2020 MBAs To Watch: Navita Singh, Western University (Ivey)

Navita Singh

Ivey Business School at Western University

“Investment Banker, Mathematics Enthusiast, and Future Fintech Entrepreneur.”

Hometown: Bokaro Steel City, Jharkhand, India

Fun fact about yourself: I l play tennis once every week and also play the guitar. I also like to read mathematical proofs like Andrew Wiles’ proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem in my spare time.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Integrated M.Tech. in Mathematics and Computing, IIT Delhi

Master’s in Mathematical Trading and Finance, Cass Business School, London

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? CLSA Hong Kong, Equity Quantitative Trader

Where did you intern during the summer of 2019? Lightheart Management Partners, Vancouver/Toronto (Jan-April 2020)

Where will you be working after graduation? In the process

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Jim and Heather Hunter MBA Award
  • Finalist MBA Case Competition Showcase
  • Finalist New Venture Ivey Field Project
  • Won Sabre Marketing Competition
  • Active member of the Technology Club (Organizing committee of San Francisco tech trip, Bloomberg tutorials for the entire MBA batch), investing club (organized session on factor models), and entrepreneurship club at Ivey.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school?  Winning the Sabre marketing competition was the most memorable event during Ivey as the competition was held over 2.5 days and had 8 intense rounds. Even though my team was consistently winning from Round 3 onwards, we kept focused and got back to work after celebrating for five minutes. This helped us be undefeated in all subsequent rounds.

Getting an extra bonus 10 marks in the final exam for competing with analytics was also quite unforgettable as the exam was for a duration of only two hours (compared to Ivey exam lengths of about three or four hours). The bonus marks were for creating an optimization model successfully. I wrote the analytics exam in the afternoon, shortly after writing an intense exam on financial derivatives in the morning and being able to stay focused to get the bonus marks was very special.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I got a 40% raise mid-year in UBS Hong Kong in 2013, which is very unusual in an investment bank where compensation is only increased at the end of the year. In 2013, the quantitative trading desk was undergoing a transition period, and several key personnel had left UBS. I took on additional responsibilities and helped the desk still meet the annual budget of 25 million USD. I was one of the very few females in the hedge fund industry in Asia, and the performance at UBS helped me get offers from quantitative firms like Worldquant.

Who was your favorite MBA professor?

My favourite professor is Michael Taylor who is an MBA section head and also taught marketing to Ivey students. Marketing was a new subject to me in the MBA program and he made the concepts very easy to understand. I also took an elective under him “Marketing to Businesses”, which was a great introduction to how to sell disruptive technology to large corporations. Michael always pushed us over and beyond what was expected in classroom contribution, and paid attention to even the most minute case facts in the appendices which could affect the case outcome.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? The Ivey Leadership Conference was a great tradition mid-way during the MBA program. It was moderated by Gerard Seijts, where Ivey students were introduced to one real-world case example with an industry insider. I was lucky to be in the same classroom as Barbara Stymiest, who explained her thought process on opening the Toronto stock exchange after the aftermath of the 9/11 attack in the USA. This discussion made us aware that as future leaders, our decisions can affect so many lives and also the course of history. Hence, our responsibility increases to do the best that we can in a calm and confident manner.

Why did you choose this business school? There was no doubt in my mind that if I pursued an MBA from Canada, it would be Ivey due to its case-based method of study. The case-based method instills discipline in all of us to prepare for discussions beforehand and contribute actively in the classroom. It also helped that we were assigned to learning groups in the program, which makes students work with different personalities and produce productive work without any conflicts. These practices help us in our professional careers after MBA to speak up actively without any inhibitions but also be respectful of others in the group.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? I would advise an applicant to enjoy the entire Ivey experience from classroom contributions to all the extracurricular activities ranging from student clubs, Ivey Olympics, exchange programs, study trips to the Ivey Field projects with new venture creation opportunities. Ivey gives every student a lot of chances to apply your strengths and also learn new skills along the way. The entire program created multiple opportunities for the students to work with multiple groups and this brought the entire MBA cohort closer to each other. The Ivey MBA program is the best time to introspect and figure out the course of one’s professional career.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Ivey is known mostly for its consulting job opportunities. While consulting is still the main employer, I have seen a recent rise in technology and private equity opportunities in Ivey.

The annual San Francisco trip by the Technology Club highlighted diverse technology opportunities in the technology sector in North America and there have been several fireside chats by Ivey alumni in the private equity space including the founder of Birch Hill Equity.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I don’t have many regrets over the MBA program, but I should have volunteered for the Leader Project, which is going to be organized in Nepal, Kathmandu in April 2020. The program organizes entrepreneurship boot camps for young entrepreneurs in developing countries. While I am an active member of the Entrepreneurship Club and attend most of the events, this boot camp, unfortunately, coincides with a period when I will be applying for a Canadian work permit.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I admire our class President Emmanuel Ukposidolo the most in our batch. He has proven to an extremely capable leader both in and off the classroom.

Emmanuel has always stepped up to moderate and protect the interests of everyone in the MBA batch, irrespective of their background and citizenship. When the core period was over, he actively contacted people in the MBA group to ask if there was any pressing job placement or academic issue they had and advised them to organize section dinners regularly to keep in touch.

He also recently supported the initiative to launch a new leadership position called the VP of Diversity and Inclusion in the MBA Association to make the Ivey community more inclusive and supportive of students from different cultures.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My professional work experience as a proprietary trader and the scarcity of female role models in senior management in hedge funds was the biggest inspiration for me to pursue a business degree.

Trading roles are the most highly-compensated jobs in investment banks and require a lot of commitment after work hours as well, to analyze the impact of world events on investment portfolios.

The lack of female managing directors on trading floors was acute as I become more senior. Through an MBA program, I wanted to learn management and soft skills to progressively initiate more diversity inclusion in finance roles. Also, finance was facing a lot of disruption from digital technology, and I also wanted to learn about these new technologies and how best to apply it in the fintech space.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? We are living in an era of disruptive technology, where the latest technology ranging from artificial intelligence to quantum computing has a product lifecycle of 5-10 years. Hence when I get a chance to lead a team, I will ensure that my team and firm do not risk being isolated by the advent of new technology and is on top of innovation.

The second important item is that Ivey has an excellent program to foster entrepreneurship through the Ivey Field Project and the Western incubator. I am also pursuing an entrepreneurship certificate along with the Ivey MBA and would like to be a fintech entrepreneur in the not too distant future.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? A female role model in finance and STEM fields who embodies the highest level of ethical professional conduct and technical excellence.

Hobbies? Playing tennis, listening to music, reading the latest novels, and occasionally reading papers on number theory.

What made Navita Singh such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

“Navita Singh immediately impressed the MBA Recruiting and Admissions team with her notable prior educational background (Undergraduate in Integrated M.Tech in Mathematics and Computing, IIT-Delhi; Masters in Mathematical Trading and Finance, Cass Business School) and strong international work experience as an equities quantitative trader (in India, Singapore, and Hong Kong). At Ivey, she immediately stood out amongst her colleagues in terms of her MBA readiness traits (e.g., sound logic and reasoning), leadership (e.g., depth and breadth), and openness to learning. Besides her strong academic performance in core and elective courses, Navita has excelled in representing the School in case competitions and has enhanced or expanded her business interests through active contribution to a variety of career-oriented student clubs (e.g., investing, technology, entrepreneurship). Navita’s professional goal to enable the advancement of gender diversity and inclusion in finance roles has positioned her as an advocacy exemplar amongst her MBA 2020 peers.”

Larry Menor
Ivey Business School MBA Director


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