Meet the MBA Class of 2021: The Go-Getters

Michelle Molas

Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

“My mission is to find the sweet spot among education, business, and technology.”

Hometown: Manila, Philippines

Fun Fact About Yourself: I was part of a non-profit organization that teaches sports to young, underprivileged girls in the Philippines. Plot twist: I play zero sports.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of the Philippines, Business Administration

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Google Philippines, Consumer Marketing Manager

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I’m proudest of the work I’ve done for YouTube in the Philippines, where I helped grow the online video ecosystem in a massively access-constrained country. Through various programs I led, from events celebrating content creators to access initiatives addressing cost barriers, I helped make YouTube mainstream in a country where open access to the internet is a luxury that most cannot afford.

This is especially close to my heart, as YouTube has been an incredible learning platform especially in emerging markets. Open access to video content provides people from all walks of life with the opportunity to learn and uplift their lives – from first-time dads learning how to change the diapers to moms in rural areas who started businesses after learning from how-to videos.

It took many years and tons of cross-functional and external collaboration to make it happen and I couldn’t be any prouder of what our teams have accomplished together.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? While most of us haven’t met in person yet, there is a strong sense of community already amongst my classmates. Through the interactions in our online groups, I can already tell how helpful, resourceful, and creative my classmates are. I’m very happy to have an incredible support system already, even though we are only at the onset of our MBA journey.

Aside from your classmates, 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? Geography was my #1 consideration in the selection process. I did an internship in Canada back in 2011, fell in love with the country, and knew that I wanted to come back for a longer time in the future. I chose Rotman specifically because it was the best program in Canada that aligns with my career goals.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I am most looking forward to joining Rotman Women in Management Association (WIMA). Equity in the workplace is something I feel strongly about, and believe it is an important conversation that needs to happen in every organization. I consider myself lucky to have worked with leaders and colleagues who proactively champion women in the workforce and I am committed to advocating the same during my stay at Rotman.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? Rotman’s essay question on Spike Factor was the most challenging one for me. We were asked to upload our “spikiest” pictures and write an essay explaining why we chose those pictures. It was challenging because it required me to revisit my experiences all the way back to my university days and reflect deeply about key themes and motivations throughout my journey.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I’ve always known that I wanted to do an MBA. It was only a matter of when.

After six years of successes and failures at the workplace, now would be the perfect time for me to finally pursue it. I’ve been told that doing an MBA is not just about absorbing learnings but also sharing them and I think that I have just the right amount of work experience to be able to contribute substantial insights to my classmates.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I also applied to Schulich School of Business.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I looked at three factors: program, duration, and location – and how they fit into my career goals.

First, Rotman offers programs that align very well with my learning objectives. The Creative Destruction Lab offers an immersive hands-on experience in the startup scene, which will be valuable in my pursuit of doing product management in a tech start-up. Meanwhile, the Leadership Development Lab, a personal leadership development program, will help me discover and harness my unique leadership style.

Second, a two-year program appealed to me, considering that I would like to work in Canada after my MBA. Gaining Canadian work experience through an internship will be valuable in my job hunt later on.

Finally, being in Downtown Toronto will help me maximize my learning, as networking opportunities with entrepreneurs and practitioners is much more accessible.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? It’s hard to pin down one defining moment in my life, but looking back at the different moments that shaped who I am today, there is one resounding theme: loss.

Back in high school, I lost a student council election. While this experience devastated me, a young and aspiring student leader back then, this taught me to embrace failure – that failure is an opportunity to learn from my shortcomings and prove people wrong. I eventually won the elections the following year and continued to be a student leader even through my university years.

Fast forward to my university graduation, I experienced rejection from one company to another during my job hunt. This taught me resilience –that while doors close on us, we should always push hard to open better ones. Three years later, I landed my dream job at Google.

Finally, in my mid-twenties, a loved one passed away unexpectedly. This taught me to always spend my time thoughtfully. While career and professional ambition are important, serving a higher purpose is vital to living life meaningfully.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? In ten years, I would love to be running my own EdTech company in the Philippines, helping make quality education more accessible to the underprivileged.

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