for finance, technology, arts, fashion, research, media – you name it. Here, there is never a dull moment. That includes arts and music festivals galore, headlined by the Toronto Film Festival – second only to Cannes — and Toronto Pride, a June LGBT event that draws 1.2 million spectators to its downtown parade.

At the same time, business is booming here. In 2017 alone, Toronto added nearly 29,000 tech jobs. Over the past five years, tech positions have doubled to 241,000 in the city, eclipsing the 210,000 professionals in the finance sector. That doesn’t count Microsoft opening a new Canadian headquarters downtown in 2020, adding another 500 jobs to the rolls.

View of Toronto from the Rotman School

It gets better. In September, investors poured $1.4 billion dollars into Toronto firms, In fact, the area is flush with Fortune 500 firms. Legendary companies like Manulife Financial and the Royal Bank of Canada call Toronto home. On top of that, mainstays like Deloitte, EY, PwC, Accenture, Citi, and Honeywell, employ a thousand or more professionals there yet. Best of all, Toronto’s startup scene has arrived, thanks to success stories like Mill Street & Company, an asset management employing 600 people that has grown by over 3,000% in two years.


Not surprisingly, an electrifying city like Toronto “tick(ed) all the boxes” for aspiring MBAs like Kieran Alford. A London native who previously worked in Saudi Arabia and the UAE as a senior consultant, Alford credits the city’s vibrancy for enrolling at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management’s MBA Class of 2020.

“Toronto is a major finance and tech hub.” he observes. “According to CBRE, in 2017 Toronto created more tech jobs than the San Francisco Bay area, Seattle and Washington, D.C., combined. This, combined with its already world-class financial sector, is an exciting prospect for any student looking to enter these desirable industries. In addition to the lively job market, being located in the heart of North America’s fourth largest city benefits students greatly. The location and size means that the school attracts exciting guest speakers, all of whom are at the peak of their careers and are able to provide students with unique insights and unparalleled networking opportunities.”

Like many business schools, Rotman takes after the virtues of its home city. In this case, Rotman projects a strong cosmopolitan vibe, one where divergent viewpoints are welcomed as a means to cover all angles and formulate more inclusive solutions. It is an invigorating MBA experience, one where students are constantly absorbing new slants and methods from across the globe.

Rotman MBA Students

“My colleagues come from more than 50 countries and from diverse professional backgrounds, writes Ana Maria Perez Sanchez, who grew up in Costa Rica and worked in Investment banking for Ernst & Young. “[This] fosters an environment where their experiences added to their creative ideas and allowed us to tackle conventional challenges from fresh and innovative perspectives.”


In a word, Rotman channels “diversity” – the kind that sparks creativity and innovation, says Adesola Oladipupo, an investment analyst from Nigeria. “The Rotman MBA spools from all continents and provides an opportunity to interact with people from all over the world and tap into their wealth of experience and background,” she explains. “To my pleasant surprise, I also noticed the great diversity even amongst the students admitted from my country – there are no two people with the same background and experience.”

Beyond diversity, the Rotman culture also features an intangible that struck a chord with the Class of 2020. Ximena Bravo, a Nestlé sales executive from Perú, calls it a “culture of reciprocity” among students. It is this ingredient, she says, that sets the program apart.

“I think that there is much more than coming to classes,” she notes. “This is about networking, sharing experiences about ourselves, and paying attention to the experience of others. Also, helping other people from my point of view and receiving advice from others with different backgrounds result in growth as a professional and as a person in both sides. I believe that this integrates people, communities, companies, states and more, in order to improve how we think and accelerate the way we solve problems. I think this is what the world needs urgently.”


If a rich mix of backgrounds is what MBAs seek, they will find it in spades at Rotman. Marwan Hamdan’s mantra is, “I work to fly, fly to dream, dream to design, design to live, live to work!” As a consultant, Hamdan considers his biggest achievement to be developing a five-year strategy for Culture, Arts, Heritage, and Literature for the Emirate of Dubai – a project that was approved by the crown prince himself. Taiwan’s Maggie Yun takes great pride in setting up a business accelerator in Myanmar, one of the world’s poorest nations. Think outsourcing is a dirty word? Not to Akshay A. Baliga, an engineer-turned-consultant who realized an 80% cost reduction for a client by moving non-core manufacturing operations from Minnesota to Mexico. If you see two new condominium towers widening the Toronto skyline, credit Brad Souter. He spearheaded their design and construction.

Those are a lot of responsibilities…with a lot of pressure to go along with them. These high stakes are what Rodrigo Zubian Mercado Vallejo experienced when he was tapped to lead the turnaround of a fledgling chain of cafes and bakeries.

2017 Rotman Design Challenge Winners

“The new CEO invited me to work for at least one year, where I coordinated different departments to generate a strategic plan for next 5 years,” he explains. “I secured a $60 Million USD fund from the parent company and worked on the implementation of a new operating system for the stores that on the pilot with the same labor reduced 39% the store openings and 41% the customer complaints.”


Like previous years, Rotman declined to supply the number of applicants it received during the 2017-2018 cycle, noting only that applications had increased by 9% year-over-year. By the same token, the number of admits declined by 8% year-over-year – a testament to both the program’s ongoing popularity and exclusivity.

Overall, the Class of 2020 boasts 334 members who bring a 658 average GMAT and a 3.5 undergraduate GPA to campus. Over a third (36%) are women, with another 51% hailing from overseas. In fact, the class speaks 23 languages and hold 39 different passports.

At 27 years on average, the Class of 2020 also possesses 4.6 years of experience per student. The largest bloc of students – 20% — come from the financial services sector. Another 10% worked in consulting. The rest of the class is highly segmented by industry, with the largest sectors including energy (7%), healthcare (7%), consumer goods (6%), technology (6%), and real estate (5%).

Academically, 37 class members are pursuing dual graduate degrees, with majority falling in law and global affairs. As undergraduates, engineering was the most popular degree among the incoming class. They hold 32% of the class seats. Business-related majors trail close behind at 27%, followed by economics (12%), social sciences (11%), and life sciences (9%).

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