“I’m a Professional Engineer, Athlete, Croatian-Canadian with an insatiable curiosity and love for adventure.”
Hometown: Vancouver, British Columbia
Fun Fact About Yourself: I played NCAA Division I and professional hockey. Like any good hockey player, I won a few championships, but lost all my front teeth along the way.
Undergraduate School and Major: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, B.S. Civil Engineering
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Lummus Technology, Associate – Business Development
Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of the school’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? When it comes down to finance, Rotman’s program really shines. As an Engineer looking to transition into the competitive Private Equity, the two main things I wanted were a really strong academic program in which I could use my analytical strengths, and plenty of opportunities to showcase the value I know I can bring to the field. Rotman’s program stood out to me for its academic strength in financial theory and methods, its long list of finance-focused electives, and its finance networking extracurriculars. The program also has a reputation for being highly competitive. I love healthy competition and believe that it can bring the best out of people. I want my peers to bring their absolute best as I know this will drive my own efforts even further. Finally, I’m a believer in the smaller class sizes. The comparatively smaller class of Rotman provides an opportunity to build stronger relationships with my peers and professors. I’m looking forward to the insights, perspectives, and personalities of every single student in the Rotman MBA Class of 2022.
What club or activity excites you most at this school? I spoke to many Rotman Alumni before making my final decision and most, if not all, of the alumni I spoke to brought up the Rotman Finance Association. They each highlighted the value in being a part of the RFA and recommend I join and participate as much as possible. With such a frequent stream of networking events and panels the RFA should provide me with an amazing opportunity to learn from leading industry professionals sharing the latest trends, research and ideas across a wide variety of functions in finance. The RFA’s case competitions will not only allow me to put the concepts and frameworks I’ll be learning into practice, but also provide me with the chance to test my ideas and showcase my abilities under pressure in front of industry professionals. The exposure and industry network that comes with the being a member of the RFA sounds unparalleled and I’m look forward to being a big contributor during the next two years.
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: In 2017 I spent ten months living in Thailand, leading the engineering of the construction of six ethylene cracking heaters destined for a refinery in Oman. The international experience was life-changing, and the really hard-earned success I shared with my project team was extremely fulfilling. My team was made up of people from Lebanon, India, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Pakistan; This was, by far, the most diverse working environment I had ever been in. Leading such a diverse team in which there were so many cultural differences and communication difficulties spoken was a tremendous challenge, but that made it all the more rewarding. To perform well as a team in such a high-pressure work environment tested my abilities as a leader. Delivering a quality product on time was a huge success and I know I can speak for everyone involved in that project when I say we are extremely proud of the outcome.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I’ve really enjoyed my professional career as an Engineer. It has consistently presented interesting problems that required unique solutions. It strengthened my ability to apply mathematical frameworks to almost everything, and taught me that solving the hardest problems requires creativity and new perspectives. However, I am looking to challenge myself with something new. I want to take on bigger, more dynamic leadership roles. It was being introduced to the CFA that caused me to fall in love with finance and economics, and I wanted to apply the technical skills I’ve gained in my engineering career to explore the ideas and unanswered questions in this dynamic industry which is consistently changing with the global and political landscape. Ultimately, after passing the level II exam, I decided I wanted to pursue a career in Private Equity. After aggressively networking, and looking for advice wherever I could, I decided to pursue my MBA in determination of opening doors of opportunity to my new professional future.
What other MBA programs did you apply to?
Booth School of Business
University of Chicago MIT Sloan School of Management
London Business School
What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? For me, the most challenging question I was asked during the admissions process was, “What type of leader are you?”. It’s a very simple question and it’s not an overly complicated, but what made it challenging was the introspection and reflection it led me to. Being a high-level athlete for the majority of my life, teamwork and leadership have always been at the forefront. When considering how to answer, I instantly took a trip down memory lane and began asking myself questions about my past experiences in Hockey. Was I a good leader? How did my teammates actually view me? Was I too hard on that one teammate? Should I have stepped up during that time of adversity? I know that there were times that my teammates looked to me for leadership, and I am very proud of the moments during that I successfully led my team through difficult challenges. However, for every one of my leadership successes, I can count two failures. It’s been a never-ending learning process and I think it always will be.
How did you determine your fit at various schools? I spent a lot of time looking into the schools that I applied to, basing my decision not only on their academic reputation but on what each could provide in terms of culture, resources, recruiting, and how their style of teaching aligned with what I wanted to get out of an MBA. I wanted an academically rigorous program, with a diverse and competitive student body. I also wanted a school that fit my performance style of leadership, focused on ideas, passion, and action.
I believe that to learn the most about someone, you should speak to them directly. When looking into business schools, I first exhausted their own recruiting resources. I looked for their answers to questions like: What did the school value? How did they represent themselves? What did they think their biggest strengths were? After this, I wanted to see and hear from current students, alumni, and faculty. Did the views of students line up with what the school was saying about itself? This is what I wanted to know, and I sought out their thoughts online, but more-so reached out with personal calls. I was extremely lucky to have had so many amazing discussions, while greatly expanding my professional network in the process. In the end, I took the time to properly analyze what I wanted, what the school was saying, what the current and former students were saying, and a little bit of a gut feeling. The Rotman school and the University of Toronto checked the boxes, and I feel more confident in my decision every day.
What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? My life has been filled with a lot of incredible moments and people. I don’t think anyone could ever pick a single moment to define themselves. However, I have experienced a truly unique moment in my professional career that I believe has helped prepare me for business school and after.
It was during the tragic Fort McMurray wildfires in 2016. At the time, I was working on some large-scale refinery maintenance jobs in the Oil Sands of Alberta, providing technical support and expertise onsite. When I first arrived, the scale of operations there was unbelievable; I could not have fathomed the amount of people and heavy machinery organized to work around the clock. Everything changed when the wildfire that had been ravaging the forests in northern Alberta that summer began approaching the refineries. Work stopped on a dime and the entire region was ordered to evacuate. The scene was surreal. The scramble to shut down the refineries, and safely evacuate thousands of workers proved to be a challenge that the companies up there were just not prepared to handle. Everyone took it upon themselves and began evacuating on the single road out of town. I drove through smoke and flames as the town was burning down beside me. I was one of the lucky ones who had enough gas to make it the 200 kilometers to the nearest operating station, but the entire way was littered by the abandoned cars of the less fortunate. It was a really intense display of the havoc that can be wrecked by a totally unforeseen event. Today, it seems a Black Swan event is always around the corner, catching many of the brightest people and well-run businesses by surprise. For me, the experience was a lesson in risk management, and the importance of being able to stay calm and think clearly, even in the most stressful of situations. As individuals and organizations, we must always be prepared for the worst and never overlook the steps to properly analyze and mitigate major risks as best we can.
What is the most important attribute that you are seeking in an MBA employer and why is that so important? Having now spent over five years as a professional engineer, I feel I now understand the kind of environment, culture, and business approach that I’m looking for in an employer. If I am to boil it down to a single attribute that I view as the most important to me, it would be progressiveness. I want a future-focused, forward-looking employer that is willing to set their sights well beyond the current moment rather than react. I really dislike the saying ‘If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it’. New possibilities and opportunities are constantly arising with the advancements of technology, and I believe that for a company to be relevant in the long run, it needs to be progressive. I want an employer who is willing to spend resources to improve themselves, take responsible risks of investing into research and development of sustainable technologies, and always keep in mind the ever-growing importance of environmental and social issues, leading the way to our more sustainable future.
DON’T MISS: MEET TORONTO ROTMAN’S MBA CLASS OF 2022